Posts Tagged ‘Erdbeben’

Haiti: Die alten Menschen werden übersehen

Dienstag, Mai 25th, 2010

“Haiti’s elderly earthquake victims struggle to survive with little help

BY LAURA FIGUEROA

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Flies swarmed around Christiane Carystil’s inflamed leg, yet despite her moans for help, there wasn’t much the 87-year-old could do to get anyone’s attention.

Even outside the crumbled remains of the Asile Communale — the city’s main senior nursing home — personal attention is hard to come by for many elderly trying to survive in a post-earthquake society.

“The needs are many, but the people are few,” said Andree Devilas, one of the workers at the nursing home.

Haiti’s elderly have had to make do with aid efforts primarily geared toward children and adults. Elders without teeth must try to eat hard protein biscuits distributed by United Nations relief workers or whole-grain cereals that their bodies no longer digest properly. “In the rush to distribute help as quickly as possible, these details can sadly get lost,” said Cynthia Powell, spokeswoman for HelpAge, an international group that provides aid to seniors throughout the world.

Since arriving in Haiti shortly after the Jan. 12 earthquake, HelpAge has taken over much of the day-to-day duties at the Asile Communale and continues to mobilize efforts to assist seniors living in tent cities throughout Port-au-Prince, Petit Goave and Léogne.

The group has provided financial support to eight church-run nursing homes that oversee 400 seniors, and has set up protective areas at certain camps to cluster together seniors needing attention. They have also launched a radio campaign urging families not to forsake their elder relatives.

Still, HelpAge workers are concerned that in a country where need is so widespread, the elderly continue to be overlooked.

“There have been reported incidents of abandonment of older people in camps,” said Rosaleen Cunningham, spokeswoman for HelpAge. “Concerns have also been raised of older people being at increased risk and unable to protect their belongings and themselves.”

At Asile Communal, Clairevana Desbrosses, 87, holds onto an amber bottle half filled with medicine to ease the shooting pains she’s been feeling in her abdomen. With medicine in short supply, she fears that someone might take the bottle when she’s not paying attention.

“I am not OK,” she shouts repeatedly.

She is one of the nursing home’s 42 residents forced outdoors when one of two main dormitories crumbled. The residents, several over 90, share living space with the nearly 100 families who have set up camp on the nursing home’s sprawling lawn.

Children play games around the muddied lawn, running past the line of naked elders who are being bathed by nursing attendants using buckets of cold water.

Early on, HelpAge paid for men to serve as security guards, after several residents complained that “gang members” were going into their tents and stealing what little food they had.

“The best option for the residents would be relocation as soon as possible,” Cunningham said, “but the mayor has not agreed with any plans put forward.”

For now, HelpAge has contracted a doctor to provide ongoing medical care at the home, and is working on converting the first floor of a clinic into a geriatric care space with room for 25 beds.

While the seniors living at nursing homes have workers looking after them, there are thousands of elderly residents trying to survive in the sprawling tent encampments. Nearly 200,000 people over age 60 are now homeless, according to figures collected by HelpAge.

Many elders rely on the generosity of neighbors or the hustle of children and grandchildren trying to secure them food and medical attention.

“Sometimes my neighbors will give me some kernels of corn,” Dilianne Charles, 90, said from inside her tent at the Sainte Thérese Park in Pétionville.

While children run about the encampments playing jump rope and soccer, many elderly, like Charles, say they seldom leave their tents.

“At my age, its hard to stay in the sun,” Charles said. “What else can I do? There’s nothing else I can do, but sit here and not waste my energy. . . . I keep telling myself I am alive for a reason.”

Frézelia Cetoute, 109, was one of the oldest residents of the Sainte Thérese Park encampment. She has since moved back home, one of the fortunate few whose homes were deemed sturdy enough to live in.

Still, while living in the tent city, Cetoute tried to stay alert to her surroundings, despite being blind.

“Hearing the children play makes me happy,” Cetoute said one day while still living in the tent city. “It lets me know there is life.”

Cetoute lived in a makeshift tent constructed from gray tarps and floral patterned sheets with her 66-year-old daughter, her 17-year-old granddaughter and two nieces, 8 and 9.

With the help of money sent by relatives in Miami and New York, the three generations of women lived off soft foods that are easy for Cetoute to eat, such as potatoes and bananas.

Cetoute often grew restless not being able to walk around the crowded park. So she spent most of her days clutching black rosary beads, praying from a lawn chair that was also her bed.

“I’m just waiting,” Cetoute said. “If I can survive this earthquake, who knows what else I can survive?””

(Quelle: Miami Herald.)

Chile: Erdbebenopfer wehren sich gegen das Vergessen

Mittwoch, Mai 19th, 2010

“Quake Survivors Don’t Want to Be Forgotten

By Daniela Estrada

SANTIAGO, May 18, 2010 (IPS) – “The situation is critical,” said activist Iván Salazar, referring to the slow progress in providing emergency housing to people left homeless in his native Cauquenes, one of the Chilean towns hit hardest by the devastating Feb. 27 earthquake.

“If Cauquenes was in the Santiago metropolitan region, the problem would practically be solved by now,” Salazar, who belongs to a group of people from that town, Cauqueninos Unidos, that is planning a demonstration Thursday in downtown Santiago along with other organisations, told IPS.

“The places reached by the media have received aid, which is why we decided to hold a protest outside the seat of government,” said Salazar, who lives in the capital but travels regularly to visit his family in Cauquenes.

His home town in the region of Maule, 350 km south of Santiago, was one of the hardest hit by the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked six regions in central Chile and unleashed a tsunami that wiped away entire fishing villages.

According to the most recent government report, released May 15, 521 people were killed by the quake and tsunami.

“The help has been slow to arrive, overly centralised and top-down,” Salazar complained. “We haven’t seen much government support for grassroots and citizens’ groups. Sports clubs, cultural centres, local residents’ organisations haven’t been called on to work with the authorities. Organised civil society has not been actively participating. That has slowed things down.”

Not only people in Cauquenes are protesting the slow pace of aid. On May 12, a woman in Penco, in the region of Bíobío, 500 km south of the capital, partially burned down the temporary house she was given, to protest its poor quality.

But the government of right-wing President Sebastián Piñera, who took office on Mar. 11, announced Monday that it had already reached the goal of delivering 40,000 emergency housing units, before the Jun. 11 target date, while it reiterated the promise to continue working to provide permanent solutions for the families left homeless.

Half of the small, wooden temporary houses were built by A Roof for Chile, a non-profit organisation founded by Jesuit priest Felipe Berríos in 1997 that was granted 27 million dollars collected in the “Chile Helps Chile” Telethon held in early March.

The government, which estimates that some 400,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged throughout this country of 17 million people, is carrying out programmes like Manos a la Obra (Hands to Work), Aldea (Village) and Impermeabilidad (Waterproofing).

The first programme, which has a budget of 15 million dollars, purchases building materials for reconstruction in the 239 districts hit by the quake, of a total of 345 districts in the country.

The second brings electric power to the emergency homes, as well as street lighting, community bathrooms, perimeter fencing, gravel streets and social centres to the temporary new “aldeas” or villages.

In the central regions of Valparaíso and Bíobío, 77 emergency communities have been built for more than 3,400 families.

The third programme provides waterproofing for the houses by covering them with polyethylene sheeting.

But Father Berríos, who announced Monday that he was leaving A Roof for Chile to get involved in humanitarian work in Africa, said he feared there would be social unrest because those left homeless by the quake have gradually been forgotten and the problem has faded from the headlines — a view that has been expressed by other critics as well.

There is also concern that the low-cost temporary homes will become permanent housing.

“The emergency is not over,” Rodrigo Jordan, head of the Fundación Superación de la Pobreza (Foundation to Overcome Poverty), a non-governmental institution that receives financing from the state, told IPS.

The Foundation, along with the Catholic Church’s Caritas Chile, launched the campaign “Por un Chile entero”, which is collecting money until Jun. 4 for 1,500 families in six towns in dire need of assistance: La Estrella, Marchihue, Constitución, Pencahue, Quirihue and Curanilahue.

“The campaign is aimed at making sure people don’t forget about the people left homeless by the earthquake,” especially since things are practically back to normal in the capital, for example, Jordan explained.

He sees the protests as a reflection of “a desperate situation because the families not only lost their material belongings but also their chances for a future,” given the loss of thousands of sources of jobs.

In Constitución, he said, post-quake unemployment is estimated at 40 percent.

“The earthquake and tsunami not only destroyed the homes and belongings of thousands of Chileans, but also plunged them into poverty. When you visit the emergency camps or ‘villages’, you see that the families are poorer than they were before,” Jordan said.

“The public apparatus has been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the catastrophe,” Salazar said. “The problem is not a lack of will, but that the government institutions haven’t asked for help or opened up to other organisations to work with them to make the response more timely, agile and appropriate.” (END)”

(Quelle: Inter Press Service.)