Haiti

Haiti is suffering from the massive Jan 12 earthquake and needs our help. Below I've posted some first-hand accounts of the quake from people in Haiti. Please consider a donation to an organization in Haiti. If you would like to give directly to a Haitian family, please contact me (anna.versluis@gmail.com).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Anna's Second Day in Haiti

The household is a study in globalization. Right now the girls are downstairs watching MTV and singing along with Hillary Duff. (I guess they get US cable here--more amenities than our house in CA, though I just tried to wash my hands and we're out of water for the moment.) The family has a beautiful house. They also have people who cook and clean, so you can see why Bethany and I call it Hotel Esperance. There is another "blan" (foreigner) staying here! She's from Belgium and is working at RNDDH this summer. I haven't met her yet since she spent last night at a friend's.I slept very well (though my mattress is covered in plastic. . .) and got up at 6:30 am. Woni, who usually does the cooking, is gone for a few days but Chrisman had made pancakes and hard-boiled eggs and fresh pineapple for breakfast. Last night for dinner I had rice crispies. :) The main meal is eaten around 1:30pm, and for that yesterday I had corn and beans with fish.Today I got a ride with D on her way to school. (Most kids are chauffered to school--either on foot by an older sibling or in a car, if they can afford it.) E, the driver, dropped me off at the UTSIG office in downtown Port-au-Prince. UTSIG is the governmental GIS and remote sensing office for Haiti; it started around the year 2000 and is fairly active. Unfortunately, they had a problem with their computers this morning and couldn't get most of them to run. I talked with Claudejane who deals with public requests for data and she asked me to come back tomorrow, which I will do. Then I talked with Manes and Jude, two GIS and remote sensing specialists who work for UTSIG. I'd met Manes last summer and have emailed him with questions on several occasions. He and Jude were very helpful in letting me know what data exist and in what condition/format/etc. They seemed interested in the project and it was fun to talk with Haitians who've had some of the same training and education as me. I mentioned I'm a Clark student and use Idrisi and they told me how impressed they are with Idrisi (and hopefully with the fact I'm a Clarkie!).
\n\nFrom the UTSIG office I walked to the government\'s Geodesy and\nCartography Office. I\'d never been there before (last summer when\nI visited it was in gang-controlled territory so I couldn\'t reach it)\nbut I knew it was by the main cathedral and I was able to find it\nwithout much problem. I\'d been told that this office had aerial\nphotos of the entire country from 1978. I was pleasantly\nsurprised to find that they have the photos and I could buy copies for\nabout $2.50 each. I\'d heard rumors that the office had been\nburned sometime in the last years and so I didn\'t know the state of\ntheir operation. I think the negatives were burned--a huge\nloss--but they still have some of the prints. I bought 10 photos\nand will return later this week to buy the other 2 photos and 2\ntopographic maps for my study area (I ran out of money, which I imagine\nthey found amusing). I had no idea it was so easy and cheap to\nget these topo maps--I\'d been looking for them for quite some time with\nno success until today! I will scan the aerial photographs (maybe\nwhen I\'m back in CA) and attempt to georectify them and use them for\nreference data for the 1979 satellite image classification. I\nfeel very fortunate to have found the photos AND to have been able to\nbuy copies for myself. Amazing! Someone really should scan\nall the photos for the country so there are digital copies, especially\nif all the negatives are gone.\n\nA man from the Geodesy office walked me a couple of blocks to where I\ncould find a camionette (small van used for public transportation) that\nwas heading to Delmas, the part of the city I used to live in and not\nfar from where Pierre lives. Then I walked about 3/4 mile to a\ntaptap station where I got a taptap (I got a front seat) for the short\nride to Pierre\'s neighborhood. I paid 15 gourdes (40 cents) for\nthe camionette and 8 gourdes (21 cents) for the taptap. US$1 \u003d 38\ngourdes right now.\n\nLater today I will go to the bank to exchange some more money, but\nother than that I will stay at "home" and do some computer work,\nemailing, phone calls. It is overcast today and may rain later,\nso it is not quite so hot. It is very breezy at this house, which\nis very nice, but it still can get quite warm inside, or outside if I\'m\nwalking or sitting in traffic in a crowded vehicle.",1]
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From the UTSIG office I walked to the government's Geodesy and Cartography Office. I'd never been there before (last summer when I visited it was in gang-controlled territory so I couldn't reach it) but I knew it was by the main cathedral and I was able to find it without much problem. I'd been told that this office had aerial photos of the entire country from 1978. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have the photos and I could buy copies for about $2.50 each. I'd heard rumors that the office had been burned sometime in the last years and so I didn't know the state of their operation. I think the negatives were burned--a huge loss--but they still have some of the prints. I bought 10 photos and will return later this week to buy the other 2 photos and 2 topographic maps for my study area (I ran out of money, which I imagine they found amusing). I had no idea it was so easy and cheap to get these topo maps--I'd been looking for them for quite some time with no success until today! I will scan the aerial photographs (maybe when I'm back in CA) and attempt to georectify them and use them for reference data for the 1979 satellite image classification. I feel very fortunate to have found the photos AND to have been able to buy copies for myself. Amazing! Someone really should scan all the photos for the country so there are digital copies, especially if all the negatives are gone.A man from the Geodesy office walked me a couple of blocks to where I could find a camionette (small van used for public transportation) that was heading to Delmas, the part of the city I used to live in. Then I walked about 3/4 mile to a taptap station where I got a taptap (I got a front seat) for the ride to my neighborhood. I paid 15 gourdes (40 cents) for the camionette and 8 gourdes (21 cents) for the taptap. US$1 = 38 gourdes right now.Later today I will go to the bank to exchange some more money, but other than that I will stay at "home" and do some computer work, emailing, phone calls. It is overcast today and may rain later, so it is not quite so hot. It is very breezy at this house, which is very nice, but it still can get quite warm inside, or outside if I'm walking or sitting in traffic in a crowded vehicle.

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