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After Haiti’s earthquake: An uncertain future for the Deliscars

January 17, 2010 No Comment

ORANGEVILLE, Ont. – Suzanne Deliscar is worrying less these days, but only a little less.

The Brampton, Ont. lawyer knows her Haitian-born husband, James Deliscar, survived the January 12 earthquake that levelled Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital.

But she still fears for his safety and for the future of his country, and she doesn’t know when she’ll see James next. His plans to emigrate to Canada feel so far away.

“I feel a lot better knowing he is safe, but I’m still worried about what will happen next,” said Suzanne, who is a member of Orangeville’s Living Faith Lutheran Church and has served as a mission volunteer in Haiti. “I can’t imagine what it’s like now. It’s just so unstable in the best of times.”

Five days after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck along the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone, Haiti remains in a state of chaos. Nobody knows how many died, but estimates range in the tens of thousands. Burials are now taking place in mass graves.

The international community, including Christian-aid agencies and Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) affiliated organizations, is rallying behind the besieged country, one of the poorest in the western hemisphere.

Suzanne, who has visited the country five times, still can’t call James, but he can call her.
Thanks to a voicemail message, Suzanne learned James was safe January 13. She has talked to him by phone every day since.

“It was horrible waiting and waiting and not knowing what was happening,” she said.

Suzanne said James narrowly escaped being crushed by a building during the earthquake but is safe in Gonaives, a city of about 105,000 in the country’s north.

She’s now worried about water, medical supplies, the cost of goods and food, and, of course, looting. James was forced to leave most of his possessions in Port-au-Prince.

“We don’t know if they’ve been looted or not,” she said. “To have to start from scratch again would be horrible.”
She also wonders how the country will move forward now.

“If a capital goes down, how does a country function?”

John Wilch, chairman of the St. Catharines, Ont.-based Haiti Lutheran Mission Society (HLMS), an organization that has worked in the country for 26 years, agrees.

“The country had very little infrastructure in good times and now there’s nothing left,” said Wilch who has visited Haiti twice. “Those who want to deliver aid have to do it themselves. They can’t count on the government.”

Christian organizations are playing a big role in relief efforts, he added.

“What they are doing is a great help to Haitians who have no other source of help,” he said.

Wilch said the Lutheran Church of Haiti (LCH) has 192 congregations, most of which have schools, and some of those schools have food-aid programs – a small bright spot in the disaster.

Meantime, Suzanne said news that Canada “might” speed up Haitians’ immigration applications is wonderful, but she doesn’t know how that will affect James.

She said the visa office in Haiti was processing James’ permanent-residency application in July, and the Canadian embassy is still standing in Port-au-Prince, but it is now a place of refuge.

Just when she’ll see her husband next remains a mystery. Suzanne said she wants to travel to Haiti immediately but says it’s better to stay in Canada now.

“I think I can do more by creating awareness and generating support and funding here so more people down there get help.”
She’s urging Canadians to donate.

“I would encourage them, of course, to give to Canadian Lutheran World Relief (www.clwr.org/donate).

“Give to the Red Cross. Give to Oxfam. Give to a charity.”

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