Three months after a deadly earthquake reduced Haiti’s capital to ruins, a senior delegate for the Canadian Red Cross was in Vancouver yesterday to share his experiences.
Jean Pierre Taschereau led the field assessment of critical aid required in affected areas immediately after the earthquake, and returned to spearhead the transitional shelter program ahead of the hurricane season.
Q: What were the biggest challenges in the weeks after the quake?
A: Everything was a challenge, so the question was how to prioritize. The first was logistical access because we were bringing in so many teams and the Port-au-Prince airport was gridlocked. We were living under tents in a warehouse. After 12 days we were 215 delegates sharing two showers and two latrines.
Q: What are some of the successes of the relief effort?
A: (Our) vaccination and public-health campaign. There’s been no outbreaks or epidemics. This is a silent victory.
Q: What still needs to be done?
A: We need to develop long-term solutions. The Red Cross (alone) is distributing over 1.5 million litres of drinking water a day, but we’re trucking that water (in) because the public water infrastructure has been destroyed, and this is not sustainable.
It took six months for Americans to clear the rubble at Ground Zero and … there is 25 times the amount of that throughout the city.”
Q: What do you want Canadians to know about your effort in Haiti?
A: Canadians donated more than $175 million to the cause. We are in this for the long run … so we can not only bring people back, but bring them back (to a) better (country), even after the cameras leave and the attention moves somewhere else.