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HWC Haiti Relief Mission Progress Report

January 12, 2010
An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, around 5 p.m.

March 1, 2010 - direct from Haiti to Gina

Today is February 27-28, 2010 ~ Milad un-Nabi – Holi Color Day and Chag Sameach  – Joyous Purim. HWC wishes blessings to those in observance this week the beginning of spring when things begin to grow.  Have a blessed time celebrating as a family, sharing sweets and decorating with multi colors and song. 

We are the world. . . a special message of love.

In the name of spiritual love for each other think of giving a special gift to those who are far away doing the good works for those in need in your name.

Audio Version

Progress Report

Our team in Haiti is doing well. After one week, they have settled in and organized all the supplies. Each day they drive into the tent cities or to an orphanage to help the children. 

They are waiting for a water truck and need to get an internet connection. These are costly necessities.

Kaviraj plans to stay an extra month and must change his airline arrangements. May God lift him up, he has travelled so far and lugged heavy boxes miles and miles. 

We will send a new Western Union donation this week. Please ask your friends and family to help with this worthy mission. All of your gifts go directly to support them. None goes to administration. One hundred percent of your loving kindness goes to the good will mission and sends your heart's spirit higher and higher. 

Acknowledgement of Donations
Ingrid, her friends and clients in Canada have spent an extra $1,500 to purchase more supplies for the clinic, plus travel and hotel expenses. 

Want An Intensive Crash Course in Emergency Care?
This is a crash course in emergency care and keynote prescribing for Kati from France. If anyone else wants to pay their own way to Haiti, you would be grandly welcomed. There is enough place for you to stay.  Edouard is recovering from an upper respiratory illness. Ingrid is surveying what needs to be accomplished with the house. 

The Population of Haiti
Did you realize that over 50% of the population in Haiti
is under 21 years of age? They are one of the youngest populated countries on the planet. Now, there are 20,000 orphans from infants to 18 years old. Ingrid's intention. In time, the three-story house will be transformed into 'home' for 25 orphans with a homeopathic clinic, God willing. 

The schools are now closed due to holiday season. This means that the children are on their own outside all day. 

The Earthquake Aftershocks
Almost every day or night there are unexpected rumblings with tremblings of 4-5 on the Richter scale. This brings continued fear to the population. The building infrastructure is crumbling and weak. Kaviraj says these do not appear to be doing further damage to the house. They can expect the aftershocks for at least one year according to an updated scientific analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

Water is Precious
The only safe drinking water is purchased bottled water. All other useable water must first be boiled, that includes for bathing and cooking. 

News media say the rainy season will not start for another month. But, this is only indicative of the major heavy rainstorms. The rains have started for an hour or two each day. 

Electricity and Power
Energy is intermittent. Municipal power comes for one or or so each day, and then turns off as suddenly as it comes on. Fortunately, they have the small generator. Even when they will get the water truck supply onto the roof, they do not know that the pump will be in working order. 

Heightened Epidemic Risks
A recent report says that Malaria will increase due to overcrowding in the tent cities, inadequate shelter and sanitation, overburdened medical facilities, and ruptured sewer systems. The clean up of the damaged areas is slow to non-existent. The stench from rotting bodies under the rubble fills the air. Improvised open-air rainwater baskets are good habitats for mosquitoes that carry disease. Reports indicate that insecticidal nets and distribution of drugs will be their answer. We must teach them about the homeopathic malarial remedies. So far, we have not heard reports of these epidemic diseases in the locations that have been visited by our team. 

The other potential risk diseases include typhoid, dysentery, measles, tuberculosis, influenza, dengue fever and other respiratory illnesses. 

The death toll now climbs to 300,000 and if contagious disease begins that number may go higher. Due to the aftershocks, people cannot go inside the fragile buildings and 700,000 are living outdoors in make-shift tents and tarps. 

You Should Be Proud
Our tiny little group with little resources has acted quickly. This rapid response team can help thousands of people. They can send out bottles of remedies to tent cities. Based on news this week, there has been delayed action in establishing tent cities and much needed medical assistance.

Resettlement Delayed 
This effort to resettle 1.2 million Haitians is not happening fast enough. Officials are sending people back to the damaged neighborhoods, where they have no water, shelter, or support systems.

Food Supplies
Thankfully, they are well stocked for basic foods of rice, pasta, dried fruits and nuts. Vegetables are readily available at the marketplaces.

Treating The Sick and Injured
How can you treat 600 people a day? Using keynote signatures. The team asks questions and those who respond get into a group to be administered their remedy selection. 

A wide variety of remedies are needed. Aconite, pulsatilla, lycopodium, argent-nit, nitricum-acid, sepia, natrum mur, sulphur, thuja and many more. 

The Population and History of Haiti
Did you realize that over 50% of the population in Haiti
is under 21 years of age? They are one of the youngest populated countries on the planet.

Soldiers Everywhere
Kaviraj was perturbed by the hundreds of soldiers who do
not seem to be doing anything to lend a hand. They are there, supposedly to maintain order, and to prevent riots and violence. However, Kaviraj mentioned that everything is peaceful. He explained that the people are submissive in nature. 

Recent Independence of Haiti
Their nation developed from a history of slavery, and Haiti only became an independent free state 1804 when Britain fought France under Napoleon Bonaparte’s regime. Then in 1957, a new dictator, François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier was elected as President in Haiti and ruled until his death in 1971. Papa Doc even used a torture chamber constructed in the basement of his palace in Port au Prince to watch people suffer and established his own secret police force. After the death of Papa Doc, his son Baby Doc followed in his footsteps as a despot. 

There is No violence, Riots or Disorderly 
People the people of Haiti have been living in great poverty and persecution for many Now you can understand why Kavi says these people are very submissive in their behavior. They were not provided much of an education, the cities were poorly constructed, and the economy was in shambles. So, now they must rebuild from the very bottom up. 

Thanksgiving During These Festive Holidays
I personally want to send gratitude to those who have already contributed remedies and monetary donations.  I will be getting ready to send the HWC team a new Western Union soon. Please give now, so I can include your donation. 

HWC has not yet attained non-profit status. 
Please understand this is a pure giving opportunity 
and is not tax deductible.
Please Go To the DONATIONS PAGE.

Help Establish A Homeopathic Clinic in Haiti. 
We need to reach our goal of $5000. 
Congratulations Jana Shiloh & Heidi Stevenson

Views: 310

Replies to This Discussion

March 6.

Haiti 3. Follow up

Today I finally got the money for the ticket back. I had been with Emanuel – one of the boys who had been helping us – to the airport, where I was told to go to the Insel Air offices, where I could get a ticket. There I was told they did not sell any tickets and we got an address in Port au Prince, so we hopped on a minivan tap-tap.
Instead of the route to Petionville, we took of course a different road, leading past a huge shanty-town made of cardboard, plywood, corrugated iron and plastic sheets, which after about 100 metres turned into a tent city, where at least a quarter million people live.
Then we came to an open place and there was a water truck, with soldiers standing around it and hardly another soul in sight. This was followed by another shanty town, made with even less material than the first. The supplies these people need are sitting at the airport, wasting away while also being guarded by armed soldiers.

Alas my phone’s camera does not work and my iPod is gone, but the sight speaks more than I can write. We then climbed slowly into Port au Prince, which sits on the rock facing the water and then steeply inclines on the other side into the city centre. At some point the car lost its brakes and we barely missed the minivan in front of us, going faster as we descended, at which point we took a right turn on an even steeper incline.
I was about to jump out with my bag with medicines, when the driver drove the car into a pile of rubble of a collapsed building. The impact threw me against the front window and my knees in the glove compartment, but I did not get hurt. One man was thrown from the vehicle and landed on his side on the road, but did not break anything. He did not even have gravel rash and a dose of Arnica settled him quickly. For the rest there were no injured, except Emmanuel, whose head also impacted on the front window. .Also he had a dose of Arnica, which settled him within five minutes.

We tried to find the building where the travel agent is supposed to be, but did not find it, except for a building with that number which has collapsed. Here one sees the real devastation and one in 5 houses has collapsed or is just s pile of rubble. The collapsed buildings have the floors on top of each other and the chance to have come out alive is doubtful. The street is full of dust and the buildings reduced to rubble caused more death than those that had spaces where people got trapped.
Those are the buildings where the stink of death still hangs, because they have had people survive the longest. If anyone is so lucky to have a leaking mains pipe, he may survive for up to 6 weeks or even longer, but those kind of traps ultimately also lead to death. Nonetheless, people do their business and the buses and tap-taps are running. They are extremely resilient.

We drove into Petionville by bus and began at the central square where people live in tents in the local park. We just entered tents and asked whether people were sick, or had injuries. Broken limbs and little babies with colic and vomiting and diarrhoea. Chamomilla, Colocynthus and Veratrum album, Symphytum, Arnica and Hypericum. Calc.carb, Natrum mur and Hamamelis, Sepia, Pulsatilla and Silicea. Cases of burning eyes with vertigo, gassy bowels with anxiety and stinging pain from acidity, head aches from fallen concrete and vaginal infections.
The children were delightful. At one point a little baby grabbed my beard and pulled my face closer to see me better. He turned my head and investigated my ear. Everyone laughed and one 15 year old said it was as if Jesus had returned. Of course this is wishful thinking and I am not in any way of that quality of unselfish love and giving.
Then I felt hungry and the brought bag of raisins was extracted from the bag and I gave all the children and nursing mothers a good handful. One was being smart and stuck out a hand twice, hiding the other one full of raisins behind her back. I gave her another handful and told her to not be too smart,, at which new laughter broke out.. Many felt better before I left there, because when the right remedy is given it often works lightning fast. The closer the similimum, the fasyter it works.

I shall give you some cases here, because they are at times very interesting, considering the circumstances. In these tent cities live the poor and the formerly affluent side by side, but the difference is obvious from the behaviour and the clothes they wear. Where the poor have lost the few clothes they had, the more affluent seem to have lived in better housing and were therefore able to save more possessions. The education is also an obvious difference – where the poor sapeak only Creole, one can communicate with the affluent in French and achieve complete understanding of the problems.
In the morning we had been at our usual place, but only 20 people or so presented, so went to the tent city to finally get to some other area of interest and need. There we saw a series of interesting cases, mostly skin problems from the dust, which makes the eyes burn and sting, the skin very itchy and the lungs congested. I suspect the bowel problems we have seen are also partly due to this. After all, the first few days after the quake, the dust must have hung like clouds around the city and the wind has driven it almost everywhere. From reports there was a lot of asbestos present in the buildings and I suspect this to have caused all these eye, skin and lung problems. I have no information on any provings of Asbestos, but I can easily imagine what it does, considering the fact it is a carcinogenic of the lungs. Arsenicum was often indicated, because this is not a constitutional problem that can be solved with Sulphur or Natrum mur, but must be assessed on its own peculiarities. Several failures with constitutional prescribing quickly taught me to take a different approach. Silicea was another remedy that gave much relief, although the types we saw did not make you think of Silicea at all. The totality of symptoms cannot be arriv3ed at in such a short time and keynote prescribing not on constitution, but on the problem at hand, soon showed me regular cases of Arsenicum, some Hepar and much Silicea.

Although Emanuel speaks reasonable French, the times he does not know a French word for a condition he has trouble conveying all they say. His translation leaves at times much to be wished for. His companion was also more dedicated and spoke better French, but he went to visit his grandmother, who is the only person left of his entire family. He had to take a tap-tap to its final destination and from there walk 30 kms before he would even reach her. This means he has been away from Port au Prince for the last five days and at a distance of at least 50 kms.
Nonetheless, I am getting the hang of the Creole and at times do not even need his translation. Most is just simplified French and from the context most can be understood as self-evident. It has some different pronunciations and is at times very old fashioned – the language of 200 years ago, much like Afrikaans in South Africa. That is the Dutch spoken 400 years ago and I have absolutely no trouble understanding it. The Creole is the French equivalent and although my French is a little rusty and needs to be read to increase my vocabulary, I have not much trouble speaking it.
The educated all speak fluent French and with them the communication poses no problems at all. These people are simply all very nice and equally in need as the very poor. The same problems exist, although their cleanliness is greater and there are less skin problems as with the very poor. For the rest, the same type of asthmatic and bronchial problems, stomachache and acidity, headaches and vertigo plague both sections of the population. The same remedies are needed for both poor and rich, although the poor show more a caricature of the remedy picture, while the rich present a more refined version of the personalities. I am constantly reminded of Kent’s advice to visit the poor and seedy districts and that is what we are really doing here.
The squalor among the poor is also more obvious, but they seem to hold together better, because they are less individualistic, having been forced by circumstances to rely more on each other than the richer part of the population. Nonetheless, the affluent also stick together, forced by the quake and its aftermath. It is amazing how people come closer in adverse circumstances and where even poor and rich live in the same conditions. There seems to be no jealousy – it is an accepted fact that some have it better and some have it less. Sharing is a necessity of general survival and not a privilege.

Tomorrow we shall return to 3 places and do only those that still suffer something. There will be a lot of work to do and it is about the last day I have here. It is a pity I have to go, because I would have liked to stay longer, just to see all this improvement maintained. Now they will again be left to their own devices and will either not cure completely or fall back into old patterns and soon be sick again. The Dutch homoeopath who arrives on the 1st of April I shall direct to the same boys and warn the boys he will be looking for them. In that way, we can ensure continuation of the treatment and a more complete cure.

After this report, I will write tomorrow’s and shall finish it off with an overview of the entire time and how all those remedies have held up. We shall evaluate the work done and give the details of some more cases. I think it is worth it to see the different shades of Nat.mur, Lycopodium and Pulsatilla, Sepia and Argentum nitricum as well as Silicea and other remedies. I have seen several cases of Staphysagria too and lots of sciatica from sleeping on the ground, which in the cold and damp nights is a great cause for sciatic inflammation. Rhus tox is one remedy that comes to mind, which I also used for backache from over-lifting.
The cases will be summaries because of my method of working, which is on keynotes and I shall give my observations of the physical build and behaviour patterns. I shall make clear how I chose those remedies over others and explain the facial features and general appearance as excellent means to remedy selection. Each remedy has a physical appearance typical to it and a behaviour pattern which is as typical. These components of prescription need to be shown and explained clearly so that everyone can see how remedies can be prescribed very fast and accurate.
Haiti 4. Follow ups 7 March

Today, Sunday, I spent going past all the places we went before and seeing how everyone is doing. Generally, most are feeling better and are smiling. Where first one met unhappy faces, one now sees smiles returning to the faces. They are amazed that such a little sugar pill can do so much and make them feel on top of the world.
The children especially are much calmer than the last time. Their cases are simpler than the chronic problems of the adults, most of who show up with deep-seated trouble. They had nothing but pharmaceutical medicine all their lives and when you give them a little sugar pill they are amazed and unconvinced. They are used to boxes full of antibiotics and taking so many pills a day. When however you show up the next time, they smile and ask how it is possible that such a small dose has done so much for all their problems at once.
Generally I explain that I treat people and not diseases. They understand that well enough, except that when there are so many problems in one body, why don’t I treat the problems? Then I tell them that there is one person who needs one medicine. We have seen quite a few children with vaccine damage – feverish since the vaccine and general malaise. They are listless, eat no longer and presenting a picture of brain damage, characterized by slow or no reaction to stimulus.

I saw many injuries improve under high potency Arnica (50M for remote trauma). One man, who returned tro take his whole family of 11 children with him to the US, needs to fork out a lot of money to have them all brought over in one go. He lives on a US disability pension. He had a bad fall about 10 years ago, from which he never recovered and made another fall in Haiti, damaging the same leg. When he saw me he leaned on a stick and complained much about pain and walked with great difficulty. A dose of Arnica 50M and when we saw him this morning, he walked without a stick and told me the pain was almost completely gone. He still limped a bit but was at least 90% improved.
A lady who was pregnant and had much belly ache and no desire for any food, presented a picture of great suffering, with a painful expression on her face. A dose of Pulsatilla in the 200 potency did her so good that this morning she was all sweet smiles again and ate like a horse, so much. She was so much improved she even lost her shyness of the day before and was more talkative. She described her experiences in greater detail and from those descriptions one gets an idea how frightening such a powerful earthquake can be.
Another was a case of Sepia, who cooks and sells lunches. After cooking all day, she can no longer eat – worse from sight or smell of food. A single pellet of Sepia and she was eating also, because she had been starving for the last month. She was all smiles too and wanted me to partake of the lunch. I told her I was not going to eat their lunch, because they need it more than me and also because I don’t eat any meat. She accepted that with a smile.

Then we went off to see the same group of children again and the bag of raisins served to produce smiling faces of children and many outstretched little hands. The same little boy who inspected my face so intently was again put in my lap, where he proceeded to grab my beard once more and pee over my legs. The same completely absorbed look was on his little face and his eyes were so curious, he did not take them off my face. Completely intent on knowing me better he kept looking, even after his mother took him away to feed him. Many women do not breastfeed because they have little or no milk, while others have such abundance they feed 3-4 babies as wet nurses.
The broken legs we saw all felt better and the women finally had slept a good night instead of being kept awake by intolerable pains. Symphytum is still the best remedy in potencies above 200, to relieve pains in broken limbs although some needed Bellis perennis and others Arnica. There are many hernias, caused mainly by over-lifting, which is equal among both women and men. If you see the heavy loads they carry on their heads – much like they do in Bharat, (India) – you begin to understand why they have bad backs and hernias.
Some are umbilical, but most are inguinal. The umbilical hernias are mainly caused by cutting the umbilical cord too short after birth, which cause rupture of the navel and subsequent umbilical hernias. Many of the children and adults have protruding navels and most of these sooner or later rupture and develop into hernias. Health care is non-existent, notwithstanding the fact that 4 hospitals have collapsed during the quake. The only hospital in Port au Prince that is still standing has no services and is simply closed.

Port au Prince itself is 1/5th destroyed and the newspaper quoted the Commissioner of Police, who said the city center should be abandoned and the merchants moved elsewhere. The latter of course disagree, because it is their living and moving them to tent cities is not an option for them. How are they going to protect their merchandise in a tent? A knife is sufficient to open the canvas and the lack of supplies in the tent cities will not help them either. Personally I am under the impression that this proposal is made to give the developers a free hand in pulling down the entire city and rebuilding it in the image of the US.
This will make it too expensive for ordinary Haitians and thus they will have no chance to make a living. Some hope the Americans will take over and develop the country. They are naive to believe this will be to their benefit. They have not yet understood that when the military arrives, it is not to help them but to protect the developers. Big developers who would like to turn Haiti in a copy of Thailand, where the locals have been chased away and the beaches have been taken over by luxury hotels.
Big Oil, Big Walmart and Starbucks, whose plans to exploit the Haitians to the max will come to fruition. I plan to come back here in 2 years and I wager that those tent cities will still be there and the squalor will have only gotten worse. What will look better is the development of Port au Prince, where the tap-tap will no longer be allowed to come, to not cause an eyesore to the tourists. Oil refineries that will pollute the beaches and pump their poisons in the environment as if there is no tomorrow.
There will be jobs for Haitians – sweatshops, cotton and coffee pickers, cleaners, and porters, to do the heavy work for a pittance. If the present situation is any indication, the UN and Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and other so-called Aid workers will still drive their gas-guzzling 4WD’s through the city, with them ever doing any real relief work. The UN sends a truck with water or rice into the city and people stand in line for hours in the full sun, to get a 5 kilo bag of rice or 5 litres of drinking water.
That is the extent of the Aid I have seen and with every truck they send in a contingent of soldiers armed with machine guns and a .50 gun mounted on each vehicle, while there is absolutely no reason for them to be present. People are peaceful, although some carry so much anger that today 2 Swiss doctors of Medicines Sans Frontieres have been kidnapped. There will be some demands made and possibly met and they will be released. The mounting anger among the population is limited to but a few quarters, which have been practically abandoned.
Petionville has its own areas where the devastation is large too, but they are hidden from view. They are also more or less shanty towns with cheaply constructed houses made of concrete blocks with absolutely no reinforcements. We climbed between buildings and piles of rubble through a meandering path of leaking mains water pipes and garbage heaps along paths that have been established after the quake. One has to watch where one puts his feet, because there is much loose stone lying around and a misstep either sends you ten metres down or will cause twisted ankles and broken limbs. Also here the stench is at times unbearable, but this is more from broken sewer pipes than from the dead. This is the poor area and also here people live in makeshift constructions, whith sheets of plastic from the UNHCR or USAID, but these are barely sufficient to keep people either dry during rains or warm during the rather cold nights higher up in the hills around Petionville. The affluenbt live in the town, while the dwellings of the poor hug the steep hillsides. Even at the stone quarry the quake has loosened a lot of rock and in large blocks too. There were some crushed trucks and on the central square, a 4WD was sitting at a garage, its wheels and engine the only useful spare parts, because some wall had all but broken it in two pieces.
On the way to Petionville we also saw a crushed bus, which was full of passengers at the quake and who had all been killed, when the higher side of the rmountain simply fell on the road as the bus passed by. Near the airport sit huge Caterpillar draglines and mechanical shovels, doing nothing, while the rubble is ever-present wherever we went and which could be easily and quickly removed by these machines. The lack of work done on the removal of rubble is simply appalling and the inaction by the local government is glaring.
Duval – the president – has appropriated much of the Aid and the government is selling the supplies to the people. This causes much anger among the population and puts paid to all efforts at helping the locals adequately. There is much critique of the government and most people want Aristide back, who was democratically elected, but removed by the US because he refused to do their bidding.
Just so that you hear from other sources as well, here a report from The Nation

Haiti's Excluded
By Reed Lindsay
This article appeared in the March 29, 2010 edition of The Nation.

March 11, 2010

Take Action
Write a Letter

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Jemima Pierre, Tanya Golash-Boza & Kevin Alexander Gray: Watching the flow of aid into Haiti, one can't ignore the ongoing alliance of the Haitian elite and foreign investors to keep Haiti good for their interests. What do average Haitians really need?
Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor Haiti

Naomi Klein: It is we in the West who owe it reparations.
» More
Haiti's Excluded

Reed Lindsay: How the earthquake aid regime sidelines those it intends to help.
Haiti on the 'Death Plan' Globalization

Reed Lindsay: Protesters decry high food prices--and the savage cost of "free trade" agreements.
Ruth Derilus had seen her share of tragedy. A 33-year-old iron-willed social worker trained by Haiti's Papay Peasant Movement, she twice helped organize relief efforts when massive floods devastated the city of Gonaïves and the surrounding countryside. In September 2004 she worked with women's and youth groups after Tropical Storm Jeanne killed more than 3,000 people. Four years later, she lost her home when a second deluge, unleashed by Tropical Storm Hanna and augmented by Hurricane Ike, once again brought the city to its knees. Ruth kept on going, working to organize rice farmers whose crops had been destroyed.

But nothing would prepare her for the tribulations she would face after the earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince on January 12 of this year. Ruth was in Gonaïves, and she got a phone call within minutes. Her 20-month-old son, Chevano, who was living with her husband in the capital, had suffered a blow to his head when their family's house collapsed. The line went dead. The next morning, Ruth took a bus to Port-au-Prince and went straight to the hospital. She could not find her son. She returned home and found her mother in tears. The nearby hospital had stopped operating after the earthquake, and by the time Chevano was taken to a United Nations military hospital on the morning of January 13, it was too late. Ruth recovered her son's body ten days later. Her husband was never found.

Ruth spent two inconsolable, sleepless weeks with her family in her hometown of St. Michel de L'Atalaye. Then, on January 26, she went back to work. In part it was the desire to help her country; in part it was the need to escape her grief. She moved into a camp with thousands of other homeless people in Port-au-Prince, and signed up as an organizer for an alliance of small, progressive NGOs called the Haiti Response Coalition ( She visits two to three camps a day, helping them to get ready to receive and distribute aid.

The camps began forming hours after the earthquake, as people sought shelter far from buildings and walls. They occupied streets, empty lots, playgrounds, schools, soccer fields, plazas, parks, a car dealership, the prime minister's lawn and Haiti's only golf course. In the absence of any authority (UN peacekeepers and Haitian police were nowhere to be seen in the days after the earthquake), the survivors began organizing almost immediately, forming security brigades to protect camp residents from would-be criminals. In some camps, newly homeless doctors and nurses set up impromptu clinics for their neighbors. Camp committees dedicated their efforts to look for and receive aid from international organizations.

All this made Ruth's job easier, but she concedes that the results of her work have been disappointing. In the first days after the earthquake, the coalition's member organizations had difficulty sending aid, blocked from landing planes in Port-au-Prince by the US government, which controlled the airport and initially gave priority to troop deployments and the delivery of military equipment. But even since the transportation lines were loosened, the aid has come slowly, and Ruth has helped organize more camps than she has aid to deliver. Meanwhile, the well-heeled major relief aid agencies have often ignored camp committees and made handouts conditional on the presence of US or UN troops. (One World Food Program distribution I planned on attending was canceled at the last minute because not enough peacekeepers could be mobilized to provide security.) Even with soldiers standing guard, the distributions often ended in melees, attracting journalists and driving away families not willing to fight for food despite their hunger.

"The fights at aid distributions are a result of the way they give aid; they have nothing to do with Haitians," says Ruth. "We are victims. We're hungry. But they need to show some respect for our dignity when they give us aid. When we have organized aid distributions, we have never had a problem. We don't need soldiers with guns. The organizations that have aid distribute it poorly, and those who can distribute the aid well don't have any."

That the large aid organizations are not reaching out to community-based organizations, much less consulting them, is nothing new in Haiti. After the 2008 floods in Gonaïves, Ruth worked with a Beltway-based nonprofit organization with a multimillion-dollar budget. She says she will never do it again.

"Of all the money they send here, only 10 percent actually makes it to the ground. The rest is spent on foreign experts, hotels, car rentals, hotel conferences."

Ruth's critiques of the current aid effort, run by foreigners who have never been to Haiti and earn five-figure monthly salaries enhanced by danger premiums, are no less withering.

"There might be a camp with 3,000 families, and they're trying to distribute 200 items. Of course there are going to be fights," says Ruth. "Some camps have four or five organizations helping them, and none of them seem to be working together. Other camps have received nothing."

On the capital's streets, frustration and resentment are increasingly tangible.

"I'm going to take to the streets to tell all the Americans they aren't doing anything useful while we are living in misery," says Marie Carinne Joseph, who has just spent a sleepless night in the rain at the Toussaint Louverture Plaza in front of the National Palace, which US troops occupied shortly after the earthquake. "I'm not into politics, but I will scream high and low. My cardboard is wet, and the sheets are wet. I'm going to raise them above my head and show the entire world so they can see them."

Some people in high places have gotten the message. John Holmes, the UN official in charge of humanitarian aid, recently warned of "the potential consequences in terms of both politics and security of large demonstrations in some sensitive places."

Holmes attributed problems in aid distribution to a lack of coordination among international organizations, in an internal e-mail leaked on February 17.

"I fear we have simply not yet injected the necessary resources in some areas in terms of capacity to implement practical programmes and deliver on the ground," he wrote.

The admonishment came in sharp contrast to the self-congratulatory comments of US Ambassador Kenneth Merten during a trip to Washington three days earlier.

"In terms of humanitarian aid delivery...frankly, it's working really well," Merten told journalists. "And I believe that this will be something that people will be able to look back on in the future as a model for how we've been able to sort ourselves out as donors on the ground and responding to an earthquake."

US officials have already drafted long-term plans for Haiti behind closed doors. According to the Miami Herald, the Obama administration is pushing a plan that would create a Haitian Development Authority to manage foreign assistance for the next ten years. Canada has reportedly proposed that the World Bank run a trust fund, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his country's aid scheme on February 17 after flying onto the grounds of the collapsed National Palace, the blasts of wind from his helicopter knocking off tarpaulin roofs in the adjacent tent city. The Haitian government is drafting its own plan to remake the country before a donor conference on March 31. And the Haitian elite have published a 173-page "Strategic Plan for National Salvation," whose editorial committee was led by Rudolph Boulos, a wealthy politician who was booted out of the Haitian Senate two years ago after documents surfaced proving he was a US citizen.

All the official plans ostensibly call for decentralization and investment in agriculture and tourism, aiming to encourage the nearly 600,000 displaced people who have fled the capital for the countryside to stay there. But so far there is no sign that either the Haitian government or its international backers are interested in bucking the neoliberal consensus, which for three decades has held that instead of producing their own food, peasants should migrate to the city to work in assembly plants.

On the contrary, the UN supports an economic recovery plan, endorsed by Bill Clinton and set in motion before the earthquake, centered in large part on bolstering the maquiladora industry. Calls for its implementation by international actors and members of the Haitian elite who run the plants have grown louder since the earthquake. Meanwhile, of the $575 million UN appeal for aid issued shortly after the earthquake, only 4 percent, or $23 million, was earmarked to help Haitian farmers obtain seeds and fertilizer (farmers have been feeding seeds intended for next season's crops to family members who have fled the capital). A month later, Food and Agriculture Organization chief Jacques Diouf complained that only 8 percent of this target had been met. On February 25 a UN report confirmed that the agriculture sector still had not received the funds. In the countryside, there is no evidence of any humanitarian aid, much less for agriculture.

In the desolate Anse Rouge salt flats nearly 125 miles north of Port-au-Prince, Louise Bonne Raymond sleeps with her daughter and other family members on the floor of the thatched patio of her cousin's house. Before the earthquake, nine people lived in the house. Now there are twenty-five.

"We live day to day here," says Louise Bonne, who is 30 and has spent her entire life in the capital. "We get up, and if we have food, we eat. If not, we have no choice. We have nothing and the people who live here don't either, because this is the countryside. There are no crops and no rice in reserve that they could give you either."

The house her father built in downtown Port-au-Prince collapsed, burying the clothes and cosmetics she sold to make a living. Louise Bonne and her daughter slept the first night in the street, and the next day found a cousin with a truck who took them and other family members to the salt flats.

She had been there only twice in the past twelve years. The only available job is harvesting salt--low-paying, unreliable and backbreaking work. The nearest secondary school is two hours away, and nonpotable water is available for sale twice a week. The family buys enough water to fill two sixty-gallon drums, and rations its use. Food is equally scarce--prices of imported staples like rice and beans shot up after the earthquake. Louise Bonne and her cousins braid one another's hair and sing dirges to pass the time. "Oh Lord, you don't see this feeling of danger. If you see me crying, it's the problems I've got," goes one song.

Despite the flood of displaced people here since the earthquake, community leaders in Anse Rouge told me that no humanitarian aid has reached there. But Louise Bonne does not plan on returning to Port-au-Prince. There is nothing left for her there, she says, and she would prefer to eke out an existence in the countryside than face another earthquake in the capital.

"Giving food aid from day to day is fine, but they should help us develop our natural resources for the long term," she says. "That way, we can respond to our needs without having to depend on someone else to give us rice, beans and the other daily necessities."

It is a demand repeated across Haiti, before and after the earthquake. Thirty years ago Haitians produced most of the food they consumed, surviving on a diverse diet that included homegrown staples such as manioc, breadfruit, yams, sweet potatoes, plantains, millet, corn and rice. Rice imports were extremely limited. It was grown in the fertile Artibonite Valley and was eaten as a special meal on Sundays or special occasions. Beginning in 1986, a military junta backed by Washington began flooding the market with cheap imported rice subsidized by the US government. The economic liberalization was overseen by Leslie Delatour, a "Chicago Boy" economist whose widow, Elisabeth Débrosse Delatour, later became an economic adviser to current President René Préval, and is now his wife.

A quarter-century later, millions of families live in precarious slums, farmers are incapable of feeding the population and the country is heavily dependent on imported food, above all US-grown rice (of which Haiti is now the fourth-largest importer). The devastating consequences of this dependence became impossible to ignore in April 2008, when hundreds of thousands of Haitians protested rising prices of imported food, paralyzing the country with roadblocks and forcing the ouster of the prime minister. Préval lowered the price of imported rice, and his foreign backers began paying lip service to supporting national production. But as usual, little was done to support Haitian farmers.

The earthquake has only exacerbated Haiti's dependence on US imports and foreign aid. White rice from the United States has been the keystone of the humanitarian aid response. But it has provoked angst from Artibonite rice farmers, who complain of the absence of credit, antiquated tools, broken irrigation systems, prohibitively high prices for fertilizer and, above all, subsidized "Miami rice" that undercuts their sales.

"It hits us hard," says Rosalvo Louverture, standing in his rice paddy less than three hours north of Port-au-Prince. "It's foreign aid that is helping the people in Port-au-Prince. But we could respond to their needs. We should be feeding them."

International aid groups compare notes and discuss strategies for distributing aid at "cluster meetings," from which ordinary Haitians are in effect banned. "Poor Haitians are not only not present at these meetings; they are made to feel unwelcome," a development consultant from a prominent Haitian family told me. It is not only the poor who have been shut out of the decision-making process. A friend of mine, a Haitian government official who was sent to a food cluster meeting, was barred from entering because she did not have a passport. Discrimination against Haitians in their own country seems more prevalent than ever since the earthquake. US Coast Guard officials barred my Haitian cameraman from entering the airport, where military press attachés were giving interviews, even though he had a UN-issued press credential. When I asked if he should return with a passport, they said they would be even less inclined to let him enter out of concern that he would somehow hop aboard a US-bound plane.

Ruth Derilus has yet to visit a cluster meeting. But she hopes to soon. She recently joined a group of Haitian community leaders who are determined to force the international aid agencies to listen to their demands.

"We're going to fight against the way in which they are giving aid," she says. "These meetings of the big foreigners are the ones that will decide our future. We can't be afraid of what they think of us. We need to speak when we're not in agreement. We have to put pressure on them."

Ruth says she is hopeful that the earthquake will open the doors for real change.

"The positive aspect of the earthquake is that for the first time, all the people who had migrated to Port-au-Prince are returning to the countryside," she says. "Port-au-Prince was not built for this many people, and that's why there were so many victims from the earthquake. Port-au-Prince needs help, but now is the time to support Haitian farmers so we can produce our own food.

"Another Haiti is possible, if there is enough will, capacity and solidarity."

Those are three big ifs, and Ruth readily concedes that her expectations of reversing the current aid juggernaut are muted. In the meantime, she says, she will keep fighting, organizing displaced people by day, and keeping her sorrow at bay by night.


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