Lacombe’s Pierre Claude Robergeau is among those with connections to the earthquake-ravaged island mobilizing to send aid.
Robergeau, who emigrated to Canada in 2000 and has lived mostly in Lacombe since 2005, has been in contact with some of the many aunts, uncles and cousins who still live there.
Thankfully, it does not appear any of his relatives are among the more than 2,100 people who have been killed in the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Haiti last weekend.
“I still have a lot of family in Haiti,” said Robergeau.
“They are doing fine, I think,” said Robergeau on Thursday.“I’ve heard from other family members that they are O.K., no deaths so far, as far as we know.
“But every day the numbers of people who died are increasing.”
He’d heard a young cousin had broken his arm in the earthquake, which has destroyed more than 7,000 homes and damaged another 12,000. An estimated 30,000 Haitians have been left homeless.
“All of the homes in my mum’s village, which is in the south, were destroyed,” he said. “The epicentre is not far from my mum’s village.”
His mother now lives in the U.S. but he has cousins and aunts from his mother’s side who lives in the village called Bois-Gerard, where 114 homes were destroyed at last count.
“As family members, we are trying to put something together to help,” he said.
But he is also part of a larger aid effort being organized by the Haitian Organization of Edmonton (HOE), for which he is the treasurer. A GoFundMe page has been set up under OHE-HOE Earthquake relief For Haiti with a $100,000 goal.
“We will see if we can get as much as we can for those affected by this earthquake,” he said.
At this early stage, they are only collecting money. They do not have the local resources to collect other items to donate and there are many organizations in Florida, much closer to Haiti, that are collecting those sorts of donations.
“That doesn’t mean we will probably not do that in the future, but we will see how we do with the fundraising now at first. Then later if we have capacity we’ll be able to send something there.
“I think many people would probably want to give something like goods and clothing and other things that people might need.”
Right now, what those affected by the earthquake need most is food, water and medicine and that’s where the funds raised by HOE will go.
Relatives on his father’s side live in a different town in the same region. It was also badly damaged.
Robergeau said HOE is looking to work with a local organization in Haiti to ensure the money gets into the right hands. Too much of the money collected for the 2010 earthquake, when 250,000 people were killed and 300,000 did not reach those who needed it because of administration and overhead costs and corruption, he said.
“That’s why our organization is trying to work with another organization locally that already has people on the ground. We’re trying to work with locals so the money can go directly to the beneficiaries.”