Thursday, January 21, 2010

QCS Earthquake Command Center

"Our campus has been preserved for a purpose." That was the realization that Quisqueya Christian School's Plant Operator Ted Steinhauer came to just hours after the earthquake hit Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area on January 12th. Although there was great destruction around the school, the QCS buildings had not sustained damage.

Almost immediately the QCS campus began to become a center for relief efforts. Its most obvious resource was its physical plant--undamaged buildings and courtyards as well as fields and open areas. Director Stephen Hersey comments on Facebook about the structural soundness of QCS buildings:
It is amazing. Many people are using the word 'miracle.' Walls collapsed right across the street, and the house directly across from the High School building suffered huge damage, big pieces falling off. I really have no explanation.
But it also had a dedicated, compassionate team of administrators, faculty and staff who love the people of Haiti and feel a call to serve them. Many of them were already involved in ministry in orphanages and Haitian schools. An additional resource was the community of parents and alumni, both Haitian and expats, that QCS is connected to.

Many of these people responded to the call for help and have teamed together under the leadership of people like Steinhauer and Hersey, sometimes using their training and experience in administration, organization, technology, and medicine; sometimes reaching out to their connections within Haiti and beyond; sometimes simply doing the grunt work that needed to be done to make the relief effort work.

An example of the last category is Ben Kilpatrick, a North American teacher who had barely worked in Haiti for two weeks when the earthquake hit. Yesterday he volunteered to accompany a trip up the mountain to the Dominican Republic to search for a truck carrying relief supplies that had broken down. Reports say that Ben and others like him have been available to do whatever was asked of him, joyfully serving others and helping to ease pain.

Part of the extended QCS community are Troy and Tara Livesay who work with Heartline Ministries and World Wide Village. They have been working with missionaries John and Beth McHoul, John and Jodie Ackerman, and others to treat those injured in the quake. Using very basic equipment and supplies, they have sutured wounds, set seriously broken bones, and otherwise helped to relieve suffering. They've had to get creative, like using sterile gloves to provide drainage for wounds. The Livesays' blog tells an amazing story of how they found help for some of their most serious patients on the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort.

The Livesays report that the larger Non-Government Organizations, better-supplied with water, food, fuel, and medicine, have not been heeding the call of smaller NGOs for help. The smaller organizations, many of which have invested in Haiti for years, are trying to band together to provide the support they are not finding in the large groups.

It's not clear whether the humedica team from Germany continues to lodge on the QCS campus now that they are no longer working in nearby Hôpital Espoir, but Els Vervloet reports that a Korean team will now be moving onto the grounds.

With access to communications equipment, motorcycles, trucks, interpreters, and runners, the QCS Earthquake Command Center has become a vital nexus in the ongoing relief and recovery efforts in Port-au-Prince.

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