January 12th, 2011 marks the one year anniversary since the catastrophic earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It claimed the lives of nearly 300,000 people, and left approximately 1.3 million people homeless. The communities in the areas hit the hardest by the earthquake have had a multitude of challenges this year. Many had to say goodbye to loved ones who were not fortunate enough to survive the earthquake after buildings collapsed on them. Family members barely had time to grieve as they had to take care of their own survival. Millions lost their homes, and were left in the street constructing shelter from scrap material among the rubble. During the heavy rain season, without proper shelter, people were sleeping standing up and in the midst of it all; a cholera outbreak began to plague the nation.
With the beginning of a new year, Edeyo looks back on 2010 and hopes that we can continue to make a difference for so many people in the Bel-Air community. In January 2010, soon after the earthquake, we went there to assess the damage and take account for the children. Our school was completely destroyed and six of our students passed away, Blemur Betsaida, 3; Doxcy Louina, 6; Jean Naika, 3; Pierre Louis Daphane, 4; Alphonse Wilson, 4; and Val Yvenly, 7 and many others were missing. Later in February, we sent a larger team including a medical team to evaluate the physical and emotional wellbeing of our students and the community, as well as distribute initial donations collected after January 12th. Due to the damages to the school, we had to temporarily suspend classes but soon reopened under donated tents by Hofstra University. We wanted the kids to have something familiar and consistent after their lives had changed so much. We finished the 2009/2010 school year successfully and in October 4th, 2010 we began the 2010/2011 school year in a more permanent structure until we can raise enough funds to buy the land to rebuild the school.
As an organization, Edeyo has been able to bring clean water into the community, have tents donated, provide basic medical attention and provide educational information on how to prevent cholera. It wasn’t until a recent trip in October in which we discovered that Bel-Air, where Edeyo is located is in a red zone district, meaning NGO’s are not allowed to go into these areas to offer assistance. The only help these people have seen has come from Edeyo and its partners.
Last month, Edeyo organized its 4th annual toy drive and dear friends at the Dominican Academy continued to show their support by once again being part of this initiative. Also, a new friend, Kevin Powell planned a holiday party in which we collected many supplies for the school and the community. With everything these children have gone through and witnessed, we must also keep in mind that at the end of the day they are just like every child in the world whose eyes light up when unraveling a new toy on Christmas Day.
In the next couple of months we are working with Sean Penn’s foundation, JP HRO to start clearing out the debris and rubble left from the earthquake. In the meantime, we want to thank all of our volunteers, our supporters, and partners. Edeyo was in Haiti before the earthquake and will be there long-term.