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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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02.02.10         michael's insights  

2-2-10 Update...


I read a disturbing email this morning from someone who heard about
Matthew and I, and what we are doing. It was written by someone who is
under the impression that the NGOs know everything there is to know
about the orphanage situation in Haiti.

When we initially met with the Salvation Army we had the same conversation with them.
The argument being that many aid groups have been here for decades, know all the towns
and cities and those who need aid. They have systems that are proven and they are
efficient at what they do. What could two guys with no experience possibly do to help
that the NGOs couldn't?

Matthew and I are focused on "finding and feeding" the orphanages that
have fallen through the cracks. We go out on the streets and
personally meet with these orphanages and children face to face.

Please do not misunderstand, I am sure the NGOs are working their
butts off. I know SA distributed over a half million meals yesterday
to a refugee camp. They seriously are doing awesome. However, the
truth of the matter is - 85% of the orphanages we have visited have had zero contact
from any NGO and is in some kind of need. Most of the orphanages we
find range from 15-75 kids, and because they are smaller groups,
typically they are "missed".

It was this data, combined with taking one of their Captains to a site
that convinced them that we were seeing things they weren't. Since then,
the Salvation Army has been the biggest supporter of what Matthew and
I are doing. What I am trying to bluntly say is: Anyone (including
NGOs) who thinks they know it all already, don't, and cannot learn
new ways of looking at problem solving. It's an arrogant attitude that
has slowed things down here greatly.

I know some people may disagree with me on this, and that is fine.
Matthew and I will continue to focus, believe, and do what we think
will help the most. We absolutely are seeing positive results from what we are doing.

This morning I found myself stumbling over my words and not being able
to really think straight. It's happened before when I'm working myself
into exhaustion. I think yesterdays trip along with everything else
of the last two weeks has finally caught up with me.

Initially the plan was to return to Leogane to find another 4-5 missing
orphanages. Now that we have somewhat of a pipeline system, the more
orphanages we plug in there, the more the Canadians can distribute too.
I got an email from my Navy contact this morning, they had already
moved 140 cases to the orphanages and an asylum. We need to figure a
way to get them more resources and more distribution points. I'm
thinking of ways to channel resources to the Canadians as long as they
are willing to do this.

Craig, the logistics officer for SA, somewhat tricked me today. He
asked me if I wanted to go to his hotel room to shower and get cleaned up.
I told him I was fine and that Matthew and I needed to go to Leogane to work.
Then he asked if I would help him with GPS positioning to co-ordinate with
the 82nd and I agreed. I told Matthew to spend some time with his family and
to meet up with me later in the afternoon. Well turns out that Craig takes me to
the hotel anyway. At the hotel
there was a small care package for me from my friend Joanne, a
firefighter I met here at the camp who recently left. I was able to
shave and take a real shower. It was the first time I have looked in a big mirror in two
weeks. I was truly filthy, and now I feel like a new man. It took all four
razors to get that beard off.

I've made some friends with the SA and they all have encouraged me to take
the day off and try to rest a little, so I did. It was much needed;
and then an idea came to me.

SA has been amazing about getting us food, but it's been coming in
spurts and we give it away faster than we get it. We need to do
more....so why not just go to the market and buy a few big bags of
rice and beans? There is food here locally, it's just too expensive
for the locals. I'm thinking about opening up a donation system
through PayPal, so if you would like to help out with what we are doing,
we will use your donations to buy food directly. Standby for more
details.

In other exciting news, Matthew and I have made an extremely powerful
ally who is absolutely taking action. I cannot say much about this
person for several reasons, but I do know they financed a major
operation and care for a young girl with hydrocephalus from one of the
locations we visited and referred him/her to. I also know this
individual donated 2000 lbs of food worth several thousands of dollars
to the slum city we visited on Sunday. These are the same folks who
called to tell us they "were starving to death". This person asked us
to go and oversee the distribution of it tomorrow because we
introduced them.

It's truly amazing to me how things have been coming together. I can
honestly say this is one of the most exciting and rewarding times of
my life.

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