We spent most of the day visiting 3 different orphanages that we had made
contact with earlier in the week.
Do you remember the orphanage we loaded up the 10 cases of food for? Well
we went back with more supplies, mostly diapers and baby type stuff.
The director took us down to the tent city where most of the children and a
few of the adults that take care of them are living.
Apparently, he had already distributed all 10 cases of food to them,
and it had been feeding nearly 100 people since our visit. About 30 of
them were in their tents while we were there and they came out,
surrounded Matthew and I, and began showering us with gratitude.
They were so thankful, and while it wasn’t a lot…it gave them hope
for a few more days. We are working on a way to get them more.
While this may not seem like a huge deal from a distribution point- I
think it is, mainly because it proves that food can peacefully and
efficiently be distributed throughout established Haitian comminutes…no
security required. I think the fear of riots and mobs are over exaggerated,
(or the fear of one person hording it all for themselves). These people
are starving. We gave the food to the community leader, and he
distributed it fairly and equally on his own. It was really humbling
and awesome to see.
We also visited the Casale clinic and delivered them some food and
supplies. The clinic gets many abandoned children and does such an
amazing job helping them. The children there are so precious. One was
abandoned last week on the brink of starving to death.
In the mean time, I’ve been communicating with my contact in the
Canadian Navy. Get this – he has already followed up with each of the
orphanages we found, using the GPS data we provided him. The Salvation Army
has allocated 11,000 meals to deliver to them which they will then
distribute on a weekly basis. They want to pick it up by Helicopter,
and it looks like this should happen tomorrow.
Just in case the Helicopter can’t make it…Matthew and I are looking into
alternative forms of transportation, such as renting a bigger truck,
loading it up and just taking it out there. The reason this is
critical to move tomorrow is that I’ve been told if it goes smoothly,
we will be getting more (as in much more) to funnel into Leogane. I’ve
contacted many other agencies, no one else seems interested in pumping
supplies to the Canadians.
We should have an interesting day tomorrow- the priority is getting this
shipment to Leogane. We might have to make something happen on our own.
This is a quick picture taken shortly after the families we fed came
out to thank us. The blonde woman is an aid worker we brought along
with us to show the site to.
I have some amazing news- the Salvation Army has just allocated 11,000
meals to Matthew and I to distribute through the Canadian Navy in
Leogane. Details to come…
Matthew, wrapped up in the tent tarp….Last night when I crashed Matthew wasn’t there. Sometimes he goes and
hangs out with some locals at the SA camp playing dominoes. I woke up
at 12 and he still hadn’t come in. Same thing at 3:30 a.m., which was not
a good sign. When I was shaken awake at 6:30 a.m. and he had still not shown up,
I was really worried. I quickly got dressed and went over to the less secure part
of the SA refugee camp to look for him, we had been sleeping over
there until just yesterday when some of the doctors invited us over. I
found Matthew wrapped up in a tent cover sleeping on the ground,
apparently he had been locked out from the other side and couldn’t get
in. “Drop me in the jungle and I’ll survive.”- The dude is scrappy.
I’m so incredibly tired. I think the last week and a half is finally
catching up with me. I woke up this morning to an aftershock and was
out the door before I realized what was happening. The expectation of
another quake hitting has me coiled up like a spring and it’s taking a
toll on me stress wise.
This morning we took Scott (from the team of doctors) to a local
hospital with whom he has been in communication. While he assessed the
hospital we learned they sponsored three orphanages themselves, and
would be willing to distribute food and supplies directly to them.
This makes our job easier than going out and finding each of them
individually. While they did say that they probably do need food, they aren’t
hurting as bad as some of the others.
When we got back, we decided to make a food run to one of the
orphanages we found earlier this week that WAS really hurting. Again
we scraped together whatever extra food/supplies from SA, as well as
some of the volunteers here and made the delivery. We were also able
to score them 2 soccer balls, an extremely hot item with the
kids…they went nuts when we gave them to them.
We were supposed to run some food and supplies to the clinic in
Casale, but the medical supplies never came. While waiting, Matthew went to grab us
lunch and spend some time with his family while I started working on my connections
and resources for Leogane.
The Canadian Navy contact is looking better and better. They have a
lot of man power, but no supplies, so I spoke with the SA leadership
here who gave me the green light to get some food allocated to the
Canadians. This has to be done through the SA logistics officer, who
was gone all day at a food distribution in City Solei, but it looks
like this is going to happen. Shelter Box has also expressed an
interest in supplying the Canadians so that they can distribute in Leogane, so if I
continue to communicate with all three of these entities, I think we
can build a pipeline distribution system for that region.
I’m working with the Canadian Commander to get a larger transport, and
finalize a supplier- if we can get them all hooked up and working
together, it would be huge. They will manage distributions for the
orphanages as well as others in need there.
The commander has personally invited me to return tomorrow to take him
to the orphanages we found, and finalize our plans. They have a lot of
man power, A LOT, so in terms of getting aid to Leogane, we need to
hook these guys up with suppliers. It will feed about 200 in the
orphanages, but I see it growing to feed several thousands of others
in the area. I might try the Mormon Church again but I’ve already
struck out twice with them.
Our goal is to deliver something everyday to someone who needs it, and
so far we are giving things out faster than we get them- it feels
good- and still…there are no security problems. Salvation Army has
been treating us awesome and now even refer to us as their “orphanage
rescue program”. They treat us as equals and have just been so
wonderful to work with the last few days. I handed one of them a request
sheet from the Casale Clinic – man, they went right to work on getting
it lined up.
I had a free hour in the late afternoon to wash some of my clothes in
a bucket- they were filthy beyond description. Somehow…Matthews
clothes look fine…I don’t get it.
PS – Every time I have delivered food or supplies the care takers have
expressed a tremendous amount of gratitude. The last 2 deliveries,
they hugged me. If you guys know of anyway to get me more product, I
will find a way to get it to the right orphanages who are hurting the
most. I’m glad SA has stepped up so much but I’m a little sad we still
haven’t found a fully backed partner like UNICEF. This would allow us to just turn
the info over to them and let them run with it. In the mean time, Matthew
and I will do what we can to deliver supplies…it just shouldn’t be
like this. I think a lot of organizations don’t take us seriously, but
some, like SA and the Canadian Navy do. I have faith that if we just
continue to plug away, doors will open and we can make bigger and
better things happen.
In an absolutely bizarre turn of events, we are seeing more and more
success. To cut to the chase, what we are seeing is “leftovers” being
made available to us. While these are not huge unlimited amounts of
food, they are enough to make a difference for at least the next
Joanne, a volunteer firefighter is getting ready to leave on Monday,
and it appears that several cases of MREs she brought in are going to
end up in our possession.
Yesterday, the Salvation Army (who has been incredibly supportive) had
a massive distribution, but had to end early due to security issues,
and had an extra 20 cases of food they said we could use. (Btw- A
single case of food contains 30 something packets of meal, which is
essentially rice, meat and other nutrients that will comfortably feed
a family of 6 for a week.)
In an effort to allocate hard to find resources leftovers are a real
possibility. Another thing is that support groups and teams often
abandon food, gear, tents, etc and some of this is coming our way.
It’s not a lot, but when you can be scrappy- it’s enough. It also will
temporarily resolve the issue of relying on another aid organization
to help in the short term.
Today we went to Leogane, a city about 15 miles west of pap. We had
heard reports that 90% of the city was destroyed. Some American
doctors heard we were going and asked to come- Joanne also had some
extra medical supplies she wanted to bring.
Leogane, has approx 750,000 people. The lead physician we spoke with
at the hospital estimates 30-50,000 perished in the quake. We saw
hundreds of buildings in complete ruin, and just doing the math, there
is absolutely no way a small fraction of them have been cleared. The
locals were breaking apart the rubble with sledgehammers. What this
means is…most of these collapsed buildings will still have bodies in
We first visited the main hospital St Croix (sp?). Through Matthew,
the doctors assessed needed man power and supplies. Apparently there
had been an engineering assessment- and they were still waiting on the
results, the hospital which takes patients from all over the region,
including pettigrove. They have 2 doctors there, and doctors without
borders had set up a tent next door, and were focusing on surgeries
only. Other than that, we saw one red cross hospital, the Canadian
navy, and that was it.
We had the names of 5 orphanages in the area, but no addresses or gps
co-ordinates. We asked several people on the street and found one
location. While that one particular location had been evacuated, there
was a local there that said he knew where several were- so I asked him
if he would be willing to show us where they were. He agreed.
Once he jumped in…it was easy, we found another 4 very quickly. 3
were in desperate need, and we gave them each a case of food- they
were very grateful.
One of the orphanages had a huge group of Canadian navy helping them
“rebuild” (essentially they are there with man power, not resources. I
spoke with their commander about co-coordinating relief efforts with
other orphanages in the area and he agreed. I have already sent him
the gps data on each of them and am looking for someone (aid agency)
to supply him with the needed food. He has already responded and if we
can get this guy a supplier, most of the orphanages in Leogane are
going to be in great hands. It seemed they had dozens of men ready to
go, but no resources to work with.
The last orphanage we found was really humbling- the pastor lost his
wife and 2 of his 3 children. I took a picture of him and his last
remaining child, I’ll post when I get back. I’m finding ways to
protect my emotions and keep from becoming physiologically
compromised…it’s hard to explain, but I’m conscious of the dangers
of it, and so far think I’ve been doing pretty good- I’ve seen some
heartbreaking things, I just don’t let them get all the way in.
As the day ended and we were returning, we received a phone call from
one of the bigger orphanages we found when we first started- their
director said his kids were starving to death and they needed help soon.
As soon as we arrived back to SA, none of the SA leadership was
around…and there those cases of food were sitting, which they said we
could have….we had the truck, we had the time- so I just took
control told my team to load the tap tap (truck) with 10 cases- which
we did, and off we went. We drove the truck into the compound, closed
the gates, and unloaded. The director was extremely grateful…he
So what I am saying is…we have figured out how to move food without
drawing any attention at all- we didn’t have any security and there
were absolutely no problems. The locals would never suspect a tap tap
to have aid, and even if they did…they wouldn’t touch it because
they would have to assume it was the property of another Haitian, the
penalty of stealing from is death.
One thing I failed to mention about yesterday was we had a lead from a
trusted friend in Utah that a young Haitian man didn’t have means to
return, and still didn’t know if his family was alive or not. We spent
done time on this, but were able to track their location down, find
them, and learn that they were all alive as well. We relayed this
information to my friend in Utah who has told him. We will try to set
up a sat phone call when things settle down a little.
Tomorrow I am meeting with an American group who is looking to
temporarily relocate several dozen orphans to a town about 8 hours
from here. Should be a good solution for many of these children.
Matthew and I are hanging in there for at least another day. The
doctors we worked with are letting us move over to their complex just
across the way- they have showers too. It will be my first real shower
in 10 days.
Michael asked me to update everyone that has been asking about the Canon 7D Crash Course, and let you all know that It has finished it’s final editing and has been sent to production. It will ship before February 13th. If you have more questions please post below.