Haiti

OK, this is somewhat off topic except that it isn’t.  My friend Kathy’s organization is doing very important work in Haiti and one of their people on the ground in Haiti wrote a great note in Facebook about the reality of the large organizations and how they aren’t getting aid to people, instead favoring paperwork far too much of the time.  I decided to tweet this note out to many people on twitter who seem to be really following the stream there on the topic.  Many people I tweeted don’t have Facebook (my learning for today, not everyone on twitter is also on Facebook… everyone has their own desires for communication) so I need a way to post this note elsewhere to share it.  So here it is.  Yes folks, this is what Social Networking is about. 

Hello tout moun,

It has been an interesting experience sitting here in Port-Au-Prince being part of a coalition of 25 non-profit organizations coming together to coordinate the dispensation of food, water, and medical supplies. It hasn’t been easy because of the extreme difficulty of passing through the myriad loops that the large NGO’s require before anything will be given out. There is a 100 question form that they are passing out to communities to fill out bring back in order to receive aid. This alone can take them a week or so. The questions they ask are very difficult to answer and explaining location in Port-Au-Prince, is nearly impossible. Often Haitians use directions like, next to the large tree around the corner from so and so market. The UN wants GPS coordinates because many streets are not marked here and navigating the city has proven to be difficult.

After the one riot that took place in the worst part of the city, they are only sending out non-food items at first to see if the communities can function without a disaster taking place. I understand their concern for safety, but it seems to be quite a long process to go through before any nutritional needs are met. It has been nearly three weeks now and communities all over the place are living on minimal amounts of food if any. The Haitian government has been completely bypassed in all of this. The president has thrown his hands up in the air because he is not being included or informed about anything that is happening involving this process of bringing aid relief to the people.
Boats full of goods are being redirected to pass through the Dominican Republic (DR) which is a very lengthy process as well. We actually have a boat waiting in the DR which hasn’t received any clearance by the port of Jacmel to debark.

When did it occur that our society got so disorganized. Where paperwork and numbers are given priority over bringing actual aid to the people. Smaller organizations have given up all over the place trying to deal with the larger NGO’s and the UN because there still has been any sign of the goods being distributed. They have warehouses full of boxes and can’t organize their dispensation to the country. The small organizations have given up and are buying local food to distribute and/or taking trips to the DR and driving truck loads of good back to the communities they are working in.

I understand that indeed this is quite a difficult project, but how could it be so disorganized? I hope that there will be a reflective inquiry into what made this all such a mess, so in the future aid relief will arrive and actually be given out to the people in timely manner and avoid the watching the population deminish everyday while groups run around like a chicken with its head cut off staring at piles of papers and computer screens, forgetting that behind the numbers are real people in dire need.
This has been a huge disaster, not only with the earthquake, but with the response. I only can hope that we get it together before more and more Haitians perish because the loads of aid aren’t quite ready because they haven’t been given the go by those in charge. If this doesn’t reflect the depth of our Orwellian times, and not wake us up from this great mess we have gotten ourselves into, I am not sure what will.

The Haitian people are unfortunatley used to living with very limited resources including food and water and have a high tolerance for suffering. If this was to happen in the US there would have been no tolerance for such suffeering. With great hope and determination we will overcome this all and Haiti will revive itself.

Thank you,
Ryan McCrory

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About Jessica Dally

A random blog about travel, personal transformation, riding motorcycles solo, social media and whatever else seems interesting at the moment. View all posts by Jessica Dally

6 responses to “Haiti

  • Herold

    I am getting the same report also. It’s just sad. The death toll will rise.

  • jessicadally

    It will Herold… but we can spread the word and get money to these smaller organizations who are more interested in getting aid in then filling out paperwork. I can’t help but think this is the ludicrous damage that is done when we worry so much about accountability that we allow that to step in the way of just getting food to the people who need it.

    Fortunately these smaller orgs have people who have been on the ground in Haiti for a very long time. People in these towns and cities know them and they know the situation there which allows them to gain trust and keep problems at bay. It’s easy to fight against a US aid organization who just comes in and knows nothing about you or your community, but it’s hard to mistreat someone who has been working in your community for years.

  • Brian Price

    Well said Ryan, I just spent 8 days on the ground with firefighters for christ and personaly made contact with four seprate groups of Haitians from Delmas to Leaogane representing approx. 6000 mouths to feed between them. The only aid we were able to deliver was that which we brought with us and some supplies from Unicef. The cluster meetings are logistaly impossible to attend for those in the field actually putting thier hands on the paitents. We sumitted all the appropiate paper work and still had to just wait while people went without care and shelter. Thankyou for the work you are doing and have done, God Bless!

  • @BareKnuckleDawg ( twitter )

    I live here. As I explained to someone on twitter this morning, I believe this paperwork is only being required when, say, a truck with some guys in it shows up to ask for Aid to transport back to their community. I believe it is only then that a form is required to be filled out on behalf of the community they are there claiming to represent.
    I haven’t seen this being incorporated on a per individual basis, such as with people standing in line waiting for Aid.
    That doesn’t mean it’s not happening, or may not come to pass.
    I can’t account for what everyone is doing here, naturally – but I find it necessary to try and correct what may indeed very likely be nothing more than misinformation / misinterpretation of facts.
    With all the many thousands standing in line for Aid, having each one of them fill out a form would be a nightmarishly stupid and probably even riot-inducing approach..

  • jessicadally

    Thanks for your input BareKuckleDawg. I’m not sure where you are but I know that this is writing from someone on the ground who has been in Haiti for a long time, before the earthquake. The organization in question was started by friends of mine who had been in the Peace Corps in Haiti and didn’t want to just walk away when their service time had ended. For this reason they are very familiar with the country and the people. My good friend Kathy is married to a Haitian who was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. He was stuck in a collapsed building for 4 hours and was the only person in that building to live.

    I don’t believe under any circumstances that this is misinformation or misrepresentation. Even here in the US we see reports about aid not getting to people, paperwork required and also reports of the very riots you are talking about on the television news from numerous sources though it is rare that it’s said quite as clearly as this note. You are right however, it is nightmarishly stupid! My hope is that wherever you are you’re not seeing it because somehow that town or area isn’t dealing with the same issues. That would be wonderful. Sadly I know that many areas did not get aid for a very long time. It’s sad when phone calls are getting out to the US from friends in Haiti and yet aid isn’t getting in. Until people are willing to recognize that these groups aren’t getting aid to smaller towns and cities and that plutocracy isn’t helping more people will die.

  • jessicadally

    Just in case you want more information this is a podcast my friend recorded with our local NPR after the earthquake. It’s older information then this note but it’s saying much of the same things.

    http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=19212

    Sadly people want to discredit these reports to serve their own purposes but these reports are coming from volunteers and there’s more then just one or two people saying it.

    From Facebook posts (which is the only place they have time to post at this point… spending their time getting aid in and trying to find friends and family)

    Kathy McAllister: For those who think this is harsh to dis the UN we are getting the first reports of death by starvation and yes red tape is killing people. (posted Tuesday 2.2.10)

    Kathy McAllister: As the news media start fading their coverage of Haiti my friends in Port au Prince say it is getting worse there. There is a lack of all basic needs & not enough coordination of relief efforts. (posted 1.29.10)

    Kathy McAllister: I have to say thanks to the brave strangers that dug Bidex out of the rubble with their bare hands just in time before the rest of the bldg collapsed. They washed his face, gave him water & drove him to safety. I hope they are safe too. Bel Ayisyan. (posted 1.27.10

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