Friday, 26 March 2010

bienvenue haitianne

i arrived in haiti yesterday. it is only 1.5hrs from miami, but a world away. it is actually shocking how close it is and how destroyed it is. here are some photos and a few first impressions etc.

this is our tent

my part of the tent and all my junk

our delegation consists of this
teabelly power-ranger

and alyson , a presidential management fellow
alyson was an intern with me in 2006
i stole her from the national cancer institute
about 4 weeks after the earthquake

this is port au prince

estimates of the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) vary widely
it is at least 1.2 million
they live in tents
even people whose houses still stand live in the tents
#1 reason, because it is scary to be in a building
#2 there is food, water and medical care in the camps

this makes estimating hard, because the IDPs are fluid
moving from one camp to another
and not living their during the day.

our first visit was to the ministry of health and population (MSPP)
their entire building collapsed. many of their staff were killed.

this is me in the minister's conference room
i had to use the toilet, but the door wasn't so awesome
also, it was in the conference room
we were very very please to have the minister himself show up to our meeting
it was incredibly productive and we will be seeing him again monday.

we didn't take any photos with him

on the way from the airport to the embassy we learned that a couple of the reasons the destruction was so devastating was because of the type of rebar they use and how they use it
you can see from this photo that it is just a pretty thin rebar. and it is all a tangled mess everywhere. they use thin un-ridged rebar . . . it just doesn't hold.

reason #2 . . . the binding agent in the concrete is junk. you can tap the cement walls with a hammer and it will crumble. you can pick the stuff up in your hands and turn it into powder . . . that is not going to keep you safe in a 7.2 quake.

these bulldozers are everywhere
it is really hard to describe, or even really fathom all of the rubble
people are working around the clock to get rid of it
i am hoping they can figure out a way to reuse it
there is just no good way to dispose of all this rubble

one of the red cross camps
mountains beyond mountains

we had meetings at the UN "log camp"
this afternoon

the health cluster
this nurse is working in a camp of 60,000 people
she talked of:
8 year olds with sexually transmitted infections (STI)
100% vaginal infections
(most just vaginitis, but about 25% are STIs -- gonorrhea, syphilis rates are high)
mothers attempting to kill their infant children by feeding them bleach because they have no way to take care of them
80-90 yr-old women being "dumped" at the camp dehydrated and malnourished
at least 1 reported rape a week
no condoms
no rape kits (they are making their own,
but don't have post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV)
malaria rates are increasing
etc etc etc

this is the guy heading the PAHO health cluster right now, anju

i am exhausted . . . lots more to say, but too tired to say it all . . .


Heidi's Hodgepodge said...

Whoa... sounds bad... and pretty much what you would expect, given the circumstances. Glad there are people there who are trying to help.

KamilahNYC said...

Wow those pictures are really disturbing. I can't wait to talk to you about how you are feeling about everything.