Yesterday was gritty. We received a new shipment of medical supplies and food the night before. It was going to be our first attempt at doing a food drop in one of the tent cities, called San Teresa. We tried to drum up some ideas that might help us organize the distribution prior to getting there. Something like a number system, etc…because if you don’t have a handle on things it will turn into a riot in the blink of an eye.
Most of these people are surviving on one meal, every 3 days, and under circumstances such as these, people will do almost anything for that meal…and unfortunately, we came very close to seeing just that. We had people line up in specific lines — such as pregnant women, or elderly, etc. But as soon as we’d start to pass out food to one line all the people from the other lines would rush towards it, stampeding everything in their path. We had a lot of food to pass out but not enough for the entire tent city. So we wanted to make sure that the pregnant woman, children, an elderly got the first rations.
At one point, we had to make a wall with our bodies, standing side by side and locking our arms together, so that the pregnant woman could grab food and get through the crowd safely. It took every bit of strength to hold my position as we got pushed and pushed by the massive crowd. There were a few times where we all got nervous because of fights almost breaking out. We were severely outnumbered and would have had no way to truly protect ourselves. We did the best we could and got food into the hands of thousands of people, but as we headed back to camp we all agreed that our system could be refined for next time. The whole thing was a gut check for me because it clearly reconfirmed the fact that just surviving the quake won’t be enough for some of these people. The fight to stay alive now and over the coming months is an even bigger challenge.
I’m writing this post from the floor of a army cargo plane. I had to wait at the airport for 6 hrs but finally found a spot on this plane, along with 180 other people. Most of the people are Haitian/Americans that were checking on family, etc. Everyone had the same look on their face — one of utter disbelief. I’m headed back to the US to regroup and recharge the batteries. I’ll be going back sometime in the next couple weeks to manage our next shipment of filters. It’s crucial that the distribution networks I set up actually get everything I have promised them. So much is happening down there that aid shipments can get lost or stolen very easily. You really have to walk it through every stage until it is in the hands of those in need…something which I am more than proud to do.
It’s surreal sitting on the floor of a giant cargo plane with no windows. Especially under these circumstances. None of it feels real.
These posts have been my therapeutic platform to process what I’ve experienced. I’ve looked to them as a way to exhale from one day to the next. If the byproduct is such that you have been inspired to contribute, in your own way, then great! But, know this: I’m honored to share this with you, and I am humbled by the good nature of humanity. I witnessed it, in its purest form, and it warms my soul. The people of Haiti have an incredibly hard road ahead and I feel like my heart was left behind with them. I’m dedicated to this cause and will be working with this country for months, if not years, to come. If anyone has questions or input please feel free to reach out. This whole thing is symbolic, in so many ways. But if there was one thing that consistently cried truth, it was this — We… as a people… are not alone.
Thank you! — Jon Rose