As we celebrate Global Volunteer Month this October, we’re following up on a story from earlier this year. UPS Business Development Director Craig Arnold went to Haiti In January to volunteer with the Salvation Army in earthquake relief. With the help of The UPS Foundation, Craig has returned to Haiti this week. Daily, I receive updates and photos from his trip. Below he recounts his first three days…
I landed in Port Au Prince today. Spent a few hours organizing the rental car. They had the reservation but no cars. It all worked out in the end. That is something you get used to in Haiti. It was OK because I needed to wait at the airport for other members of the team anyway.
Five from the team are here, all guys who were here right after the earthquake. Three speak French or Creole, or both, and everyone speaks English so that is very helpful. There is a UPS photographer coming on Monday.
We met with the Salvation Army’s Director for the long-term rebuilding project. We talked about plans for the next 8 days. I knew they were having problems getting some ocean containers from the Port, but today I found out the extent of things. There are 8 delivered containers sitting for 5 months. At least now I have vision for what I’m going to be doing. We have to get items cleared and distributed. Food, tents, solar powered lights, and wheel chairs sitting in the port. Not all that surprising but none the less a travesty.
We will get things sorted.
Got to go. Calls to make.
Today we distributed 1,656 jars of baby food and 2,016 servings of rice and beans. This was existing product that was in the Salvation Army warehouse. We provided the material to an orphanage in the city (pictures attached).
The overwhelming sense after being here 24 hours is this:people are getting back to their normal routine. This is very different than what most of us would call normal but “normal” was very different before the earthquake, too. People live in conditions that most of us would call appalling and they do their best to make a little money so everyone gets to eat. That was the reality before and it is again.
In my opinion the hope that Haiti would emerge from the earthquake better than before was not realistic from the beginning.
There is very little building but every few blocks you do see a new structure. Let’s pray they used high standards in the design and materials. The camps are still in place and in fact, there are more camps on pieces of land that had nothing back in February. The dwellings are wood and tarps and even some iron sheeting instead of sheets tied to sticks. I will send some pictures in the next 24 hours.
We had some good progress on getting the containers released. We have a high-level contact in the port now and have spoken to him. We will know more in the a.m.
Spent first-half of the day loading a truck with food and medical supplies for a town a few hours away. The local team drove the truck down and distributed the items.
The rest of the day was spent chasing the 8 containers that have been stuck since April. We made good progress on 3 of the 8 and expect to have those delivered by Wednesday. We saw 3 more containers and the seals are not broken, which is good. We have a meeting with Customs to resolve issues tomorrow.
The local logistics officer has secured UN security for a large-scale distribution of tarps on Thursday. We will give every household in the internally displaced camp a tarp (4,000 give or take). This is necessary for the rainy season.
Air conditioner is working tonight. First time so far, so I expect a great night’s sleep.
|Category:||Caring for Communities, Global Impact|
|Tags:||earthquake, global volunteer month, Haiti, UPS Foundation, volunteer|