Haiti – Reflections of a Relief Volunteer (Part II)

During these trips, and other Help for Orphans International (HFOI) trips to Haiti, we were able to deliver tons of food, tents, school uniforms & clothing, toys, school & art supplies, medical supplies, painted a mural, planted trees & garden, etc.  All of this would not have been possible without the dedication of HFOI volunteers and staff, but also important are the locals and government officials involved. 

There is the US Army Civil Affairs unit, who were absolutely amazing in helping us with food and logistics for the orphanages.  They even joined us at an Easter party thrown by HFOI at a local orphanage.  There is also the amazing people at WFP (World Food Program), UNICEF, IOM (International Organization for Migration), UN military and police (MINUSTAH & UNPOL), and other organizations that helped provide us with food, supplies, transportation, and security.

The locals were absolutely amazing, whether it be Haitians, Haitian-Americans, or ex-pats.  We stayed with our wonderful Haitian assistant and friend, Rudy, and his family on the first trip.  There was also the amazing 2nd trip when we stayed with Duckens and his beautiful fiancée, Martine.  Duckens was kind enough not to kick me out when I had an allergic reaction and had to be taken to the hospital at 3am.  Thank goodness our volunteers and Kevin, our perma-culture expert, took over the HFOI deliveries.  Then there was the time we went off-roading to find an orphanage that was not accessible by the main road.  Thanks to a couple of Haitian men at a school, we were able to find them and deliver food to the children.  Of course, I had to jump over irrigation ditches and what-nots in my cargo skirt and flip flops.  Thank goodness for G, our right-hand man and volunteer, was there to help.  He was also there to get us out of our broken-down truck adventure…my, oh my, was that fun LOL.

The media can go on and on about how Haiti is rebuilding too slowly.  Some also have their misconceptions on the work-ethic of Haitians.  The general public can place the blame on local & international government, NGOs (non-government organizations), locals, etc., but the truth is nothing gets done with blame and fear.  It all gets done with positive reinforcement and the relentless pursuit of ideals.  I was there, and I’ve never seen people work so hard to help others.  Those government workers that we chastised were living in tents and conditions that you could only imagine, unless you were there.  Some of them were working 10-14 hour days, away from their families and friends for months at a time.  Haitians are some of the hardest-working and determined people I’ve ever met.  I’m personally grateful for all the work and hospitality that all have shown me in Haiti.

Haiti is an experience…a surreal, amazing experience!  I can’t wait to go back to Haiti, converse with its people and hold the children at the orphanages.  Never mind the long hours, the sweat, the tears…it was the joy, the purpose, the children…they are all worth it.  I arrived in Haiti on my birthday, prepared for the worst and found the best…in humanity.  I could not have asked for a more phenomenal birthday wish…to live a life full of such purpose is happiness.  Just don’t feed me any more MREs (ready to eat meals) 😉

All this talk about how inefficient the rebuilding process has been; or our own forgetfulness due to our own problems or concerns, we must not forget that we live on this planet as one.  A person can not survive without another, or its other living things or environment.  Instead of blaming each other and using inefficiency as an excuse to not continue to help, we should be acknowledging what has been done and continues to be done.  Haiti still needs our help…will you stand together with me and help?

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Photos Courtesy:  Kevin Rowell, Isabella Garcia, Help for Orphans International


1 Comment

  1. January 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    […] Did you know Dr. Gallagher’s daughter volunteered to be part of the relief effort in Haiti?  She made two trips to Haiti where she worked with children at orphanages.  Read about her experiences in Haiti – Reflections of a Volunteer Part I and Part II. […]

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