Most of you are aware that Royal Caribbean has been providing relief supplies to the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake. What most people don’t know is what we have been doing to help our Haitian employees and their families. Steve Christian, of our Human Resources Department, recently traveled to Labadee to oversee the delivery of supplies to our Haitian employees and their families. Here is Steve’s account:
At the time of the earthquake, 158 Haitians were serving onboard Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity ships, another 200+ Haitian employees were working at our Labadee site, and we had 50 crew members who were on vacation, presumably at home in various cities throughout Haiti.
A few days after the earthquake, Royal Caribbean announced that we would be working closely with four different relief agencies in Haiti: Compassion Alliance, Food for the Poor, the Solano Foundation, and the Pan American Development Foundation. Each of those agencies was involved in off loading supplies from our ships and transporting them to distribution sites throughout Haiti. While we were pleased with the results our partnerships were producing, we were hearing from our employees and their families that relief supplies were not reaching them quickly enough.
We decided it was time to contact Compassion Alliance to see if they could set aside some supplies just for our families. Our contact at Compassion Alliance, Paul Romine, was more than willing to help. In fact, he and his team offered to assemble 250 special “care packages” just for our folks, and all we needed to do was give them a “wish list” of items to be put in the care packages.
I immediately solicited the help of Martine Pasquet, Director of Human Resources, to get her thoughts on the types of supplies that would bring the most relief to our Haitian employees and their families. (Martine was born in Haiti and still has very close ties there.) Her contacts in Haiti described the dire need for tents, tarps, medical supplies, and of course, food and water. We used that information as a starting point and then added approximately 25 more items to ensure the care packages truly provided the relief we intended. Compassion Alliance then assembled the care packages in their Ocala warehouse and used our ships to transport them to Labadee.
Once the supplies landed in Labadee, they were sent to the Compassion Alliance warehouse for distribution, but we still needed a way get the supplies to our people without endangering their lives. Anyone seen with such supplies would have attracted the attention of the many people desperately looking for food. I know because I was there. I had been asked to visit Cap Haitian to help work out a safe and fair distribution system.
David Scott, the Site Manager at Labadee, provided transportation for me and one of his managers to visit the Compassion Alliance site. We planned to quietly distribute the special care packages to our crew members’ families behind the guarded walls of the Compassion Alliance compound. The distribution went smoothly, with each family receiving tents, tarps, medical supplies, diapers, food, and drinks.
Later that day, once I was onboard Navigator of the Seas for my return trip to Miami, I had an opportunity to meet with all of the Haitian crew members onboard to discuss the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund the company put in place the day after the quake. The crew members were incredibly gracious and thankful for everything the company had done for them and their families. One young man spoke for the entire group when he said, “We believed Royal Caribbean would help us, but we never expected everyone to care so much about us, or do so much for us. We love Royal Caribbean.”
All things considered, it was an amazing trip. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to help bring relief to so many of our crew members and their families, and I hope that this accounting of my travels convinces others that the job of rebuilding Haiti is far from being done.
Interested in helping? Royal Caribbean International is working with Food For The Poor and the Pan American Development Foundation. We encourage guests to make monetary donations to either of these organizations which are currently engaged in the relief effort. For even more information on Royal Caribbean’s humanitarian relief to Haiti, click HERE.