A scene of destruction: In the streets of Haiti in the year 2010, after the earthquake disaster. Photo: humedica/ Wolfgang Riske
Life in the destroyed paradise goes on
Three years after the disaster: humedica managing director Wolfgang Groß reports
Three years after the massive earthquake disaster in Haiti, which on January 12th, 2010, shortly before 5 pm local time, left 330.000 dead and more than three million affected, we will take a look back and, at the same time, take a look forward with the people of Haiti.
On the day after the massive quake, the first humedica relief team of eight persons already set off for Port-au-Prince, near the epicentre of the quake. The scale of destruction was huge: chaos, devastation, people buried alive, dead people, injured people everywhere.
It was a scene of desperation and hopelessness, and yet people had to look ahead. “Everything that had been built in 30 years of hard work, the people’s whole living environment, was destroyed in the course of 30 seconds”, says Anneliese Gutmann, an experienced missionary and school founder, who has been working in Haiti for decades, with a desperate look at the school buildings she built in the village of Meyer, which were destroyed by then.
In the first six months after the quake, about one hundred humedica volunteers provided medical aid to Haitians affected by the earthquake.
The humedica doctors and nurses were often stretched to their limits by their hard physical and emotional work. Apart from providing medical aid, the chaos of destruction had to be removed and thoughts had to be focused on a new beginning.
Life had to go on. Along with the clean-up and reconstruction efforts, some new projects were initiated by humedica that have been supported and continuously extended up to this day. Buildings like schools and orphanages were and are being reconstructed or newly constructed. Cholera projects, as well as a prostheses and orthoses workshop came into being. A training school for nurses in St. Marc recently received its state accreditation and will be run in future with the support of nurse’s training schools in Germany and Austria.
Many new things have developed in this country, often called the “poorhouse of the Caribbean”, which was shaken to the core three years ago. And still, no end of the reconstruction efforts is in sight. On the contrary: Much has been built already, yet when one building is finished, the next has to be tackled. More projects are being planned and shall be carried out in the near future, if the necessary financial means are available. Up to this day, humedica has used 3.7 million euros for projects in Haiti as well as donations in kind with a value of about 700.000 euros.
On his recent visit to the humedica projects in Haiti, Wolfgang Groß was especially impressed by the ability of these traumatized people, who had lost everything, including their homes and relatives, to be so happy again and express their heartfelt gratitude, only three years after the disaster.
“With God, everything is possible”
Many times before, but especially after the disaster in 2010, Wolfgang Groß has travelled to the scenes of tragic events himself. With his love for the people living in the country and with great commitment, he makes every possible effort so that humedica can really make a difference. After his recent project visit to Haiti at the end of November and the beginning of December 2012, this is what he remembers most of all: the gratitude of the people and the returned happiness of the children.
After an adventurous drive on bumpy dirt roads and through marshy river areas, he arrived in the small town of Marbial, far from the capital, Port-au-Prince. Here, about 600 pupils can enjoy lessons in beautiful new school buildings that humedica has been able to put up thanks to the donations received.
In Marbial, Wolfgang Groß was welcomed with a brass band and a great pupils’ parade. Three years ago, nothing was left here, and people were not able even to think of happiness in the midst of all their suffering. Now, the hearts were filled with joy when all the people and organisations were celebrated who had made a new beginning possible: With the financial support of the Dutch organisation ORA and the German Sternstunden e.V., humedica has been able to repair access roads and rebuild classrooms, and so, slowly breathe new life into the small town of Marbial. Especially touching were the pride and gratitude of the children, which were expressed in poems and theatre plays.
“I am really enthusiastic about how God prepared everything”, marvels Wolfgang Groß, who has always been there, when the first spontaneous ideas developed, when these ideas were carried out in long-lasting processes and when the projects were finally finished. Now he enjoys meeting the happy and grateful people of Haiti himself.
Another “humedica project” can be admired in a beautiful and quiet, yet also severely earthquake-damaged area in Tapio, not far from the capital, Port-au-Prince: the new, recently opened orphanage, “House of Children”.
The facility consists of several buildings and is equipped with furniture made by local carpenters, which promotes both the local manufacturers and the economy of the country. The orphanage canteen is also open to the about 200 children of the affiliated school. The bright and ample corridors of the two houses for girls and for boys, as well as beautiful new tiled floors and warmly painted walls currently serve as a home to 36 parentless Haitian children.
Lots of speeches, the singing voices of children, delicious cakes, dances and other performances by the pupils: people spared no efforts to show their gratitude and the atmosphere at the opening ceremony could not have been more joyful.
The Haiti project that will probably require the most commitment and time in the months to come is the training school for nurses in St. Marc, the last destination of the humedica managing director on his visit to Haiti. “This is going to be a great project to which I dedicate much of my own commitment”, Wolfgang Groß reveals with enthusiasm. By means of donations, the existing buildings on the vast premises are to be altered, renovated and restructured.
“Our plan for this project is to establish partnerships with nurse’s training schools in German-speaking countries in order to support this project in Haiti in the long term”, Wolfgang Groß reveals one his ideas. There are many plans for the future, but they can only be carried out gradually with the financial means available.
“It often amazes me that doors open where we don’t believe it to be possible. Looking back, I recognize once more that without God’s help, all of that would not have been possible.”
As mentioned before, more money is needed for the many aid projects in Haiti, in order to help people in the long run and assist them in the difficult beginning of a new life. Especially the nurse’s training school in St Marc is still in the birth pangs and is dependent on your donations. Heartfelt thanks for your support of any kind.
With a specific donation to the account indicated below, you can make a great contribution:
humedica e. V.
Reference "Earthquake Haiti"
Account 47 47
Bank Code 734 500 00
SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
You are also very welcome to use our online donation form for your contribution. Thank you so much!