"On one level life continues, but on another level it will never be the same. Ten minutes ago I translated for a young boy who barely spoke. His head was soft as a rotten pumpkin, and his leg was infected. His grandfather brought him to the Jesuit compound because he knew there were doctors here. No one else in his family could take him because they are all dead. Today was the first day the grandfather found his grandson, and today was the first time the boy saw a doctor," Boynton continued in his message on Jan. 23.
Br. Boynton, of the Detroit Province, had been working at the Fe y Alegria school in Ouanaminthe, on the Haitian border with the Dominican Republic, when the earthquake struck on Jan. 12.
Rafael Jimenez, social program coordinator for Jesuit Refugee Service in the Dominican Republic, told Catholic News Service that convoys of at least three large trucks carry relief materials, collected from parishes and social groups around the Dominican Republic, every other day to Port-au-Prince, where the food, water and medicine – among other things –are quickly distributed. In comparison, Jimenez says that many of the relief materials sent from far-away countries to Haiti have been stuck at the airport and docks due to poor infrastructure and a lack of established networks in Port-au-Prince.
"The people in the communities (needing help) are the ones doing the work. They themselves are doing the organizing," Jimenez told CNS after returning from Port-au-Prince Jan. 24. Even with aid being delivered more freely, "there's still a lot of hunger," he said.
"There is still need of doctors and more food aid. The aid arriving is not sufficient to feed those needing help at our intervention centers," said Fr. Kawas Francois, S.J., the top Jesuit in Haiti, who is coordinating the JRS and Jesuit response to the disaster.
Br. Boynton writes: "One woman of about 60 years old had infected wounds in her legs that (exposed) the bones. Our doctors dressed the wounds and she bravely endured and hour long ordeal of scraping and removing flesh. I held her, we prayed, and I listened to her scream. To keep her mind off the pain I started singing the few songs in Creole that I know. A crowd formed and joined in with me. We all sang at the top of our lungs to keep the poor women distracted from the tremendous pain. She cried, held on tight, and sang. When it was over she said she will never forget us. When it was over she went back to living under the stars in a crowded park with open sewage."On Jan. 24, Br. Boynton writes again: "Diarrhea is now starting to take over the camps. Many many mothers came in with their babies, and adults came in as well. We offered them water with sugar and salt. There was little else we could do. My guess is that soon the entire camps will be infected. We also saw a case of conjunctivitis, which as any school teacher can tell you spreads quickly. To this point my previous third world experience has shown me that a child can be playing one day, get diarrhea the next, and be dead the following day. As we were leaving the camp I noticed a number of children playing. What is in store for three days from now?
... our neurosurgeon told us three of the (most seriously) wounded people in town are at a clinic and needed to get to surgery. We had no way to transport them and did not know what to do. At that moment someone noticed a large flatbed truck with the front window broken out. When I asked who owned the truck I had to laugh... it belongs to Fe y Alegria, the school I work for. In essence, it was my truck! We drove to the clinic, found the patients and transported them. The will never walk again, but they will live."
Learn more about JRS and the Jesuits in Haiti here: jrsusa.org/haiti.
Learn more about JRS and the Jesuits in Haiti here:
202-462-0400 ext. 5946