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Free counter Dr. Pittendreigh's Mission To Haiti 2004: Update on Haiti -- The Mudslides and Floods - September 27

Monday, September 27, 2004

Update on Haiti -- The Mudslides and Floods - September 27

Two of us are still at the Hotel Montana in Port au Prince, while the others have returned to the hospital at Leogane.

Remaining here at the hotel I have found some opportunities to serve as a sort of hotel chaplain. Many members of the press are here at the hotel. We often think of these folks as hardy, tough, dispationate individuals, but as I have talked to many of them I have found them to be deeply devasted by what they have seen in the areas north of us where there has been extensive flooding.

You probably know more than we do about the flood areas. We have heard that over 1,000 people have died and another 1,000 are missing. The reporters I have talked to speak of walking in waist-deep water and having to move through floating bodies of lifestock and people.

The Haitians are trying to bury the dead. Many are being buried in mass graves, which the Haitians find disturbing. Some are being buried in cemeteries. Many Haitians bury their dead in their own yards, which I'm told is culturally appropriate in this country.

Many of the reporters I've talked to are Christian and we had prayer together. They covet your prayers as well for themselves and the hurting people they have seen.

Wearing either a clerical collar shirt or a T-Shirt that bears the Presbyterian seal has opened many doors of conversation. This morning I met a lady from a Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. She is here through (I believe) the Red Cross.

Some of you have emailed me with the question, "how can I help? What can I send?"

I would suggest nothing be sent, but rather support qualified organizations that will be sending materials. Several of the reporters I talked with said they have seen trucks with water and food pulling out of the area of devastation because the crowds literally attack the truck, endangering the relief workers and themselves. They are trying to get support from the UN peacekeeping forces and others so they can distribute materials safely and effectively -- by now that may have been done. I simply don't know. (Remember, there is little in the way of police protection in this country. We have been told there are 2,500 police in this nation of 8 million).

Again, let me say we are in Leogane and Port au Prince, and far from the disaster areas.

One way you can help is to give to the Presbyterian Church, USA. The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program is engaged in relief efforts. Indicate on your check that your contribution is to go to Haiti #9-2000166, and our treasurer will pass your contribution on to Haitian relief.

I have been in contact with the Presbyterian Church, USA, headquarters in Louisville to ask them what we are doing as a denomination. They tell me that the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is responding to Haiti in cooperation with others with the emergency delivery of food, water and kitchen utensils. Now that the water is receding and access to Gonaïves by road is now possible, the Presbyterian Church is sending a volunteer to Gonaive to evaluate the capacity of 20 local churches to receive and manage food aid. They are also proposing the provision of medical assistance and psychosocial care.

Another way you can help is to make an extra donation to the Mission's budget of the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. This trip is turning out much longer than we expected, and your contributions will be needed!!


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