Thursday, January 14, 2010

First Person Description of Haiti Earthquake

This just came to me from Chris Sahlman -- he is from our church originally and has been helping plant a church in Madison, Wisconsin for the past few years.
He moved to Haiti "11 days before the quake" to serve as a missionary in an orphange.

Read on...

My experience has been overwhelming here in Haiti after the quake. I moved down to Haiti 11 days before the quake with my friends from the Journey Community and other churches. They left one day before the quake. I just wanted to take a quick nap… 45 minutes later my whole trip and life was changed forever.

I thought my whole house was going to fall down on me, when I was running to get out of it. Once I was outside I could here screaming for all directions. I was thinking to myself “did this really just happen?!?!”

I end up sitting on the side of the road for three hours watching people walk out of downtown Jacmel. Where I live is about 5 to 7 miles from there. It was dark, there was no power, and people were screaming and crying. I just sat there and prayed. I waited there and finally two of my friends (Nego & Ellen) found me and took me to another missionary house that had a generator going with internet access. I called Steve right away on Skype. Told him I was fine and that I was able to call Wakendy at the orphanage. When I called Wakendy is when I learned that the orphanage was broken, but the kids were all ok, but scared.

I tried to get to them that night, but it was dark already and the people was with advised me that it was not safe to go. “Wait until morning,” they said.

That night I got about 2 hours of sleep. There were aftershocks about every 30 to 45 minutes that night. The next morning I found my roommate Amos. He was in Port au Prince the day of the earthquake to take his wife to the airport. Her plane took off one and half hours before the quake hit. Amos was on a mountain on his way back to Jacmel when the quake hit. Because of rockslides, he had to walk the rest of the way down the mountain to make it back to Jacmel. It took him about 7 hours to walk back.

So, I met up with Amos at the place I was staying. Him, I, and a group of about 5 others went to the Orphanage to see the damage. I was glad to see all the kids were alive and okay, but was heartbroken when I saw the damage to the building. I kept saying, “Where are they going to live now.” I gave some money to one of the family members that help oversee the orphanage to go get supplies that were most needed. Then, I went back to the place I was staying to get on the internet to update Steve on want was happing.

The kids are doing great. I think the older kids understand alot more of what is going on. The kids are mostly playing and just being kids. There is at least one kid that got hurt during the quake. She hurt her foot when some bricks from the building fell on it. There are also a couple of kids that are sick with high fevers. I had a person go into town to find some medicine, but had no luck. The pastor who oversees the orphanage was working on building a small room outside to store the food in. The orphanage has enough food right now. There are over 50 bags of rice and about 5 bags of beans for the kids to eat. There is water, but I don’t know how much as of right now. We are working on knocking the rest of the building down in the next couple of days. Then we will start rebuilding from there!

There is not a lot of assistance right now in Jacmel. I know the WFP stopped by and gave the orphanage some food after the quake. The UN had set up a relief camp at the airport, but as of today have ran out of supplies so they closed it down. The road to Port Au Price is closed, blocked by landslides. Word of mouth is that it will take about two weeks to reopen the road. There was a gas station open today in Jacmel and everyone rushed it to get gas for their cars and Moto’s. That made for a crazy time trying to get to the orphanage today.
Driving through downtown Jacmel you can start to smell death in the air. There are still a lot of people trapped in buildings that have fallen. There is not a lot of help for rescuing them. I did see people pull a lady out of a building alive on Wednesday. With the road being block there is not much hope for the people that are still trapped. Also word of mouth is that the death toll in Jacmel could be 500 – 1000 people. Obviously, please continue to pray for all of us here in Jacmel. God bless.

If you want to donate to help rebuild this orphanage you can send a check to "the journey" with "Haiti relief" on the memo line - mail it to: p.o. box 44092, madison, wi, 53744.


TAMI said...

Thank you, Matt, for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this vivid image. It must have been terrifying...