Wednesday, March 17, 2010

grant's haiti journal: arriving in haiti

The remaining two hours from the border to Port-au-Prince were remarkable. Traveling the desolate roads in the dead of night only made the feeling of "I swear I've seen this in a movie" even more real. "Dodge the pothole" became less and less of a game and more of a survival technique. Pulling into Port-au-Prince we were in awe, and upon discussing it, Britt and I decided that "war zone" best described the scene. The streets were so dark and desolated. Fitting of the "war zone" atmosphere, the only other vehicle on the street was a U.N. Jeep with a .50 cal mounted machine gun on the back. They stopped us and we explained that we were lost, they pointed us in the right direction. With divine inspiration we finally spotted "The Palm Inn" deep into Delmas 31. Delmas Avenue is a main thoroughfare through the capital city and the streets off of Delmas Ave are named "Delmas" followed by a number. The issue is that's about all the info you get, "it's on Delmas 31". Finding something on a given street without someone who knows which street alley or sometimes trail to take... is a miracle in and of itself. The hotel where my mom usually stays was destroyed in the quake, so we were going to stay at a place she had never been before. Phone service in Haiti is not always reliable and we couldn't get through to the owner for directions. He had graciously volunteered to rent us his home- a gesture embracing the warmth and kindness of the Haitian people. The accommodations were far better than any of us had hoped for. We would have been happy in tents. The hotel owner had pulled enough mattresses for all of us into his home. We arrived around one or two a.m. and hauled all the bags inside. We thought it would be safer to bring the supplies inside even though the house had a 7-8 ft. gate around it. The sight of our combined efforts was truly amazing. We brought down over 1200 pounds of antibiotics, medical supplies, vitamins, baby formula and a variety of other meds.

day two.
We woke early and began sorting and taking inventory of our now combined meds. We had scheduled for a doctor from a nearby clinic to come by and have first pick at what supplies he could use. Plans have a way of changing in Haiti. A number of times on the trip we had to hurry up and wait. This was largely because of the nature of our relief. Some of us have medical experience/training, but our main help to the people was bringing them these life saving supplies. The only way for this to be done effectively is working directly with community leaders, doctors or heads of clinics. Because of the state of the nation and gravity of daily decisions for the survival of so many, time tables often get altered. After frantically working to catalogue and organize the meds, we waited for the doctor while formulating plans B, C and D for the day. This lull afforded us our first chance to interact with the people. Opening the gate revealed a man working to rebuild/salvage fallen structures, women transporting water in buckets on their heads and dogs, cats, goats, chickens, pigs and wandering children.

We played with a group of kids that lived near by and couldn't have been more grateful that Chris spoke Creole. A reoccurring frustration throughout our trip was the inability to communicate with many of these dear people. Some of the children knew only a phrase or two in english and it was usually "gimme one dolla". We gave them one of the balls we brought and they absolutely loved it. Soon one child came back asking for milk for his younger sister. They must have seen the formula as we were cleaning out one of the bags. It was very humbling and it brought my mom to tears. It took us a few minutes to put together that he/they were more concerned about feeding their families than playing with a ball. I was happy we had gathered so much formula. They ran back home delivering the treasure.

Just down the street from our house was a tent city. These makeshift communities are all over the place and are so sad. Very few have actual tents donated by some global aide organization. But most are tents made using sticks stuck into the ground with bed sheets tied between them. The doctor was a no show for the morning so we headed to the Matthew 25 house.

8 sweet thoughts:

trudy...{and jamo} said...

okay. my favorite part was the little boy who came back to get 'milk' for his sister. i bet it was the best feeling in the world giving him that treasure! wow.
i LOVE the pictures.
i love how grant writes!
i love that you brought over 1200 lbs of supplies.
crazy about the street addresses. how sweet you stayed at the hotel owners home.

ChloƩ said...

i can't tell you how much i love reading these.. and seeing all the pictures. i feel like i am there, even though i am not. grant, you are very good with words!

p.s. sean says we need to hang out this weekend. i agree.. :)

David and Shalynna said...

Loved it again. Grant has a way with words. I wish I did too. I can never get my thoughts organized into words and if I do I never sound like a grown up. I fear that I'll sound like a teenager my entire life.

Niki {A*Lovely*Lifestyle} said...

this is incredible.

i love being able to hear this experience first hand, and with so much detail.

grant, you are an amazing writer.

The Browns said...

i love that you guys kept a journal. and i especially love that you are sharing it with us. what an incredible experience, and act of service. you guys are so great!

Carolyne said...

I just found your blog, and I thought you both looked familiar...and I remember. We were in the same married ward in Orem. We moved to California a little after you guys moved in. I've been reading a little of your blog, and you guys seem like such fun! I wish we would have been in the ward a little would have been fun to get to know you.

Jaeme + Randy said...

Its so great that you guys took the time to write down your experiences. And thank you for sharing them!

whimsy said...

this is so amazing! wish i couldve gone too!