An earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale rocked Haiti to its knees on Jan 12, 2010, destroying many government and residential buildings, infrastructure, and leaving misery its wake. The epicenter was 25km west of Port-au-Prince, causing 300,000 deaths, and leaving 1.5M people homeless.
I have now been back to Haiti six times, primarily leading medical, mental health, and construction teams, and have had the pleasure of working with over 100 superlative individuals, who have helped to make a difference in Haiti. Collectively, we have accomplished a lot, and continue to work with organizations on the ground, which truly are committed to the impoverished people of Haiti.
The most recent mission to Haiti on January 24, 2014 supported two US based organizations – Haiti Outreach Ministries (www.haitioutreachministries.com) and Team Tassy (www.teamtassy.org). The team of 17 individuals came from – Kelowna, BC; Calgary, AB; Canmore, AB; London, Ont; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, Maine; Washington, DC; and Los Angeles, CA. The objectives of the mission was to run a medical clinic, work on an electrical project, set up a computer lab of 50 laptops, and complete a tricycle path for a Long View funded playground. Of the 17 people, 13 had been to Haiti before, and included 6 Long View members (Johan Andie, Matthew Rix, Geoff Hutchinson, Christopher Lepa, Heike Cantrup, and Kenneth Davidson).
Haiti Outreach Ministries is a well-established charity serving in five communities in the Port-au-Prince area for 27 years. They also help people find employment, and have a micro loan program. We were asked to set up a computer lab for them, with the purpose to run classes in MS Office, so that people can learn skills to help them find employment. Thanks to Geoff Hutchinson and Christopher Lepa, who set up 50 laptops, configured wireless at 2 locations, and trained Haitian support personnel on how to maintain/troubleshoot going forward. The computer classes started on Feb 3rd, and over 200 people have enrolled in the training.
The electrical team led by Lou and Aaron Greco from a Calgary based company (ADL Electric) have been instrumental in the past 2 years in getting a lot of electrical work done at two HOM compounds, as well as training Haitian electrical apprentices. This year, they managed to get five rooms wired, including a dental office, and were assisted by Heike Cantrup and Kenneth Davidson. HOM is truly appreciative of the efforts, as these rooms now become usable.
The construction team (Matthew Rix, Johan Andie, myself), and Michelle Philips (Calgary Police) spent our time mostly working on a tricycle path at a playground site. We also helped with the building of a new high school, which is expected to be completed in June 2014.
The Long View team also worked with medical practitioners that saw over 250 patients. One aspect that we felt was the most difficult to deal with was chronic malnutrition. As such, every patient coming through the clinic was given one month of multivitamins for themselves and their family.
As I reflect back on the past mission, I am thankful for all of the great people and organizations I have met and worked with along the way. I am grateful towards Don Bialik, Don McLean and Long View for all of the support; it has gone a long way in helping the people of Haiti.
In closing, we cannot change the world, but we can change some people’s worlds. Thank you very much for your support.