Rosie Awori (LJI)
Days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated part of Haiti’s southern peninsula on August 14, Montrealer Svens Telemaque got busy trying mobilize help for victims.
Through what he describes as the power of social media Telemaque who serves as outreach director at Union United Church, connected with other organizations such as, Eglise Jesuit, DESTA, Eglise Le Refuge, Youth Stars Foundation as well as groups in the Haitian sector and Montrealers at large, collecting supplies to assist in the massive relief effort currently underway in Haiti.
So far, according to information from the Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, the earthquake is responsible for more than 2,200 deaths, 12,200 injured and more than 50,000 homes were destroyed in an area that is home to about 1.5 million people. It is about 80 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
By the end of the week-long collection initiative, Telemaque and his partner organizations were able fill over 80 barrels with medical and other supplies including gauze, wipes, bandages, thermometers, peroxides among others.
“ This is a community effort but supported by Union United Church. I was just a spark,” the well-known community activist and communication specialist said.
Telemaque understands the skepticism that comes with mobilization of resources.
“Part of the frustration that a lot of us have seen when it comes to major NGO’s receiving so much funding, yet we see so little impact. And people will have a lot of reservations that the items they give will end up being sold for profit, but this is not the case with this drive.”
He told the CONTACT that the barrels will be shipped to Haiti and once they’ve cleared customs, he will go to the island to help distribute the items.
‘’The items will be distributed through Rêve Anaika in the Aux Cayes region , and Petit Trou Des Nippes by Jose Cargo’’ he says. “I’ve been to these regions before and have dealt with Mirlande Mila, from Montreal who runs Rêve Anaika, and is presently on the ground.”
Haiti has been in a bit of political and social turmoil following the assassination of President Jovenal Moise last month.
Without a functioning parliament, political leaders on the island are finding it difficult to respond to this disaster and help victims.
Some news agencies have been reporting that relief efforts have also been affected by gangs that control the remote regions where the earthquake struct.
Tropical Storm Grace was also responsible for delays in getting help to victims.
Eleven years ago, another massive 7,0 earthquake struct the island killing more that 250,000 people and displaced another half a million.
Up to today, many of those impacted by that disaster are still awaiting help.
Telemaque says he prepared to deal with some of the social and political contingencies on the ground in Haiti.
“Above all else, regardless of the criticism of these items reaching the people that need them, I place faith in God and plan on going there to ensure the trust placed in this movement is respected and valued.”
Montrealers can still donate to the cause in Haiti at: HAITI SEISM SERVICE INFO: To contact Info-Service, call toll-free number 1-888-655-1795.