Sunday, September 26, 2010

Storm in Haiti

Every day we check the National Hurricane Center website for new tropical storms and hurricanes, knowing that we'll at least have a few days to prepare the camps and their residents. With nothing on the radar, this afternoon we were taken by complete surprise when at 3:00 the sun was shining - at 3:05 the sky turned green and wind, rain, thunder and lightning like I have never experienced anywhere before hit.

The wind sheered many of the few big trees that are left in Port au Prince, landing on streets, buildings, and tents. Worse yet, it blew tents and new shelters apart like they were made of paper towels. One of the camps in which we work lost 80% of the tents and structures and we lost many common area buildings in another camp.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Most days in Haiti you can see joy on the faces of children or hear the giggles and shouts of fun. When you look closer you can see they are very creatively playing with plastic bags tied to sticks, plastic bottles as footballs or using rocks for marbles. Thanks to the generosity of some students at the University of Minnesota and the ARC Children’s Program the kids at several of the camps American Refugee Committee manages are also able to enjoy beautiful, handmade kites.

The ARC Children’s Program at Terrain Acra currently has over 900 kids enrolled. The staff does an excellent job of keeping the kids busy with lots of activities including painting, singing, and dancing. I happened to be there on Friday and noticed the kites were out. Unfortunately there was no wind so there weren’t many kites flying but the kids didn’t seem to care. They were just excited about the possibility.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

(Photos: Top - A Rah-Rah band stages impromptu demonstration for Haitian presidential candidate;
Bottom - A visit by members of Congress to Old Military Camp, one of the camps managed by ARC)

It was quite a week for politics here in Port au Prince. 24 candidates are now registered for President - and once you're registered you are on the ballot. The last Presidential election had 68 candidates vying for the top spot. This week Wyclef Jean threw his hat into the mix which gnarled traffic for a full day with thousands wearing his party's t-shirt and celebrating by scrawling his message everywhere. The election is currently scheduled for November 28.

As you can imagine, the campaigning is quite creative with a need to reach the masses. One popular technique is to hire people that create impromptu Rah-Rah bands that march through the busiest streets at the most popular times, blocking traffic and becoming front and center in your universe, like the one shown here.

The other political aspect to the week was a visit from some Congressional members at one of our camps, Old Military Camp. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer led a bipartisan Congressional Delegation to Haiti for a day. Roscoe Bartlett, David Price, Yvette Clarke, Donna Edwards and Aaron Schock joined him. Melanie (in the center of the photo), who manages the Women’s and Children’s Protection Program for ARC in Haiti, was able to provide details about the work she and her team are doing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gloves and Goggles for Haitian Workers

Another very busy week here in Haiti. One of our big tasks was finding more equipment for our Cash for Work crews. A little known fact about Haiti is that you can buy almost anything here, you just need time to find it and money. The familiar task of searching on-line or in a phone book aren't options and with traffic usually at a standstill it can be quite an undertaking. So it was that we found ourselves spending a lot of time this week only to learn that some of the basic equipment we need, work gloves, eye protection, dust masks, etc. are in such high demand with such low supplies that prices have been driven sky high where limited supplies still exist.

You'll see in the photo that we currently have people doing a lot of tough work (lifting rubble piece by piece, hauling full buckets and wheelbarrows, etc) without some of this basic equipment. We were able to purchase what we needed locally when we started our program but a lot of it has simply worn out. With so much work remaining, we could really use your help. Please consider a donation of cash which will allow us to provide the necessary equipment to make work a little easier. If you'd prefer to donate hard goods and could bring your donation to our Headquarters in Minneapolis we especially need leather work gloves (men's size large would be best), plastic safety goggles and dust masks.

I will be sure to feature your donations in use in future photos!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Intro to Cash-for-Work

(Photos: A cash-for-work team clearing a clinic in Port-au-Prince of rubble.)

Hello Everyone!

The idea of Cash for Work has been around for quite some time with programs all over the world. At the most basic level it is designed to provide cash in exchange for various types of work.

Our Cash for Work teams in Haiti are doing everything from basic camp clean up to working in the neighborhoods surrounding our camps on rubble removal. The benefits of Cash for Work include the most obvious – instant cash in the hands of those that need it most – but almost as important is the pride that comes from being able to provide for your family, even if for a very short period of time as well as giving Haitians a bigger sense of ownership in the reconstruction process.

The unemployment rates were grim before the earthquake with more than two-thirds of the labor force not having formal jobs so of course with so many businesses lying in ruins the numbers are even more difficult.

The good news is that we are currently able to provide Cash for Work at four camps in Haiti with funding lasting a few more months. We’ve worked with the nuances of each camp to design Cash for Work programs that work for the people living there. For instance, in our two camps outside Port au Prince, we rotate through new teams of workers and pay more frequently because jobs are even harder to come by than in the city.

Another example is the size of our teams. In the center of Port au Prince at Terrain Acra camp we have teams of less than 10 so they can work in small alleyways, nooks and crannies to remove rubble and carry it out to streets that can accommodate dump trucks. Those teams are concentrating on clearing rubble from public spaces like streets, schools and clinics. The team in the photo here are clearing a clinic. They are anxious to get back into their neighborhoods and are working hard to make it happen. We’re fast at work looking for funding to continue to enable their efforts.

New Blogger - Deb Ingersoll

Hi Everyone -

I want to introduce everyone to our newest blogger - Deb Ingersoll.

Deb coordinates ARC's Cash-For-Work program in Haiti. As you know, the earthquake devastated Haiti's infrastructure, destroying homes and buildings. The quake also made the unemployment situation in Haiti even worse. ARC's cash-for-work program tackles both these problems. Workers are paid a daily wage to clear rubble, dig latrines and drainage ditches, and help maintain camps.

Deb will be sharing more about the program as well as her general observations from Haiti. Welcome Deb!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Articles on Haiti Rebuilding Effort

I wanted to share a couple of articles that describe the challenges of the Haiti rebuilding process.

The first is from Lindsey Coates of The Huffington post on how determining land rights is a critical and time-consuming first step before constructing transitional or replacement shelters for survivors:

The second is a longer article by Deborah Sontag at the NYTimes that describes the challenges of rebuilding in greater detail:

I'll highlight one statistic from the NYTimes article: "It would take three to five years to remove all the debris from Haiti if 1,000 or more trucks worked daily."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Volunteer Nursing in Haiti

(Photos: Top - Latrine at Terrain Acra; Middle/Top - Patient Consultation Area; Middle - Clinic Staff Training; Middle/Bottom - Medical staff on a home visit in Terrain Acra; Bottom: The clinic staff at Terrain Acra)

I received this message and these photos today from Ann Ferguson, a nurse who spent 2.5 weeks volunteering at ARC's clinic at Terrain Acra in Port-au-Prince.

I am writing this during my last day as a medical volunteer in the clinic run by ARC at Terrain Acra. The last 2 and ½ weeks have been both humbling and awe inspiring – and it has been a privilege to be a part of the clinic staff.

The medical clinic at Terrain Acra was first established in February of 2010 to provide primary care for the people in the camp. The clinic has evolved into a busy primary care clinic which serves people from within the camp – and others who live outside the camp and choose to come there for care.

In three large tents, with no electricity or running water, in extreme heat and on plastic covered dirt floors, the medical clinic at Terrain Acra sees over 120 patients per day. It is hoped that in the coming weeks and months, a new tent can be obtained to move pharmacy activity and supplies, a refrigeration system can be achieved so that a vaccine campaign can be established, and a mental health program will begin in earnest.

The systems of care have been developed through a combined effort of medical volunteers, and the Haitian medical and general clinic staff. Clinic is open 6 days a week. Additionally, the medical team has established a system of home visits within the camp to insure that individuals in need of additional follow up care receive those services. Mobile clinics have also been established in three communities near Terrain Acra. This mobile clinic activity provides the only care to residents of very hard hit areas of the city.

Prenatal visits have ranged form 78-83 per month within the camp. Patients present for wound care daily: puncture wounds, umbilical cord care, infections, cuts, scrapes, occupational injuries and more. A triage system allows for the very young, the elderly, and the sickest to be seen first. Malaria, typhoid, prenatal care, dehydration, stress related conditions, skin infections and others are seen daily. Pharmacy and lab services are available on site. Referrals are made as needed to local specialists and hospitals. No one is turned away.

I am amazed at the level of professionalism in the clinic staff. Despite working in tents with a heat index of over 95, dirt showing through the plastic floors, some of them living in these tents nearby, they treat their patients with respect and conduct themselves with dignity and professionalism.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back to Terrain Acra

(Photos: Top - Jimmytri and his cousins; Middle - Michellet and his big sister; Bottom - Alies and his sons)

Today was my last full day in Haiti and tomorrow I head back to the frozen tundra known as Minnesota. What an amazing day it was! I went back to Terrain Acra hoping to meet face to face with people and really have the opportunity to sit down with them. I wanted to know in their own words, what it is like to live in Terrain Acra?

I spent the morning interviewing a number of young men who want nothing more than a job. They have so many skills to contribute: teaching, carpentry… one was in law school, but they have no opportunity to get their foot in the door. In fact, there is no door. I asked them to share their thoughts, experiences, stories and hopes on video and they thanked me profusely for the opportunity. All I had to do was hold the camera… but it meant someone was listening.

After the interviews I sequestered Jimmytri, an ARC interpreter, to walk through the camp with me. I had walked through before early last week, but this time it seemed to be a whole different world. The exhaustive heat, the endless trash, and the smells all faded into the background and what I saw was homes filled with smiling families: mothers doing wash, kids playing with makeshift toys, fathers running small businesses... I met Alies and his son Makenson who sell fried meats and dough, Mimose who sells all kinds of soaps, treats, charcoal and more, Madame Dunn who invited me into her home to meet her five grandkids, and so many others! Jimmytri was even willing to show me his home and introduce me to his family. He has been working with ARC since the earthquake and lives in the camp with his identical twin brother, Jimmy-a, aunt and cousins. Jimmytri and Jimmy-a are quite the dynamic duo!

As we were walking around I couldn’t help but notice the mud and was reminded of the impending rainy season. It pains me to think of the tropical rains and what they will do to these peoples’ homes and lives. Imagine never keeping up with the leaks in your roof, or the rains blowing in through the thin sheet that doubles as your door. Think of stepping out your front door in your only set of shoes and into a foot of mud. There was a brief storm last night and still this afternoon the mud was thick and deep. That was after a light shower… These people need proper homes, walkways, and canals to survive the rain and preserve their hope. Countless people shared that they find and make what little they can to sell for food and water to get through each day. Their perseverance is so incredible, but their reality so fragile.

To end the blog and my stay in Haiti I’ll share a little miracle I happened upon this afternoon as we came back through the camp. His name is Michellet. Jimmytri and I were walking back through the camp and nearing the end of our journey when we heard “Photo! Photo!” being called out. I strolled over to offer a photo of the two adorable toddlers when the mother saw and bolted inside. She came back with the tiniest bundle in her arms! She introduced him as Michellet and informed me he was just 8 days old! I asked if he was born right here in her shelter and she said “yes” and that a midwife had been there to help her. There are so many things about that story that leave me, as another woman, both terrified and amazed, but the miracle goes on.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Camp Corail

(Photos: Top - Kids at Corail Camp. Middle - A boy at Corail Camp constructs a kite from whatever he can find; Middle - A woman sells goods at her small stall at Corail; Bottom - a wide shot of Corail.)

This morning I caught a ride with Richard, our new camp manager at Corail Camp. Corail is a brand new camp that we’ve been asked to take over management of.

The morning commute through Port au Prince is always an experience to behold. First, pray that there are handle bars because you’ll need to hold on. The word pothole doesn’t begin to describe the gaping craters, treacherous ‘speed bumps’ and other obstacles you’ll encounter. But it’s the sights you pass that complicate and deepen an otherwise adventurous ride to work.

Sights of vendors with various goods, people carrying water and other baskets and bags on their heads, children hoping to wash your windshield for change, everything buzzing around you, trash… the trash seems to be everywhere, but it’s the buildings that lay crumbled that call out as reminders.

As we were driving we passed through an area that had more destruction than I had seen. Three story buildings lie pancaked on the ground, rebar twisted and contorted in concrete, unrecognizable. As we drove past a familiar song began to drift through the truck “… We shall overcome someday…someday…” The next neighborhood revealed a new school being painted teal blue and lemon yellow, while just a second further men struck rubble in unison with their sledgehammers, clearing the old for the new... Around the next turn “We need help” is scrawled on the wall. It was about this time when Richard, our camp manager, asked me very simply “If it was a family member who was trapped in the rubble, when would you stop digging?... When would you stop?” All I could think was “never.”

Camp Corail…
I was told that Corail was different. I knew going in that it was a “planned camp,” the result of a coordinated effort between the United Nations, the U.S. Military and aid agencies. Local staff informed me that it is situated on a vast stretch of parched land that’s surrounded by deforestation. One of its primary purposes is to act as a decongestion camp for Terrain de Golf, which goes by many names, but one that rings a bell is “Sean Penn’s Camp.” In real terms, this means that Terrain de Golf is overcrowded and at risk for flooding, fires and more, so they move people to a safer area, i.e. Camp Corail. Currently there are 4,912 people living there in 1,290 tents. 15 have been left open and are being held for people with disabilities. (It’s amazing what a camp manager knows!)

As we drove up I had the feeling we were entering Area 51. The chalky desert dust goes on forever with neatly lined rows of white tents, each containing their own world. Everything is clean & tidy – words you wouldn’t normally associate with a displaced persons camp. Once settled and walking around I found two little boys constructing kites out of plastic bags and twine. This was the perfect kite flying environment! Up into the sky they went sailing. A couple tents down I found a woman running a small business with candies, sodas and other goods. A little bit further I heard a woman calling to me from in her tent. I stopped and doubled back. She invited me in and we introduced ourselves, despite the fact that we spoke no common language. She seemed to be about the same age and was cooking a small meal for herself and her friend. I couldn’t help but notice how sparse her tent was, but once inside you realize it’s someone’s world all the same. I was thankful she had invited me in.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Terrain Acra on the BBC

An update on the BBC World Have Your Say Program I mentioned yesterday...

They broadcast from Terrain Acra. The show was a great hit – lots of great participants, great questions! They broadcast live for one hour in the camp, with about 50 people from the camp participating. Of that number about 6-7 people were actively answering questions and debating. They were linked into a live show in Little Haiti in Miami, where radio guests called in and asked questions during the first half hour.

Then in the second half hour Wyclef Jean was on the show answering questions and discussing with the group. They asked him to come visit them in Terrain Acra when he comes to Haiti next and he accepted.

You can listen to the podcast or download it at the link below: WHYS in Tent City -

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Haitian Staff

Beniel, age 21, manages Camp Hope which now cares for 1,000 people.

Mission, also in his twenties, helps to manage the daily activities at Terrain Acra, helping to care for over 25,000 people.

Beniel, Mission, Frank (the teacher I mentioned a few days ago), and so many others – these are the people that are rebuilding Haiti. They are our local staff, and they work every day in unimaginable conditions to restore hope for people who have lost all they’d known before January 12th.

I never knew what partnership and sustainability really meant until this trip. On a theoretical level, I got it. On a real, and very human level, I was clueless. When we say that we give people the tools they need to rebuild their lives, we honestly mean it! And in the midst of all the pain and fear, it is a truly beautiful thing to see. Each of our local staff that I’ve had the opportunity to meet are leaders. They’re the kind of people you want on your side because when you’re around them you feel like things really will get better, and they’ll be the ones to make it happen.

By the way: BBC World Service was at Terrain Acra today. Check out their blog about the visit at:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Visit to Terrain Acra

Photos: (Top - Kids of a proud mother stand in front of their shelter in Terrain Acra Camp; Bottom - the shell of a destroyed home on the edge of Terrain Acra Camp is now used to hang the wash.)

Unlike yesterday, today was not filled with simple solutions. Today I visited Terrain Acra, a camp for earthquake survivors in the Delmas district of Port-au-Prince. There are about 25,000 people who are receiving services in this camp which sprawls endlessly over a valley of toxic waste. It is devastating to see. While there are so many positive things being done to help, the daunting reality of what it must be like to live in the camp is overwhelming.

Everyone is hoping that this reality is short-lived. Right now we face a critical timeline for moving everyone out. Here’s why:

1) Terrain Acra is private land owned by the Acra family. They own a factory on the site and can’t run it with thousands of people living there. The Acra family has been quite patient up until now, but other private landowners are starting to evict people.

2) The land is a valley surrounded by steep hills, and is thus both a flood and landslide zone.

3) We have no idea what chemicals are pumped out of the Acra Factory. The site is unbelievably filthy, with garbage and human waste covering the ground several feet deep.

4) The camp is filled with feral pigs, goats and other animals. We’ve tried everything to fix this issue (partnering with Veterinarians Without Borders, etc.) – but in all likelihood, the animals are here to stay.

5) Most people in Haiti rented their homes pre-earthquake. Now, they live in camps at no cost. Although tent life is hot and cramped and wretched, most people are still too scared to sleep under a cement roof, so they might as well sleep under a tarp for free. This means that they have no incentive to leave.

Walking through the camp the heat is heavy and thick. Every once in a while you cross a powerful waft of rotting waste. There are sounds of lively music, children’s laughter, mother’s shouting, older men talking as they play dominoes, and young men sawing and hammering as they build new structures. The sights can only be described through a lens as they’re too much for words. While people are happy to greet you, there is a greater sense of desolation.

We walked to the top of a hill overlooking all of Terrain Acra. This was an area that edged our camp ‘border’ and extended into the surrounding neighborhoods that have been leveled. Homes are laid bare and exposed as remnants of their former lives.

On the way back down I encountered a beautiful little girl giggling and playing in her makeshift home. I started a little giggle myself and caught the same chuckle in the eyes of her mother. Together we laughed and I asked if I could take “un photo.” Proudly she said yes, and all three of her children quickly gathered in pose. I showed the picture to the family and wished I could have given her a copy to keep.

Despite the horror they face: their earthquake shattered reality, a pervasive fear of “the big one” and the impending hurricane season, there is a resolve and determination among Haitians that can move mountains. After all, if you were the proud mother of three wouldn’t you do everything in your power to build a better, safer, and brighter future for them?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Clean Water in Kato

Photos: (1- Kato's old source for drinking and bathing; 2 & 3 - the new water pump in Kato; 4-the village greeting us with palm fronds and singing and dancing)

This afternoon came straight out of a storybook. Brad, our Field Coordinator, asked if I’d like to take a trip to a village where we recently dug a borehole. Sure, I’d love that! After a long and slightly harrowing trip into the country we pulled up to the small village known as Kato. To our surprise, the humming of the engine was replaced by the loud roar of children singing and dancing in cheer for our arrival. Palm fronds wildly waving, the kids sang a song they had designed specially for us. Absolutely surreal. They led us back through the village to the brand new pump that flowed with fresh, clean water.

Brad and our team of local staff had surveyed 49 villages in the area of Ganthier. As a part of the survey they tested all the water points and sent the samples to a lab for results. Those results have been catastrophic. They’ve found that the places where people bath and drink have included bacteria like ecoli. In one place it was 136 times the acceptable level. Bacteria like this can mean dysentery, cholera, elephantiasis, and total devastation to a village of only 300 people. For some, this is their only source of water.

What did it cost to keep water and life flowing through this village? $5,000. Yet another simple solution.

The School in Fond Parisien

(Top: Schoolkids in a tent at the school; Middle: Frank, the English and Literature teacher at the school; Bottom: The temporary school building)

Today marks my first experience meeting, in person, the people & the reason why we do what it is we do. What an inspiring day it has been! This morning began with a trip to Fond Parisien. A name and place I have heard and seen so many times in video: to see it in person is something else.

Just to the left of the main area of the camp is now a fully operating school. It stands beside the remnants of their old school that is waiting to be rebuilt. The temporary school is a scene you’d recognize from our photos: a thin log structure covered by tarp roofs and surrounded by tarp walls. What photos cannot convey is the life that buzzes within. In this small structure 8 classes are in session, with at least 30 kids in each class! Amazingly they sit attentively, eager to learn.

I had the chance to interview the principal and a few of the teachers during one of their breaks. Frank, their English & Literature teacher, translated for the principal who explained to me that the teachers are paid at the end of the month. He then explained that once this next salary is paid, the funds will run dry and the school will come to a close. The end of the month is the end of this week. The complexity and depth of the issues we face in Haiti are daunting to say the least. This seemed to be a very simple problem with an even simpler solution. $5,500 will keep the school running through the end of term. A little more will help to rebuild their school and give hope for tomorrow. If you can help, please, please do!

The teachers of this school live in the camp – each has been personally affected by the earthquake. Frank, who I mentioned earlier, had paid his way through 2 years of studying English at the Haitian American Institute when the earthquake struck and collapsed his plans for the future. Frank now hopes to save enough money to return to school and complete his last year, but he can’t say what the future holds.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


This morning I woke to a warm spring morning in Minnesota. That is, warm by Minnesota standards. By evening I landed in Port-au-Prince and found that I hadn't quite shed my thick winter skin. Hot!

I spent my layover in Miami talking to a man by the name of Michellet. Michellet is from Haiti but has spent the past two years driving cab in Boston. Since the earthquake, he’s spent all his time and energy devising a plan to return and rebuild his country. His dream: to build a school for about 30 children near his hometown. Michellet is convinced that hope for Haiti’s future lies in the education of their youth. His daughter, who is just 10 years old and speaks English, French and Creole is a testament to his dream.

The passion and energy with which he spoke was contagious. “If I can just speak to people through the radio and tell them to love and respect one another, then the positive message will grow!” Michellet wished me wonderful experiences during my stay so that I might be enticed to return again and help Haiti to continue rebuilding. Michellet, if you’re reading this, best wishes to you as well!

New Contributor - Jenna Moeger

Hi Everyone. I want to welcome Jenna Moeger to the ARC blog. Jenna is ARC's Development and Public Affairs Coordinator.

Recently, Jenna has been working closely with the Community Advocates for Haiti - a group of volunteers in the U.S. who've come together to rally and organize their communities to raise awareness and support for the earthquake survivors ARC works with in Haiti.

We look forward to Jenna's posts over the next week. Welcome Jenna!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Current Situation in Haiti

(Photos: Top - one of the transitional shelters our team is building for families in Haiti who lost their homes in the earthquake; Bottom: Mother and child protected from the elements by only some sticks and tarps. Thousands and thousands in Haiti are struggling to get shelter from the elements.)

The situation in Haiti continues to be a struggle for the hundreds of thousands of people who are homeless and virtually the entire population who was traumatized. It will get worse when the rains start in earnest in May. There could be major public health problems, especially in places like Leogone which is south-west of Port-au-Prince and is 50% flood-prone. I was in a camp there last week that already had 6 inches of standing water in it. I inspected a latrine with the Austrian Red Cross. They were constructed with deep pits but the rains filled them up to where they are only about a foot below the hole in the latrine. Human waste and water, combined with compromised hygiene, is an impending threat to loss of human life.

Efforts are being made to get people out of flood-prone areas to "de-congestion camps," which are basically settlements outside of Port-au-Prince but on land that is open and not prone to floods. The problem is that people will move there in anticipation of handouts. As soon as the handouts subside, they will move back to Port-au-Prince. So what people really need are jobs to act as a magnet to get them out of Port-au-Prince. (The government estimates that roughly 1.3 M people need to be moved out. There simply is not enough room with all the rubble.

It is important, therefore, that ARC and other humanitarian organizations seek out partnerships with industries for job creations. For it is only in so doing that we can reverse rural-urban migration. In the process, we must seek to accompany Haitians toward a new economy, toward a “green,” environmentally exemplary, model of development. This horrific crisis can be transformed, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. A deforested land with an impoverished people can become a beacon on the hill for the world to see.

New Contributor - Joe Bock

I'd like to welcome Joe Bock - ARC's Interim Country Director for Haiti - to the blog. Joe's been in Haiti for several weeks, managing our relief operations there.

Welcome Joe!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mobile Clinics and Home Visits

(Photos: top is Dr. Jessica Dailey seeing patients at the mobile clinic, outdoors. Middle is Dr. Dailey at the mobile clinic inside the church. Bottom is me seeing a patient on a home visit in the Terrain Acra camp.)

In addition to offering medical services six days a week at the clinic, the Haitian doctors and American volunteer doctors also conduct mobile clinics and home visits.

The mobile clinic is conducted in the nearby Delmas neighborhood church. Volunteer Drs. Jessica Dailey and Mike Rhodes see patients there two afternoons per week. They treat approximately 20-25 patients there each afternoon. The patient load is slowly increasing as patients learn about the clinic.
We are hoping to be able to establish a full service clinic there over time. The overall goal is to slowly increase our work in the surrounding neighborhood, especially as patients move out of the camp and back into their homes/neighborhoods. The church space offers stability to the clinic and privacy for the patients. It is especially helpful for those who are not living in the Terrain Acra camp itself.

We also do homevisits two afternoons each week. They are geared toward serving those living in the camp who are unable to come from their shelter to the camp clinic. Currently, I make home visits on Monday and Wednesday afternoons with a clinic nurse and interpreter.
One patient’s shelter is on a steep hill and he has his leg in a cast following surgery for injuries sustained during the earthquake. Another patient is bed bound from a spinal cord injury in 1993. He moved to the camp with his family after their residence was destroyed in the earthquake. We also visit a family with two young children, all of whom are being treated for tuberculosis.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Primary Medical Care at Terrain Acra

(Photos - Top: Dr. Michael Rhodes seeing patients in a clinic exam room.. Middle: is the Terrain Acra clinic Bottom: the Terrain Acra Clinic's registration tent.)

Hello, I’m Kristi Trostel, a physician volunteer serving three weeks with ARC in the Terrain Acra camp this month.

At this writing, the medical clinic in the Terrain Acra camp is staffed by three volunteer physicians from Minnesota and four Haitian physicians employed by ARC. The Minnesota volunteers are Dr. Michael Rhodes, a Hospitalist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Dr. Jessica Daily, a Family Practitioner with Allina medical clinic, and me, Dr. Kristi Trostel, an Internist at Park Nicollet Clinic.

We three Minnesotans start our day at 7 am with our excellent driver Durillma ferrying us through the busy Port-au-Prince traffic. Lasting about an hour, the drive lays bare the widespread poverty and destruction from which the city suffers. However, we also see the people resuming their daily lives and the beginnings of repair and reconstruction.

Once at the clinic, a busy day awaits us.

Patients of all ages await their turn in our clinic. We’re treating ailments stemming from privation and overcrowding in a tropical climate, as well as those afflicted with problems that we may see in the US. The clinic is a large tent with partitions creating five small examination rooms. At the back of the tent the formidable Madame Philibare, a Haitian nurse, manages the small pharmacy and clinic staff. An additional tent sits adjacent and houses the registration area, wound clinic, and urgent care area.

Together with the four Haitian doctors and the aid of our Creole interpreters, we see 140 to 170 patients in clinic each day. Patients are seen free of charge, and we can offer a number of medications and treatments without any cost to patients. We also offer a mobile clinic in the neighborhood around the camp and home visits within the camp, which we'll describe in future blog entries.

New Blog Contributor - Kristi Trostel

I'd like to welcome Kristi Trostel to the ARC Blog.

Kristi comes from Minnesota. She is a volunteer doctor working in Port-au-Prince at our 10,000 person camp at Terrain Acra and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Welcome Kristi! And thank you for all your hardwork in Haiti!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Camp Hope and Ganthier

Photos - (Top: A handicapped latrine at Camp Hope. Many of the people living at Camp Hope have broken limbs or have undergone amputation. Middle: Child-friendly space at Camp Hope. Bottom: View from the Mountains in Ganthier.)

Yesterday, I went out to visit our Camp Hope in Fond Parisien near the border. The camp has grown to between 700 and 800 people, and we're expecting the arrival of 300 more people next week.
Camp Hope is across the street from some mountains. Yesterday, we went out into some of the remote communities in those mountains to see if there were people who had been affected by the earthquake. We've already visited some communities in this area - Ganthier - but we're the only organization meeting with people in this region.
We found that a lot of these villages have not actually been affected by the earthquake. But they are very poor and have some serious issues with clean water and sanitation. We'll be helping them create sanitation and water systems that will protect them from disease.
I think this brings up an important point about the relief effort in Haiti - a point that one might not necessarily think of. It's important that people who weren't directly affected by the quake still see some benefit from all this.
There should be a general sense of the rising tide lifting all. It's good for communities. And it's good for Haiti.
It's important in our role that we try to spread the blessings and use the resources we have to help as many people as we can.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


(Top: ARC staff member Leah talks with community leaders at a settlement in Leogane. Middle and bottom: Families living in settlements at Leogane.)
I'm on the way up into the mountains to check on some remote communities who need help. I just wanted to let you all know what I've seen so far.
Yesterday, we headed to Leogane. It's a city of about 140,000 people just west of Port-au-Prince.
Leogane was the closest major population center to the epicenter of the earthquake. They estimate that between 60-80% of the homes were completely destroyed or are unlivable. The people there are in need of good shelter, as well as other types of aid and assistance.
Because Leogane is outside of Port-au-Prince, it has taken longer for aid to reach these people.
There are a number of camps or settlements there - over 70 in total. But only three of these settlements has any organization helping to manage and coordinate aid for the people who live there.
As you know, ARC manages camps and settlements in other parts of Haiti. We visited Leogane to see how we might be able to help. Stay tuned for more.