I returned from Port-au-Prince on Saturday night, exhausted and emotionally beaten up, but more resolved than ever to continue to do all I can to help Haiti and its indefatigable people. I saw things no one should ever have to see: babies with missing limbs and gashes across their bodies, people living in tents across the street from where their homes once stood and near riots when food supplies were announced for distribution at certain limited locations. But, amidst all of this, I also saw signs of courage and even hope. I saw little girls, braiding each other’s hair amidst the rubble, old women sweeping in front of their homes or tents and merchants attempting to sell their goods, once again. In short, I witnessed the dignified struggle to wrestle and sift normalcy from the rubble.
Over the past two weeks, Denise has raised nearly $20,000, all of which (100%) is committed to sending doctors, medical supplies and or other supplies to the people of Haiti. Not one cent will be spent on administrative costs. All costs associated with my trip were out of pocket. Moreover, given the efficiency and discipline with which our team has worked, despite delivering and housing over 20 doctors and sending over 2,000 pounds of medical supplies to Haiti, since Jan 15th, Denise has spent less than $1,000 of the total amount that has been donated. This was not accidental; we continue to receive free flights and cargo space from jetBlue and are still leveraging our extensive network of friends, family and colleagues in the US, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Moreover, Denise has always been committed to using the funds received in a manner that could have as much real impact as possible. With that in mind, I wanted to make my own assessment of what was needed on the ground and after speaking to several doctors, hospital administrators and decision makers in Haiti, I have a much clearer sense of that. At present, our donors are deciding between three options (a. prosthetics, b. more medicine, c. tents) for using the funds they raised.
In the near future, Denise will shift from an emergency relief organization to an organized entity that will get involved in the rebuilding process. During my time in Haiti, it became clear that technical and logistical support would be a great help in the rebuilding process. There will be more to come on this transition and should you have any thoughts regarding the future, we encourage you to contact us, or me directly, at email@example.com. We will begin raising new capital, under the name of a new entity for our foray into the rebuilding effort.
I returned to the US when I did to get sworn into the Bar of Washington, DC yesterday morning. As I pledged to uphold the constitution of this country, my thoughts could not help but drift to the commitment I made nearly three weeks ago, in my heart and in my bones to safeguard and shepherd the dreams of those living among the ruins of the country of my birth. And I also could not help but think that I stand between two worlds, between two countries, with friends and family reaching for each other across a chasm of pain and doubt. At times, I mistakenly thought I was holding onto you, but in fact, it is you who has been holding onto me, buoying my spirits, refusing to let me drown. You have enabled me to do the work I have been doing, and for that, I will forever be grateful. Again, thank you.
For those of you in the DC area, I will be speaking at Georgetown University on Wed, Feb 3rd, at 5pm in White-Gravenor (room 208). Also, please note that the home page of the Harvard Kennedy School is currently featuring a story and video on Denise; it can be found here: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/articles/alumni-haiti-jan10 .
Again, thank you.