Hurricane Matthew Update | “We stop reacting and we start acting”

Haven’s Programmes Manager Ailish O’Reilly tells us here how the team is moving away from aid-giving in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and towards more long-term recovery.


We are a very quiet bunch on Île à Vache today.  We have eased back from the distribution, returned to our own offices, picked up the work on our regular projects, and fallen back into our routines.

I am off out to Point Est and the three islands to start evaluations for our recovery plan.  We have decided it is time to switch our thinking away from aid-giving and into more long-term recovery.   We want to start, and the communities are ready.


I end up getting the boat on my own; well, with the captain and pilot.  The water is calm.  I have my list of families to visit, and we get all the areas covered.  I am building up quite a list of patients for referral to the next visiting medical team.

On the way back, I call in to Elefet and dress his wound.  As I plan to be away for the weekend, I train his niece on what to do and leave her all the dressings.  His foot looks pink and healthy compared to yesterday.   The children have arrived for their sweet allocation.  It is easy work; it requires patience, care, and time which, today, I seem to have plenty of.

The biggest surprise is that Elefet has washed and changed his clothing; I also get a smile from him on my arrival.  Our impression of him on the first day was of someone very much down on himself; possibly a result of his illness; possibly just social isolation for him and his brother.  The visits bring attention and news to his house, and maybe this makes a difference. (Spoiler alert: it turns out that Elefet only seems to wash and change his clothes once a week).

It is home, food, and an early night.  Everyone here is exhausted; we are decompressing.  I’m off early tomorrow morning for Port au Prince and, all going well, will be there in time to have breakfast with Gena and Damien.  The surprise works out neatly, as only John knew I was on my way.

I’m taking this weekend as my own, so I’m signing off my blog until next Tuesday.  The three amigos who have been friends since I first came to Haiti will become two as of tomorrow, and this time is our own.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 is a milestone day.  We stop reacting and we start acting.  We move from aid-giving to long-term recovery.  The decision is made for us not merely by our own desire to move on, but hugely motivated by events in Ireland and the United States.

We have received amazing support from all around the world in messages, phone calls and donations.

Your generosity allows us to do what we now wish to do – give people here back some of what they have lost with the support to move forward.   

I went back through my Facebook page to pick out some examples of the wonderful messages you have been sending us out here; some of these I had never seen as we were so long out of the loop.   One from my sister on 5 October made me cry, one from my daughter made me laugh.

Thanks a million everyone!

“We keep lighting the candles and praying miss love to you all xxx EM”

“I am canceling my trip ……. pick one family that needs a complete roof done i will buy all the material and pay for the labour SS”

“Won’t ask you: How are you feeling right now… Goes without saying that all our thoughts and prayers are with you guys and of course the Haitian people on IAV and in Les Cayes. JC”

“You and the WE team rock! Inspiring my dear!  ND”

“Thinking of you stay safe, News from Chicago Trumps stock is falling Cubs rising.
Goodnight.better days ahead. MOR”

“Couraj anpil. MW”

“Ailish, thinking of you. It’s so heartbreaking to read about and see the devastation. Keep up the good work. Stay strong. Big Hugs! Xoxo IH”

 “Is there specifics that you need immediately that we can send with them? Sending lots of love and prayers, xx  RW”

“Will check with your HQ in Dublin and see what I can do to help. Let me know if there’s anything in particular I can get you. Mind yourself. Love from us all xxxx CFP”

“..have been thinking of you so much over the past few days. Stay strong. You can do this. Best wishes. SD”

“ really has hit hard. Paul O Connell was on the Late Late and gave out a number so as people can make donations so hopefully everyone will support. Stay safe xx DH”

“-hope the damage is fixable and you get some help out there. Keep safe EF.”

“Oct 5th Update to all – Ailish called home – they are all fine/safe but the place is destroyed. Organisation for clean up and supplies beginning. Electricity and therefore communication in short supply.”

“Moooommmmmmm any idea where the login details for the eflow toll thing are?”

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