Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The Salvation Army in Chile is focusing their tsunami relief response mainly on the communities of Dichato and Caleta Tumbes. Many locals here fled to high ground and watched as the tsunami destroyed their homes, possessions and livelihoods, and in some instances took the lives of their loved ones.
One woman lost her 92-year-old father who decided to stay in their house after trusting his son, a local fisherman, that the sea well would not reach the house. On any other night that would have been true – but not on this occasion.
Another fisherman explained that he didn’t think about the boat he left behind as he and his family fled, and now he doesn’t know how he’ll be able to afford to pay for a new one. His family is currently living with many others in tents and makeshift shelters in woods on high ground inland from their homes.
The tsunami destroyed the communities’ fishing fleets, and this time of year is the most important for sardine fishermen. The season lasts only three months, and many earn almost their entire annual income during this short period.
Salvation Army officers and volunteers have been working selflessly in these coastal communities to provide food, water and clothes, helping to clear and clean properties that are still standing, and offering spiritual support. In one camp volunteers are running a children’s club to try and assist in their recovery.
The secretary of the fishermen’s cooperative in Dichato said: ‘The young men may be able to retrain to do something else but many of us are too old. All we know is fishing – it is our livelihood, it is our life.’
In addition to providing food, water, clothes, and spiritual support, The Salvation Army in Chile is considering raising donations for the purpose of replacing the boats that were swept away.
The secretary of the fishermen’s cooperative in Caleta Tumbes thanked The Salvation Army for all it was doing in the community and appealed for it to continue to give assistance.
If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s ongoing relief efforts in Chile, please visit our online donation page.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The Salvation Army’s Major Laurie Robertson reports that recommendations coming out of a Salvation Army international strategy conference held in London confirm that The Salvation Army will be heavily and closely involved in rebuilding Haiti well past the conclusion of the current emergency situation caused by January’s massive earthquake.
The conference was attended by a delegation from The Salvation Army’s Caribbean Territory, representatives from 10 Salvation Army territories involved in the relief and rebuilding process, personnel from The Salvation Army USA National Headquarters, Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO), and The Salvation Army International Headquarters.
The emergency phase for The Salvation Army in Haiti is expected to last for another six to nine months. During this time The Salvation Army will continue to care for 20,000 displaced people who are living in cramped camp conditions on a soccer field in Port-au-Prince. Emergency assistance will also be ongoing for those who were adversely affected in Jacmel and Petit Goave.
One of the urgent challenges for The Salvation Army is the relocation of the 20,000 people from its emergency camp to transitional housing. It is hoped this housing will be constructed before the end of the year.
The Salvation Army in Port-au-Prince provides essential services to one of the poorest areas in Haiti and conference delegates strongly expressed their belief that The Salvation Army’s facilities needed to be rebuilt as quickly as possible. Most of its buildings have been so badly damaged that they will need to be demolished.
During the next few months prioritization of the transitional and long-term projects will take place, applications for further funding will be processed and some projects commenced while emergency relief service continues.
Friday, March 26, 2010
One month following the destructive magnitude 8.8 earthquake and tsunami that struck Chile, The Salvation Army continues distributing help throughout the country. More than 15,000 people have been assisted and 14,000 rations of food provided to individuals and families. Some 350 volunteers have given their help.
A campaign called ‘Strong Arms Around Chile’ has been set up to help collect donations and goods that can be delivered to the neediest Chileans.
In the area around the capital, Santiago, coffee, hot meals and other services continue to be offered.
The south of the country, particularly coastal regions, was most affected by the disaster and this area is where The Salvation Army is focusing its efforts.
Four hundred baskets with basic necessities have been given out in Caleta Tumbes, which was affected by both the quake and tsunami. Salvation Army workers are helping to clear debris in this area. The Salvation Army is also distributing family baskets with basic necessities such as food, water, hygiene products, and clothes to families who are sleeping outdoors since they no longer have homes.
In Concepción, around the epicentre of the earthquake, family baskets were distributed at a camp in the centre of the city.
In nearby Hualpén, a well on the grounds of Hualpencillo Corps (church) is providing water to the neighbourhood.
The Salvation Army’s Central Division in Chile sent 20 tons of food, clothing and water to the cities of Concepción and Hualpén, including some goods purchased with funds received from overseas.
The supplies were organized in a reception centre at Concepción Corps. The corps officers went to the affected zones to see where the aid was most needed and the community of Dichato was identified. Unfortunately, because of contamination, the military was not allowing people into the community.
Eventually a Salvation Army team was allowed to visit the New Dawn camp in Dichato, which is made up of 180 families – approximately 850 people. The team also visited Villa los Sauces, which has a number of temporary settlements, and the area of Coliumo, where many people are living in small makeshift camps along the side of the road.
In each of these places goods were given out, including food, water and some tents. Three volunteers, rotating every few days, are living in a tent in the New Dawn camp and there are plans to set up a community kitchen. Salvationists and volunteers have helped clear debris and have lifted people’s spirits with times of worship.
In an emergency services coordination meeting, it was decided that Concepción Corps would take responsibility for people in Dichato, Coliumo, Lota, Coronel and Hualqui. The corps at Hualpén will visit and document the communities of Las Salinas, Lenga, Talcahuano and Caleta Tumbes. Some of these areas are dealing with devastation from both the earthquake and the tsunami.
Major Raelton Gibbs (International Emergency Services) is now in Chile to assist and advise the local Salvation Army teams.
The Salvation Army has been shown great appreciation by those receiving help. Many are simply happy still to be alive. The Chilean Salvation Army continues to work and aid those in need by providing not only material necessities but also spiritual comfort.
To help support The Salvation Army’s ongoing relief efforts in Chile, visit our online donations page.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Espwa means “hope” in Creole, the native language of Haiti. This idea of hope has been a general theme and desire for both citizens and aid workers who are joining together to rebuild Haiti after January’s disastrous earthquake.
From this shared goal has formed the Espwa Project, a labor of love and an endeavor to bring hope to Haiti by wearing it. When you give to The Salvation Army’s Espwa Project, a way to support our ongoing relief efforts in Haiti, you will receive a specially designed t-shirt with a message of hope.
As the Espwa website points out, “Hope, like laughter, is contagious. Each time you wear your [espwa] t-shirt, you spread its message of hope.”
Visit The Salvation Army Haiti Division’s Espwa Project wesbite for information.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The following report is a personal account of Haiti’s January 12 earthquake as seen through the eyes of The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander Lucien Lamartiniere. It was submitted by Stacy Howard, Public Information Officer for The Salvation Army’s Haiti Incident Command in Port-au-Prince.
Jan. 12, 2010 – 3:30 PM.
He described it as any other afternoon. The Salvation Army’s Haiti Divisional Commander Lucien Lamartiniere wrapped up a meeting at the Divisional Headquarters building. It ran later than expected.
The Major dropped his wife Marie off at a friend’s house. He noted this as being the first time ever, she didn’t want to go straight home with him, but wanted to visit her friend.
Major Lamartiniere planned to stop at the store to buy a drink. He forgot, and headed home.
He stood in his kitchen where he opened the fridge to grab a drink. The earth shook, his house began to crumble around him and in what he says “felt like forever” he ran outside. His gate was locked. The earth still shook – hard enough to break the gate open. He ran into the street where he watched his own house and his neighbors’ collapse. “I thought it was the end of the Earth,” Lamartiniere said.
The shaking stopped. In less than one minute, one of the most devastating earthquakes in history nearly demolished an entire country. He called his wife. No answer. He walked to search for her. When he finally arrived at her friend’s house, he breathed a sigh of relief as their house still stood. But Marie had left – to search for him.
Marie returned home, to see their car smashed under the caved-in house. She feared the worse.
Major Lamartiniere arrived on foot, back at his house where he reunited with his wife.
Two months later he shares his story as if it happened yesterday. Watching his eyes it’s clear every time he speaks of the quake he’s immediately taken back to the time, the place, the fear…and the hope.
He credits four miracles from God, as the reasons he survived what at least 230,000 others did not.
1. The meeting ran late. Had it finished earlier the participants likely would have been shopping in a location where most buildings fell.
2. Marie went to her friend’s house to visit. The house survived, while hers did not. She would have been in her own kitchen preparing dinner. The roof caved in over the kitchen and dining room.
3. The Major forgot to stop at the store. That store no longer exists.
4. His instinct told him to run, the second the shaking started. Many Haitians’ deaths are said to be due to lack of understanding in how to properly escape. Many thought they should stay inside for shelter.
Since the day that forever changed Haiti, Lamartiniere says many people who never sought The Salvation Army’s services before, now flock to the organization for help. The staff originally found some food that survived in storage and began cooking meals for those in need.
Once The Salvation Army established an Incident Command to spearhead the relief efforts, people began to form a tent city camp next to the former Divisional Headquarters, school and clinic which partially collapsed. With aid from around the world, The Salvation Army began its ongoing food distributions which now feed 20,000. One camp member expressed his gratitude to the Incident Command Team. “Without The Salvation Army we would die. Thank you.”
The Majors still live in a tent in the former Divisional Headquarters’ parking lot. They wanted and needed to be with their people, to let them know they were there beside them.
Major Lamartiniere’s primary hope for the future is to move people into permanent housing outside Port-au-Prince.
His outlook is simple. “I know The Salvation Army can’t do everything…but we’re going to be here to do what we can.”
The Salvation Army set up a Haiti relief fund and is accepting monetary donations. Donors may contribute $10 via their phone bill by text messaging the word “HAITI” to 52000, and confirming the donation with the word, “Yes.” Donors can also give via www.salvationarmyusa.org, 1-800-SAL-ARMY and through the mail at: The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728 with designation “Haiti Earthquake.”
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The Washington Post discussed today the threat that Haiti’s upcoming rain and flood season poses to the 700,000 people still living in tent cities in Port-au-Prince. The article discussed the sever sanitary problems that could arise in the congested camps as a result of rain, saying:
Government officials and relief organizations fear that Port-au-Prince will turn into a massive sewer of bacteria and disease when rains hit with their characteristic unrelenting gusto, possibly followed by June hurricanes…
“With the rains come the risk of water-borne diseases, which create intestine bacteria and diarrhea, and diarrhea is deadly to children,” said Simon Ingram, a spokesman for UNICEF. The organization estimates that 250,000 children are displaced. In addition, health-care providers noted that the rain can also escalate malaria cases as mosquitoes reproduce near stagnant water.
Relief workers are racing against mother nature to register displaced individuals and families in order to assess need and plan for relocation before the skies begin to pour. The Salvation Army has been working to register Haitians early on in our relief efforts, and UPS donated use of their high-tech Trackpad technology to increase speed and efficiency of our registration process.
The Salvation Army has also submitted a proposal to USAID for funding to provide 10,000 transitional shelters for the 20,000 Haitians over whom we care for near our Port-au-Prince headquarters. These shelters will provide greater protection against the torrential rains and support a more sanitary environment for Haitians to live in. A more detailed description of the project proposal can be found on an earlier blog entry, and we will post any updates on this project as they become available.
For more information about our work in Haiti, please visit our national website at www.salvationarmyusa.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You may also contribute to our ongoing Haiti relief efforts by donating online.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Saturday (March 12) marked the 2 month anniversary of Haiti’s destructive earthquake, and compassionate hearts continue to overwhelmingly volunteer their time and effort to help survivors.
More than 1,500 volunteers in the Los Angeles area turned out last Saturday and Sunday to package 1 million meals for Haiti, the latest of these community events coordinated by The Salvation Army and Numana, Inc. Meals contain rice, soy protein, seasoning and vitamin powder in specially-prepared plastic bags, ensuring Haitians receive the sustenance and nutrition they need as their country rebuilds.
The Salvation Army Western Territory has more information about the event and some great photos, so be sure to check out their blog! And THANK YOU to all the volunteers who worked so hard to package 1 million meals for Haiti. We couldn’t do it without you!
Photo Credit: John Docter, Salvation Army Western Territory
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
You may have read about or heard of the many Million Meals packing events The Salvation Army has been hosting in partnership with Numana, Inc. Thousands of volunteers from Indiana, California, Kansas, Missouri, and other states have already turned out to these community events to help us package several million meals for earthquake survivors in Haiti.
Get excited because we have another opportunity coming up this weekend! Our next Million Meals event will be held in Wichita, Kansas on Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21. We appreciate all the support we’ve received thus far and we need your continued efforts to reach our goal of providing this food for Haiti! Below is what you need to know about how to get involved. More detailed information can be found at The Salvation Army Wichita website at www.millionmeals.net.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The Salvation Army currently serves as the UN-designated “lead agency” for some 20,000 individuals who are living in tents within a soccer stadium near the Army’s Port-au-Prince headquarters. As Haiti’s rainy season approaches, The Salvation Army is making it a priority to transition refugees from the camp into temporary shelters, and we have submitted a proposal to USAID for funding to provide 10,000 transitional shelters for these people.
Mr. Lyle Laverty, volunteer and former Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, recently arrived back in the United States after serving a three-week deployment to Haiti on behalf of The Salvation Army. He and a technical working group have already created frame specifications and a proposal for what the shelter should look like and the construction materials needed. A model was built in only one day and used to demonstrate to USAID the construction process.
The Salvation Army proposal would use salvaged timber killed by mountain pine beetles in Colorado. This would create jobs in Colorado while providing a green and environmentally conscious solution for the use of the wood. The Salvation Army would train crews and hire local workers in Haiti to construct the shelters which would not only provide jobs, but also provide technical skills for Haitians to use in future construction projects. These transitional housing units will provide a safer and more structurally sound environment than has been available to many Haitians.
Additionally, a wonderful relationship is established with Senator Joseph Lambert in Haiti. Senator Lambert, President of the Parliament, arranged a meeting with the Minister of Interior to discuss The Salvation Army’s response to the disaster and strategy to assist the people of Haiti with transitional shelter.
The Salvation Army awaits word from USAID on whether its proposal will be accepted. As soon as an answer is provided, TSA will act promptly so as to ease the human suffering caused by the earthquake of January 12.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Sometimes our plans turn out to be even better than we could have ever expected.
More than five years ago Major Juan Gutierrez, a Salvation Army minister at Hualpencillo, Chile dug a well with which to water the lawns and gardens around the Salvation Army property. He never used it, but today the well is an important component of The Salvation Army’s response to last month’s devastating magnitude 8.8 earthquake.
The current corps officer, Major Abraham Marin, installed a pump for the well last week and there is now a source of clean water which can be used by those who are being helped by The Salvation Army. Hualpencillo is where The Salvation Army established the emergency disaster headquarters for the southern region of Chile.
Major Juan Carlos Alarcon, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army’s Chile South Division, said, “I spoke with Major Gutierrez by telephone to advise him that members of his family who live in the [earthquake] zone are safe. At the same time, I thanked him for drilling the well, which is now helping hundreds of families. In Hualpencillo, we are not only providing food, but fresh spring water as well.”