Haiti Relief Efforts Unshaken After 5.9 Aftershock

The efforts of aid workers and volunteers in tragedy-struck Haiti were undeterred after a 5.9 aftershock rocked the Caribbean nation on Wednesday.

The tremor hit at 6 a.m. local time with its epicenter located in Gressier, a village west of Port-au-Prince. It is the most powerful aftershock to hit the Haiti out of the nearly 40 that have occurred since Jan. 12's initial quake.

No immediate damage was reported from the tremor, which seemed to send more shockwaves through people than buildings, leaving some frenzied Haitians running through the streets and others fearing to return to buildings they had evacuated.

Relief agencies have added psychological care to their already heavy agenda in providing basic living needs for quake victims.

University of Haiti professor Jean Robert Cheri sent out a team of student trauma counselors into the streets on Wednesday.

"We are sending them out with basic instructions," Cheri told the New York Times. "First, listen to people, let them verbalize their feelings. Second, don't promise them any material aid, because you can't deliver."

Meanwhile, medical support continues as most pressing need for earthquake victims while unsanitary conditions and untreated wounds threaten the loss of more life.

"There are still thousands of patients with major fractures, major wounds, that have not been treated yet," Dr. Eduardo de Marchena, a University of Miami cardiologist, told the New York Times. "There are people, many people, who are going to die unless they're treated."

Relief agency Church World Service (CWS) has mad medical support a priority as the group works to supply hundreds of Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) kits to aid workers in the region.

According to CWS, each IMA medicine box contains enough essential medicines and medical supplies to treat the routine ailments of about 1,000 adults and children.

Rescue workers, in the meantime, who are digging through debris have made some miraculous discoveries nearly a week after the quake toppled most of the infrastructure in Port-au-Prince.

Anna Zizi, 69, was heard singing as she was pulled from the rubble of a Roman Catholic cathedral on Tuesday.

"It was an amazing thing to witness, no one could believe she was still alive," said Sarah Wilson of UK-based charity Christian Aid.

"It seems rescuers were communicating with her and managing to get water to her through a tube. She was singing when she emerged. Everyone clapped and cheered," she said.

Along with addressing immediate needs, some groups have also geared their efforts towards longer term relief projects.

Harvey Dupiton, a member of the United Nations Association of Haiti, fears that the country could fall into disorder unless restoration work is started soon.

"There will be chaos in a couple months as we try to rebuild," Dupiton says. "We want to mobilize now to look beyond relief."

Also looking towards rebuilding Haiti's future is the United Methodist Church, which has a near two hundred year history of relief, mission, and development work in the country.

"In the midst of devastation, we've got to look forward at what we will do with the mercy ministries and the time to rebuild. What commitment will we make to a country that's been devastated by foreign policies and corporations?" said Neal Christie, staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

"We have a history we need to be accountable for, and in a way, we've allowed Haiti to be underdeveloped," he said.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News