I am back in Haiti as of yesterday. Admittedly, I felt some nervous before getting on the trail of planes yesterday from NC, but felt totally fine as we came within sight of a partly cloudy Haiti . I had been following Tomas carefully and knew it was several days behind me, but was still relieved to have arrived here without event.
It was a joyful arrival back at the HelpAge house with a raucous welcome from all the HelpAge staffers I knew from August. It is such a great group of people who are not only so committed to collaborating with Haitians to help improve their lives, but to supporting each other in a place that just keeps on keeping on with it's challenges. Gordy was in great spirits too, pleased that his first part of the psychosocial training had been going well, and very positive about continuing to plan together for the rest of it. Ndaro, the public health doc director from Tanzania, is really pumped about getting the integrated psychosocial program going in 75 of the camps and is full of ideas and support.
Today was to be Gordy's 3rd out of 4 training days for Haitian nurses, psychologists and community agent leaders. It was a great group and very energetic. We got a call at 2pm this afternoon that we had to shut it down , anticipating the hurricane coming in tonight or tomorrow. People needed to be given time to get to the grocery store and get home to be out of harm's way. We have all been glued to online weather reports which now look like Tomas has been down-graded to a tropical storm and seems to be heading right through the corridor in between Jamaica and Haiti, likely clipping Haiti with rains, and lower than 25 mph winds. Thank God. The government was announcing to the over 1 million people in the camps to evacuate to families and friends. Problem is that the camp residents are there because there are no family or friends with available housing. There are a few churches and public areas that can offer very temporary shelter. This storm definitely needs to stay away. Enough. In addition, most all of the NGO's have spent all of the funds and resources in their pipelines, so there is so little for another disaster!
The cholera update is that it is also slowed down, but not contained. HelpAge is doing a ton of education for cholera prevention in the camps. If this storm does create massive flooding, cholera will really ramp up. Some neighborhood residents in Haiti boycotted an additional cholera hospital being put up because they were afraid. Fear keeps people from learning what the facts are so much of the time.
My part of the training is going to have to include a bunch of material that Gordy was going to cover, but that is fairly workable. Hoping the storm will be past to continue the formal training Saturday. I am perfectly safe and comfortable. It's the people in the camps that need not to get hit again.