Posts Tagged ‘Port au Prince’
Posted on March 8th, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
First it was Wyclef Jean & now they are attacking Sean Penn — why do the media love to attack celebrities who do charity work? Is it simply that no good deed go unpunished? Sean Penn & Wyclef have been putting their money where there mouth is for years- not just when it’s fashionable.
While in PAP i met an evangelical minister from Texas- he started complaining to me: “Why do the media attack Wyclef? I saw him with my own eyes, picking up dead bodies!!” Hey, great point. He went on to say that he has not seen the Red Cross once. And that it was starting to piss him off. A conservative evangelical minister from Texas.
Afterwards a group of about 10 of us gathered around him- not b/c of his movies, but because of his charity work & activism. He looked tired and worn- it was clear that he had been working round the clock — for the past month. Sean gently and humbly told us of the work he and his group J/P HRO had been doing and how he just could not bring himself to leave after what he had seen- every single one of us knew exactly what he meant. The man is driven by his heart right now- not dollar signs or fame. So why must the press attack him? Let’s even pretend for a moment that he was doing it for fame (which I do not believe he is) then in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? Should we continue to wait around for the government to do something rather than let SP?
There’s no shortage of NGOs in Port au Prince right now- the streets are clogged with SUVs inching along- all with various NGO banners accross them. Oxfam, Doctors WIthout Borders, Catholic Charities, etc- they are all there… but one big group was surprisingly absent, from my view at least. I gave them the benefit of the doubt but once again, on my second trip they were nowhere to be found.. and i was not the only one to feel that way. Why does the media not attack Red Cross who gained the most money rather than the humanitarians who also happen to be celebrities? A few days ago, Red Cross distributed 5000 tarps in Port au Prince- their “biggest distribution” yet. . Wyclef is picking up bodies with his bare hands & Sean Penn has built refugee camps- but the Red Cross: 5000 tarps. Really?
I finally saw the Red Cross. It was at a mental health meeting at the UN. I spoke about what we were doing at the hospital- afterwards the Red Cross lady stopped me to ask “what do you think the needs of Haiti are?” She went on to say that they are still assessing the situation. I told her how horrible it was to discharge patients onto the street… how they all had no where to go – most without even a simple thing like tarp to protect them from the elements. What we need are refugee camps, YESTERDAY, and housing that can withstand the fast approaching rainy season & soon thereafter hurricane season. I explained that i was not the expert. I arranged a meeting for her with my boss, the head of the UM hospital, but she cancelled last minute and once again asked me on email to answer the same question that i had already verbally answered the day before.
(I wanted to say: read the writing on the wall, lady..)
If you wonder the same about the Red Cross, here is some advice from a friend who shares my frustration:
“We need your help…..please continue to work on your own endeavors to solve this problem, however please help us lean on the Red Cross. Please call your local chapter and speak with the CEO. Leave a message daily until he/she calls you back.
Call DC HQ (don’t fall for the 800-get-info routine- they don’t know). Ask them for information regarding distribution of essential items in Haiti. Tell them that you work with locals that are homeless, tell them that you discharge patients with newly amputated limbs to a street corner filled with rubble. Tell them you want information to give to these people stating where they can collect a tent, tarp. Demand an answer regarding supply distribution and fund distribution. This should be public information.
The estimated population of Haiti is 9.7 million
Below article states 2.2 billion raised
My elementary math equation from # of people and $ raised, appears that everyone could have a tent….actually, everyone could have had a tent by now.
Google “red cross criticism” – call a local reporter in your area that has reported on this.
Also, Starbucks is taking customer donations and matching them. What do they do with combined donations? Turn it over to the Red Cross. Where is this money? There are other major corporations that are doing the same. Call them.”
Yes, ladies & gentlemen i hear you- you are asking: what about the mens of PAP, this round? Last time we were in awe of the dreamy Portuguese Bombeiros. But as we know they left Haiti- all that is left is a shell of their old camp which is now used as a triage center for our hospital-
So eventually we all had to accept the reality- start to lather and wash our own hair- and sigh loudly as we eat canned fruit straight from a can- no rum drizzled atop by a muscular Adonis type. the suffering!!!! Enter: the Argentine Army…
YEs, ladies- it’s true. All a girl has to do is leave San Francisco to be treated like the goddess that we all are by handsome adorable sweet men from all sorts of different countries. But how do these gorgeous Argentine soldiers stack up in comparison to the Bombeiros??
As you an see: they are cute- but the sheer number is quite low (3 vs 30) add to that they do not have the sweet berets that the Portuguese wear. THey did come bearing their own Heineken- and yes it was cold, but no one spoon fed me or gave me a stylish flame resistant suit.
In the end they were a delicious diversion who tried their best- probably not smart to even attempt to compare them to 30 beret wearing elite force Bombeiros. However I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Argentines, and for a little while, received some extra special treatment. A memory never to be forgotten… in the midst of despair there is still life! Thank you for teaching me that.
Posted on March 7th, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
Last week there was so much death- but if Haiti has taught us North Americans anything- it is that we are fully alive- and to live while we are here. Being short handed at the camp many had to do things they never thought they would have to to accomodate death- bagging dead bodies, creating a respectful funeral, and tending to the tent morgue. We have a different relationship with death in America. Not saying that Hatians do not mourn, are not in deep grief etc- but they have had to deal with death much more than we have- or choose to. Because of that they are more enlightened and wise than us, in my opinion. In America we do anything to avoid death- cheat aging, etc-. We enable denial of a very basic and unavoidable sapect of life. Maybe instead we could simply embrace living more so that our days here are full and when it is time to go we do not regret and in fact we are tired and ready to go?
I have not had to deal with death hardly ever in my life. Sure grandparents passed on, and some of my students have died at the hands of guns… but i have never sat with someone as they were dying… until now. The other day i was completely shattered because my favorite patient ( i know- not supposed to have favorites but we all do!)- had a very bad prognosis. I sat with him as he went into near septic chock- annoyed with the doctors and nurses wondering why they could not do something more. I crossed the boundares- personalized it, and then went into denial. the doctors told me- this is it, lady! I am in Haiti to help the Hatians- not be a burden- so when i began to well up in tears i reprimanded myself: hold it together girl. I did a pretty good job of it until myself and 2 other counselors- 2 of religious faiths, sat with the patient’s family and said prayers with them. One of the counselors kindly came to console me- it was the first time i could not hold back the tears. I was embarrassed and felt the spoiled westerner- he is here for them- not me: I immediately directed him back to the dying patient’s family.
Later that night that rabbi/chaplain/funeral director/psychologist/counselor- as he called himself- came to tell me a story to enlighten me a bit on death. This was more the Hatian way- tell a story, say a prayer to understand the death- don’t try to talk someone to death- figuratively speaking- as we do in the States. He told me a long story about so many bible characters whose names are too long for me to even begin to remember them. WHat the story boiled down to was some bible character asked another: “How many days have you lived?” rather than “How old are you?” He explained that all that matters is how many days you have truly lived. A good friend of mine, Dr. Shea, was standing beside me at this point- she knows me from Iran… “Michelle you really have lived many days.” WHat she doesn’t know about me is that there are so so so many days- where I like many others- am waiting around for something to better to happen- some other time to come. The rabbi/chaplian/psych went on to say- “When you look into ___’s eyes- you can see that he has truly lived- many days. God is in his eyes.” He was right. Before this story was even told to me, i felt like i had a direct pipeline to god/divinity/grace when i looked into this patient’s eyes. I know it may sound strange, but i felt like he was trying to tell me something. He knew something that i do not know- that most of us do not know. Something that words can not explain or describe. All we can do is be present with it and not understand it.
Posted on February 19th, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
Unlike many in the States- if you give your average Hatian an opportunity to learn they take it, cherish it, and make the absolute most of it. I worked as a PT technician w/ a U of Miami team one rare day when were well staffed w/ PTs at the tent hospital. With our extra hands we decided to do follow up with some of the patients we had discharged to smaller clinics.. unfortunately the reality in these small clinics was that there were not docs, nurses, PTs or even cots for that matter….
A Hatian woman told me that most Hatians believe if you are sick or injured you should lay in bed & wait to heal- THat is counter to what PT is- and for many who suffered severe crush injuries, amputations, and broken bones, we knew we had to go out & educate that moving is in fact good for you- as long as it is done intelligently. At one clinic (pictured here) we had a woman go from a wheel chair to walking w/ a walker within 20 minutes with a PT from UM! She glowed as she walked- and seemed like she had just gotten her life back. It was empowering and gave me the chills to witness such a wonderful thing. It brought tears to my eyes- but like many times that week i bit them back. I worked with a school teacher that was lying on the floor in a tent the past week- i made her do some exercises that the PTs prescribed to her. She really hated it at first but with some animated enthusiasm and encourgaement (via translator) I got her up & walking with just 1 crutch- broken arm & all. Here she is calling her family to let them know the news afterwards:
When in a disaster area we all have to be extremely resourceful… not jsut with our professions but with supplies. The lead PT (a genius I might add) created a contraption with a Bally’s exercise club stretch cord, so that this sweet little 10 year old could slowly get some muscle control back -and again be able to do basic things like eat with his right arm. I was constantly struck by how much good came out of such little time and resources. I work as a psychologist: the mind- mental issues- things take a long time to change- but with PT- we saw instant results. Just a little bit of education brought so much joy. Ontop of that a few outgoing onlookers started imitating what we were doing- we began to train them in some PT basics so that after we were gone, they could step in to help. Again, the glow and joy that i saw from these poeple- to have a skill that was useful and could help- most have never had access to education- it again hit the point home that we have so much opportunity in the states that we take for granted. This was one of the most incredible days of my life. I am not expressing it too well here, but i will never ever forget this day- it warmed my heart and made me want to cry tears of joy.
Michelle May a nurse is trying to set me up with a doc- he has a fauxhawk & wears cowboy boots- do i do it?
Laticia Erving likes this.
- Some photos from Misrata… stories to follow.
- The Boat to Misrata (Libya): Men’s quarters vs. Women’s quarters
- Why I had to visit Misrata (Libya).
- Greetings from Benghazi, Libya
- Just another day in Cairo…