From the safety of Miami I am sending you a message of appreciation to you who have shown such an outpouring of love and concern for my well being in Haiti.
I hasten to tell you that I am well and have recovered, at least outwardly, from the anguish of leaving Haiti. I thought that, all things considered, it was prudent to grasp the offer to be evacuated quickly when I had the chance.
I am glad to be back in the USA where we are privileged beyond measure. However, it is a powerful culture shock filled with sadness.
We left Fond des Blancs early Monday morning driving very fast. I saw the sights of terrible devastation along the road and especially while entering Port au Prince. There were flattened buildings on every side and people huddled in tents. We went past the airport with no incident and turned into the UN headquarters complex where we saw the first of the huge medical tents set up. There must have been at last 200 people laying on cots, many with IVs running. Exhausted doctors and nurses walked among the cots tending to the sick and wounded. It reminded one of Civil War pictures of the acres of wounded lying on the ground suffering with no painkillers.
In an adjacent tent exhausted surgeons were operating- mostly amputations of crushed limbs. We were told that the morphine had just arrived.
It was there across from these UN operations that we spent a total of 13 hours under some trees by the side of the road while Conor Shapiro, the new head of St Boniface Hospital, was trying to arrange transport. It was the site of plenty of action; search and rescue teams from all around the world were arriving, trucks from the World Food Program, from the FAO, CRS, Children First and many others passed continuously, hundreds of them. We saw back hoes and earth movers leaving the compound in the daylight to search the rubble. I was waiting for this guy Hank whom I somehow believed when he said to me “I have a plane and it is returning from Miami with supplies about 8pm and you will be my first passenger on the return trip – about 10 o’clock.” Some were skeptical but somehow I believed him. After Hank collected three critical children headed for Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami there were a few seats left on his corporate jet. We were driven to the airport which is usually so deserted with only an occasional AA plane on the tarmac. Here we saw several thousand people gathered by the gates all looking for a way out of Port au Prince. We saw huge transport planes bringing supplies and personnel from all over the world. We ran to the small jet, were greeted in elegant fashion, the patients were made comfortable by their attendant doctors. I was offered a double scotch.
On arrival in Miami we went by bus to the hospital where I served as interpreter for the hospital doctors receiving our children. When all was under control I thanked Hank for his kindness, took a taxi to a luxurious hotel in Key Biscayne, an offering from Conor’s uncle. I had come from the misery and suffering of Haiti with the clothes on my back and my computer in my shoulder bag to the most luxurious hotel in the US . It was 2:30 in the morning Tuesday when I called my family to say I was safe.
I still struggle with this contrast as I write you. I am infinitely sad to have had to leave my work in the middle of things but at the same time I feel very grateful for the many blessings poured on me.
With many thanks and kind regards to you all,
To learn more about Haiti Projects go to haitiprojects.org