Friday, January 15, 2010

What we're hearing on the ground

Dear Friends,

The tragedy in Haiti is more dire than we could have ever expected it would be in the hours following the earthquake. But thanks to your support, we're already making a difference.

We received a report from Cate Oswald, one of our staff in Haiti, who traveled through the Central Plateau to Port-au-Prince yesterday with two truckloads of meds and supplies. She described the scene:

"We started seeing destruction from Mt. Cabrit (where big rocks lie in the middle of the road) through Croix de Bouquets where it doesn't seem as bad but lots of walls down. Then the scene gets much, much worse. Tonight, everywhere throughout the city, as we drove by the national plaza, there are thousands of people sleeping outside. While I was in Port-au-Prince, there were still aftershocks being felt. I didn't venture into other parts of the city, but as you all know, koze sa pa jwet menm [Haitian saying literally translated as "this is not a game"]."

The trucks met up with PIH staff, including Dr. Louise Ivers, at the UN's logistics base in Port-au-Prince. Louise was one of two doctors attending at the time, and they had nothing but aspirin until our trucks showed up.

Our leadership is in Port-au-Prince now determining the best location to establish a base of operations. Their assessment includes laying out all the next steps for getting supplies, equipment, and additional staff to the people most in need.

Your donation is already providing critical relief to the people of Haiti - but we have a long way to go. Please tell your friends about the critical work Partners In Health has done in Haiti for more than 20 years, and the urgent support we need right now:

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Another of our Haitian colleagues, Patrick Almazor, reported today that he and several other doctors have set up mobile clinics in the Delmas section of Port-au-Prince.

"We have a lot of fractures," he wrote in an email. "We are running out of meds, I'm on my way to St. Marc [a PIH facility] for supplies."

Importantly, given the patients already flowing out of Port-au-Prince to St. Marc and our other facilities outside the city, we cannot leave our hospitals understaffed.

So we are recruiting surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, and other medical professionals to travel to Haiti in the next couple of days to help with staffing, particularly as many of our staff have lost family members and friends.

There's still so much that needs to be done for the people of Haiti. Your help in spreading the word can make a tremendous impact:

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A handful of our colleagues remain unaccounted for - we continue to have every hope that it is due to lack of ability to communicate via telephone and the lack of electricity for computers, but we do not know.

Our staff has more or less been working around the clock in Boston and Haiti. I am incredibly lucky to work with such a passionate and committed group of individuals who will not stop unless their job /task /mission is done.

Thank you for your solidarity during this crisis,

Ophelia Dahl
Executive Director

PS: This is a critical time for the people of Haiti. If you can, please consider making another donation to Partners In Health's work on the ground.

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