Tonight's post is different. I desperately do not want to lose my reader, therefore tonight I will not wax philosophical. I'll get right to my point.
I have just returned from the most heart-wrenching visit to Haiti I've ever had (including my visit in the immediate post-quake days). On the top and side of a hill, across the valley from the Haitian home where I stayed these past few days, was a small "tent city," a refugee camp of hundreds of families whose homes were destroyed in Haiti's earthquake. Now, most of you know I returned to Haiti mainly to follow up on the field hospital we had started right after the quake. But I could not take my eyes off that group of people, herded like sheep up on the side of that hill.
Neither could I physically stay away. So this past Wednesday I made my way down and then up the side of that hill to find myself among the most pitiful scene I have ever seen... and friends, I've seen a lot over my years of work down there. Perched atop that hill were (and are) the most pitiful, rickety make-shift dwellings you can think of: scraps of whatever people can find (mostly cloth and cardboard) draped over frail stick frames. Not one had a floor covering of plastic or sheet metal or anything; all floors were dirt and rocks. The people were gracious to me, most inviting me right into their "home."
Please indulge me here, for I MUST describe this to you, realizing full well you have may have seen the footage on the nightly news.
Friends, I saw NO food in any of the homes, and I went through a lot of them. "Inside" these tiny homes the ground was soggy from the all-night rain we'd had the night before. Seems bedsheets, lace tablecloths, and cotton dresses don't hold back pouring rain.
I found babies lying on the wet dirt. I do not remember seeing any buckets of drinking water, although there must have been some somewhere. I saw lots of kids, mostly just wandering around, nothing much to do.
I could go on but you get the idea. [ADDENDUM: March 10th at 6:30AM]... I have just posted a video clip on YouTube. Watch it now, then return to finish reading this...
Friends this is detestable to me. This is unacceptable for the human race and, personally, I cannot not respond with with whatever resource God has given me.
The problem of Haiti is way over my head. Her issues are too complex and difficult for my cauliflower of a brain to grasp. What is the answer to getting a million homeless people into permanent shelters, much less homes? I don't know. That's for much smarter people than me to figure out.
What I do know is that the really rainy season is just weeks away. That if these people cannot stay dry, many of them will die, and that it is wrong to die all because you can't stay dry.
What I do know is that I must do my part to help these few precious Haitians, loved and valued by God. And that there are longer-term solutions than what I have, and I'll make my mistakes along the way, but I'll go down in flames trying...
To my point....
Prefab tents will not work in this particular encampment. Most of it is on un-level ground, parts of it right on the side of the hill. After much consideration, research, and planning, I have a plan to provide two tarps to each family on that hill. I know tarps are not glamourous. They are ugly. But they are adaptable and configurable to the uneven terrain and irregular dimensions of their living space. They can cover the ground and keep food dry. Tarps are NOT a long term solution, but friends they are cheap and will keep people dry and I can get them there quickly.
I have set the gears into motion to purchase and deliver tarps, thousands of them, to this hillside. We have been quoted good prices on tarps, and our delivery and distribution methods are set. And we can pull it off within a couple of weeks.
It will cost us 20 dollars to keep a tent-home dry. This covers the costs of purchasing two tarps, shipping and distribution right to that hillside.
Please help me. Part of what I'll do is establish an online payment set-up, but it will be several days to get the banking stuff all approved and lined up. But the clock is ticking on these people. So in the meantime, and if you'll trust me with the money, you can send it to me in the mail or even deliver it to my office. Now I am fully aware that most of you reading this don't know who the Sam Hill I am and I won't blame you if you wanted to go other directions with your charity. But if it would help you can read back through my blog, or you can even visit my practice website to check out that I'm not a wacko or a shyster. All I ask is that if you give, do so quickly.
107 North Bridge Street
Saranac, Michigan 48881
[March 10 addendum: or DONATE ONLINE (see upper right)
Finally, if you wouldn't mind, would you send links to this blog and to the Youtube video to people you think might respond? Its the best way I know of of pulling this off quickly.
I will post daily updates (below) on the response to this plea.
PS Not to be presumptuous... but if response is great, and we get enough tarps, we'll stay on focus at this encampment, getting them other basic stuff, like buckets and mosquito nets. And food... food would be good.
Project Diary / Total Funds Received
March 8 Blog posted
March 9 Total received $40
March 10 YouTube video posted
March 10 Total received $2,210
March 10 ONLINE DONATION now available (upper right)
March 11 Total received $3601
March 12 Total received $5467 (273 families)
March 13 Total received $6467 (323 families)