by Jordan Barnes
I could not have anticipated what I was to see, or the affect that our experience in Haiti would have on me.
My fiance Christene and I left from Ocean Beach to join ten others and 1,200 lbs of medicine and supplies that had been donated. This is only a fraction of the donations that “Children’s Hope” has received since the catastrophic quake, but such was our weight allotment, the rest will go down in subsequent trips.
My mother Leisa Faulkner began Children’s Hope, a non-profit/non-religious organization, in 2004 to help the desperate situation of the children of the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Along with humanitarian aid, my mother has become very involved in the political situation there.
Our last trip down there was her 12th. We spent most all our time in Port au Prince, where through her previous trips, my mother had established ties with community leaders.
Governing now only exists at the local level, “mayors” of what are now tent cities have the best idea of what the people in their area need most.
We worked to distribute the huge quantities of medicine, stocking “pharmacies” (usually located in one of the few buildings still sound in the area) with what they needed, and then off through the debris filled streets. When we felt as if we most usefully proportioned out the medicines, we took to helping in the hospitals.
Now in what used to be orphanages, schools, and soccer fields, under tarpaulin roofs, the battle is on against the second wave of this disaster. Malaria, typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis A are breaking out as sanitation is almost impossible and the density of people guarantees quick transmition. We gave vaccinations, changed bandages of amputees and helped teach them to use crutches or wheelchairs, and helped the sick in outlaying regions get the treatment they needed.
The dozen or so soccer balls we brought were worth their weight in gold, or rather smiles. Watching the children play soccer together; smiling, hugging, and laughing they seemed to forget if only for a moment the pain and just be kids.
Now what little infrastructure and “stability” the people of Haiti had is all but gone. The devastation is total; government buildings, schools, hospitals, and homes flattened. They press on through resiliency of spirit and unity. A unity and oneness that Fox news and CNN would not have you believe, and the mounted 50 caliber weapons on UN tanks do not promote.
We never saw rioting or looting, but only people pulling together, sharing, lifting each other up. Because they have to, because it is what they have always done. As a man sitting atop a pile of rubble that used to be his neighborhood his, his family still buried somewhere below his feet proclaimed, “I realize that I am here to help those less fortunate than myself.” The only people that I can think of that are less fortunate than that man are those in that country that have lost not only family and friends, but arms and legs.
It is a horrible thing to say, but we met countless Haitians, mostly very young, who fell to such a fate. A people that have endured disaster after disaster, oppression, slavery, coup upon coup are now faced with surviving the worst natural disaster on record.
The people of Haiti are the most beautiful I have ever met, their smiles beaming from under the rubble, and hand in hand they stand up and dance. I will most likely be returning to Haiti soon, accompanied once again by my loving mother, to sit on an enormous donation (from a resident of Ocean Beach-THANK YOU!) of 15,000 bottles of antimicrobial cleanser/sanitizer and ensure its passage and proper distribution.
Please continue to support, you cannot give enough. The need is truly great, and the people could not be more thankful.
If you would like to donate through Children’s Hope:
3025 Cambridge Road #A
Cameron Park, CA 95682 USA