Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Update Day 21

Today was our medical team's last day doing surgery to repair broken bones of all sorts as a result of the earthquake. Another team will be replacing them tomorrow though the crisis on the orthopedic level is nearly over. The second medical phase is focused on infections from the hastily performed surgeries on the scene; on the spiked incidents of malaria, typhoid, dengue; on the results of lack of potable water (parasites and the like) and so on. No one is talking about the psychological effects of this trauma though there are some social workers around.
I received a brief from an international agency accustomed to relief work and they had recommendations for people like us who are attempting to help the Haitians in their pain. We are told to refer all traumatized people to mental health professionals in the country. Yeah, right. There is one mental health facility in the whole country and it was situated in Port-au-Prince so it may not even be there anymore. What folks don't seem to understand is that Haiti never had a real health system. The state hospitals were a mess before the earthquake. They lacked doctors, qualified nurses, medicine, laboratories... The government, the school system, the health ministry were all failures. Finger-pointing is a favorite sport down here and, really, who cares at this point. Haiti needs more than rebuilding; it needs to be re-conceived. And this won't happen with the current government--what remains of it.
The only relief supplies coming our way are from private organizations. How can this be? There are still planeloads of medicine, food, clothing and such arriving in PaP daily but they stay there. Who is running this relief operation?
If I'm sounding a bit edgy, it's only because I am. Families in the countryside are falling apart because they can't find food. There are no jobs and there's no relief in sight. Yes, we are here and there are other groups helping but the need surpasses our abilities. Wasn't it bad enough to suffer through such a massive earthquake that caused thousands upon thousands of deaths, destroyed the city of PaP, displaced a million people? If relief does not come soon for those in the villages and towns, it will be the end of Haiti. I have to ask if this is the result of ineptitude or something much worse?


  1. just sent my daily tweet for you Fr Marc. I am not much, but I am trying to spread your updates

  2. Who is running the relief operation? Unfortunately Father, I just read an article reporting what's left of the Haitian government is taking contol over the distribution of supplies and food where ever they can. Needless to say the result of this is that they are sitting in UN warehouses while Haitian authorities attempt to catalog the food and medical supplies before they are allowed to go out. All the aid workers are extremely frustrated with the situation.

  3. Those of us at home are frustrated too, not on your scale, but... We,(and by "we" I mean Americans, Canadians and every other country out there) have donated MILLIONS! Maybe in the billions when all is tallied. Our personal money and pledges from our governments. Why is the aide not getting through to ALL Haitians???
    And you are right, a complete overhaul is what Haiti needs. I saw on the news that before the quake you had about 2000 doctors for a population of 9 million. Unbelievable!

    Prayers as always.

  4. Dear Fr Marc, After reading this last entry, I went and sat and cried and prayed for you, for the children, for the staff, for all Haitians. And also for the thousands who are feeling the pain, the despair, and the frustration that is gripping Haiti. I feel numb and exhausted and I am not even there. I suppose I should be trying to boost your moral. But how, by using platitudes? "Oh, things will surely get better; don't get discouraged; don't give up; the Lord will see you through." But right now I cannot. I believe that I would be insulting you. I can only stand in solidarity with you and with all the people who are trying to find a way to go on living and a reason to go on living. I know that the Haitians are an incredibly hopeful people; I do pray that they will remain so. For I know that when I lose all sense of hope, I find I have no joy in living.
    I completely agree with your insightful and accurate comment about Haiti needing to be re-conceived. You are the first one-and only one-to have said this. (I have been reading everything on Haiti that I come across and no one else has made mentioned of this.) Sorry that my comments were not of the uplifting kind, but I too have a lot of frustration (and anger)at the way the relief effort has been carried out, at the waste of time, supplies, and money. As always, I'll continue to pray.
    By the way, I kicked off a fund-raiser at my church for Free the Kids this past Sunday. It will run right through until Easter. It's called "Helping Haiti Heal". I used the word "helping" instead of "help" because it implies on-going instead of one time. I belong to an inner-city parish, but I know they'll do the best they can. (We've sent money to Free the Kids during past Lents.)
    Your last comment chills me....

  5. Dear Fr Marc I am sending your update out to anyone I can think of who might listen and praying.
    Thank you
    Rita Hunter

  6. Fr. Marc: For what it's worth, I posted a note to Bill Clinton's Foundation website after reading your previous venting note about relief efforts not reaching outlying areas. Used some of your exact words (hope you don't mind).

    Perhaps others could do the same. Post the question on Bill Clinton's site and/or any other entity that may be able to influence decisions or at the least confirm that a plan is in place.

    As always, love and prayers to all.

    Dianne from Hopedale, MA

  7. I was thinking of doing something similar, but didn't have any ideas of where to start. It kind of comes back to Fr. Marc's question about who is running the show.

  8. I called the White House comments line. E-mailed the President and First Lady - emailed CNN, MSNBC, and Bill Clintons Foundation. Everyone should contact as many people as they can. This can not be allowed to go on.

    I am also praying that someone wakes up.

  9. That's right... bombard all these organizations with your outrage so they will start caring for those outside PAP. Tune 7 PM EST into PBS NEWSHOUR...every night Ray Suarez has a piece on Haiti. Tonite it will on REBUILDING HAITI.
    Looking to the future, Fr. Marc, pls direct the children to go into medecine and nursing, and add to your Vocational Training. I, for one, will sponsor a girl who will go into Medecine or Nursing, however long it takes for her to get credentials. While the doctors are there, they should help and watch so you can test and see if they can take the sight of blood and open wounds. No use going into this field if you faint. ELSIE

  10. This may be naive... why can't you call UNICEF OR USAID OR CRS to airlift and drop loads of supplies on the open field of your property, where it will not cause a stampede and free for all?
    Last nite at PBS Newshour, they showed Red Cross Colombia distributing to PAP people, but when they saw that a few (the strongest) got a lot and the others so little, they closed the truck. Even they are discouraged. This is not the fault of the govt but the people. The Haitians individually have to be transformed internally. They should learn to act morally, those who take advantage of a terrible situation to make a fast buck and resell the distributed goods. Yet... something disturbing: this scene was happening right across a fence behind which supplies, etc. are sitting! Incroyable! We must educate a whole generation of young Haitians who will work hard to build a NEW HAITI. (I am curious to know when Haiti was the richest country in the Caribbean; I heard this on tv.) Elsie