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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Haiti Day 15 and 16: Retraction and Reaction

As promised, here is the update with my excursion with the American Red Cross today. First of all, I want to say that every member of the American Red Cross that I spoke with and interacted with were extremely gracious, professional, and devoted to their work. They took the time out of their busy schedules to accommodate my desires to find the truth about their work in Haiti, and they were 100% transparent with regard to the disaster relief services they have been providing. I sincerely thank the American Red Cross for their willingness to meet with me and show me their work.

Yes, the American Red Cross is doing disaster relief services in Haiti, and yes, they are providing services on multiple fronts including shelter, non food item distribution, sanitation, and disease prevention. Today I visited an area that the American Red Cross served prior to the earthquake, but has turned into 12 tent/tarp camps for families that lost their homes. The American Red Cross has provided the tarps for the camps, and through a partnership with other NGOs provides the latrines, water, and medical care. What they do not provide is food. They have given 30 million dollars to the World Food Program to distribute food, and despite this, only one food distribution has taken place in 3 months for the camps that I visited today. Furthermore, there is currently no plan for the camps to begin education programs for the children. Overall, they are doing what they can with the limited staff and resources they have on the ground to help the people of Haiti.

After visiting both World Vision and American Red Cross camps, my complaint is this. Why can’t all the relief organizations put aside their pride, and work together for the people of Haiti? Please answer that question for me if you can.

Moving on to something on the other end of the spectrum, Michele and I have continued to teach English to the students returning to SOPUDEP. Today after arriving back from my American Red Cross excursion Michele explained to me about teaching two different classes today, none of which was comprised of students she had taught before. Like a true educator Michele displayed her teaching skills by inventing lessons on the spot and engaging both elementary and high school students in academics. After, Michele and I spent about 3 hours with a small group of kids that had not gone to school that day. It was the best Kreyol practice we have ever had. We talked about sports, telling time, animals (they had all eaten cat), and a variety of other random items. It was nice being able to spend time with some local Haitian children and build bonds in the community that will help us to continue our work in Haiti.

Thank you for all the support, contributions, and encouragement you have given us during our time in Haiti. We will continue to do our best to provide for the most disenfranchised youth in Haiti, the orphans and street children.

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