Ashevilleans in Haiti: Kurt Mann and AMURTEL members

They arrived with 250 solar bulbs to hand out to the kids at a Port-au-Prince orphanage, as part of an appropriate technologies project. Asheville filmmaker Kurt Mann and others from the group New Beginnings for Haiti arrived Jan. 2, and have been sending news daily via the group’s blog.

— After soaking up the Haitian sun for a day, New Life Orphans line up to receive their very own Nokero Solar Light Bulb. There was so much excitement in the air.

Mann and Outreach Coordinator Leah Quintal are accompanying engineers and development officials on a visit to the New Life Childrens Home Orphanage to install energy and water retrofits and establish baseline usage statistics. The project is an effort of United for a Sustainable America. The project goal is to create a replicable program for other Haitian sites while helping the kids at the orphanage.

The Orphanage will serve as a staging ground to test and showcase culturally appropriate sustainable technologies like solar energy, composting toilets, solar food cookers, hand water pumps, and UV water filtration systems.

Catch of short video of Mann and Quintal on their way to Haiti here.

Meanwhile, another group with Asheville ties, AMURT / AMURTEL, has been hard at work in Haiti for a long time. (AMURT stands for Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, and the “EL” ending refers to the “ladies” contingent.)

Almost exactly a year ago, AMURT took a couple truckloads of goods gathered from Ashevilleans to Haiti.

This year, an appeal for funds comes via AMURTEL member Didi A. Prama, who describes the additional challenges of helping an earthquake damaged country now hit with cholera.

— Patients at AMURTEL cholera clinic in church in Dolphine, north of Saint Marc. Photo by Lorin Mallorie.

Here in Haiti a cholera epidemic has burst upon the population in epidemic proportions brought in by some Peace Keepers from Nepal, they think, as it is an asian strain spreading from an area where the troops had recently set up their camp.

As cholera is new to Haiti, people have no idea what to do and are afraid. They will leave people along the road to die rather than taking them to the hospital, as they are scared. Didi was called to transport someone up on the road but when she arrived he had already died. Another old man was sent out from the home he worked at and found just lying in the street and was brought to us. We carried him to the hospital in the pouring rain where he was immediately treated for dehydration and sent to a cholera hospital and lived. It is a question of life and death.

We have received funding to run our emergency clinic with a Doctor and two nurses and have treated over 1,500 cholera cases but the funding runs out in January. We go out and work in the remotest and hardest hit areas in the countryside to help the poorest. Now cholera has come to Port-au-Prince.

We went to a local camp where the family was living in a tiny tent and the father was sick. By the time we carried him and his wife, she already was sick and vomiting. There is little or no sanitation in the tent encampments set up after the earthquake and good water is hard to get.

We have trained six educators to teach about prevention and treatment and have distributed clorox, soap to the 10 camps we are responsible for, but I am afraid the disease is spreading fast.

We are asking for your support to continue to run the mobile clinic. It costs us over 2,000 US$ in medicine, salaries and transportation every month for the clinic, and the cost goes up as the Pedialyte and oral rehydration solution (ORS) used for treatment gets harder to get and is in shorter supply.

Our main need is cash, but any help you can give is gratefully appreciated . You can send through located in the USA. Or direct to Haiti: Account name is: AMURTEL; the bank is UNIBANK; the swift code is UBNKHTPP; the ACCOUNT NUMBER is 102-1022-894923; the ADDRESS OF THE BANK is 14 Rue Darquin, Petion Ville, Haiti.




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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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