Sunday jewelry sale will help rebuild, house people in Jérémie

Ruth Adomunes has never felt as if life was driven by technology. Yet for the past week, this local nurse and humanitarian has found herself glued to the computer and the television for information about Haiti since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake tore the impoverished Caribbean nation apart. More specifically, she is riveted by news about Jeremie, a coastal village located about 100 miles north of the epicenter of the catastrophic earthquake.
Jérémie is one of many villages outside of Port-au-Prince that suffered structural damage from the earthquake. But it was spared the mass casualties seen in the nation's capital.
Adomunes, a Milton woman who founded Designs By Ruth Jewelry, creates and sells handmade bracelets to raise money for the Haitian Health Foundation, a Connecticut-based charitable organization that works to improve the health of the poor and sick families in the greater Jérémie area.
Since she began fundraising, Adomunes and Designs By Ruth have raised enough funds to erect a number of "Happy Houses" made of cement walls and tin roofs to replace huts built out of banana leaves for people to live in.
Now Jeremie is the center of a new drama as thousands of Haitians begin to leave the devastated capital city of Port-au-Prince.
In a flow of emails coming from Haiti to the Haitian Health Foundation, Adomunes has been receiving updates since the earthquake.
Only one of the organization’s “Happy Houses” was lost in the earthquake, but in the surrounding area, more than 50 homes in Dayere were severely damaged or destroyed, the HHF reported.
Last Sunday, more than 2,000 people arrived in Jérémie from Port-au-Prince. About 1,500 came by boat and the other 500 found transportation on trucks and other vehicles while still many walked – a journey estimated to take six days.
Supplies are scarce, but people are heading to the village seeking refuge, according to Dr. Bette Gebrian, HHF’s director of public health in an email.
"HHF personnel were on hand with partner organizations to address the injured, transferring those with the most severe injuries to the public hospital and helping to treat others with less severe conditions," according to an email from the organization.
Those traveling by land reported one truck broke down and travelers had to pile into another vehicle. " Those fortunate enough to ride described passing many people who had undertaken the route on foot. Among those walking westward, some were seen carrying the caskets of family members," the HHF email reported.
A large number of people from Port-au-Prince have migrated southwest. The more than 2,000 new arrivals in Jeremie represent only a fraction of those expected in the coming days, the organization noted.
"Many are coming with severe injuries, broken bones, and burns," the report noted. " There were at least 10 pregnant women among the passengers who were assessed. One was reported to be in labor and was immediately transported to the hospital. Three others were brought to HHF’s Center of Hope Maternal Waiting Home for assessment. Other passengers, most of whom left Port Au Prince with only the clothes on their backs, were given clothing, juice, protein bars, and soap. Potable water was supplied by HHF’s 4,000 gallon water truck."
The boat has been unable to return to Port-au-Prince because of lack of fuel.
HHF will serve as many people as possible with its feeding programs, education, housing and other initiatives.
In the U.S., the main goal is to raise as much money as we can, Adomunes said.
On Sunday, Jan. 24, from 2-5 p.m., Adomunes will be available at Gerard’s Restaurant in Adams Corner, owned by her husband Gerard, to sell the bracelets and raise money for Haiti. Adomunes started the charitable program after learning about the efforts to help Haiti through her friend, Marianne McAuliffe.
She has also been assisted by friend and neighbor Jean Graham of Milton, who helps create the bracelets.
For the upcoming sale, Graham made more than 100 bracelets in one day. "I called her on Sunday and said we need to into ‘bracelet bunker mode.’ She spent the entire day making bracelets,” Adomunes said.
The Haitian Health Foundation serves more than 250,000 people in some 100 villages throughout Haiti. The HHF provides pre-natal, post-natal and well-baby care for children and mothers, she said.
Last summer, Adomunes traveled to Jérémie to see first-hand the work of the HHF.
"You fall in love with Haiti and you fall in love with these wonderful, strong and proud people," she said.
Before the earthquake, the villagers were already struggling with inadequate housing and services.
For Adomunes, meeting the residents of the villages was a privilege.
The poverty is difficult for Americans to comprehend, she said.
"I know what I saw and that was on a good day," she said. "It was life-changing."
Part of her mission is getting the word out.
"We just need to keep the money flowing there. Haiti needs medicine, food and water," she said. "I’m passing the word, that’s all I’m doing. I am the opening act for the show. And there is a show of people behind me that do not get any recognition, but they make the engine go. We have big team and it’s getting bigger as we speak."
Adomunes’ website is also set up with a link to donate to HHF online.