[Aimee Allison, OaklandSeen] Oakland attorneys and activists Walter Riley and Barbara and Selena Rhine are back in the states after a harrowing experience in the aftermath of the quake in Haiti. For three days they dug through rubble and gave emergency medical care in the midst of the crisis. Longtime Haiti activists, their work continues now that they are coming home.
Riley and Rhine had been in the Port-au-Prince area touring service programs and schools as part of their work for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. On Tuesday afternoon, they were visiting Cite Soleil, a poor industrial area north of the airport. They joined Jean Van Kernizan, host and producer of Haiti's Radio Soleil, for dinner when the quake hit. At the the end of the shaking, his home was one of the few left standing in the area. Answering the need, Haiti Action set up a makeshift hospital in Van Kernizan's home to do what they can for the masses of injured people in the area. Until last night, Riley and the Rhines dug through rubble, dust and debris looking for survivors and cared for the injured including setting broken bones.
Riley and the Rhine arrived in New Jersey late last night and will arrive in the bay area tonight. They told follow Oakland's Haiti Emergency Relief board member Randall White about their experiences in the last hour. University students were among the survivors that came to the Van Kernizan home - for medical treatment. "We're calling these lawyers 'doctors' now," White said.
Randall White also spoke to the Riley about his observations of United Nation personnel immediately following the crisis. Apparently, they were riding around in their trucks but were not participating in relief efforts. In the critical hours after the quake, Riley said the state department was discouraging relief work because of security concerns, but on the ground Riley didn't witness violence or rioting. The UN headquarters collapsed during the earthquake.
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund workers have experienced losses, even while they as they try to help others. Radio Soleil Reporter Jean Ristil's two children were killed. The losses are still being counted as communication and aid is slow to reach many of the hardest hit areas.
Today, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Senator Leland Yee will honor the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund and other local relief efforts in a press conference later today. Walter Riley and Barbara Rhine will continue raising funds for Haiti relief upon their return to the bay area.
Haiti Relief is receiving about $14,000/hour right now, money Randall White hopes will keep coming to help those facing incredible hardships in Haiti.
Donate at: www.haitiaction.net/about/herf/herf.html
Aimee Allison is Executive Producer for OaklandSeen.com. Join the facebook group here.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Posted by Aimee Allison | OaklandSeen at 12:01 PM