Sunday, February 14, 2010

Haiti: The Disaster and the People.

I am going to write a series of essays on the state of things in Haiti from my observations and my opinion. Do not take these as authoritative, they are the observations after six days on the ground and my analysis. I welcome any comments and corrections. All of my photos are posted on my facebook page: and the videos are posted on my YouTube page: .

Despite having the worst Urban disaster in the history of the world:
  • 230,000 bodies as of 2/12/10 recovered
  • 125-150,000 bodies still expected to be recovered still buried
  • 300-400,000 amputations performed already
  • 200-300,000 patients still at risk of amputation secondary to infection of open fractures
  • 400-600,000 new orphans
  • 800,000-1,000,000 homeless
  • before earthquake 70% of population earned less then $3.00/day
  • One of thirty poorest country in the world
  • one of the highest per capital debts in the world.
This disaster happened in 30 seconds but will worsen critically with coming rainy season.

The Haitian people are among the proudest and dignified people I have ever encounted. They, despite being one of the most sh-t upon people in the history of the world (first by the French, then by the world economic system, by their own government and now by mother nature), have a dignity that is hard to express in words.I have been in several very poor slums (Brazil, Mexico, Middle East, El Salvador) and have been panhandled by many, yet I rarely felt panhandled the entire time in Haiti. Actually while walking by myself through a tent village only one person approached me and it was not for a hand-out but for a translation job at the Hospital. I almost got the feeling that despite they deserve handouts they are too proud to beg. They want to do something for you to earn what you give them. I was blown away by this.

I will be talking more about the makeshift economy and the tents cities that sprung up, but it was amazing how organized despite no-one organizing them they have become. The people want a normal life. The economy and their political system before the quake has conspired against that happening..

These are a people who expect to be sh-t upon yet show a grace that is one of the most noble things I have ever seen. how can you see this grace and nobility and not be moved to help them.

The Haitians are very stoic. I did dressing changes on patients that would not be tolerated by the typical American patient. I did major operations with local anesthesia and the patient awake and watching the operation and sometimes singing or praying.

I was impressed with the professionals I met. They would be impressive people here in the USA. I feel there is hope for Haiti with people of the caliber that I met. Not only are they intelligent they demonstrated a creativity that they do not allow their situation to bridle.

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