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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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02.16.10         michael's insights  

How a MA Blog reader saved a life...


I'd imagine over the next period of time I will be able to share some of the crazy stories from Haiti here. I wanted to share this one because it is so easy to see the impact one of our blog readers had on another life in a very measurable way.

Nearly all of the orphanages on our list came from Blog reader volunteers. One of these orphanages was located about an hour north of PAP, and I was put in touch with the brother of 2 American women who ran this clinic/orphanage. To see this place and to visit these sisters is truly inspiring. They are a light to the world for what they do and it makes you want to just move in with them and help them with what they are doing. They are heros. My understanding was that after the quake, many victims came to the clinic for medical aid, and I had heard that one of the sisters had to preform an amputation without the proper medical (anesthesia) supplies or tools (I think she used a wood saw). This particular clinic was high on my list to visit because we knew people who knew them and we also knew they were not getting aid.

The first time we looked for this place, we couldn't find it. We had to try again several days later with better instructions and on the second attempt we did find it. This first picture you see I took on the first visit, just as part of the assessment. This particular clinic is well know throughout the area and also a common place for parents to abandon their children. The clinic is running at capacity, so if a child is ill, they do their best to care for the child back to health, and if they have parents, release them back. If not, they try to hang onto them as long as they can until they can find them a better situation.

As I mentioned earlier, we made a very important contact and ally who was specifically interested in helping Orphans with medical needs. Mind you all of this happened within a day or two of the 10 Americans being arrested for child trafficking. This was a point of heated debate between Mathieu and I (we would argue over whether or not sharing information at all was a good idea because a child trafficker could use it- we would argue about how much to share and who to share it with). We both wanted to help as much as possible, but we didnt want to put anyone in danger or do anything illegal.

We had several contacts with Orphanages who had such children and I felt we were in a position to connect the dots, on the other hand we didn't want to become accessories to child trafficking either, so we had to be extremely careful about who we were helping and what information we were giving them. We did as much research about this person as possible, and discovered they were completely legit, well financed, and in reality- a god send. We also learned that this person didn't run an orphanage, but rather gave children as well as their parents medical and living resources in country. It was completely legal. So from this angle, Mathieu and I were willing to take the risk of introducing them to each other, even if it meant there was still a small risk of being an accomplice to something bad, in this case we felt the benefit far outweighed the risk.

Long story short, we decided to roll the dice and took this person to 3 orphanages which each had children that needed some type of medical attention. We found 4-6 good candidates for this program, and when we took this individual to the "hard to find clinic", there were a few children there who definitely needed help. One was a girl who was suffering from Hydrocephaly, which is an enlarged brain caused by buildup of fluids. The clinic didn't have the resources to help this little girl medically (she needed a special operation) and her condition was deteriorating. There were also a number of very important steps involved leading up to this, for example: the exchange of information we had of the list to this individual (to show that WE were legit).

We learned the day after, this little girl was taken into the program and was able to get the medical attention she needed, which in all likelihood has saved her life. Many people played an important part in this...but just to think about it...it all came about because a blog reader said: "Hey...you might want to contact these people."

Awesome.

On the plane ride home, I was going through my images and realized, I was able to get a picture of this girl on my first visit, and Ive cropped it down for you here:


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