As relief efforts continue around the world in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, organizations and businesses in Rappahannock are doing their share – and at least one longtime Rappahannock resident who was in Port au Prince for the quake has sent an extraordinary email dispatch to friends.
“Many people have lost their lives here in Port au Prince in the last few days, many in the first shattering shock and more since then. The hospitals are overflowing into the streets,” Goat Hill Farm owner John O’Malley Burns wrote in a letter emailed to family and friends, many in Rappahannock, three days after the disaster.
“The population has been on the move for the past three days,” wrote Burns, who has spent much of the last three years in the Caribbean nation helping to organize a fair-trade organic mango farming collective with Haitian growers.
“First on Wednesday [they were] looking for their friends and families, Thursday looking for high ground from the rumored Tsunami, and today those that are leaving are getting on all manner of conveyances out of town. Water is rare, food is scarcer. Rural towns have dispatched trucks to Port au Prince to pick up family members and town residents. Others who can afford it are leaving to the Dominican Republic or paying the price of travel to their ‘payi,’ place of birth in the countryside. There is a massive out-migration and up-into-the-hills migration. All carrying the few possessions left to them.”
Burns’ letter, written before most of the largest relief efforts had begun in earnest on the island, where damage to airports and ports has slowed outside access, continued:
“The hospitals closed their doors early Wednesday. The newer [hospital] closed its doors after processing over 8,000 people – a hospital designed for less than 250 patients at the most. Food stores have not reopened, gas station lines are a half-day long. Gas and diesel fuel will be running out.”
Friends say Burns is staying with his sister, who works for the United Nations in Port au Prince but was not among the many U.N. workers killed or injured when their headquarters hotel collapsed.
In his letter, he suggests that anyone who can help find a way to do so.
In Rappahannock County in the first week after the disaster, several relief efforts have been offered, with more said to be on the way. (If you know of other organized efforts in the county, please submit a comment below with that information.)
The Food Pantry in Washington will support Medical Missionaries as the organization works to relieve suffering in Haiti, and is accepting donations on its behalf.
Medical Missionaries is a volunteer group of more than 200 doctors, nurses, dentists, and others who work to improve the health of the poorest in the U.S. and around the world. Volunteers provide medical care and medical supplies, clothing and food. One of its areas of focus has been along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border.
The Food Pantry is aiming to deliver its collected goods to the Medical Missionaries sea container leaving in a couple of weeks. The container needs: soaps; toothpaste and toothbrushes; metal pots for cooking; baby food (no glass) and wipes; flat shoes; dried foods (canned goods are too heavy); empty clear plastic bottles (liter to gallon; filled water bottles are too heavy); flat sheets; and tents or tarps.
Money of any amount will also help Medical Missionaries. Every dollar donated goes directly to assist those most in need. You can bring donations to the Rappahannock Food Pantry at 603 Mt. Salem Ave., Washington. The Food Pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. For information, or to arrange another time or place to make a donation, call Mimi Forbes at 540-675-1177 or 540-937-2067.
The students of Hearthstone School in Sperryville, meanwhile, are collecting urgently needed supplies for the earthquake victims in Haiti, which they will deliver to the Salvation Army for delivery to Haiti.
Items may be dropped off in the lobby of the main building at Hearthstone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The following items are needed: any first aid items such as aspirin and ibuprofen (for children and adults), band-aids, gauze, bandage tape, ace bandages, neosporin, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, alcohol swabs, iodine and first aid kits; hygiene items such as soap, antiseptic wipes, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, combs, disposable diapers, sanitary pads, lotion and lip balm; flashlights, batteries, candles and matches.
A spokesperson for the student-organized effort says not to drop off any food, clothing or bottled water.
Finally, through Jan. 31, Washington’s R.H. Ballard is donating 10 percent of total purchases from its Main Street Shop and Gallery (as well as its website) to the organization Doctors Without Borders.
On the www.rhballard.com website, there’s also a link to the Doctors Without Borders site for those who wish to donate directly.