From John Weis
Well, it’s been approximately 2 months since my last blog about Haiti and the start of my assignment and I wanted to share with you some of the experiences and projects we’re working on. In summary, it’s been an emotional roller coaster ride with its share of rewarding experiences and frustrations in terms of helping as many people as you can but not helping enough.
Adam asked me to write this a couple of weeks ago but at the time I was in a very frustrated state of mind with projects that were not moving forward, communities not getting enough help and things grinding to a halt. If I wrote the blog then, it would have not been very positive, so I wanted to spare you the whining and write this when there was more progress going on down there.
In short, there is progress being made but at a very slow pace. The immediate relief in terms of medical, rescue and security was handled by a variety of international organizations including the US Military, Israeli Government, Red Cross and a host of other groups that are too numerous to count. There were also smaller organizations on the ground referred to as NGO’s (Non-Government Organization) that assisted in the relief effort and most of them are in it for the long haul.
At this point, a significant number of agencies that were there in the initial stages are leaving the country with their work completed and relative stability maintained at the moment. There is still a huge amount of work that needs to be done though, mainly in the area of housing and clean up. The tasks are monumental and if you think about it for too long, it’s discouraging. When you reach those points, you have to step back and realize you are doing everything you can and you’re making a difference for the people you’re in direct contact with — especially the kids.
Anyway, we have had a busy couple of months and the team at Royal Caribbean, Labadee, our ships and SOLANO has put forth a heroic effort in helping Haiti recover from this disaster. Here is a list of what has been accomplished to date:
1. Relief Supplies – This is where everyone at Royal Caribbean really came through working together to deliver desperately needed medical supplies, food, water and equipment of all kinds via the vessels that call on Labadee:
a. 2,425 pallets
b. Or 121 truckloads of relief supplies
There are many people involved in coordinating these deliveries and all of them play a critical role but I wanted to recognize some of the key individuals that are making this happen weekly: David Scott and David Southby (Site Managers at Labadee), Richard Pruitt and Lauren Ordway (Shoreside Royal Caribbean) Don Cope and Laura Pullins (Royal Caribbean Logistics) and all the shipboard crew making the space for an extra 5 truckloads of relief supplies each voyage that calls on Labadee.
2. We worked with Maryse Kedar, SOLANO President, to open and maintain over 15 temporary schools in the Port Au Prince area. Also constructed over 30 water tanks in the camp areas bringing fresh water to thousands of Haitian’s living in those camps.
3. Completed plans and raised enough money for the construction of two primary schools in the north.
4. Working on the construction of an orphanage in the Port Au Prince area in partnership with Partners in Health.
5. Coordination of over 10 barges of tents, equipment, vehicles and other supplies directly to the Port Au Prince area.
Also, in any single day there are numerous requests to coordinate special deliveries, make sure a hospital gets food or water or kids going to a temporary school have schools supplies for the children. If you know someone that can help, or can do it yourself, you usually get involved. It’s really hard to say no.
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.