Local nonprofit unable to contact crews in Haiti

The high winds of Hurricane Matthew roar over Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
The high winds of Hurricane Matthew roar over Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Days has passed since Hurricane Matthew passed through Haiti, but a local nonprofit is still unable to contact crews there.

Marilyn Lowney, Executive Director of Haitian Health Foundation out of Connecticut, has not been able to reach any of her 184 staff members in Jeremine since Monday.

Lowney said she feels helpless, “I’ve been calling and calling around to the United Nations in Jeremine, the embassy, our partners on the ground there” but no avail.

The Haitian Health Foundation provides healthcare in southwest Haiti, the area that was hit hardest by the storm.

Lowney’s staff has no internet or cell service.

“I’m just holding out hope that everybody is physically safe,” Lowney said.

She imagines they are working around the clock delivering food and medicine at the clinic.

Eyewitness News had also spoken to members of the nonprofit in Haiti on Monday as well. “As of Wednesday, when the storm passes, there will be several teams going out on motorcycles to assess how things are going on in the villages,” said Nadesha Mijoba, Director of Operations, out of Jeremine.

Lowney described the area as struggling even before the hurricane, “they didn’t have enough food, no access to medical care except through us,” she said.

Plans have been made to send more staff members from California to Haiti this weekend. According to Lowney, they will have satellite phones so they can be sure to have a connection.

Back in Rhode Island, Nancy Schwab, owner of Petite Chief, is trying to do her part. Petite Chief holds children’s birthday parties in Warwick, Schwab has promised to donate $10 from each birthday party to the Haitian Health Foundation.

When they reach $150, they buy a pregnant goat for a family in Haiti, which provides milk, cheese and protein, as a part of the “Give-a-goat” program.

“The earthquake was devastating, and from what I hear from Marilyn, from the Haitian Health Foundation, there’s no communication in the villiage of Jeremine, which is where we concentrate our efforts,” said Schwab.

Do you know any Southern New Englanders currently in Florida or the Carolinas who are impacted by the storm? If they’d be willing to be interviewed for a news story, please contact Eyewitness News at (401) 438-3310 or email desk@wpri.com.