Christchurch-based Christian World Service who has partner groups in Haiti has launched an immediate appeal for donations to help victims of the devastating earthquake.
Attempts to contact the partner group in Haiti, the Institut Culturel Karl Leveque have failed so far but will be renewed as telephone contacts are restored.
CWS staff who visited Haiti last year have already said that given the poor state of buildings and infrastructure the impact of the earthquake will be both profound and widespread.
Haiti is already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere with vast slums of shanties and people living well below the poverty line.
CWS staff member, Nick Clarke, visited Haiti in May last year and said that the earthquake was “basically a case of already kicking a dog that is already down and was kicked around last year by the hurricanes.”
A seasoned aid worker Nick Clarke said that of all the places he had visited in recent years Haiti was the one that “least needs or deserves anything like this.
“The reality for many Haitians is that they are already trapped in what is a very harsh form of poverty,’’ he said.
Housing, food, health care and education were already lacking before the earthquake struck.
Outside of the city areas the impact was likely to be worse with many outlying areas lacking even basic infrastructure.
“There are a lots of people living in the hill areas which are hard to get at and very prone to slips as a result of erosion caused by felling of the forests over the years.
“I was there at the end of the rainy season and flying in you could see lots of brown topsoil floating out to sea as you came into Haiti.”
He expected that the CWS partner group of ICKL would take some time to get a full picture of the damage in outlying areas but at the same time the need for relief support was immediate and urgent.
Donations can be made at www.cws.org.nz , PO Box 22 652, Christchurch 8061 or Tel 0800 74 73 72.
13 January 2010