By Dana Stepp, Special to the Times
For most people Haiti seems to be a world away. However, for one Clay City man it’s at his back door…literally. Donald Curtis, Children’s International Lifeline director has been working in Haiti for several years. Right now, Donald and Patricia Curtis, Donald’s parents are there as missionaries. They were there when the earthquake occurred.
The mission is in La Digue Matheux Arcahaie, 30 miles north of Port au Prince, the capital city. Most of the village homes have been destroyed. The Lifeline mission buildings have been damaged. The ministry runs nine schools/canteens and provides meals for some 2,500 people a day.
On Monday morning, Channel 18 News was at Curtis’ office interviewing Curtis along with his parents through a web cam. Along with the Curtis family, Peter Seraphim who is General Director there in Haiti were in on the interview. Several ministers from local churches and other volunteers were on hand for the meeting.
In an e-mail last week sent by Patricia Curtis, who is a retired Clay City Elementary teacher, she stated, “People are trapped under these buildings and others are very badly injured. There are many that are out in the street, nowhere to turn, in shock still.” She went on to state “We are today still experiencing aftershocks and during the night we go to bed with our clothes on because our bed shakes and the building is shifting still.”
As aide from countries like the United States, Israel and China as well as many others are pouring into the country, news reports that food and water are short supply. Medical supplies and housing to keep people out of the elements are in high demand, but supplies are limited. Some estimates have been reported that as many as 100,000 to 200,000 people may have been killed in the quake.
“All of the main grocery places have been demolished by this terrible tragedy and food is getting short, also there is no fuel to buy and people are getting more and more desperate,” Curtis reports. “We are working trying to help as many people as we can with our feeding centers and taking care of the orphanages as well. Our funds are getting shorter and shorter. We are truly working on faith.”
Patricia Curtis during the interview told the reporter and the group of volunteers, “There are dead people everywhere. There are front loaders putting bodies into dump trucks and they are just dumping them.”
“There are busses that are bringing people from the large cities like port of prince and not like city busses,” she said. “They are loaded down people on top of each other trying to get out of the large city to the small villages.”
Supplies are scarce in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, even before the quake. It is reported that gas is up to $60 U.S. dollars there. Patricia Curtis also reported right after the quake that they are trying to help rebuild some homes. Many of the houses in their village were destroyed by the quake and aftershocks. “We are trying to start rebuilding some of the totally demolished homes that are right here in our village but as you well know that takes sand, cement, rock, rebar and many other building materials, which even in the U.S. is not cheap. Again we are having to pay even more for things because of the tragedy and the materials because the demands are getting scarce.”
While the call was going on there was a large tremor and the group had to wait until it was over because they had to take shelter. Several in the room were visibly upset by the event, including Donald Curtis.
Peter Seraphim, general director in Haiti, said that “There is destruction in every corner. But I know that God is able to make a way”
Curtis, who oversees the ministry’s efforts and has a warehouse and headquarters in his back yard, stated that more than anything, money is the greatest need. They need to buy things there in a hurry and then get supplies to them once they get a port that is able to accept the supplies. Many doctors and nurses are willing to go but until the supplies can get there it is just not of any benefit.
Patricia Curtis reported that, “They were in church yesterday (Sunday) and people were lined around the corner praising God with hands raised thanking God for His protection.”
With a great cooperative effort, Children’s International Lifeline will be holding a benefit concert on Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. at Powell County High School. Curtis with a team of volunteers will be organizing the benefit concert to help raise funds for Haiti. For more information, you can view the website at www.childrenslifeline.com or call (606) 663-3459.
Times Editor James Cook contributed to this story