If you ask Bob Jansson to sum up the Haitian people in a word, he’d chose “resilient.” And after his recent trip to the quake-ravaged country, he’s seen that resilience first-hand.
Jansson, an associate registrar currently devoting his time to the Kuali project, visited Haiti March 8 for one week as part of a relief mission with his church and the group Medical Relief International. Originally a group of 11 men, their focus was to help in the ongoing construction of an orphanage on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. However, when the magnitude 7.0 quake (the strongest there in over 200 years) struck on Jan. 12, the group’s focus changed to reconstruction.
After flight cancellations and several weeks of delay, the now five-member delegation departed for Haiti. They stayed in a secured compound called STEPS minaire de Thologie Evanglique de Port-au-Prince, which is managed by Bruce and Cindy McMartin in the heart of the capital Port-au-Prince. The compound serves as a school and thanks to a donated $25,000 GE purification system water distribution center for the surrounding community. After the quake, the compound also served as makeshift hospital and distribution center for food and supplies from relief organizations.
Jansson and others worked to install aluminum louvered windows in a new orphanage building and to repair earthquake damage. Though not yet completed, the building (shown here) fared better than others. The team was able to install nine of 10 windows on the first floor, and 16 of 20 on the second. The other windows couldn’t be installed because the openings in the concrete construction were too damaged in the temblor to correctly fit the windows. A second group will return to Haiti this month to complete the work.
Besides the numerous power tools for the construction work (which the delegation left behind for the Haitians to use), Jansson and the others also brought gifts. Clothes, candy, sun glasses, dolls, Frisbees and soccer balls were among the items delivered to the children living in the orphanage. Relative to the damage sustained by the country’s buildings and the deaths of over 250,000 people (a disproportionate number of whom were students and teachers), small gifts like these might not seem like much. But according to Jansson, the Haitian children loved them. “They are a very happy people despite the hardships they are having to endure,” he told members of the Office of the University Registrar during a presentation about his trip in early April.
If you are interested in helping the Haitian people rebuild after the quake, you can donate to one of many relief agencies operating there, including the group Jansson was loosely associated with: Medical Relief International.