With the eyes of the world on earhquake-stricken Haiti, Massachusetts groups and individuals are mobilizing efforts, both large and small, to aid the victims of the disaster.
Partners in Health, the Boston-based group that has worked for decades on health and development in Haiti, has helped set up an emergency field hospital to treat the wounded.
On its website, the group appealed for contributions to support relief efforts. It quoted from field staff at the Partners in Health facilities in the Central Highlands as saying they felt the quake but suffered no major damage or injuries.
"We are still attempting to establish contact with other PIH facilities and to locate several staff members who were traveling in and around Port-au-Prince," the website said.
Ipswich-based Partners in Development has a medical clinic in Port-au-Prince and is organizing a medical team to send there, said Lisa Lassey, director of program development.
The City of Boston will open an emergency response center Thursday at the headquarters of SEIU Local 1999 at 150 Mt. Vernon St. in Dorchester for those who are trying to contact relatives in Haiti. The center will have phone lines, computers with Internet access, translators, and grief counselors, said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
Governor Deval Patrick, touring Edwards Middle School in Charlestown this morning with Menino, said he wanted to let Haitians in the state and around the world know that "our thoughts and prayers are with them.''
Patrick said he had contacted all state agencies to see what type of resources they might have available to help Haitians. This afternoon, he planned to take part in a conference call with the White House on relief efforts.
"We want to do everything we can,'' said Patrick, who was touring the school to stress the need for education improvements in the state.
Menino, likewise, said he met this morning with city department heads on steps to help the city's large Haitian community. Superintendent Carol Johnson dispatched counselors to city schools that serve a large number of Haitian children or children of Haitian immigrants.
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley authorized a second collection in the parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston for earthquake relief. "Parishes may choose either this coming weekend, January 16 & 17, or the weekend of January 30 & 31 to take the collection,'' O'Malley said in a statement. "Funds collected will be sent to Catholic Relief Services to assist in relief efforts in Haiti.''
Meanwhile, at a small technology training school in Mattapan this morning, a handful of Haitian men gathered at computer screens in hopes of learning the fate of relatives -- and also launched their own effort to help to their devastated homeland.
Members of the nonprofit Mattapan School of Technology are dispatching Bonaface Soivilien to Haiti on Monday and they hope to send him there with at least 50 pounds of over-the-counter first aid material and cash to help relatives. Soivilien has not been able to contact his father, his five sisters, or his brother, the Rev. Augustin Soivilien, all of whom live in the capital city area -- but has spoken briefly with his wife and daughter.
"There were so many people crying,'' that he could hear them over his wife's voice, he said. He said his family home survived the earthquake, but housing all around was demolished or collapsed. "There was so many people trying to help…but they couldn't and the people kept crying.''
Jacques Jean, president of the nonprofit group, has spoken with one of his brothers who said his father was fine. But he does not know the fate of several sisters and another brother, Ronald, who left Boston about five years ago to run a factory. Jean said Ronald Jean was at the building in the city of Carrefour when the earthquake struck.
"You can see all the students here,'' Jean said waving his hand toward the men sitting at the computers. "They have family members. They have wife, and they have children in Haiti. We want to send him with as much as we can.''
Jean said his group will be accepting donations at the technology center at 24 Regis Road in Mattapan at least until Saturday afternoon. Cash donations will be used to pay to ship more materials.
"We have to do something.'' Jean said. "This is the responsibility of everyone, whether you are Haitian or not Haitian. What's going in Haiti is something that touches everybody's heart. So please! Help!"
To learn more about what you can do to help the quake victims, click here.
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