MAF increases staff and aircraft for Haiti relief

Published: 25 Oct 2016

MAF increases staff and aircraft for Haiti relief

Relief work has continued following the powerful hurricane that struck Haiti’s southern peninsula on 5 October leaving thousands cut off from help.

MAF has been flying doctors and medical supplies, aid workers, food, hygiene kits, and other supplies to communities that have experienced massive destruction.

A fourth aircraft – a Kodiak, three additional staff, and a GATR satellite communication system have been deployed to help provide relief to communities yet to receive help. 

According to the UN, 894,057 children are among the 2.1 million people affected. 175,500 have been displaced and made homeless and 806,000 are considered at an 'extreme impact' level of food insecurity.

Flying food and medicine to Dame Marie

A busy week of flying followed the Kodiak's arrival as it delivered 1,500kg of food relief to Dame Marie on Tuesday for our partner HERO.

MAF’s Cessna 208 Caravan also flew a metric ton of medical supplies to Dame Marie for aid agency Direct Relief on Wednesday. Locals awaited the precious supplies and helped to unload the aircraft.

As the aircraft taxied for take-off, Vaughan Woodward described seeing ‘a long line of people with an assortment of essential medical supplies making their way across the ridge line down to the beach’. The absence of road transport meant the supplies had to be transported on the final leg of their journey to Dame Marie by boat.

Smaller communities overlooked

As aid begins to reach the larger coastal communities like Jeremie and Dame Marie, focus is beginning to shift to the smaller rural communities.

MAF’s Rick Emenaker helped to survey the communities around Dame Marie and found that towns like Désormeaux, a community of around 6,000 residents, had yet to receive aid. According to the mayor, ‘The trucks come, and then they go past us. No one has stopped, no has asked us. They just go on by.’

With massive destruction and deforestation, and no access to food, the situation for Désormeaux ‘is bleak’, according to Rick, concerned that the situation may worsen if no aid is received. ‘Dwindling natural food resources mean the situation could become dire in the coming weeks and months’.

Further down the road, the town of Chamballan is looking at the same fate. Rick talked with the inhabitants of the riverside community and heard that here too ‘the trucks are not stopping. We want to get back to normal, to get our schools back up and running, and to have our children in classrooms again, but we have not been offered help.’

Desperate for water and food 

MAF talked to Daniel and Cynthia Grandin, pastors with Haitian denomination, God’s Living Church, as they waited for their flight at the airport in Port-au-Prince. The couple travelled to the Haitian capital to help enable assistance to reach the remote communities where they minister.

‘The communication in the rural areas is not good, and we came here to make more contacts, try to communicate with family and friends, and bring support to Jeremie,’ Daniel explained. ‘People really are in need,’ he added, ‘they don’t have anywhere to stay and things aren’t pretty over there.’

Telling us about the needs he has seen Daniel highlights one thing – water. ‘The urgent needs we are seeing include water, we need supplies to purify the water… cholera, is starting to attack people, around a hundred people last time we heard. Supplies for clean water are really important, and medicine too because people have started to have fevers and there are mosquitoes everywhere’. 

The reports are backed up by official statistics collected by the UN recording 2,271 suspected cholera cases between 4-19 October. As well as the spread of disease, relief effort are hampered by the loss of 36 health facilities that were destroyed in the hurricane. 

Three weeks on, Daniel and Cynthia are also finding that food supplies are running low. ‘The people in the countryside need food because until now, we haven’t been able to reach them’.

The couple plan to use any means necessary to get help to their friends. ‘As far as transporting things, we definitely want to use MAF, they are a great resource. We know that God can do all things and move all things’ and ‘we have faith that God will get us through’ Cynthia reflects.

GATR Communications systems

Mobile phone towers all across Haiti’s southern peninsula suffered significant hurricane damage, hampering relief efforts initially. ‘Everything is just flattened', reported John Gorenflo of MAF’s Technology Resources Department. 'What was cell towers and buildings is flattened rubble’. 

Communications difficulties have started to improve – but were still difficult in Dame Marie when MAF flew in their GATR Comms systems to aid disaster communication. Thankfully mobile phone communication were restored in Dame Marie within a few days and the system was returned to Port-au-Prince.

The GATR is able to provide effective internet communications for relief efforts until infrastructure can be rebuilt. ‘The GATR looks like a giant beach ball but inside is a parabolic reflector that can be accurately pointed to a satellite 22,236 miles away. The GATR sends and receives Internet from the satellite and then I create a Wi-Fi hotspot/network to provide communications for relief efforts' John explains. 

Please pray!

We give thanks for the generous support we have received so far enabling MAF flights to reach communities in need. Please continue to lift up the people of Haiti in prayer. 

  • Give thanks that communications are being restored in most of the areas on the south peninsula.
  • Pray for those people in small, out-of-the-way communities that may be overlooked in the relief efforts.
  • Pray for the health of our team members.
  • Pray for safety of relief workers and teams delivering aid. Sometimes roads are not safe.
  • Pray for unity and good coordination amongst the various groups working in Haiti.
  • Pray for the vulnerable including the 10,000 children in need of protection from exploitation, violation, and abuse