Monday, February 15, 2010

TV interview and new contacts in Haiti

Erica Argueta from KION TV 46 in Salinas, California came to interview Andre about how his family's doing one month after the earthquake. The interview went well, and Andre looks great, even though I don't like how I look on camera.

Today is President's Day, so U.S. banks are closed. Andre called his stepfather, but the wire transfer I made on Feb. 4 from Bank of America to Unibank still hasn't arrived. If I had known it would take this long I would have borrowed all the money we need for the land and sent it at once. It costs $45 every time you send money, but Andre and his stepfather thought I should do a test first before sending the bulk of it.

We were thinking to send a few thousand via Western Union, but as of Friday (the one month anniversary of the quake) they no longer wire money fee free to Haiti. So now we're stuck. Tomorrow when Bank of America is open I will go there and see if we can trace the 2/4/10 transfer. We're afraid of someone else buying the land we want, or the seller raising the price.

A co-worker at UCSC sent me this great article by Guy Lasnier about UCSC grad Starry Sprenkle, She lives two hours from the capitol with her Haitian husband and their baby girl, but she was driving to Port-au-Prince on the day of the earthquake. Guy helped me get in touch with Starry, who has added some insight into the situation. We were also surprised to learn that her husband's family is from Athis, the same village where Andre's family wants to buy land. Starry agrees that it's a nice place to live, but they'll probably want a truck to get back and forth to Port-au-Prince in the future.

Guy also put us in touch with Dr. Tony Hoffman, a lecturer at UCSC, who will be working in Haiti on children's rights. Andre and I spoke with him today via Skype in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He was on his laptop at the same hotel where I would use the wi-fi. Unless his sore throat gets worse, Tony is scheduled to fly in a UN plane to Port-au-Prince tomorrow. He speaks Spanish and an African language, but no French or Creole. He encouraged Andre to come to Haiti sooner as an interpreter for him. The interpreter he was assigned speaks French, but the average Haitian speaks only Creole and a little French.

Tony will be working in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince, which is where Andre's family is. He'll try to look them up and get photos for us. That would be so great. We're very anxious to see everything now, how the family is holding up, what kind of tent they have, the damage to the house and the neighborhood. It's tempting to go sooner, but we're busy trying to raise funds, and Andre doesn't want to fly into the D.R. and cross the border, especially with 300 pounds of luggage. It's not practical and could be unsafe. Many people have been attacked because everyone is so desperate.

No comments: