New Frontlines page!

February 19, 2010

Get a glimpse of the work that Denise doctors and volunteers are doing on the ground in Haiti by visiting our new  Frontlines page! We will continue to add stories and pictures from our volunteers in the field. We hope that these stories will allow you to see the devastation and hope in Haiti first hand, and will continue to move us all to action.

Photojournalist Christian Kober has been in Haiti for more than two weeks, capturing the rubble, the masses waiting for food and water, and the work of Denise doctors in his moving photographs. Visit Frontlines to read his story.

First Flipbooks – Denise doctors in action

February 16, 2010

Please check out our first Flipbook! See the important work being done by Denise doctors in Haiti through these poignant photos.

We have now added our second Flipbook 2! This Flipbook follows Denise founder, René Aubry, through his needs assessment trip to Haiti. It also highlights Dr. Steve Keller’s work as a desperately needed medical volunteer.

An update on Rene’s Trip to Haiti

February 2, 2010

We are happy to report that Denise founder, René Aubry, has returned safely from his needs assessment trip to Haiti. After waiting nearly two weeks in order to allow medical personnel and relief to arrive, René began his journey.  René travelled to Port au Prince and Leogane, the epicenter of the quake, to gain a clear assessment of damage and needs going forward in Haiti. From his conversations and experiences there, René highlights two major areas of need – organization and better targeted human resources. Although relief is increasingly arriving to people, there are too many examples of a lack of coordination and human resources delaying distribution of desperately needed items. René observed a poignant example of this as he watched a mass of people in line waiting for food aid. Unfortunately, the aid remained locked behind a fence, undistributed due to a lack of security personnel. Good intentions are simply not enough in situations of life and death. Tragic examples like this one, point to the need for aid processes to be better coordinated, implemented and efficient in responding to people’s most acute needs.

In addition to a lack of coordinated relief, the capacity of the Haitian government has been decimated by structural damage, deaths and officials leaving the country. The need for technical expertise and coordination is immense. In his letter from the assessment trip, René presents a future vision for Denise that will involve transitioning from a relief effort into an organization that can meet the needs for technical and logistical support in the rebuilding process. Please see Rene’s letter for information on what Denise has done in Haiti thus far and reflections on the future trajectory of this effort. What emerges clearly from Rene’s trip is that people’s needs are pressing, relief remains insufficient and a long-term process of rebuilding will require technical and human resources far beyond current capacities.

René Aubry on damage assessment trip. Photograph by Christian Kober.

René on damage assessment trip. Photograph by Christian Kober.

Photograph by Christian Kober.

Photograph by Christian Kober.

Photograph by Christian Kober.

René with United Sikhs. Photograph by Christian Kober.

René outside of the Presidential Palace. Photograph by Christian Kober.

René in Leogane, the epicenter of the earthquake. Photograph by Christian Kober.

René in Leogane, the epicenter of the earthquake. Photograph by Christian Kober.

Haiti through a Doctor’s Eyes

January 28, 2010

Douglas Green is an anesthesiologist in his 50’s, working in Haiti. The following are his words and his experiences. We thank Doug for allowing us to imagine the work going on in Haiti through the eyes of the medical personnel on the front lines.

“A disaster of heartbreaking proportions. The trauma team from Hospital for Special Surgery. Did we do a hundred surgeries? Many amputations. But many limb-saving procedures too. Synthes corp. gave us a jet and many hundreds of thousands of $ in ortho equipment. The place stank of rotting flesh. Patients in the corridors and courtyards with the most outrageous injuries. By the end of the second day the smell had cleared. Other teams were there. An orthopedist from the Dom Repub. named Scott Nelson (what a hero), Dr. Bacot and a great team from St. Thomas. Medics from France, Mission of Hope team (USA), medics from Australia (what is it about Aussies that is so encouraging? They make it feel like victory in the middle of catastrophe). A Jamaican trio was very welcome. They came and went but they had 3 machine guns. Nights were lonely. Gunfire. Rachel and Gabriel Coupaud (angels) ferried us to their parents house in shifts to sleep. Fed us. Neighbors contributed food (would you give up your cache of food when there is little hope of more?). Slept 6 hours in 4 days.

An anesthesia nightmare. No heart monitor. BP cuff, semi-functional anesthesia circuit (gas vaporizors rusted shut) and pulse oximeters (ours) in two rooms. Got two other rooms going with an anesthesiologist from FT. Myers (Bob Thornton?) No monitor. No BP cuff. No pulse ox til I pieced one together from parts in a storage room unfortunately located next to the place where the amputated limbs were being dumped. That’s a smell that will buckle your knees. We brought a ton of stuff but we had to open more rooms to handle the load. Spinals and generals in the 2 rooms with the possibility of positive pressure ventilation (pop-off valves semi functional, CO2 absorbent last changed who knows when). Nerve blocks in the other 2 rooms. Haitians are beautiful people….In the streets they thank you. Those poor people. They had nothing and it was taken from them.

Don’t believe the TV coverage. The US presence is only just getting started. Mostly around the airport and the embassy where you can get medical care if you have a US passport. But thank God they took over the air traffic control. Flight in was like a Coney island ride. Told to circle without an altitude assigned or a pattern. Much better on the way out. Team exhausted and melting down. Our exit plan fell apart when US military assigned our flight a landing slot but then cancelled it (not unreasonable, I’m sure. They prioritized my getting out a little lower than I did). We were on our way to the D.R. in a truck with maybe a bus to take us to maybe… maybe… . My Haitian born partner (Kethy Jules-Elysee) went to the airport and found that we had a good chance there. A beautiful Haitian girl got us onto the tarmac. Pilots from everywhere offering rides back. Pilot culture is the best. How do you want to go? C130 or 737? Hitched a ride to Montreal. Good night for now.

Oh, we did a c-section on the way out the door. Doctor culture is cool too. Haitian OB-GYN and one of our Orthopedic Fellows. In the middle of Hell on earth the OB didn’t just do the case. He talked the fellow through it and then closed. Always educating. Resuscitated the baby. Extubated him and put him in mommy’s arms with colleagues shouting “we got to go. We got to go!”
I have to go to sleep.”

~Douglas Green

Two Weeks Since the Earthquake, an account from Haiti

January 27, 2010

We would like to share this moving account of Haiti two weeks after the earthquake. The account is written by Amelia Shaw, a journalist who has worked in Haiti since late 2003. In her own words, Amelia has covered the fall of the Aristide government, two floods, kidnappings and food riots and, “the slow but steady recovery of a country on the right track. And now this…tragedy.” She now works for UN Television in Haiti and was inside the UN headquarters when it came down. Amelia is dedicating her efforts to getting the UN mission up and running again and helping in every way possible to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.  Also an expectant mother, this is one of Amelia’s many stories….

Dear practically everyone,

I was looking at what is left of the commercial district of Port-au-Prince. It’s like walking through a technicolor photo from war-time France. It’s as if the city was bombed.

Today marks two weeks since the earthquake. I have to say, it’s still hard for me to link the words “Haiti” and “earthquake”. I mean, people expect earthquakes in Los Angeles and Mexico City. But what would you say if you woke up one morning and an earthquake had leveled Wichita? Or Pittsburgh?…

But if I have learned anything from these past two weeks, it’s that the onward march of time is relentless. Time waits for no-one. Not for the missing, not the dead. And certainly not for the living to catch their breath. People survive. They put one foot in front of the other. They face the impossible and they go on…..

One of my good friends works for an NGO that specializes in building major infrastructure, like bridges and roads. Since the quake, she’s been helping the government to clear away rubble from the hundreds of collapsed buildings around town. She is a tiny Korean-American who just broke her sacrum snowboarding in California over Christmas. She hobbles around quake sites with a cane and a baseball hat, in work boots up to her knees, and directs a team of tractors and bulldozers through apocalyptic landscapes. She is hiring Haitians by the hundreds to pick through the debris, to find things that can be re-used, like wires, or tubing, or cement for building roads.

The grim reality is that there are still bodies in there. So she spends much of her time screaming into her cell phone for somebody to please find more body bags. She told me about a t-shirt factory her NGO supports downtown. It was a major supplier for big American companies. It was also the hope for Haiti to revitalize its textile industry. But it collapsed into a pile of dust two weeks ago with about 750 workers inside.

I stop to think about the tragedy of that. The jobs lost. The lives lost! Each one of those people a wage earner, each one loved by a mother, a lover, a child. All gone. The immense cost of cleaning it up. The factory owner goes to the site every day, exhausted. But not broken. He is determined to start again, and build a factory bigger and better than before. And certainly more resistant to earthquakes…..

Geologists expect another big earthquake soon, but when? The dead are still lying in the streets. As people clear out more rubble, they come across broken bodies crammed into crevices, frozen in poses of struggle and flight. How many died, does anyone really know? And the survivors, where will they live? Will they stay in the city, or march like armies of ants back into the countryside to eke out a living on tiny plots of land? Hundreds of thousands of people live in tent camps on every available patch of grass and green in the city. Some say the government might build new houses – but where? And when? And last, what will happen to Haiti when the news fades, when the world loses interest and the humanitarian aid teams leave, off to parachute into the next disaster someplace else in the world?

I have no answers to any of these questions…. I do know that in these two weeks since the world here changed, we have remembered what it is to sleep outdoors. To conserve our precious water. To laugh in the face of chance. And to grieve our dead. As I look around this sun-wizened and weary city, I see the small signs of a population beginning to pick itself up and dust itself off. It’s just the first step of the long hard road of cleaning up the wreckage. And soon, people will start building again.

As I write this letter, I feel the first kicks of tiny baby feet inside of me. It feels like a miracle. It is all I can do to bow my head in thanks that amidst this tragic landscape of the destruction and loss, life is determined to go on.


Harvard Interview with Founder of Denise, René Aubry

January 26, 2010

Denise was featured today in a news article on the Harvard Kennedy School website along with a video interview with founder, René Aubry.  In the video below, René describes why he founded the organization and his long term hopes for Haiti’s future. “What’s most important to us is that we don’t just walk away from this after all the arms are bandaged…the larger story here is that this place needs fixing. And that there are many ways to help…This is the work of my life, I want to make Haiti whole again,” explained René, who is originally from Haiti. Please click here to read the full article!

More Doctors Arrive in Haiti

January 23, 2010

Since beginning our efforts just over one week ago, we’re pleased to report that the Denise team has managed to send 9 doctors to Haiti (another 3 are on their way) as well as $10,000 in relief supplies. We’re continuing to contact corporate sponsors to request in-kind donations. So far Trader Joe’s has responded with food donations and we’re hoping for 25 Blackberry phones to help with communications in Haiti. If you have a new or used blackberry that you would like to donate please contact

Our small team has also been expanding thanks to many US-based volunteers! Thank you for your support so far!!

Most importantly we want to share with you some pictures from Haiti, taken by a volunteer photojournalist the past two days.

Boy Airlifted

Haitian boy is airlifted to a hospital. Photograph by Christian Kober

Father overjoyed that he can accompany his son. Photograph by Christian Kober

Children recovering at a hospital. Photograph by Christian Kober

Doctors provide critical care. Photograph by Christian Kober

A makeshift field hospital

A make-shift field hospital. Photograph by Christian Kober

Jaime and Andrea deliver supplies of insulin

Jamie and Andrea, friends of Denise, deliver supplies of insulin through a project they organized with American University students and the MIDAS project in Colombia. Photograph by Christian Kober

Supplies at Samaritan Hospital in Jimini town. Photograph by Christian Kober

Photography Credits:

Author: Christian Kober (IP: ,

Haiti – A Call to Action and How to Help

January 16, 2010


The effects of the terrible earthquake in Haiti have resonated around the world and in particular in our hearts. In response to this heart-breaking devastation, a group of Harvard Kennedy School alumni have come together to leverage our resources and networks to provide urgent relief supplies and medical personnel.  We want to be clear that the goal is not to create a separate relief effort but to provide additional support. We will be using this blog to update everyone on our efforts as well as on the situation on the ground in Haiti.

Our latest news

One of the alums organizing this effort works for USAID and is already on the ground in Haiti establishing connections with hospitals and other relief organizations. JetBlue has offered us their excess capacity on their planes to send doctors and medical supplies to Haiti via the Dominican Republic. Three doctors are already heading out tonight. We’ve also secured an agreement with Clif bars to donate food. We’re working on using our networks to get additional donations from companies and private individuals.  We are especially looking to secure medical supplies. The goal is to send a plane with supplies and additional personnel by next week.

How to Help

If you would like to support this effort please let me know or you may donate directly using this link:

All donations will go directly to the relief effort to purchase things like additional food and medical supplies. Donations are tax deductible and will be processed through the nonprofit I’m working with, All Nations Education.  If you would like more information, please click on the Letter from Rene Aubry, which is also on this blog.

You may also wish to donate to the broader relief effort through other great charities such as:

Razoo is matching donations to certain charities such as the Red Cross and Save the Children at this link:

Thank you for being with us, as we are with the people of Haiti.

Lisa (on behalf of the team)