Fa­ther and son to go to Haiti for hur­ri­cane re­lief

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By SARAH DRURY sdrury@ches­pub.com

CHURCH CREEK — Tom Schuyler of Wool­ford and Steven Schuyler of Church Creek, Tom’s son, trav­eled to Haiti on Tues­day, Nov. 8, but it was not to avoid Elec­tion Day.

Once in Haiti, the duo will be per­form­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian work, help­ing to pro­vide re­lief for those af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Matthew. This will be Steven’s first time out­side the United States and Tom’s 13th aid trip to Haiti.

“I mainly go for mis­sion­ary and hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­sons. This is more hu­man­i­tar­ian. It just de­pends on if the need is there,” Tom said. “Many of their crops were de­stroyed, so there will be (a need for) food, cloth­ing and what­ever else we can do. If we have time, which we prob­a­bly won’t, we will try to help them get some shel­ter be­yond what they al­ready have.”

Tom be­gan his aid mis­sions in 1998, and once even took his wife, Lisa, along on a trip. Dur­ing the up­com­ing trip, he and his son will be trav­el­ing to Les Cayes, a town with a pop­u­la­tion of more than 86,500 peo­ple, they said.

Tom and his church con­gre­ga­tion at the Greater Works Chris­tian Assem­bly in Cam­bridge cur­rently sup­port two or­phan­ages through the Life for Haiti Foundation, with a to­tal of about 110

or­phans in both fa­cil­i­ties. Tom is one of two pas­tors at the church and has been min­is­ter­ing there for the past 20 years.

Once in Haiti, Tom and Steven hope to help re­pair a struc­ture that once served as a church and com­mu­nity build­ing for lo­cal res­i­dents, which was com­pletely de­stroyed dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Matthew. Res­i­dents’ homes and the town’s wa­ter stor­age sys­tem also were dam­aged dur­ing the storm, Tom said.

The eye of Hur­ri­cane Matthew was about 35 miles away from Les Cayes, Tom said, and while the area had some flood­ing, struc­tures mostly ex­pe­ri­enced se­vere wind dam­age. He said there also have been trou­bles with cholera out­breaks. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent ar­ti­cle by Nick Miroff of The

Wash­ing­ton Post, the storm-hit ar­eas have re­ported at least 3,500 sus­pected cholera cases in re­cent weeks. To pro­tect them­selves from cholera, Tom and Steven said they will be bring­ing their own food and buy­ing bot­tled wa­ter when they ar­rive.

Tom is the en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices man­ager at In­te­grace Bayleigh Chase in Eas­ton, and Steven is the main­te­nance direc­tor at Heart­fields As­sisted Liv­ing in Eas­ton.

“A lot of the other times, I haven’t re­ally had the avail­abil­ity to go, but Heart­fields ac­tu­ally gave me the ap­proval to have the time off,” Steven said.

Steven said his role will be to help his fa­ther speed the process of re­con­struc­tion along, since he has ex­pe­ri­ence with con­struc­tion work, as well as with elec­tric­ity and HVAC sys­tems.

Tom said his main fo­cus is to help re­build the com­mu­nity struc­ture, which could serve as shel­ter for home­less fam­i­lies in the area. Since com­mu­ni­ca­tion with those in­side the coun­try has been spotty to nonex­is­tent, he said it is im­pos­si­ble to know the ex­tent of the dam­age, in­clud­ing the ex­tent of those dis­placed by the hur­ri­cane, un­til he and his son get there. Tom said if ho­tels are un­in­hab­it­able, he and Steven will be sleep­ing in a tent they are bring­ing along for the trip.

“Given the scope of this par­tic­u­lar trip, not know­ing, be­cause the bridges and roads are out to Les Cayes, and not know­ing what we can pur­chase and bring down there,” Tom said. “My sources on the ground say we can pur­chase sup­plies in Port Au Prince, which is about four hours away from Les Cayes.”

Tom said the four-hour trip is un­like a four-hour trip in the U.S., be­cause of poor road con­di­tions and storm dam­age through­out Haiti. He said the trip could take most of a day and sup­plies of­ten are scat­tered in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions.

“Things are a lot dif­fer­ent in Haiti. Things are a lot slower. Its very spe­cial­ized and you may have to go 10 miles one way to get the tin and 10 miles in an­other way to get the nails,” Schuyler said. “Ev­ery­thing is very slow there in the process of get­ting it pulled to­gether.”

For their up­com­ing trip, Tom said he has raised mostly cash to carry in to pur­chase items in Port Au Prince, since air­lines are re­stric­tive about what they can take into the countr y. He said they will be tak­ing in some ba­sic med­i­cal sup­plies, such as Tylenol and ban­dages, but upon ar­rival in Port Au Prince, they plan on buy­ing the food and shel­ter sup­plies they need, and tak­ing them with them to Les Cayes.

So far, Tom and his son have raised $2,500 for the trip, with travel ex­penses paid from their own pock­ets, they said. To raise more money for sup­plies when they get to Haiti, Tom and Steven re­cently held a bake sale in Sal­is­bury at Sam’s Club, and Steven’s wife, Crys­tal Schuyler’s com­pany, Chop­tank Trans­port in Pre­ston, re­cently held a 50/50 raf­fle. The Schuyler’s also have a GoFundMe page ti­tled the “Haiti Hur­ri­cane Matthew Re­lief Fund,” and so far, they have re­ceived $50 out of their $5,000 goal.

“They have no gov­ern­ment fund­ing or any­thing to help them, so what­ever we and the Red Cross can do is all they re­ally have,” Tom said.

From re­ports Tom has, the Red Cross still is on the ground in Haiti for the hur­ri­cane re­lief ef­fort, but he is un­sure to what ex­tent.

The Schuylers’ even­tual goal, they said, is to con­struct an or­phan­age in the town, but to do so, they will need to have a wa­ter well con­structed, which is costly at around $50,000 to $75,000, Tom said. Tom said any­thing left over from their up­com­ing trip,will go to­ward the con­struc­tion of the well in Les Cayes, which will help sup­port the fu­ture or­phan­age.

Tom said the church and the Life for Haiti Foundation do not have a time­line for when the well or the or­phan­age will be­gin con­struc­tion, be­cause im­me­di­ate needs out­weigh fu­ture goals. He, Steven and other Life for Haiti vol­un­teers will work on re­build­ing the com­mu­nity build­ing, which also acts as a lo­cal school and church, as well.

“It’s a very poor coun­try, and we’d like to help them all, but we have to fo­cus the money into small ar­eas,” Tom said. “That lit­tle bit helps a lot, or we can give a lot and help a few.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Life for Haiti Foundation, visit www.life­forhaiti­foun­da­tion.org. To do­nate, visit the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/haiti­hur­ri­cane-matthew-re­liefwww.gofundme.com/haiti­hur­ri­cane-matthew-re­lief-fund2ux­a3fw.

PHOTO BY KATIE WIL­LIS

From left are Steven Schuyler of Church Creek and Tom Schuyler of Wool­ford. The fa­ther-son duo trav­eled to Haiti on Nov. 8 to help with restora­tion ef­forts fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

Tom Schuyler is pic­tured at a con­struc­tion site in Fond Bleu in Haiti.

Lisa Schuyler of Wool­ford, left, is pic­tured hold­ing an 18-month old or­phan, sur­rounded by or­phans play­ing with punch­ing balls, which were sent into Haiti by donors. Lisa and her hus­band, Tom Schuyler trav­eled to Haiti two years ago to pro­vide hu­man­i­tar­ian work in the coun­try.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTOS

Lisa Schuyler, left, is pic­tured with the founder of the Life for Haiti Foundation, Pas­tor Jean Claude Syl­vain.

Tom Schuyler, cen­ter, is pic­tured with or­phans in Fond Bleu in Haiti.

Tom Schuyler, right, is pic­tured giv­ing out do­nated candy to or­phan school chil­dren in Haiti.

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