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Home from Haiti

OPB | Feb. 2, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:14 p.m.

It’s been almost a month now since a massive earthquake struck Haiti close to the country’s capitol, Port-au-Prince. Since that day the news has been full of stories of the possible 200,000 people who died, the chaotic food and aid distribution, and now children being taken from Haiti illegally. In some ways this unimaginable catastrophe seems so far away. But for many people in the Northwest it is very close to home.

Cassandra Nelson works for Mercy Corps (a Portland-based aid organization). She went to Haiti immediately after the earthquake and has been blogging from there since. She just returned home to Portland and is ready to describe her first-hand experiences.

Brian Concannon spent years living in Haiti, and eventually moved to Joseph, Oregon to follow the woman who is now his wife. But his heart never left Haiti, and he now runs the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Of his colleagues who were there when the earthquake hit, one person lost his house, another his wife. For Brian the disaster becomes very personal very quickly.

And then there’s Alicia Swaringen in Eugene. She’s been waiting to adopt a four year-old Haitian boy named Sthainder since 2007. The earthquake brought that possibility into question. But now her dreams are coming true. She’s traveling to Miami on Tuesday, when the young boy – soon her son – is due to arrive.

These are just three of the people in this area for whom the tragedy in Haiti hits very close to home. What’s your experience?

Do you know people in Haiti? Have you been to Port-au-Prince? Has this disaster motivated you to act, or to give, in a way that other disasters have not? Why?

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