A decade of help and hope in Haiti

Ten years ago Haiti was struck by a powerful earthquake that left more than one-hundred thousand people dead and millions hurt and displaced. United Aid Foundation President John Alex and board members Mike Wnek and  Mary Jane Alex reflect on that terrible time, and on how United Aid Foundation volunteers and supporters have helped Haiti: then and in the decade since.

Mike Wnek:

“The initial response primarily focused on basic human needs including food, drinkable water, medical supplies, clothing and basic shelter supplies. We assisted in search and recovery efforts primarily in the Hotel Montana area along with our friend Fed Golba and his dog Nitro. After delivering aid by day we fed doctors and patients. Most of the patients were amputees, who came came from severely damaged buildings  that had collapsed on them.”

 

 

United Aid Foundation coordinated a surgical team from Kansas City and New York to head to the earthquake zone. As soon as the team arrived they were stopped while putting gas in their vehicles and urgently asked to come to a hospital to help earthquake victims suffering from horrific injuries but had no access to pain medication or treatment. The UAF team, carrying their own supplies, anesthesia, equipment antibiotics headed in and operated through the night. They continued to treat patients in open fields and slept on the ground.

 

 

Mary Jane Alex:

“It was my first trip for disaster relief. Had no idea what I was in for! It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. The human suffering was just unimaginable. Despite all that, the experience of being there and organizing that surgical mission was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”

Led by Mike Wnek, and with support from our Haitian partners Daniel Thelusmar and Frantz Vil  the first tent city was created in the town of Gaunthier. The compound had 24 hour security in an enclosed area with drinkable water and sanitation facilities on site. The team delivered over 25,000 pounds of beans and rice and several hundred gallons of cooking oil.  We assisted in furnishing and constructing a field hospital on the grounds of Love A Child school in Fond Parisien  and provided refrigerators and freezers as well as A/C units for the hospital operating rooms. We helped repair quake damaged orphanages in  Croix de Bouquets, Simonette, Gressier and Martissant.

 

 

John Alex:

“I believe the earthquake in Haiti marked the nadir for UN relief efforts.  The lack of coordination and actual help given to people on the ground was so bad that groups like UAF became the go-to organizations to deliver medicine, generators, food and water for the first few months.  It forced the UN to completely revamp their disaster response and today it is much better.”

United Aid Foundation and friends have made twenty eight trips to Haiti in the ten years since the earthquake. Organized by Mike Wnek our efforts have built forty-four sustainable homes. We also replaced roofs on twenty-six dwellings after Hurricane Matthew hit in 2018.

On every trip to build homes we supplied several tons of rice and beans with cooking oil, clothing and medicine, as well as tools. Perhaps more important, we have trained a team of  Haitians in carpentry, and concrete work, and they are proficient enough now to build on their own.

In the last year and a half UAF expanded into a town called Gressier and our volunteers have been very involved on the Christianville campus. Over Memorial Day weekend of 2019 our team rebuilt a three-story dormitory left abandoned and in disrepair since the earthquake, rebuilt the roof on an orphanage, and supplied food and clothing. Our team has become became active in an agriculture program and provided the funding to triple crop production. We also sponsor chicken houses and egg production which is a source of income. This program has been an outstanding success and is feeding over 600 people at a time when starvation is rampant all around them.

Our team has also been involved in providing significant funding to build a vocational college in Macombre.  The college is  a huge step in providing advanced education and training in business and accounting skills as well as modern gas and diesel engine mechanics. Our dream is that one day our Haitian friends will no longer need our help.

Mike Wnek:

“I’ve seen terrible tragedy and great miracles. I am truly blessed. And there is more to come.”

Mary Jane Alex:

“All of that made a huge difference in saving lives,” Mary Jane said. “And it changed my life for the better.”

John Alex:

“For those of us at UAF who responded continuously that first year, we knew how much we were needed and how important the work was to keep people alive.  Despite the sacrifices to our families, work, etc., it remains my proudest time. No doubt in my mind we help save and sustain thousands of lives. I am proud of the tremendous work done by our volunteers in past ten years. ”

United Aid Foundation remembers that tragic day in 2010. We honor those who lost their lives by helping survivors build a better future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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