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Haiti for the offseason?

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter as the situation in Haiti is one that is still very much in need of volunteer help. As news of Haiti has dwindled, so has the amount of volunteers’ support. A friend just asked me last week, “So is everything back to normal again in Haiti?” Nothing could be further from reality with 1.3 million people still living under nothing more than a tarp, and over 90 percent of the original earthquake damage still to be cleared. That is when I knew I had to write this letter.

After the quake, I spent hours per day for weeks trying to find organizations to volunteer with. It was not an easy process and one that was difficult to weed through. Many organizations want the help, but also want the volunteer to pay $2,000 to $3,000 to go there for a week or two, as these nonprofits cannot afford to take on extra volunteers, despite their need. However, I am writing this for those people who really want to get over there and help, and who want to do it with limited funds.

About a month and a half ago there was a group of medically trained individuals from the valley who were rallying and raising funds in order to fund a mission. I do not know what happened to this effort, but I do know that anyone who wants to go would not have to go and re-invent the wheel that is already turning there, at least with the group that I went with, Project Medishare.

Just as I was ready to plan my own trip and wing it as a result of over three weeks of frustration and obstacles of finding a group or situation to go with, someone forwarded me an e-mail from Project Medishare. I responded to the e-mail with what I can offer, and said I could leave on their Monday flight (in three days). The next day I was sent a reply with confirmation for the flight leaving from Miami.

I am writing these details, as I am sure I am not the only one who met walls of frustration when trying to get to Haiti. (More than half of the e-mails I wrote were not responded to, and if you go on the Red Cross’ website, you will read, “we are not sending volunteers to Haiti at this time,” which I do not understand in the slightest). If you came upon the same frustration with trying to go to Haiti and help, and you are reading this, now is the time to consider going once more.

I highly recommend that if anyone at all has a week to give, or more, you can go and offer much needed help. In some ways, the quake could have happened yesterday (destruction all around, people still afraid to sleep indoors, as well as on-going medical situations as a direct result of the quake), and in other ways it is in the past (street markets go on, people everywhere looking their best in clean and ironed clothes, despite living under a tarp).

Haiti will be an offseason adventure you will not soon forget. You will work hard and be rewarded ten-fold by the perseverance of the human spirit. It is an incredible situation there, in just about every way imaginable, and one that I encourage anyone at all to do.

I am speaking for Project Medishare when I say that any and every person who desires to go can and will be utilized. Beyond the burdened medical need for every type of nurse, surgeon (ortho, plastics, general), physician, wound care specialist, lab tech, pharmacist, and physical therapist, there is also a need for logistics at the camp, and organization of supplies, amongst many other day-to-day operations. Everyone will be utilized who wants to go and be a part of Project Medishare.

Project Medishare is not the only operation of course, but a good place to start. There are others. My friend Bruce from Telluride flew to Haiti a week before I did, on his own, with no plan in place. By the time I got there he was working daily with Sean Penn at the Petionville tarp camp that Sean took under his wing. He is still there and they are making progress in bringing their numbers down from 80,000 just after the quake, to fewer than 60,000 now.

Anyone can contact me directly at 920-7644, or e-mail at DrPaulGannon@gmail.com and I can answer any questions and/or forward the contact info for Project Medishare, which flies volunteers in and out of Port au Prince on Saturdays and Mondays for a minimum of a one week commitment.

Also, at 7 p.m. Friday Ellie Davis is organizing a fundraising event at the Church at Carbondale, 110 Snowmass Drive. I plan to attend, and I hope to see many others there.

Paul Gannon

Aspen


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