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UPEL IN ACTION IN HAITI
On April 27, 2010 the founder of Universal Partners Enhancing Lives Inc. (UPEL), Eugene Dorcena embarked on a mission on American airlines to the destination of Haiti.
I was later joined by Mr. Norbert Jones, the Vice-President of UPEL.
Before landing I could see the effect of the cruel earthquake of January 12, 2010. Upon arrival at the international airport, cracks in the walls, broken glass panes were very
visible. After spending time in immigration and customs, I exited the airport under a fiery sun to face a group of hustlers eager to make a few bucks by carrying the luggage of
the arriving passengers. I was met by Bishop Gabriel Molien the overseer of the work in Haiti, and his driver. We headed to Waney (in Carrefour) where the Bishop resides.
All along the way I witnessed the devastation of the quake, so many collapsed and cracked houses. People and cars were everywhere in the streets which made the one
hour from the airport to Waney to last more than two hours. When we got to the inner city (Port-au-Prince) buildings that were familiar to me several years ago were
collapsed or heavily damaged to the extent that I could not recognize their location. The driver pointed out to the pile of rubbles to identify buildings such as the
Telecommunication, Post office, Town-hall, St Vincent (school for the blind) and many more.
When I arrived at the Bishop’s house, he was kind enough to lodge me as his guest, and later on Mr. Norbert also enjoyed the same privilege. After settling in I finally
headed to Mahotiere where Soul Saving Station has an orphanage, a church, an elementary school, a bible school and another building for the purpose of a clinic which
unfortunately, has never opened due to lack of funds. It was shocking to see how the earthquake transformed the living condition of so many people. I saw tents everywhere
on the property, tents in front of the church, tents on the side and in the back of the orphanage. Everyone had a sad story to tell. I had the chance to visit all the buildings
mentioned above. Through Bishop Gabriel‘s diligence, the church was once again functional. He hired an engineer to install four columns under the transversal beams to
secure the structure of the building
When it came to the orphanage I noticed several cracks in the walls. The children are scared to sleep in there. I was told that for a few days after the quake, the boys had to
sleep out in the open. To ease their living condition, UNICEF donated a tent to them which they are grateful for. Their tent was surrounded by several other smaller tents and
plastic tarpaulin for those who did not have tents.
After living in this condition for more than three months, the children encountered some difficulties. The tent was very hot and a foul odor emitted from inside the tent. There
was no fresh air circulating on the inside and the stale air created respiratory problems for some of the boys .All along Bishop Molien ‘s desire was to build a temporary
shelter for the boys, but did not have the funds to initiate this project. The time was just right for Universal Partners Enhancing Lives, Inc (UPEL to step in and fulfill the
Bishop’s desire. The same day the Bishop called a carpenter and a mason worker who got their respective team in place for the erection of a new temporary shelter. We
went to several places to look for supplies such as wood, cement, sand, concrete - blocks, galvanized tin and nails for a 25 x 40 shelter.
In the morning of April 29, 2010 I had to leave the workers by themselves to go to the airport and pick up Mr. Norbert Jones. He was very excited to be back in the
country although he was not feeling too well. On our way back to Waney Mr. Norbert was very shocked, as I was, to see the devastation of the quake. He was the
cameraman who took lots of pictures and videos. When we arrived at the orphanage we were surprised to see how fast those guys worked on the project. The boys were
thrilled to see their new shelter being erected. They participated by collecting rocks, carrying water to mix the cement with the sand, it was encouraging to see how everyone
pulled together to get the job done .Those who are living in the vicinity of the shelter would like to live in a similar setting, but unfortunately UPEL did not have the monetary
means to build several shelters, the cost of materials has skyrocketed in Haiti. This temporary shelter is a necessity until those in charge are able to construct a new building
for the orphanage or renovate the devastated one. For either scenario, it’s going to require lots of money to execute the project.
I do want to mention that we took with us some food, candies, clothing, toiletry, school supplies, and floodlights. The recipients were very happy and grateful for all the things
we gave to them. The big load of supplies (6 jumbo barrels) will be shipped in the first week of June to be distributed to the needy in Haiti.
UPEL would like to extend its special thanks to Friends of Crown Heights, Samuel Gompers High School, International Outreach Assembly, Amythyst School of Martial
Arts, Missionary Yvonne E, Missionary Talitha J. and all the others who contributed to make this project become a reality. Through your kind act of generosity we were able
to bring a little sunshine in some lives. Now the thirty boys have a more decent place to rest their heads at night. Do remember there are many more people in Haiti in need of
temporary shelter during the rainy season
By: Eugene Dorcena