A College of DuPage humanities professor is one of dozens of United Nations field workers being called on to provide short-term support in Haiti for colleagues lost in Tuesday's earthquake.
John Frazier was leaving for the decimated capital of the country Thursday and was expected to be on site for about a week to act as a field worker for the transitional team that will eventually make way for a long-term U.N. delegation.
"I was in Haiti about 15 years ago, so I believe I was chosen because I still have connections and some history there," he said.
Frazier usually works with children who have lost parents to violence. Most of his work for the U.N. in recent years has been in Africa where genocide has been committed.
In this instance he believes his work will involve helping lost children find loved ones to take care of them.
U.N. officials fear the majority of its Haitian delegation was killed when the building where they operated collapsed.
"We're going from having almost nothing to an entirely new group coming in," Frazier said.
Haitian children will suffer the most
Jamie Walden-Mather can't believe conditions are now even worse for the poorest of the poor in Haiti. Walden-Mather, a lecturer at North Central College in Naperville, led a group of students who returned just weeks ago from Titanyen, a village about 15 miles north of Port-au-Prince.
Through Mission of Hope, the group of eight spent 10 days in Haiti, distributing food and school supplies and interacting with orphan children in an effort to give them love and reassurance.
Walden-Mather has verified that all the Mission of Hope volunteers and staff they met are safe. But her concerns rest with the Haitian children.
"To have two million children who have nothing and now they have less than nothing," she said. "They are so marginalized and the bit of ... humanitarian aid they were living on will be usurped.
"It tugs at your heart because when the need is so great how do you justify who does and doesn't need the aid?"
'The sun is out and it's a beautiful day'
The wall between John Munsell's home in Haiti and his neighbor's is damaged, dishes are in pieces and a pipe has cracked.
But John and JoAnn Munsell of Naperville and their two children survived Tuesday's earthquake.
The family has been in Haiti for 12 years working with Mission Aviation Fellowship, and John e-mailed friends at Naperville's Grace Pointe Church Wednesday morning to let them know the family is OK.
"The sun is out and it's a beautiful day," he wrote. "Of course the broken down wall, helicopters and U.S. Coast Guard planes flying around tell me something isn't right ... There is a small church down the road and for much of the night we heard singing and praying, praising the Lord and asking for His help."
School standing, but not safe
It's hard to call it good news. Better news might be more accurate.
Ruth Caudle, of Vernon Hills, heard Thursday the Haiti school she and her husband Brian started did not collapse in the earthquake as she first heard. Caudle's brother, Jean-Alix Paul, who runs the school, said the three-story Spirit of Truth School sustained significant structural damage but is still standing. However, it is not safe for the 330 students who use the classrooms.
Paul told Caudle at least 80 percent of the homes near the school have been destroyed.
"There are certainly many of our students who were injured," Caudle said. "We just don't know how many."
The Caudles started the school in 2003. Ruth Caudle's late father, Edner Paul, started an orphanage on the same site in the early 1980s. It's not clear yet how badly the orphanage was damaged or if there were injuries, Caudle said.
Unemployed Vernon Hills man ready to help
His heart is in the right place, but Ron Pierson is hitting roadblocks trying to help in the Haiti relief effort. The 55-year-old former restaurant manager is ready and willing to travel to the ravaged country to help in any way, but says linking up with an agency is harder than it looks.
"I'm in good physical shape, learn quickly and would love to help," Pierson said. "I've called the Red Cross, and CARE, but they declined my offer.
"This thing has moved me more than any other disaster. I would really love to help such a worthy cause if I could."