As the death toll rises and rescue parties call off the search for victims, Muslim relief agencies bring a dose of help and hope to the people of Haiti.
One month after it was crumbled to dust by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake and 6.0-magnitude aftershock, Port-au-Prince, Haiti still finds its residents scrambling for basic necessities. Without food, without water, and without shelter, over 3 million people have been affected by the quake that has thus far left over 170,000 dead.
The restoring of Haiti is an enormous task, one that cannot be accomplished without the help of the public. Millions of people have lost their homes and businesses and remain in danger of losing their lives. Br. Abdul-Karim Martin, a survivor of the earthquake, spoke with Helping Hand USA about the devastation in Haiti. “For about seven days me and my daughter slept out on the floor. I must tell you, the capital of Haiti is finished, completely destroyed. With all the dead bodies, they have no choice but to put gas on them and burn them. There is no water; everyone is waiting for a bag of water.”
Speaking from Port-au-Prince, Irfan Khurshid, Helping Hand USA’s Director of International Programs, echoed the description of the devastating conditions in Haiti. “I have been in many disaster areas including the 2004 [Indonesian] tsunami & 2005 Pakistan earthquake but [have] never seen this kind of chaos… The Haitian government was… totally paralyzed after this earthquake. The UN and other international relief agencies from all over the world are trying to provide relief but the situation is still very bad and people are in need of lot of help.”
While the situation remains grim, relief agencies such as Helping Hand have committed volunteers working to bring much needed aid to the Haitian people. With Helping Hand pledging $1.5 million to relief efforts, Muslim relief agencies have shown their commitment to rebuilding Haiti.
As thousands of Muslims pledge support to aid efforts, volunteers have been dispatched to Haiti to help the afflicted. Currently situated in Port-au-Prince, Helping Hand’s team of doctors and volunteers has set up an emergency medical facility and has begun distributing food, water, medicine and supplies to those affected. There have been consistent distributions of food packages and other basic items including drinking water, baby milk, powdered milk, rice, juice boxes and tents.
Helping Hand is currently operating six rotational clinics, treating more than 10,000 patients in the past month. Despite security issues and obstructed roads within Haiti, the team has been successful in setting up a medical clinic in Port-au-Prince and several mobile clinics. A team of doctors has made trips to Haiti to serve in these clinics, and a female doctor is also available to tend to women’s health issues.
The number of medical issues continues to increase as individuals suffer from trauma, limb and respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, abdominal pain, pneumonia, and flu symptoms. Millions are living in unsanitary conditions, cultivating more infections by the day. Khurshid expressed the need for more aid, stating, “[Although] relief efforts are more organized, we are still working in emergency mode.” “[Much] is still needed here—doctors, medicine, tents… Our focus is medical relief, but whatever [people] ask for, if we have [those items], we provide for them.”
Helping Hand hosted a live telethon on ARY TV, on Saturday, January 30, and continues to raise funds for the people of Haiti. Helping Hand sites across the US are accepting both monetary and in-kind donations at this time, and containers carrying your donated items will be sent to Haiti. To find a collection site near you, visit www.muslimsforhaiti.org.
While we sit and watch from our homes, Haiti continues to suffer. Our immediate response is needed in order to save her from destruction. As Muslims, as Americans, and as people of conscience we must act now and aid the people of Haiti in their time of need. Your contribution could save the lives of hundreds of homeless and ailing Haitians. Please donate to this cause by visiting www.helpinghandonline.org.