Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Haitian-American Poet Lenelle Moise

Quaking Conversation

I want to talk about Haiti.
How the earth had to break
the island's spine to wake
the world up to her screaming.

How this post-earthquake crisis
is not natural
or supernatural.
I want to talk about disasters.

How men make them
with embargoes, exploitation,
stigma, sabotage, scalding
debt & cold shoulders.

Talk centuries
of political corruption
so commonplace
it's lukewarm, tap.

Talk January 1, 1804
& how it shed Life.
Talk 1937
& how it bled Death.

Talk 1964. 1986. 1991. 2004. 2008.
How history is the word
that makes today
uneven, possible.

Talk New Orleans,
Palestine, Sri Lanka, 
the Bronx & other points
of connection.

Talk resilience & miracles.
How Haitian elders sing in time
to their grumbling bellies
& stubborn hearts.

How after weeks under the rubble
a baby is pulled out
awake, dehydrated, adorable, telling
stories with old soul eyes.

How many more are still
buried, breathing, praying & waiting?
Intact despite the veil of fear & dust
coating their bruised faces?

I want to talk about our irreversible dead.
The artists, the activists, the spiritual leaders,
the family members, the friends, the merchants,
the outcasts, the cons.

All of them, my newest ancestors.
All of them, hovering now,
watching our collective response,
keeping score, making bets.

I want to talk about money.
How one man's recession might be
another man's unachievable reality.
How unfair that is.

How I see a Haitian woman's face
every time I look down at a hot meal,
slip into my bed, take a sip of water
& show mercy to a mirror.

How if my parents had made different
decisions three decades ago,
it could have been my arm
sticking out of a mass grave.

I want to talk about gratitude.
I want to talk about compassion.
I want to talk about respect.
How even the desperate deserve it.

How Haitians sometimes greet each other
with the two words, "Honor"
& "Respect."
How we all should follow suit.

Try every time you hear the word "Victim,"
you think "Honor."
Try every time you hear the tag "John Doe,"
you shout "Respect!"

Because my people have names.
Because my people have nerve.
Because my people are
your people in disguise.

I want to talk about Haiti.
I always talk about Haiti.
My mouth quaking with her love,
complexity, honor & respect.

Come sit, come stand, come
cry with me. Talk.
There's much to say.
Walk. Much more to do.

© 2010 by Lenelle Mo├»se 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Frontline Documentary: "The Quake" airing tomorrow night

We received an email from Reggie, a production Assistant for Rain Media, in response to Troy's post about President Clinton's plea to help Haiti toward self sufficiency rather than continuing the cycle of abuse and dependence.  Reggie wanted us to know that PBS will broadcast a Frontline documentary on the current situation (and some history) in Haiti tomorrow night at 9pm Eastern (check your local listings in other time zones).

Please check it out.  Set your DVR.  Tell your friends.  Post it on your blog.  You can watch a preview here and feel free to use the poster image above.

Here's most of Reggie's email, which includes a summary as well as some other links:

"I wanted to make sure you knew about the upcoming PBS FRONTLINE documentary about Haiti called “The Quake” airing Tuesday, March 30th at 9 pm Eastern.

"The Quake" is a thoughtful, exhaustive exploration of the unnaturally deadly disaster and spiraling humanitarian crisis that threatens to confound the largest global relief effort in modern memory. It features an exclusive interview with Clinton among others where he states:

"The Haitians have been abused by outsiders, neglected by outsiders, helped, but in a paternalistic, ineffective way by outsiders. They've engaged in self-abuse. They've had all kinds of problems. And they wanted finally to seize control of their own destiny."

Paul Farmer, the UN Dep. Special Envoy, "This is an opportunity to rethink how aid works and how we, the most powerful country in this part of the world, can work with our oldest neighbor. So I think all that possibility is built into this tragedy."

You can get a sneak preview of “The Quake” at www.pbs.org/frontline/haiti where you will find embeddable videos and more information. Follow the films producers at twitter.com/rainmedia. "

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Clinton: Make Haiti Self-Sufficient

Just off the AP newswire

NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton is urging the aid groups serving Haiti's devastated communities to help rebuild the country's government and ultimately put themselves out of business by fostering a self-sufficient nation.
Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, spoke to representatives of the aid groups Thursday, ahead of a critical U.N. donors conference next week at which Haitian officials are expected to ask for $11.5 billion to rebuild.
"Every time we spend a dollar in Haiti from now on we have to ask ourselves, 'Does this have a long-term return? Are we helping them become more self-sufficient? ... Are we serious about working ourselves out of a job?'" Clinton said.
Haitian leaders have expressed frustration that billions of dollars in aid have bypassed the government and gone to U.N. agencies and to foreign non-governmental organizations, which operate independently and don't always coordinate with local authorities.
Clinton asked the groups Thursday to allocate 10 percent of their spending in Haiti for government salaries and employee training, to help the nation's agencies rebuild their decimated staffs.
He urged the aid groups to hire local staffers, consult with local authorities and structure their efforts around the Haitian government's plan, which is currently being finalized. Groups should make sure that the money they spend builds communities and infrastructure and creates local jobs, he said.
Efforts most focus outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, Clinton said, adding that Haitian President Rene Preval and others were eager to decentralize the country.
"For too long, Haiti has revolved around its capital city rather than just being supported by it," Clinton said.
The former president also urged the groups to participate in an online registry and make their expenditures transparent. And he warned that unless they take action to move refugees to higher ground, as many as 40,000 people could be killed if there are heavy rains.
Liz Blake, a senior vice president for Habitat for Humanity International, said that Clinton's words were inspiring and aid groups were willing to work with him, but what he was asking is difficult.
"Working yourself out of a job — which is working to strengthen the government of Haiti so that the support and work of a nonprofit is no longer needed — isn't a standard practice," she said.
But, she added, "All of us want to do what we can to support the Haitian people and work with the Haitian government, and do so even if we have to suspend our disbelief."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Surgery Success!

Lorrette Pierre is a wonderful Haitian woman that suffered from a tumor on her lower jaw that would eventual block her breathing and ability to eat.  A surgeon from Tennessee made a valent attempt to remove the tumor in the days following the earthquake.  However, the facilities in Jimani did not have the equipment necessary to ensure she would make it through.  It was incredibly painful to see her wake up from the surgery and realize that she was no different than before.  She also was incredibly sick from the  medication used to put her under.

The surgeon returned to the states with a mission:  get Lorrette here for surgery as soon as possible.  His efforts paid off recently.  Read about the incredible actions of doctors in Florida to save this young ladies life:  http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/local/east-volusia/2010/03/22/haiti-woman-brought-to-us-for-medical-rescue.html


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We have an updated list of needs sent by this week's team at the clinic in Haiti. If you can help in any way, please communicate back with us so we will not duplicate efforts and take up needed space on the aircraft! 

Thank you!
Multivitamins with iron
Multivitamins adult
Multivitamins for kids chewable and liquid
Silver nitrate sticks.
Malarial meds (we only have doxycycline to use in the clinic now)
Benadryl cream
Ophthalmoscope/ otoscope
Head lights, pen lights, flashlights
Zyrtec or Claritin
Saline nose drops
Ophthanine eye drops (? spelling - any brand for topical numbing)
Magnifying glasses or loupes
Pregnancy tests
Vagisil (or similar) cream

Also a microscope is still needed.

Drop off your FOOD donation to HudsonAlpha
6900 Moquin Drive, Huntsville, AL, 35806
Make CHECKS PAYABLE TO TRINITY United Methodist Church
Times: 10am - 4pm Daily
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Haiti says it needs $11.5 billion to rebuild after earthquake / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com

Haiti says it needs $11.5 billion to rebuild after earthquake / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com

Good article from the CSM.
Drop off your FOOD donation to HudsonAlpha
6900 Moquin Drive, Huntsville, AL, 35806
Make CHECKS PAYABLE TO TRINITY United Methodist Church
Times: 10am - 4pm Daily
Questions? Email haitifooddrive@gmail.com

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ministry of Touch — Reflections on Disaster Work after the Haitian Earthquake

Dr. Annekathryn Goodman has written a great personal account of what she calls "touch rounds":  Even without an interpreter, I can visit each cot and touch a face, an arm, or a hand and receive a touch in return. The patients and I develop our own handshake: a finger catch, thumb grip, fist pound, and finally the hand to the heart. This hand gesture causes general hilarity, and everyone wants to participate.

Read her touching story here:


New England Journal of Medicine
Volume 362:337 March 18, 2010 Number 11

Friday, March 19, 2010

Update on our container shipment

We last posted on March 1st that our container containing food, medicines and medical supplies had made it to the port in the Dominican Republic.  We thought we'd wait until we had news of it clearing customs and being loaded onto a truck for delivery into Jimani before posting again.  Well....you've just gotten a sense of how time often works in Haiti!

Here is where we are (greatly condensed to save you from having to read about the endless hours of discussion, walking from office-to-office and paperwork that's taken place over the weeks):

  1. We were cleared for duty free import into the Dominican Republic!
  2. Harvest Field procured a warehouse in Port au Prince, so we requested that the trucking company  change the destination.  It cost a bit but makes unloading and distribution soooo much easier.
  3. Our truck was released and headed to the border earlier this week.  Once there we learned that the border has really tightened up and any containers carrying medicines (ours does) are being strictly regulated.  After many, many, many hours of discussion and paper shuffling the truck was headed to Haitian customs in Port au Prince.
  4. Our bright yellow truck with Antillean down the side stood out at the border.  You could see it from miles away.  Once it was in the Port au Prince customs center it was one of thousands of containers, hard to pick it out in the crowd.  We learned that the trucking company put the wrong name down for the receiver.  This makes it really hard to pick up your trailer when the documents say it belong to someone else!  We got them to change this once we figured out what had happened.
  5. We start to work again on Monday trying to get the container cleared from customs.  We've got plenty of time to figure out how to make this go smoother next time!
More as we have it....

Toward a Second Haitian Revolution

Steven Stoll, associate proefssor of history at Fordham University, has an editorial in the April issue of Harper's Magazine:  http://harpers.org/archive/2010/04/0082881

Summary:  Haiti was the most productive plantation colony in the hemisphere.  Neoliberal reforms set into motion the collapse of the agrarian system that provided little economic growth but previously supported most people's immediate needs.  "Rethinking our assumptions about development, and allowing subsistence cultures to produce for exchange on their own terms, would give Haiti a chance to recover the best part of its history and to stun the world again with the genius of its freedom."

Read it.  It's good food for thought.

Monday, March 1, 2010


The container is now on the ground in the Dominican Republic and in the queue for customs inspection.  Our friends on the ground there are now working diligently to assure that there are no hang-ups at this critical step, while we here in the States try to work on other things while also staring at the phone, waiting to hear that we've cleared.

Drop off your FOOD donation to HudsonAlpha
6900 Moquin Drive, Huntsville, AL, 35806
Make CHECKS PAYABLE TO TRINITY United Methodist Church
Times: 10am - 4pm Daily
Questions? Email haitifooddrive@gmail.com