I just bought tickets to go to the Dominican Republic on Friday the 29th. On Saturday, we intend to go overland via hired vehicle to the border crossing with Haiti. Hopefully, the Family Health Ministries van will meet us there and take us to the clinic where we’ve worked before, in the Blanchard neighborhood of Port Au Prince. It’s about two miles from Cite-Soleil, and I’ve seen pictures that show it still standing after the most recent aftershocks.
From Sunday through Friday we’ll be running a medical clinic, focusing on trauma, wound care, setting bones, and so on. Our supply list includes local and general anesthetics, bandages, basic splints and so on, gloves, suture, and the other extreme basics. If things go well, we’ll be able to triage the worst off people over to the hospitals (fine, the hospital parking lots. We’ll take what we can get).
We’ll be going with a group: family health ministries, http://familyhm.org (FHM) with whom we’ve traveled before. Jen and I have been down there with them three times over the past few years, working with small medical clinics, smuggling in supplies, and generally trying to directly help people in whatever small ways we can.
It’s worth noting that we’re not the big boys. Partners in Health (PIH) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) are the ones with the real facilities and the real funding. Ours has historically been a much smaller effort to catch people who fall through the cracks – and so it remains. If you have a few bucks to donate, I highly recommend PIH and MSF. Of course, we’ll take what we can get.
FHM has built four clinics and two schools over the years – and we had just broken ground on a new hospital in Leogane – which was approximately the epicenter of the earthquakes. Two of the clinics (in Cite Soleil and in the rural village of Fondwa) are described as a total loss. The other two (Leogane and Blanchard) are apparently usable – though damaged. Our oldest school (500+ students) is rubble, as is every guest house and hotel that I ever stayed in while I was down there.
Fortunately, the only deaths of people I know (so far) were a nun who was full time at one of the clinics, and one of the translators with whom I worked the last time I was down there.
In addition, the CDC and WHO are organizing public health efforts for the rest of the country – and basing those efforts near the facility in Leogane. The director of FHM will be on a CDC plane on Thursday, landing on the highway outside of Leogane. We may try to sneak into that effort – since I think that we might be more useful there.
We’ve got as safe a place to sleep down there as anyone (the clinic floors). Word is that there is gasoline to power the generators, that the well is working, and that there is sufficient food for that part of the city. Honestly, getting there will be the biggest challenge.
That’s a long way of saying that I don’t really know many details.
Those of you who have known me long enough have heard me refer to situations like this as “naked skydiving.” Here’s what I mean by that – sometimes you just gotta jump.
Or, as it was once put by the indomitable _earthshine_: “You gotta commit.”