The Cruel Realities IDA Faces in Haiti
To understand the conditions the dedicated ARCH team in Haiti is working and living in, IDA’S Connie Durkee has sent us updates from the fields:
As we sit and wait for our campsite to be secured, we watch the UN troops let in groups of Haitians through the gate in front of us to receive food. There is a lot of pushing and shoving going on so they have to keep the groups to 30-40 people at a time. They line people up in the street and try to keep things as calm as possible. There are many UN soldiers around with guns trying to keep things sane. Outside the gate, hundreds more Haitians wait for their turn. We watch them from our secured area. It is a very intense scene to watch!
Once we are allowed into our space, we pitch our tents and setup camp. We are camped on a paved, dead-end road. There is an outhouse down the street with more UN soldiers standing guard close by. There is a lot of activity around. The sky is very busy, full of helicopters. The Dominicans have 15 or more mobile food units parked near us and they appear to be feeding thousands of people. They load the truck up with meals and head out hourly. We ended up having many meals with them over the course of our stay.
Since I’m traveling with 9 Dominicans the Spanish is flying so I don’t always get all that’s being said but we find our way to communicate and understand each other. I’m sure my Spanish will be much better by the end of this trip. After dinner we all went to bed wondering what our next day on the streets in Port-au-Prince will bring.
Our first morning there we wake up early at 6:00 am. The sky is already full of activity. A venture like this takes a lot of organizing, planning and good timing. I worked to stock the medical supply box. We have injectable antibiotics, Vitamin B injectable and a gel for Sarna (mange). We also have bandage materials, Betadine, suture material and fluids.
When we met up with the ARCH teem, Dr. Thomas, the local Haitian Veterinarian, was with them. He is a wonderful man and is going to be a wonderful asset. He knows where to take us and knows where it is safe. He can go with us to the tent cities and talk to the people and make sure that they welcome us into their place to treat the animals.
Our plan is to go into the tent cities and get permission to come in that day or the next day to treat the animals. We tell them that helping the animals helps the people too and helps prevent the spread of disease. As we drive around looking for the tent cities, we see so much destruction and the streets are FILLED with people. People everywhere! They have nowhere to go. The buildings are flattened and many are frightened to go into them.
But we are here for the animals and to make a difference for those who are often forgotten in natural disasters.