People around the world are watching in shock as tragedy unfolds in Haiti, and Albertans with connections to the tropical island are doing what they can to help.
Two days after a powerful earthquake hit the impoverished nation, Haiti is now dealing with heavy rain and strong winds from tropical storm Grace.
“We will request a report from them (showing) what they do with the fund,” Pierre Claude Robergeau, treasurer with the OHE, said.
Robergeau has lived in Canada for 21 years, most of that time in Alberta. He still has many family members living in the southern part of Haiti, where Saturday’s earthquake struck.
“So far, I haven’t heard from some members of my family. We are still waiting. I don’t know if it’s a problem of network. Some of them are safe, but some of them, we don’t hear from them.”
On Monday, Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency raised the death toll from Saturday’s earthquake to 1,419 and the number of injured to 6,000.
Sarah Wallace, from Devon, Alta., spent 12 years in Haiti founding the organization Olive Tree Projects, which aims to help the children of Haiti through programs including foster care and maternal care.
Wallace was living in Haiti in 2010 when another catastrophic earthquake shook the country.
“They were struggling to begin with and, on top of that, to experience another earthquake, I know that the support that we provide means a lot,” she said. “On top of actually providing them with food or shelter, it even emotionally means a lot to them to know that there are people there to help.”
Olive Tree Projects is now helping local Haitian organizations become operational again.
‘They lost everything’
“It breaks my heart to see what’s going on there. They lost everything,” said Marc Honorat, founder of Haiti ARISE, a Calgary-based charity that runs churches and schools in the country. About 150 members of the group are now in Haiti.
“Some of our people died down there from the earthquake.”
It’s a difficult time for the nearly 2,000 people from Haiti living in Calgary — many concerned about family and friends back home.
Philippe Pierre Pierre with the Haitian Association of Calgary said: “You feel like you cannot help. You’re so far away.”
“People I talk to, they are afraid to sleep in their house. They have to sleep outside because they’re always thinking, ‘It’s going to happen again,'” he said.
Samaritan’s Purse is sending food and water filtration units to Haiti along with temporary shelters and medical supplies.
“Out of Calgary, we have medical professionals that we currently have deployed and more that are getting ready to go,” said Ian Stokes with Samaritan’s Purse.
“Where this particular earthquake hit is an area that’s under the control of gangs and so access in and out for all the humanitarian workers is a significant issue.
“There’s also a tropical storm that’s making landfall — tropical storm Grace. That, of course, comes with all kinds of dangers, flooding and mudslides. It’s just going to further complicate the overall situation there.”