Les Cayes Hurricane Matthew Response
My previous post was shared by Andrew this morning (Oct 19). I didn't realize it wouldn't show his name and couldn't figure out how to edit it to do so.
In an email response (which still hasn't sent. SMH) to some family this morning, (aunts & uncles), and trying to offer a short description of my experiences in Haiti, thus far, I made a typographical error. I left it, as I felt it held more truth. Here is a short excerpt of that email. "In a nutshell, WOW. I'm actually starting to have great respect for my parents. Haha! Kidding. Of course, I always have. Seeing what they deal with on a daily basis has taken that respect to a whole, notha, level. They actually LOVE here. Hmmm...I was going to correct that typo, when I realized that word held more truth than if I hadn't made the error. Because that's what they do. The love here. They could "live" anywhere. Heck, they could just live HERE. But for them, it wouldn't be enough. They love here. And they want to do more. As we were sitting quietly in the dark last night, dad & I both reading, me via my headlamp & dad his book light, dad suddenly said, "You know what is one of my biggest struggles?" (Of course, I refrained from offering my sarcastic response. ) I just waited for him to tell me. He continued, "There's so much that we want to do, and have the ability to do, if only we had the resources." I heard what was really being said. They're burden & compassion runs so deep. Because they LOVE here. Well, I didn't realize this email would take the direction it did. But, it did. They're busy in the kitchen getting breakfast ready. We hafta hurry, though. They have lotsa loving to do today. I think I'll join them." Note: We are grateful & thankful for all donations & such, and are using them to directly positively affect the community to whom my parents minister, as well as other communities. I'm looking forward to when we head to other communities/cities/towns/villages, to deliver new solar powered chlorination systems we will be building in the next few days. There is always a way to love here. Better get after it.
10.15.2016 update from Andrew: Today was just another adventure. Dad says I should be here when they're REALLY busy. I slept in today. Got up at 6:30 AM. The Matthew House team was showing up at 9am for some training and prep work. I went ahead & started before they arrived, as we had some other things planned for the afternoon. 5 guys and a translator showed up, and we threw down on some Mathew House kit prep. I set up some guys on the miter saw, and a coupla other fellas w/ a circular saw, and we made things happen. Cut lumber for two Matthew homes, cleaned up everything, and was gone by noon. Let me offer a little bit of an explanation re: what we have termed the Matthew Homes. I'll try to keep this as concise as possible. First of all, let me reiterate, life here is not ANYTHING like life in the U.S. Profound, I know. But the mindset is different, as well. In a nutshell, MANY people lost their homes entirely. And what was their home prior to the hurricane, was more than likely just a stick hut with a corrugated metal tin roof. Or, it was a concrete block home made with suspect cement, and the walls caved in. While they were in the home. I heard a story today where one elderly lady huddled under a piece of tin roofing in what was the only corner of her home left after the walls caved in, holding on to this piece of tin for protection, as she endured the rest of the hurricane. Get the picture? It's not pretty. At all. So, Andy Topp, the pilot with whom I flew to Haiti, spearheaded an idea for a replacement home of sorts. Andy has been working in Haiti since 1999, and has his own non-profit organization. We put together an idea and plan, at a mere cost of only $1,000.00 per home, and have started putting things in motion. The main objectives are as follows: 1. Identify someone who lost their home, and may have no real means of help or finances to replace their home. These individuals are not that difficult to find. We are connected to many people, community leaders, pastor's, etc., who are helping us identify these individuals. 2. Purchase materials locally, thus putting money back into their economy. 3. Select a group or groups of young men who want to learn a skill & earn a wage, as well as help someone in need. This also helps put money back into their economy. 4. Hire a Tap Tap to deliver the lumber. Again, this puts money back into their economy. 5. Build a rudimentary 16x16 building, so they will have shelter as quickly as possible. It's made of 2x6 corner posts (4x4's are unavailable), 2x4 studs evenly sliced, 2x4 rafters, 1x4 purlins, and 1x4 exterior stringers for stability & so they can attach what they need for exterior walls. (Explanation to follow) Believe me, you, as an American, may not be able to comprehend living in such an dwelling. But to the individuals for whom we are building these, they are delighted. As it is, we only put a roof over their heads. The people for whom we are building the homes are responsible for adding their walls, if needed. They have rather imaginative ways of doing so, which satisfies their daily needs. I will add pictures of the various homes with finished walls at a later date. In some cases, we may find it necessary to do the walls ourselves, but it can nearly double the price. I am staying for another 2-3 weeks to spearhead these projects, and help my parents with the many pressing needs with which they are currently dealing. If anyone has $25k laying around, they need an entirely new solar power system. Electricity could take months, if not years to restore. Nevertheless, if you want to donate to the Matthew House project, please feel free to donate to the GoFundMe campaign. As soon as I am able, I will set up a specific way of donating to this project, or I will work together with Andy Topp towards the same goal, as we hope to keep it going for as long as it may be required. Again, thank you for your prayers & donations!!! God Bless! - Andrew
Update from Andrew Roemer... "This week has been filled with lotsa work and productivity. Wednesday was a day of flying back and forth to Port-au-Prince. Andy Topp ended up making an extra emergency trip to transport a couple of people who had been injured badly in an automobile accident. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often around here, considering how they drive. Whew! Thursday we handed out food to the community. Went to look at a church that had been totally destroyed. This church was only built a few months ago. Dad built the custom trusses for the church. Those survived with only one being broken. However, the cement block and concrete work can be somewhat shoddy and suspect in some cases. No quality control. The work on this church was one of those situations, unfortunately, and hence the reason it was destroyed. Hopefully we can find a way to help them rebuild their church properly. Understand, the building is around a 25'x50' building. The rest of our day was filled with handing out food, and clearing trees from homes and driveways, directed by Pastor Ramon. Additionally, we gave $2,000 to Pastor Ramon, so he could order materials and hire the necessary personnel to rebuild his home. It was destroyed, as well. Another one of those cement situations. There will definitely be as much quality control as possible this time around. Pastor Ramon is an incredibly humble and grateful man. He has worked tiredlessly helping the people of this community, while forsaking his own needs. He is unselfish and compassionate and is the epitome of a true servant. No lie, I had to get away for a minute after giving him money, because I couldn't hide the tears. He is the administrator of the school of which Hope Source is a part. Remember those school desk? There is also some work we will need to be doing on the school, as well. As we drove around the area, it got to the point when I didn't even want to look out the window anymore. It was too overwhelming. There is so much devastation. Trees, crops, homes. Destroyed. There is only so much we can do. But, we do it one day at a time. One person/family at a time. The 'starfish on the beach' kind of situation. But these people are resilient. They get up at the crack of dawn every morning, and go to work. And are extremely grateful for all we do. The first half of yesterday was spent helping Allande, the young man who operates the furniture/woodworking shop at HQ, and whom also lives upstairs, begin to redo the roof of the workshop. The metal roof was 50% destroyed, but still requires removing it all, and then replacing/reusing it. Especially since it is green and the only metal he could find is red. Christmas colors!!! The 2nd portion of the day was spent teaching and training a team of young Haitian men to fabricate the parts for our "Matthew" Homes. We have teamed up with Andy Topp of IHAF, and have pooled our resources to purchase the lumber, and precut all of the materials for these 16x16 shelters. They may not seem like much to Americans, but they are a tremendous blessing to the Haitians who will receive a new home. These homes go to those who lost their homes. As it is, we have hired a team of Haitian young men to build these homes. We have trained them on one house, which was a sample home and a learning experience. We've tweaked the design a bit, and are planning to build 6 more homes. The homes can be built for less than $1,000 each. We put a roof over their heads, and they finish the walls the way they want them to be finished. It may not seem right to us, as Americans, but it's a way of life around here. These people are grateful for the shelter, and take ownership in completing their home. I'll post pictures of the work they do in completing their indiviual homes. If you want to donate to the cause, that will be great. MANY more people need a Matthew Home. Please consider donating to HopeSorce Int'l. You can do it via the GoFundMe site (attached), as well. For every $1,000 raised, someone gets a new home. Unreal, right? Today is another day of training these fellas, and fabricating a coupla Matthew Homes. It's gonna be a fun time!!! As it is, I am going to stay here for a little while. I have more to give, and some resources left, thanks to your giving. Plus, my parents still need help with some recovery. I'll keep you posted. Your continued prayers and donations are appreciated, and will be put to good use. Thank you. God bless." Also, if you would like your gift to go towards the solar power system you can note that on your donation. THANK YOU!!!