1/13/2010

I want the US Navy to collaborate with the Cuban medical profession, now

Is it too much to ask that Obama immediately give orders to get a 5,000 bed nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Haiti and have it fully staffed with medical professionals and standing by offshore within a two-minute helicopter flight from downtown Port au Prince?

I don't have the heart to post more of the devastating photographs that are coming out of Haiti. Daniel Morel, who I met in Port au Prince during the politically dark fall of 1993, is the professional photographer I know who has the longest and most intense commitment to the country. He has lived there for most of the last twenty years. Apparently he was on the Grand Rue when the earthquake hit and emails that André Eugene of the Grand Rue artists is alive and okay.

His photos from yesterday are here. But there have been no new ones for the last eleven hours, and aftershocks continue this morning, despite fifteen powerful ones last night. This is likely due to worsening communications infrastructure.

Richard Morse, the proprietor of the beloved Oloffsson Hotel in Port au Prince, and the leader of the band RAM, has a twitterstream here. Much news amidst much repetition can also be sifted from the twitter hashtag #haitiquake. Apparently the Oloffsson Hotel is intact, presumably because it is a rickety old building made of wood, rather than a brittle building made of concrete and block.

From the Jacmel Film School, the Sine Lekol, where I taught sound recording this last September and the year before, reports are that students and staff are safe, but all facilities are destroyed and that the beautiful and historic town has suffered major and widespread damage.

I'm feeling totally impotent at the moment, and wondering what I can constructively do to help. Reading tweets and posting updates is an interesting experiment in comprehending the power and limitations of new instant crowd-sourced media like twitter, but at the moment my attempts to find out what is going on, and even to spread the word, feel onanistic.

What I would say is that this is clearly a massive humanitarian disaster. The non-existent public health infrastructure in Haiti means that yesterday's death and horror will be compounded in the days and weeks to come by outbreaks of cholera and typhoid as ruined buildings and whole neighborhoods remain unexcavated and even unsearched. Within days, and possibly within hours, depending on the "competition" from other news stories, the major media will move on from its coverage of these multiple earthquakes and it is then that we need to maintain our own compassion and sustain our own efforts to assist, whatever they may be.

The following charities have been suggested:

The Lambi Fund of Haiti is helping in rural areas and as a long-term goal addresses the environmental degradation that radically intensifies the destruction caused by natural catastrophes like these earthquakes and hurricane flooding.

Oxfam America.

As the comments point out I neglected to link to Paul Farmer's excellent Partners in Health I have been to his operation in Haiti's Plateau Central and can wholeheartedly endorse, and just gave to them myself.

My father suggests
Episcopal Relief and Development.

UPDATE:
Also, although collaboration with Cuban doctors may be too much to ask, the USS Vinson aircraft carrier is en route to Haitian waters, and two Canadian naval vessels are departing, or have departed Halifax, Nova Scotia, to aid in relief efforts.


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5 comments:

PROSAIC MOSAIC said...

I too share your grief Richard. Haunted as I am of memories past, today these are surpassed by the misery of the Haitians. All day I have been bound to my computer streamimg BBC feeds, checking Miami Herald updates, yet the city seems so distant in my mind's eye. Things seem familiar yet removed, unreal. I want so badly to also return but to what end? What can I do having left all those years ago PNG. Today we are all Carib.

olafson dancing queen said...

Let's not forget our friend Paul Farmer's site Partners in Health: pih.org

The advantage to PIH is they are already on the ground, partly equiped and also seeking donations as they move staff and supplies to PaP.

anthony chase said...

thanks for the sites to donate to

wet wipes said...

This is really a well laid out website. I like how you have presented the information in full detail. Keep up the great work and please stop by at my site sometime. Keep it up..

Gladly Lerne, Gladly Teche said...

Rich: please include Episcopal Relief and Development (www.er-d.org) on your list. Excellent long established connections in Haiti and nearly a hundred percent bang for the buck, much higher than many of the secular organizations.