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Published: March 5th 2010
With Murrays busy travel schedule, study schedule, work, church, home and family life, he is a busy man. So instead of hassling him to write a blog I have decided to write it for him 😊 Bear with me.
Since we last gave you a work update in August 2009 Murray has done the following trips:
Afghanistan - 2 weeks,
North Sudan - 1 week,
DRC - 1 week,
Haiti - 2 weeks,
UK - 1 week,
South Sudan - 1 week.
He missed his trip to Myanmar, due to the emergency response to Haiti, this is rescheduled for this month.
Murray has had to apply for a second passport in addition to the passport replacement he had to get last year, due to filling it up.
Haiti has been the trip most etched into Murrays mind, so I’ll focus on that.
On the 12 of January 2010, a 7.0 earthquake happened in Haiti. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a country called Haiti, and actually called in Hi-ete (with a French accent) the entire time Murray was away. Charlotte dutifully told anyone who would listen that “my daddys in Haiti”, unreal to think what
countries are part of my 2 year olds vocabulary.
We had just returned from our holiday, my sister and brother-in-law were still staying with us, and the girls & I had got a nasty flu which had a nasty cough associated with it. Timing wasn’t great for an impromptu extra trip. Murray isn’t great at communicating while being away, and the fact that normally he has to use satellite equipment to keep in contact, I’m not expecting this trip to be any different. So as I tearfully wave him goodbye, not knowing when he’ll return or if I’ll hear from him at all.
The team assembled in UK and set off to Santa Domingo via Miami. A driver was hired and the following day they drive across the border to Haiti. Survival packs were opened and Murray described them as having everything including the kitchen sink. Useful things like tents, sleeping bags, gas cookers, large amounts of spam, and bizarre things like boiler suits (don’t ask, I wish I hadn’t!), glow sticks, and my favourite mint chocolate bars that Ed Hilary had when he summated Everest (apparently).
Murray describes the drive into the disaster area as similar
to the Tsunami devastation that we saw in Sri Lanka. “Houses completely destroyed, some remain completely intact, some have a few cracks, others half are standing and the worst, a small pile of rubble and you can count the slabs of concrete as a 6 storey building. We drove past a lot of field hospitals where the wounded were being treated, we saw a lot of UN military patrols.”
“Every spare piece of land seemed taken, with NGO workers or homeless Haitians. We had the option to camp near the remains of the office, basically on top of the rubble, so opted for the second option of camping on the grounds of an international church. Already on the compound were 2 orphanages with 150 kids each, there was a medical team and a field hospital, distribution centre for food and water, and another 600 people coming in at night time to sleep on the ground. We managed to find a corner of the compound that wasn’t occupied. We hadn’t eaten for 6 hours, but first thing we had to do was assembly the cooking equipment and tents before it got dark.”
“We were woken at 6am by a
6.4 earthquake, it felt like the ground moved about a meter in each direction, and it lasted about 10 seconds. I leapt out of bed, hoping that we had pitched the tents far enough away from the 8 foot high concrete boundary wall beside our campsite. After checking everyone was ok, it was time to set up our satellite equipment so I could call Miriam and let her know I was ok. Then before we could start work in the morning, we had to pack everything up in the van so things wouldn’t get stolen. Tents and supplies were at a premium understandably.”
“We visited many camps, people were distraught but getting on with things, building shelters, finding food, etc. We visited Leogane, Gressier, and Port au Prince, identifying areas we could be useful. The streets were blocked with debris and busy with cars, trucks and people. 10 days after the earthquake stalls were being set up again, selling anything from fruit & veges to paintings.”
“We met with 11 local partners and met outside in the courtyard of one of the offices, they were too scared to meet inside, so dragged their desks and computers outside. As
we had the meeting there was a collapsed house next door, and when the wind changed direction, bad smells wafted over and everyone lost their focus. Everyone was quite jittery because of the aftershocks that morning. All 11 organisations had suffered damage to their offices, staff houses, and all had lost staff.”
“Heading back into Santo Domingo, I’m exhausted we’ve been working non-stop for 14 days in Haiti, plus all the travel, now I just want to get home. I head to UK to debrief, get a full medical, sort out a second passport. Heading home to Miriam & the girls, I can’t wait to be home, and sleep in my own bed. I’m looking forward to eating lots of fresh food and some meat other than canned spam, having a hot shower and putting on some clean clothes.”
The rain has now started in Haiti, you can imagine how the temporary shelters are holding up, and how the camps will soon be swamped. Please continue to pray for the people there, as life goes on. Many of our Tsunami response collegues are in Haiti working and also a friend has delivered 2 babies on the dirt, under
a sheet for a shelter. Conditions are horrific, please remember the Haitians in your prayers.
Murray has some more trips in the next few months, including his first trip to Myanmar. I am looking forward to my mum, dad & brother, who visit in April. We are looking forward to making it to the beach for some family time. Also our girls will be turning 1yrs and 3yrs. So April will be a big month for us.
I will sign off with my favourite survivor story from the Haiti earthquake. A 15 day old baby was found, 7 days after the earthquake.
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