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Reflections on Helping Haiti

UPSers John Vera and Bill Torres spent six weeks in the Dominican Republic supporting the World Food Programme’s disaster relief efforts following the January 12th earthquake in Haiti. Here’s a look back from John:

After six extremely grueling weeks, both mentally and physically, Bill Torres and I have come to the conclusion of our Haiti humanitarian mission.  Although we were stationed out of the Dominican Republic, it did not make the work load any less difficult or less stressful. On the contrary, the distance often hampered our goal of getting the goods into an impoverished Haiti quickly and efficiently. Since we orchestrated the logistical moves out of the Santo Domingo airport it was often evident that the need and urgency we felt to deliver the goods was not reciprocated by the locals, especially the owners of the bonded warehouses where the goods were stored.

Just trying to release the goods from the warehouse was probably the most frustrating and time-consuming of the tasks we faced while there. Factor in the political red tape, the enormity of aid to distribute and the initial lack of organization and direction made this assignment an especially challenging one. Yet through all the obstacles we faced daily, Bill and I assisted the World Food Programme (WFP) in the dispatching of 607 truckloads from Santo Domingo to various destinations in Haiti, transporting 1,835 metric tons of food and 14,328m³ of non-food items for 52 different organizations.

I think back at my time here and feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride at what the LET Team has done. The processes we have created, implemented and streamlined will be used by other team members after us and will benefit so many needy people not only for Haiti but also for future LETs volunteers.

Albeit a difficult one, this has been a truly rewarding experience and I am grateful for the opportunity that The UPS Foundation and my family have afforded me in making this possible.  It is gratifying to know that my commitment and sacrifices are acknowledged and appreciated by not only my friends and family, but also by the Directors of the WFP, Unicef, TNT and UPSers alike – this is evident in their praise and commendations. I am so fortunate to be a UPS employee and to have served on not one but two humanitarian missions during my tenure on the LET Team.

I extend my thanks and appreciation to all the WFP staff for their commitment and hard work to make this a successful humanitarian mission. I know they have a long road ahead, but we have, as a team, paved the way in helping rebuild and to render aid to the Haitian people.

Finally, thank you UPS for providing this opportunity in making me a better person and allowing me to make a difference in the world I live in. 

Stay tuned for more updates from Haiti: When John and Bill went home, UPSers Ivo Martinez and Francisco Martinez, stepped into their role helping get aid to Haiti with the WFP. We will share their story here on the upside blog as well.

Category: Caring for Communities, Global Impact
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