Haiti's Relief Story Through the Eyes of Benjamin, a Haitian Scout
Benjamin Antoine is a member of Scouts d’Haïti, he lives in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti. He started his Scouting experience as a Cub in the 90s, and since then, he always brought his help when natural disasters struck Haiti: hurricanes in 2004 and 2008, earthquake in 2010, and now Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
In the direct aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, when Benjamin knew about the dramatic situation in Jérémie, he was shocked and immediately decided to help. Communication means (phones, roads) were cut and everybody was worried about what was happening there. With his Scouting background and specific training sessions to support this type of emergency, Benjamin has been offered to go on site to bring back the communication between the population of Jérémie and the rest of the country, in order to help coordinate the operations made by the NGOs.
Benjamin and Steeve Pauleus, a Scout technician trained by Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF - NGO in humanitarian calling), contacted the National Emergency Operations Centre (COUN) to find a way to go to Jérémie. It has been a hard task and they eventually could board one of the helicopters of the United Nations (UN).
After a 45 minutes’ flight, the arrival is heart-breaking; the extent of damage is huge. Benjamin even wonders if he should leave back to a safer place, or stay. Of course, his duty to honour the motto of Scouts d’Haïti « Always be prepared to serve » and to help others in any circumstances is stronger. Despite of the sadness, Benjamin chooses to stay and gets into a car of the UN that drives them to the city.
In Jérémie, in the department of Grande Anse, there are seven Scout Districts composed of five groups minimum each. When Benjamin and Steeve arrive on the ground, they see Scouts in action, clearing debris in the streets to make them operational. Each district is very active and has its own mission, e.g.: compile a register of victims and survivors, people in needs of emergency cares; distribution of food and drinking water; set up of telecom centres.
Benjamin spent more than 10 days in Jérémie. His tireless efforts and knowledge in telecoms were great help to bring back the communication between Grande Anse and the rest of the world. It enabled the coordination of the emergency relief, and families who have not been able to contact their loved ones could called and reassured them.
Help Scouts to Support the Relief Efforts from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti
On the ground Scouts have activated across the country to support the victims and provide assistance. The focus is on providing much needed drinking water, sanitation, and first aid.