Haiti Earthquake Orphan Appeal timeline of events and news:
Tuesday 12 Jan 2010 a major earthquake centred on Léogane, 25 km West of Port au Prince hit at 1653 local time (21:53 in the UK). The SOS school in Port au Prince had finished for the day at 1630, but at 1653 staff were still in the office and we were surprised that no contact was made.
Wed 13 Jan 0800 First reports of the 2010 Haiti earthquake first reached us appeared on our website at 0910. By 1000 we started being concerned about the complete lack of communication from our national office as reports of high casualty numbers surfaced, but the five hour time difference meant it was not until early afternoon that we started fearing the worse. Our offices in the Dominican Republic were in touch and confirmed the total failure of communications out of Haiti. Diaries got torn up and emergency reponse meetings scheduled.
In the evening of Wed 13 Jan we finally got contact from our national director Celigny Darius who confirmed that the national office was damaged by the earthquake, that communications and most roads in Port au Prince were impassible and that although none of our office team were badly injured most had lost their homes and were trying to find their own families. He had managed no contact with our social centres, villages or schools.
Thurs 14 Jan 0900 The decision was made to launch an Emergency Earthquake Appeal for Haiti, which happened immediately online. SOS Children International experts who had dealt with the 2004 Asian Tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake (where for a while we were temporary legal guardian for every unacccompanied child in Kashmir), and the 2007 Peru Earhtquake looked at the information available on the disaster, the logistics and facilities we had available, the probably number of short term separated children and long term orphans and drafted out programme for Earthquake orphans.
A decision is made to run everything from the Dominican Republic where infrastructure is better. The programme starts with securing food and safety for children. Emergency supplies were needed and already on Thursday we were purchasing goods in the Dominican Republic for emergency supplies, checking logistics and trying to get good information on the route to Port au Prince by road. Contact was made with the SOS school and village in Port au Prince. Apart from the perimeter wall of the village, the village is more or less intact with working water, sanitation and generators. Discussion with the government and other NGOs starts about the use of the children's playing field as an emergency medical centre. The school building are also largely intact and amongst very few surviving buildings in their area. Social centre staff are confirmed alive but the social centre is badly damaged.
Friday 15 Jan Prior to sending a convoy into Haiti the National Director of SOS in the Dominican Republic flies over the route. Communications improve and we start to get Haiti Earthquake photos . The roads are intact but rioting has started Security concerns arise over Earthquake relief convoys and armed civilian guards are employed as protection. We start the communication tasks of explaining to people how children orphaned by an earthquake typically react to the terrible stress and bereavement, how charities cooperate as SOS has the job of dealing with children and orphans and why adopting earthquake orphans may not be the best solution. Trucks are full are we get permits organised to enter and leave both countries freely with armed civilian guards and agree. Experts from Costa Rica and Peru are already arriving into the Dominican Republic.
Sat 16 Jan Trucks roll from the Dominican republic with an initial 10 tonnes of goods, 14 rescue workers and trauma counsellors to help the children with severe stress. More are on their way into the Dominican republic. We get uninterupted communications with Haiti long enough to interview our national director. The job of tracing families who were on our programmes continues with bad news of lost family members. The convoy stops before Santo. Talks with the Dominican army result in an army escort all the way to our village in Santo. Apparently the situation in Haiti is so chaotic as to allow this without issues.
Sun 17 Jan Confirmation is received that the playing field at the SOS Village will house an emergency hospital which the. Mobile hospital units are scheduled to arrive on Monday. (to be weekly updated as news arrives)