Local Man Tells Haiti Story

14 March 2010, 09:40 | Updated: 14 March 2010, 09:48

A man from Christchurch, who has been out in Haiti to help the victims of the earthquake, has been telling Heart what it's like out there two months on.

More than 200,000 people died, and a million have been left homeless because of the disaster.

Peter Ivermee has been in Cite Soleil, a very poor area of Port Au Prince for the past three weeks, giving out food, water and waterproof shelters along with other volunteers from Samaritans Purse.

The work will continue for two more years as the charity feeds 30,000 families -  that’s about 150,000 – 180,000 people, pretty much the whole of Cite Soleil.
Peter, a retired solicitor said: "When I first got there I started asking people what it was like when the earthquake struck. One man who I was sitting next to said he thought it was just his bit of the city that had been affected, but as he walked home he saw that the whole city had gone. His house had collapsed, his mother was dead, his sister was dead, his cousin was dead. It's a country with immense grief, everyone has lost someone."

Peter and the other volunteers have also been building and installing latrines – essential to stop Dysentery Typhoid and Cholera when the heavy rain comes in around a months time.

He recalled what one of his colleagues told him:

"They would get the local Haitian people in a camp to dig the hole (so that they would feel some sense of participation) and then our people would start building the latrine structure. Those in the camp would be so keen to finish the job that once they could see how the latrine was constructed they’d take over and finish it. He said that quite often he’d just be left there without a hammer and the local people would be working away. I guess if I’d been without a proper toilet for 7 weeks I’d be quite keen to help finish one as well!"