Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Report from Haiti

Earlier this year, the Commission on Peace and Justice sponsored visits to various local churches by Rev. Joseph Philippe, a Haitian priest who made two fundraising visits to the Capital Region after the earthquake. One of the people who met with him was Ed Mahood, a member of the St. Joan of Arc parish in Menands. What happened next is the subject of a story by Paul Grondahl in the Times Union this week.
At a time when many are trying to escape Haiti, which has been rocked by violent demonstrations over charges of a fraudulent presidential election and a deadly cholera outbreak, Ed Mahood is back for a second time.

Mahood, 73, a retired state worker, bought a one-way plane ticket to the Caribbean nation and this week began an open-ended stint as a volunteer in Fondwa, a poor area of peasant farmers outside the capital of Port-au-Prince.

"I'll stay as long as they need me and I can be of help," Mahood said. "If they give me a teaching assignment, I'll stay for six months."

Mahood returned home at the end of October after 21/2 months in Fondwa. He contributed his expertise as a computer programmer to help salvage and repair laptops and a computer network damaged in the Jan. 12 earthquake. The 7.0-magnitude temblor killed an estimated 250,000 people, injured 300,000 and left more than 1 million homeless across Haiti.

Fondwa is a mountain village of about 8,000 people, two hours southeast of Port-au-Prince. The subsistence farmers grow corn, beans and bananas. It is one of the most impoverished places in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Many of the peasant families get by on the equivalent of less than $1 a day. Only about 1 in 4 can read and write.

The earthquake killed 30 people in Fondwa, hundreds were injured and 80 percent of the houses, mainly cinderblock huts, were severely damaged or destroyed. Most were made of an inferior cement mix without steel reinforcement bars because they couldn't afford it.
The rest of the article is here.