Four months ago I moved to Haiti as part of an 8 month internship with GOAL. Every day since then this country has continued to fascinate me. Arriving in Haiti I was immediately both surprised and intrigued by the number of busy people everywhere and at every hour of the day.
A drive through the capital city Port au Prince at 6am makes you wonder if this isn’t really the “city that never sleeps”. Men and women are up early selling delicious mangos and avocados, children are walking to school, joggers are out in the parks, sellers knock at your car window and brightly coloured tap taps (the local buses) swiftly manoeuvre around the hectic streets.
Last Sunday, two days before Hurricane Matthew battered down on Haiti, people retreated to their homes in preparation for the impending disaster, leaving the rare and eerie sight of the empty sombre Port au Prince streets.
Hurricane Matthew has left Haiti facing the worst humanitarian disaster since the devastating earthquake in 2010. Many people still haven’t heard from their family members. Hundreds are dead, thousands have lost their homes. The scale of the damage caused is slowly becoming more apparent and the numbers affected are rising, as assistance reaches the cut off South-Western areas. There are growing fears of a further cholera outbreak due to flooding, stagnant and contaminated water and the lack of hygiene exacerbated by the destruction of latrines and water points.
"The hurricane has destroyed harvests and livelihoods, and this will be one of the long term critical impacts."
Driving to GOAL’s base in Gressier, 24km west of Port au Prince, I can already see the agricultural impact; street markets are coloured yellow as people try to sell the bananas they have saved from their uprooted trees. The hurricane has destroyed harvests and livelihoods, and this will be one of the long term critical impacts. Haiti was already suffering from the results of previous years’ El Niño and food insecurity has already reached a critical level in some areas.
Prior to Hurricane Matthew, Haiti was covered in Presidential election posters and campaign songs rang through the radio. The elections, which were finally due to take place on October 9th, have since been postponed, allowing Haiti to enter its 9th month under an interim President. There has been a lot of shattering changes in the past week, and it is affecting the entire country.
GOAL started working in Haiti immediately after the 2010 earthquake. Since then GOAL Haiti has built a wealth of expertise in housing and shelters, constructing water points and latrines, and undertaking rapid responses to cholera outbreaks.
GOAL Haiti is supporting as many people as possible post Hurricane Matthew but your support will be vital to help us increase our impact during this turbulent time. With three months left in the 2016 hurricane season it is essential that we help families get roofs back on their homes and prevent cholera. Your support for GOAL Haiti’s work is very much appreciated – please help us to mitigate against the destruction of this natural disaster.
Bríd O’Brien | Gressier, Haiti