Haiti: Six Months After the Earthquake

July 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm , by

Today marks the six-month anniversary of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti. A good friend of mine and fellow journalist, Eleanor A. Miller, is spending the summer reporting for the Haitian Times in Port-au-Prince. I asked Eleanor via email about her experience, and what she’s observed on the ground in Haiti.

Kids at The Sunday Project. Photo by Eleanor A. Miller

Shelter is the biggest issue. “There are tent cities everywhere. There is no open public space anymore–every park, every open lot, everywhere has tents and shacks and people living on it,” Eleanor said. “If any sort of tropical storm blows through, causing heavy rains, winds or mudslides, it will be another disaster all over again. Tents and tarps are already falling apart because they simply aren’t meant to be used continuously, and the strong heat and rains of the Caribbean have taken their toll.”

According to Eleanor, the mood among Haitians is frustration. Many look to the United States for much needed help. So what can average Americans do?

“Consider donating to Haitian-run organizations on the ground that know the culture, work intimately with locals and are sustainable,” Eleanor said.

Eleanor volunteers with The Sunday Project,  run by local radio personality Carel Pedre. Every Sunday, the group heads to Cité Soleil, the poorest slum in Port-au-Prince, and distributes 300 boxed meals to seriously malnourished kids. You can donate to The Sunday Project or find other organizations to give to. But it doesn’t cost anything to remain interested in the Haitian recovery and ask our government and aid organizations to do the same.

Cite Soleil

Cite Soleil, a slum in Port-au-Prince. Photo by Eleanor A. Miller

Helping in Haiti: One Doctor’s Story

February 2, 2010 at 7:12 pm , by

Bruce Dubin is a doctor, lawyer and teacher—who also wants to do some good in the world. That’s a rare combo. I saw Dr. Dubin last week in Colleyville, Texas. He lives in Colorado but had just come from Haiti to attend the funeral of his friend (and my beloved brother-in-law), Dr. Richard Grossman, who had died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Nothing else could have gotten him to leave his efforts to help in Haiti, he said, and he will go back soon. Here’s a bit about what he saw and experienced while there.

group in Haiti
When you first heard about the earthquake, what did you think?

When I saw the announcement on television, I knew it was going to be bad, and I just felt like I had to go. So I hooked up with three of my former medical students (above; with Dr. Dubin on the left), and they all had the same gut feeling I did. One of them had some connections in the Dominican Republic and with a church group that was going to Haiti, so that’s how we started our trek.

What did you see when you arrived?

Outside Port-au-Prince, it almost looked like life as usual in Haiti. But as we got closer to Port-au-Prince, the scene changed and it looked like a war zone, with rubble and bodies everywhere. The smell was so bad, everyone had to wear face masks. It was hot. Dust from the debris was settling in the air, and there was smoke from some oil fires as well. The students with me saw some things that no one should ever have to see in their lives.

Sounds like you were early responders. When did you get there?

The earthquake happened on Tuesday; we got there and set up our first clinic on Friday. We couldn’t believe the lack of any initial response, at least on the part of the U.N. The first night or two, we saw maybe one or two U.N. vehicles with a couple of people driving around. But that was about it. Some of the bodies had been removed from the street by Sunday, but people were pretty desperate for food and drinking water. And there was a shortage of basic medical supplies. We were seeing children and adults who had been under rubble or had been injured and had open wounds, lacerations, fractured bones, and they were running the risk of developing severe infections and losing their limbs.

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