7.2-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Haiti
The quake on Saturday, August 14, 2021, was stronger than the one that hit in 2010.
September 10, 2021
Following are statistics from UNICEF about the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the south of Haiti last month:
- 2,207 deaths
- 12,268 wounded
- 650,000 people, including 260,000 children, in need of humanitarian assistance
- 130,000 houses partially or completely destroyed
- 53 health facilities partially damaged and 6 destroyed
- 308 schools destroyed or heavily damaged
- 81,000 people lost access to their drinking water source (Sources: Government of Haiti/COUN, OCHA Haiti)
- Estimated budget needs for the next 6 months: $73.3 Million
Next month marks the 34th year of NPH’s operations in Haiti. A trusted and respected organization that assists thousands of children and families each year, it employs more than 360 local people at its home sites, and more than 560 at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.
Thankfully, the children and youth supported by NPH Haiti are safe and our facilities did not suffer damage during the quake on August 14. Yet, whenever there is a disaster or crisis in a country where we work, NPH is there to help provide assistance to our brothers and sisters in the community in any way we can.
Our NPH team, which was on-site the same day of the quake, was able to provide first aid in conjunction with partner organization the St. Luc Foundation, and to see firsthand the extent of the damage caused, as well as the loss of infrastructure and human life.
Social Assistance to Disaster Victims
Our on-site teams are aiding victims by delivering necessities, such as water, food, first aid medical equipment, and materials to rebuild some of the housing for those that were left homeless. We already have volunteers waiting for us on site to provide support, as well as to do psychological training workshops in order to give hope to the victims.
Youth at NPH Nicaragua say “We are with you” to their fellow pequeños and the people of Haiti
Nicolas Wasson, an Hermano Mayor (“Older sibling” who was raised at the NPH home), wrote this after a mission to Maniche in the south. At the age of 6 months, Nicolas was one of the first two children to move into NPH Haiti’s main home, St. Helene, in Kenscoff. Today he is 33 years old.
There is a Haitian proverb that says “bonjou se paspo ou” or “a hello is your passport.” In Haiti, it is considered very impolite to enter a town you have never been to without saying good morning. Usually, the person entering a new place should be the one to initiate a conversation with the salutation.
Yesterday, we were able to visit one of the areas worst affected by the earthquake: Maniche, a town in the Sud department in the southwest of Haiti, in the hard-hit Les Cayes area. It took us two hours to arrive there along a road that was very narrow and dusty, and blocked in many places by boulders that had fallen from the mountains. Our taxi driver was armed. We had to be alert. There were just two of us: Elisca Patriscky, who grew up a FWAL (Father Wasson Angel of Light) and studies photography at university through the NPH Don Bosco Program, and myself, an ex-eleve from St. Helene. We were there to assess the damage of the earthquake and write an assessment report.
So why did I begin this testimony with the proverb? On arrival in Maniche, we wanted to greet people as according to Haitian customs, but no one was able to welcome us. The town has a population of around 22,000 and they are usually very friendly. But of course, we understood that these were equally strange times. We couldn’t expect the red carpet.
We quickly noticed that many of the basic services were no longer there. For example, there is still no potable water. Many people have to drink from the river. This has been the case since the earthquake hit three weeks ago. We also could not see a police station. The people of Maniche were getting very angry because the town’s mayor had stolen almost all the aid that was supposed to go to the people who had lost everything.
I was able to talk to one of the local traders who told me that her house was destroyed in the earthquake. She was so emotional. It was the first thing that struck me. Her first question was, “Are you from Las Cayes?” I answered no, that I’m just here to talk with people who needed urgent support. She then began to recount her story little by little, how on 14 August she left home as she did every morning at 4:30 am to sell some little things in town in order to feed her children. Sadly, her 6 children remained home that day. They all perished.
“I have lost my home and my children,” she told me, with tears rolling down her cheeks. “When I said goodbye that morning, I didn’t think it would be for the last time. I don’t know what I am going to do.”
Patriscky and I felt so sad for her. I didn’t want to upset her more. Unfortunately, the more we talked with people, the more we saw that there were so many suffering similar situations.
We were unable to cross the great river that separates the town from the nearby mountains that we wanted to climb. We didn’t have the transport or equipment. While trying to find someone to give us directions, we were approached a pastor whose house and church were also destroyed. He reconfirmed what others had told us, that the mountain communities were the worst affected areas, and we should take a donkey to see for ourselves. “Boulders from two mountains had caused considerable damage,” said the pastor.
Other people in the town advised us against going, saying that the trek is very dangerous and quite far away. Over one hundred people had died up in the nearby mountains, with many homes destroyed, and not even rescue workers have been able reach the communities to help the victims.
This is a difficult time for the people in Maniche and the nearby communities. Love and compassion are all that we can offer to help the desperate people in Maniche to find hope. Let us continue to offer them our support for as long as you can, and let us also remember all the victims in our prayers. We are very pleased to be part of this solid team.
Please give now to our Earthquake Emergency Relief program in Haiti. You can make an impact now.
Photos above by Elisca Patriscky
August 30, 2021
Video: Fr. Rick Describes Earthquake Relief Efforts
About Fr. Rick Frechette, CP, D.O.
Born in 1953, Frechette graduated from Assumption College in Massachusetts with degrees in math and philosophy. He next attended St. John’s University in New York and studied theology as a seminarian, and was ordained a priest in 1979. After a few years as a parish priest in Baltimore, he met Fr. William B. Wasson, founder of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH, Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”) and worked in Mexico in 1983. Fr. Rick helped establish NPH Honduras in 1986, NPH Haiti in 1987, and a medical program which would later become St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in 1989. Fr. Rick received his medical degree in 1998 from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has dedicated his life to providing dignified care to the people of Haiti. Read more – >
August 28, 2021, 9:53 a.m. CST
Crisis Update from NPH Haiti
Dear NPH Family.
We are happy to share great news this morning. Marie Bénicia Benoit has been freed.
She is in good health and currently resting with her family. The gang that kidnapped Bénicia released her around 5 a.m. today (Haiti time).
The relief felt by the St. Damien Pediatric Hospital team, as well as all our Haiti family, is immense. The fervent prayers of many people have been answered. We are relieved about Bénicia’s release and her safe return.
To be clear, this was a crime. Marie is the victim of a heinous crime that terrorized her family and all those who know and care for her. The effect of this act of terror reached to the very ends of our NPH family across the globe.
Insecurity in Haiti has been increasing over the past few years. Daily life for Haitians is very difficult, with many facing extreme poverty, violence, political instability and natural disasters.
Kidnappings continue in Haiti. Our entire NPH Haiti family are potential victims, either intentionally or by random happenstance. Please continue to pray for our Haiti family, including St. Damien, St. Germaine, and our partner St. Luc.
August 26, 2021, 1:40 a.m. CST
Crisis Announcement from NPH Haiti
Dear NPH Family,
With much sadness and distress, we share news that a member of the St. Damien team was kidnapped Wednesday, 25 August. Laboratory Technician Marie Bénicia Benoit was abducted as she left home on her way to work this morning. The NPH International Crisis Team is supporting the NPFS Haiti leadership team in this difficult moment. With the permission of Bénicia’s family, a public joint statement was issued, thereby permitting our organization to speak about this incident more openly. In the statement, NPFS and Fondation St. Luc (an affiliate of NPH Haiti) together “unanimously condemn this villainous act and demand the unconditional release of their employee, Ms. Benoit.”
The following actions have been taken as a show of support for Bénicia and the Benoit family and as a signal of our condemnation of this heinous act:
- St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Tabarre is closed for non-emergency services, only emergency cases and services to already admitted patients will continue;
- St. Germaine Center for the disabled in Tabarre is closed;
- Therapy services offered by St. Germaine are halted;
- Fr. Wasson Angels of Light School (FWAL) in Tabarre is closed;
- St. Hélène School in Kenscoff is closed.
In addition, St. Luc Hospital will receive only emergency cases and service levels at satellite clinics will remain low. These institutions will remain closed and services will cease until the safe, unconditional release of Ms. Benoit. Though services have paused and facilities have closed in the Port-au-Prince area, there will be no pause or slowdown of earthquake relief efforts in the south of the country.
We are greatly distressed at the kidnapping of a valued and dedicated staff member. Bénicia has worked with St. Damien for nearly 15 years; she also works part-time for St. Luc. We pray for the humane treatment of Bénicia by her abductors. NPH and Fondation St. Luc maintain their no-ransom policy. We continue to work with the Benoit family to secure Bénicia’s safe and speedy release.
May God bless Bénicia with more faith, more courage, and more strength in her darkest hour. Please pray continually for her safe and speedy release.
August 20, 2021
According to the BBC, the August 14, 2021, earthquake in Haiti has resulted in 2,000 deaths and 12,000 injuries. More than 300 people are still missing. In addition, “Haitian officials estimate there are 600,000 people in need of emergency assistance. The delivery of aid has been further hampered by heavy rains brought this week by Tropical Storm Grace.”
Late last night, Géhy Jean Noel, NPH Haiti’s Assistant National Director and an Hermano Mayor (“Older sibling” who was raised at the NPH home), sent the following report about his trip to Les Cayes, one of the areas worst affected by the quake. He also took the photos.
THEY ARE NOT DEAD, BUT YET, THEY DO NOT LIVE.
Translated from French
Referring back to January 12th, in 2010, I had experienced the earthquake for the first time in my life at Ste. Helene home, in Kenscoff with my siblings from NPH. It was not easy at all, as you can imagine it. We have lived through death.
Yesterday, I went to the south of the country – more precisely to Les Cayes – with a lot of motivation to help the victims of the earthquake, but also with resignation of a fear in the stomach due to the deep insecurity which reigns in the surroundings of Martissant and Fontamara. I was accompanied by other people who were really afraid of the bandits living in these areas.
But as missionaries, we took the risk. The first obstacle: our means of transport – an ambulance for more security and allowing us to go as quickly as possible – broke down on the way. We did what was necessary to keep moving forward.
All along the road from the Aquin communinty leading to Les Cayes, there were barricades erected by people seeking support. (Aquin, St. Louis du sud, Grandesand others.)
We have met many people – a truly sad and terrible amount beyond human comprehension. I visited neighborhoods where 80% of the houses were totally destroyed or cracked. We saw victims lying in the streets. The desolation in their eyes could be seen, an enormous desolation.
Personally, I lost an uncle under the rubble…
Despite all efforts to clear the space in which the house was located, his body has not yet been found. He was a good person and loved by the family. He left us with tears because it’s not always easy to accept losing someone you love, but God in His goodness may have mercy on him and accept him on his side.
We don’t need to ask questions. We can all see their faces and everything is already explained in relation to the surroundings. The worst part of all of this is that hurricanes are forecast for Haiti. The need is high and more than urgent.
They urgently need medical care, tents, sheets, firewood, hygiene supplies, water and food. A space is already reserved for us for a temporary shelter, so we would like to act before the storm hits.
We already have volunteers waiting for us on site. We think that this weekend we should go to Les Cayes to assist well as to do training workshops and also to try to give hope to the victims.
We need you. Haiti needs your help!
August 18, 2021
Medical teams coordinated by NPH Haiti’s Founder, Fr. Rick Frechette, CP, DO, were on the ground soon after the earthquake. They are doing their best to assist with medical treatment and emergency supplies. “Our efforts will be pointed, rational and local,” he states. “We will try to focus on Haitian leaders known to us, to enable them to be of real assistance just as donors enable us to be of assistance. We just ‘pass it on’ in the best way.”
Following is an update from Kenson Kaas, NPH Haiti National Director of Childcare and an Hermano Mayor (“Older sibling” who was raised at the NPH home):
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the Southern side of the country couldn’t have come at a worse time; just as a category 5 storm is forecasted, as we are mourning the death of our late president, and unsure about the future of political stability in the country. During the same night we felt tremors so strong that we were forced to make our kids sleep outside in the cold. On Monday all relief efforts had to stop due to the storm Grace passing. People had no homes to stay in and makeshift tents were bwing blown away by the wind.
This earthquake brought with it unwanted memories of the January 2010 earthquake. With the death toll rising by the day, it is clear that this earthquake will leave more emotional scars on our hearts. In 2010, I was young and dedicated to help those affected, especially children. I helped set up the Father Wasson Angels of Light (FWAL) outreach program, which provided basis needs to more than 2,500 children. Strategically, as the program grew, we built a local school to provide subsidized education and scholarships to those children. We always focus on making sustainable decisions to help those in need during times like this. We depend on the support of our partners and donors to make a significant impact in the lives of those in needs; we help put them on a path to success. It is always a happy day when I see one of the children who started as part of our program in 2010. Eleven years later, they are grown up and studying at universities.
While basic needs such as water, food, and temporary shelter are necessary, we also need to focus of the future of those affected. When someone receives more food than s/he needs, s/he starts selling the surplus. The same goes, if s/he gets too many water bottles, s/he starts bathing or washing clothes with it. The worst of this is that after two years, the same person is still left needing support to build back his/her life. We have been doing this long enough to understand the impact of providing tools to people to help them succeed in their lives. It is also clear now that Haiti is in the hotbed of natural disaster, so we need to make more sustainable decisions to help our brothers and sisters in this very difficult time.
This is why our objective is to identify people who are affected to help them rebuild their lives through building houses, providing agricultural tools, and money for small business. We will start by identifying the children in our programs who have families from the affected areas and help them. With your help we want to help some people to build back their houses that will be great if we support 50 families in Les Cayes and 100 in Jeremie, where we have a stronger relationship with the community because most of our workers and children come from those areas. As you know, we depend on your support and the support of others to help us make this happen.
August 16, 2021
VIDEO: Gena Heraty, NPH Haiti Director of Special Needs Programs, provides an earthquake update
August 14, 2021
The 7.2-magnitude quake hit the west of the country, with its epicenter about 7.5 miles (12km) from the town of Saint-Louis du Sud, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The USGS said Saturday’s quake was recorded at a depth of about 6 miles (10km). Its epicenter was some 93 miles (150km) from the densely populated capital of Port-au-Prince.
Miguel Venegas, Executive Director of NPH International, spoke with Dr. Jacqueline Gautier and other leaders from NPH Haiti. Early reports are that there is no damage in Port-au-Prince, Tabarre at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, Ste. Germaine, or at Ste. Helene and Kay Christine in Kenscoff.
“The families of patients at St. Damien ran to the outdoor yards; they are hesitant to return inside the buildings fearing aftershocks,” said Dr. Gautier. “Hospitals and health centers have collapsed or are overwhelmed. There will be a need for St. Damien to accept more people as an impact which increase unbudgeted costs for care, supplies, PPE, and extra staff. We are not in the area and not a trauma center so we will not be doing rescue, but we are anticipating more work as usual during this crisis.”
Kenson Kaas, National Director of Childcare for NPH Haiti, said the situation in the south of country is terrible. Videos and photos show major damage. He is working to contact different people within NPH Haiti to confirm all of them are well, include our kids. He doesn’t know what is happening in the countryside where some families and children from community programs live. We don’t know the full extent of the earthquake’s impact yet. On the night of August 14, there were some tremors in Haiti and around Kenscoff, so the children and staff slept outside for safety.
The earthquake was felt across much of the Caribbean. NPH Dominican Republic National Director Kieran Rigney reports all people at NPH DR are well.
Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers. Updates will be posted here when available.
• Crisis in Haiti