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Feb-28-2010 14:28printcomments

Nature Looms in Haiti

We are doing this for the hundreds of smiling faces that will greet us on the other side, the warm embraces and the laughter of so many children that truly just need a little extra help and the reminder that they are not alone.

Doctors from the Canadian contingent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) tend to local women at the entrance of their base in Jacmel, a city 85 km south of Haiti capital Port-au-Prince. UN Photo/Pasqual Gorriz

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - The need has become ever more present to help, and continue to help. The Haitian community needs our commitment; they are facing the monumental task of rebuilding yet again. Our continuing support and presence as long-term partners is essential in not only effectively making progress, but also support through listening and providing hope.

Over the last weeks Haitians have begun to literally dig themselves out of their devastated condition. Rebuilding, repairing and comforting one another; the Haitians will again begin to pull together their small resources and rebuild their homes and families.

Unfortunately, their plight is not complete as they prepare for the rainy season that is rapidly approaching, as well as the omnipresent Hurricane season. Their struggle will continue for many more days, weeks, months and years. They will come together in their profound strength, and weather the storm as they always have. However, they cannot do this alone; they need the international community to see, hear and support their resilience.

“…optimistic signs were eclipsed Sunday night when a torrent of rain poured down on this wounded city where outdoor tent communities have sprouted up in every empty space. Then, just after 4:30 a.m. Monday, an aftershock of magnitude 4.75 shook and shook and finally gave a last forceful jerk before stopping. You could hear the wails on the street, the confused voices of people arguing over whether to stay outside or risk going back in”. (see: CNN: O'Brien: Rain, aftershocks compound misery in Haiti)

Preparing relief supplies for Haiti. Photos: Alysha Atma

Realizing the need, Clackamas community has stood up together in a mighty task to gather as many clothes and hygiene products as possible for the people of Haiti. At present count there are over 85 boxes with many more being packed as the weeks progress.

We have seen businesses gather together, to help with our supplies; students gathering their neighbors, friends and families to help increase exponentially, our ever growing pile of clothing.

We are so excited to announce, eleven of the local Starbucks stores have joined our team in collecting much needed hygiene products. Julie Leahy of the Milwaukie Marketplace store and Ryan Jasperson of the SE 82nd store have spearheaded this great objective. In the first ten days we gleaned over 90 toothbrushes, 46 tubes of toothpaste and 95 bars of soap. This was a great undertaking and we are so thrilled to see what the results of their efforts will be over the next three weeks.

None of this would be possible without the support of active, local people who are continually looking for ways to help and go above and beyond to give what they can. Throughout the last several weeks, I have seen this community reach out together in such amazing support and selflessness, from the smallest of hands to the largest corporations. This community’s generosity has mirrored the strength and fortitude of the Haitian people. We sincerely thank everyone for giving so much of their time, effort and resources.

The goal of our project is to arrive at a time after so many have left, and Haiti ceases to be on the nightly news. We also hope to leave as many of the necessities with the Haitians as is possible, with the intention of filling a small gap in the need that will exist for some time.

We are doing this for the hundreds of smiling faces that will greet us on the other side, the warm embraces and the laughter of so many children that truly just need a little extra help and the reminder that they are not alone.

“For the rest of the world it’s been a month. Here, on the ground, it feels much longer. The clocks have stopped. The earth no longer spins. This place, these people, are once again forced to begin again”. (see: CNN Anderson Cooper: February 12, 2010 It's been one month, but here it feels much longer)


Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the belegured people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: alyshann78@comcast.net

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