Needed a break from this madness – Haiti Update – 05/15/2010

Posted: May 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

Hello everyone,

It’s been a week since my last blog and I apologize for that. I needed to take a break from this madness so I headed up to the mountains for 2 days. Granted I was there doing work but it was such a stress free environment that it really did me well. I’ll tell you all about it in a bit.

Since it’s been so long since my last post I want to take some time and just let out what I’m seeing happen down here, tell everyone about the people I’ve met, and overall just say what’s been on my mind. I don’t really have too many stories to tell that are as crazy as normal, which is a good thing, but I want to just help everyone understand what is going on here.

As you can imagine things in PAP are pretty crazy. The images that you see on TV and the stories that are reported on have no resemblance to the gravity of the situation down here. Every time I talk to someone who just arrived to PAP it’s always the same. The city is destroyed, the smells are foul, the air burns your eyes and throat, and the desparation of the people is palpable. Having been here for almost 3 months I have become accustomed to the destroyed buildings, the cement/asbestos powder in the air and the reminding stench of death when bodies are uncovered from the rubble 4 months after the earthquake. The governement here is doing very little to help thier people. Collapsed buildings that I saw on my first trip are still in the same condition. There is virtually no demolition and cleanup going on in the city. I’ve seen maybe 12 short bed dump trucks and 3 front end loaders the entire time I’m here. The people of Haiti can not count on their governemnt to do a damn thing for them. On top of that it appears to me that the international community has completely forgotten about these people as well. Sure it was great to turn on CNN and watch the horror and destruction, but that’s what the news is all about right? Everyone felt so good that they did their part and sent a whole $10 do the American Red Cross (ARC) for the Immediate Haiti Relief Fund, but as we all know the ARC got caught in the admin lies. $440 Million was raised through text doantions and how much made it down here? $111 Million. So what about the other $340 Million? Administrative Fees. On top of that, the $111 Million that is supposed to come down here will be dispersed over a 10 year period. Man, what a great deal for the ARC. They can profiteer on the natural disasters of the world and never be held accountable for what they do.

Well enough of that. Let me refocus where I was going on that tangent. The well intentioned people of the world sent money to these really huge NGO’s (Non-Government Agencies) and basically got ripped off. In return the NGO’s made a killing thanks to this earthquake and they screwed over the Haitians more than ever before. Well, what does that leave you with? The little guys, the scrappy guys, the guys who work in the shadows and get stuff done. Guys like us here at M.M.R.C.

We are the ones that the big time international NGO’s call on when they need help. It amazes me everytime that these multi-million dollar groups have to wait so long for reports and requests and paperwork and more reports and on and on and on. It can take weeks to get the supplies that they need due to this process, and that’s why we are here.

In cooperation with Grass Roots United we are setting up the first central supply line for materials and pharmaceuticals to service those on the ground here helping the Haitian people. We are also working in conjunction with Global DIRT to establish Haiti’s first ever EMS system. We provide IMC (Intenational Medical Corps) and PIH (Partners in Health) with daily logistical support of materials and medicines, and we do all of their patient transfers. We also supply several other NGO’s at the Adventist Hospital with specific needs supplies and equipment. In order to protect the innocent I won’t give names, but their are several sites for the Doctors Without Borders that we have been dropping slupplies off to. It cracks me up when we have to be discreet and sly when doing drops to some of these places since the volunteers are afraid of being reprimanded for not going through the proper chanels. Sure, in a perfect world everone should go through the proper chanels, and in return things should be done expiditously but let’s face it, the bigger you are the more paperwork you have and red tape to cut through. That’s when they call us. We are scavengers, scroungers, barterers, beggars, pleaders, traders, and we come through in a timely manner.

That’s why we are here. Little Paul, Lauren and myself are dedicated to helping the people of Haiti get through this hard time in any way we can. That’s why we are always begging you for money. We have no funding and none of the big boys will sponsor us. Sure they depend on us to run the operations, but when we hit them up for funding than there’s always the excuses. Too much red tape, they don’t fund other groups, they can’t due to tax reasons, blah blah blah. Some of the guys at IMC is trying to work something out for us and I know they will do absolutely everything they can but they’re not a huge NGO with deep, deep pockets. So in the end the people get what they need, the big boys get what they need, and the 3 of us are left holding the crap end of the broom. Thankfuly though we’ve had some people back home come through for us and are keeping the tips of our noses above water. It’s always a struggle and I hate that I have to spend 1-2 days a week emailing and calling people about money. That’s almost 1 week per month that I can’t help the people here. If you are reading this and want to help please do. If you know of any businesses that can sponsor us please let them know of the work we are doing here. If we don’t get funded soon we will have no option than to leave and if that happens the entire infrasstructure we have created will collapse.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest let me tell you about my mountain trip.

I ended up going to Milot to Hospital Sac-re-quer to drop off 2 wound vacs. I also heard they had a supply room full of extras that I could bring back. I jumped on a plane and in 25 minutes I was up in Cap Haiten. Keep the travel time in the back of your mind for later, 25 minutes. When I got off the plane I was shocked to feel the cooler temperature (almost 10 degrees) and that I could breath clean air. My driver picked me up and en route I noticed that the streets were clean and somewhat more paved than in PAP. We got to the hospital and that’s when I saw my beloved Pigpen (Lauren). She looked so happy, and healthy and clean. Normally this girl looks like she’s been dragged behind a semi through miles of dust and mud, but the mountains had been good to her. She is up there working with a great group of nurses that just graduated from Northeastern and making sure they are taken care of. She should be returning to us in 5 days.

It was a much needed break because I was getting burned out. I ended up taking a truck load of supplies back with me to PAP and one Anasthesia Tech named Christina. She will be rolling with us for a little while and so far she has proven that she’s got what it takes. So back to the trip, we drove through some of the most beautiful mountains I have seen in some time. The scenery during the whole trip breath taking. From mountains, to bean patty fields, to lakes it just never seemed to end. And my butt felt the same way. The trip was almost 11 hours long. Now remember, it took 25 minutes to get there by plane, anad almost 11 hours to get home. Anyway, we got home, unloaded the truck and then did our thing for the night.

Yesterday was absolutely wonderful. It was my first full day back and I ended taking the day to do a bunch of admin stuff and send emails out. The sat phone we have been waiting on for several weeks finally came in and now I can call home. Unfortunately it only came with a car charger but we’ll figure something out. Patricia and Richmond Arquette are here and we had a long meeting last night on what MMRC can do to help them in their efforts. Richmond is a hoot and probably the sweetest guy anyone can meet. He’s got a heart of gold and thanks to his beard he looks like an Oregon lumberjack. Patricia is a sweetheart and a half. She is Pigpen junior because she came in yesterday after working in the tent cities all day and it looked like someone took 5 shovel’s full of dirt and threw it on her from head to toe. We had a long talk about what she is doing here and Little Paul and I are going to help her get the supplies she needs. I think they are doing an incredible thing here and can’t wait to see what we can do together.

So to wrap it up, things here are going well except for the financial issues we are facing. My health is great minus my lungs being full of exhaust. We are all getting along swimmingly with each other and we are doing a hell of a lot of work to support those helping the Haitian people. Thank you so much for your emails and please keep us in your prays.

I love you all dearly

Paul

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Comments
  1. Dennis Rosen says:

    Hey Paul, this is Dennis, one of the Boston pediatricians who was at HUEH last week (we evacuated the kid whose house collapsed to MSF Spain and brought back a very needed oxygen tank). Just read your posts, you write very well, and wanted to commend you for all that you do, which makes a huge difference for dozens of lives each day.

    Before I left you were talking about setting up mobile clinics to deliver care to kids in orphanages on a rotating basis. Please let me know what comes of that, as a lot of people at my hospital have been approaching me looking for ways they can help out.

    Stay safe,
    Dennis

  2. Danielle says:

    Keep up the great work! You’re awesome. You’re in my prayers
    You’re missed and loved. What you’re doing for them is impressive. Keep the great work! Call me. Love ya ton, Danielle

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