Update from Haiti: Meds & Food for Kids Reaches Port-au-Prince Depot (1/28/10)

Dr. Pat Wolff and others from the Meds & Food for Kids team are on the ground in Cap-Haitien, approximately 150 miles north of Port-au-Prince. They’ve been providing regular updates via email on their efforts to get Medika Mamba into the hands of those who need it most. On Thursday, Steve Taviner, MFK’s Operations Officer, shared news of their first trip to the quake-ravaged capital city. 

“We managed to make our first trip to Port-au-Prince since the disaster. I hitched a ride in an ambulance from the Haiti Hospital Appeal along with Carwyn Hill from the Baptist Convention of Quartier Morin and two other volunteers. Almost every day, this group has been making the 20-hour roundtrip from Cap-Haitien to take food and medical supplies to orphanages outside of the main aid efforts. We set out at 4 a.m., reaching the Meds & Food for Kids (MFK) depot in central Port-au-Prince by 11:30 a.m.

Driving through downtown, the devastation was overwhelming – the entire city resembles Europe after WWII. Roads are beginning to be cleared and the survivors are carrying on with their lives, but the remaining population lives in tents, on the streets, and depends on the minimal medical and emergency food and water stations scattered through the rubble.

Finding one’s way is bizarre, as all physical landmarks have disappeared. We drove by the Ministry of Health where, prior to the quake, MFK would participate in monthly nutrition meetings. The entire building had been razed.

Arriving at the MFK depot, our building was miraculously untouched, and still secure, but the neighbouring school had collapsed. The stocks of Medika Mamba survived, though they took a tumble. Our Depot Manager, Mr. Louis Gerard Papillon, was hit by falling concrete, and is being treated for injuries in Miami.

Before we arrived in Port-au-Prince, we spent a week of frantic and difficult coordination and arranged for our client organizations to send trucks and meet us at the depot to collect the urgently needed Medika Mamba. Again, by a miracle, all showed up. Within two hours, a volunteer and I managed to load over 3 tons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food into three vehicles.

GHESKIO, a hospital normally specializing in HIV treatment, but now an emergency site for over 4000 patients, took 420 kg; Children’s Nutrition Project of Leogane, the epicenter of the earthquake, picked up 1600 kg (enough to treat children and pregnant mothers for over one month); MFK and Carwyn then took over one more ton of Medika Mamba to two different orphanages, and to the Hôpital Petits Frères et Soeurs St. Damien on the outskirts of Port au Prince. The hospital, next to the U.S. embassy, has been converted into the main transfer site of the many hospitals and orphanages in Port au Prince destroyed by the quake. Dr. Rodriguez, a volunteer in emergency medicine from the University of Wisconsin, took in the supplies and showed us around. He explained that the hospital is receiving more than 10 new children requiring emergency care per hour.

The team arrived back in Cap Haitien at 11 p.m., and is planning further trips the coming week to ensure that Meds & Food for Kids’ contributions to relief efforts continue.”