Story & Photos by Fred Feiertag
[EDITOR'S NOTE: When we found out that our neighbor Fred Feiertag was going to travel some 3,400+ miles to Haiti to help with earthquake relief, we asked if he'd be so kind as to share his experiences with our Readers. This is what he sent us:]
Scott said to keep this simple and tell how my recent trip to Haiti affected me. He doesn’t make it easy. I joined a group of guys who went to Haiti to help build homes for the refugees from the January earthquake. Remember that event? It was just before the Earthquake in Chile. Oh, well, how about that oil spill in the Gulf? It was a while before that…. Having been to Haiti just last year I had fairly fresh memories of how it was. Well it isn’t anymore. The earthquake did to Port Au Prince, the capitol city, in 35 seconds what a large army would need weeks to do. The devastation was extreme. Now, almost six months later less than half the destroyed buildings have been removed.
With hundreds of thousands of ordinary people living in tents, the city looks like the aftermath of war.
How did this make us feel? It made me feel very motivated to help. We went to Haiti knowing that there was a disaster and help was needed. Being there and seeing the destruction and the hardship changes your viewpoint. We didn’t just want to help, we had to help!
Port Au Prince was a bustling city with so much life and tropical color. Now it has been knocked down and covered with the gray of concrete dust. The sights are heart wrenching and almost unbelievable. Here is a tent city built down the middle of one of the only wide boulevards in the city.
Our work site was in a small city 90 miles from the earthquake zone. Les Cayes was not touched by the shaking, but instead has had to care for hundreds of refugees and many injured. On the drive to Les Cayes we saw hundreds of tent cities, mile upon mile of clusters of tents. Some had just a few and more and hundreds of every kind of tent or temporary shelter.
We felt glad that the world has so quickly provided these basic means of shelter. Food and water seemed to be available as well. The like a cloud passing the sun we would think, “Good grief, can you imagine living in a camping tent for six months in this heat?” Once again, we felt the urgency of our project.
In the end we did get the house building effort started. Not without plenty of little annoying troubles. We posed in front of our first house. We hope it is the first of hundreds. By the United Nations, count our score is one done, 249,999 to go.
Who we are: Homes for Haiti Team from Grace Lutheran Church in Des Moines: http://www.gotgrace.com.
The actual home building project is through this agency: Reciprocal Ministries International, RMI, http://www.rminet.org/homesforhaiti/index.htm (NOTE: you can also donate online at this website to help continue this relief effort].
To read more of Fred’s first-hand experiences, or view videos, check out his Facebook Page here.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Do YOU have an interesting story to share? If so, please email us and we'll consider posting it!]