February 22, 2010

One More

So we arrived in Haiti. Flying in to the Port au Prince airport we could see the masses of people in the streets and tent cities. After a bit of confusion and a 10 minute flip out at the World Food Programme airport office, we met with the SODOPRECA team and were off to our "camp". We saw only a brief bit of Haiti on the way to camp - and it was indescribable at best. Our camp was located about 3 miles from the airport, but about 30 minutes by car due to the utter chaos in the streets.

Our camp is called Sonapi - a free zone that was/is home to several factories and manufacturing plants. Our tents were in an area protected by Brazil UN soldiers along with the DR mobile kitchens and Pakistani humane aid.

JG and I dropped off our stuff and went on a tour of Haiti in the truck with MP, the SODOPRECA team coordinator and A, our translator. The destruction was almost complete and the ruins were unreal. Mobs of people just walked in the street, probably afraid to go back indoors lest their homes fall again. There were massive tent cities all around Port au Prince - some in huge open areas, others just alongside the road, built into the rubble.

We went to a tent city located at a former (now destroyed) church/monastery under protection by the UN troops from Mexico. There were literally thousands upon thousands of people living in various tents - homemade, US Army supplied, donated camp supplies from EMS. We pulled into a clearing and after some Spanish/French/Creole discussions, animals started coming at us from all directions. Haitian children of all ages formed a circle around MP, JG and I. We heard shrieks and squeals as the circle parted and a child came running in with an animal in tow. Most of the dogs were on homemade leashes and cats came in their owners' arms or tied to shoestrings. Several goats were carried in, and one small boy fought with a pig (which was about as big as he was) on a leash. We were missing half of the World Vet donations (which arrive tomorrow with RB), so with albon and some anti parasitic spray, we treated as many animals as possible - 32 at the Mexican Camp (20 Dog, 3 Cat, 8 Goat, 1 Pig). The people kept asking when we would come back - my head was still spinning from the whole experience - I didn't know. As we drove away, a herd of children ran after the truck with a small dog, so we got out and treated one more.

Back at Sonapi, it took 4 people 20 minutes to figure out how to assemble our tent. Then the SODOPREcA people laughed at our sad little tent which was going to hold 2 people. I thought about bringing the Taj Mahal of tents we have at home, but it was too heavy and not worth it for just 1 week. After the 20kg and no more drama in DR, I just assume not deal with it. It's 7:30 but feels like midnight. Time for bug spray and sleep.

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