Joey texts at 10:02 am: Maria, there is another flight to Haiti, if I can’t go would you like to go with Jude?” I will never forget that text. When I called Joey, instead of asking how she was feeling, the words “Of course” immediately escaped from my mouth.
The journey begins. In Toronto, Mr Ian Clarke introduces everyone and I finally meet Jude, Alain and Loune; together we head for the AC jets. I can now feel the adrenaline start kicking into high gear as we prepare to board. Loune explains she took a short break away from Haiti but is going back because she knows how much needs to be done. Loune’s job is to analyze all emergencies within the area and allocate the proper resources.
Ian Clark, Executive VP & Chief Financial Officer for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment created a committee of six people to spearhead this mission. Together these gracious people sponsored the flight, gathered supplies, and donated half the cargo to Partners in Health with the help of ONEXONE.
Ian worked with Gary McInerney and Malcolm West of Greenfield Ethanol Ian was able to gather 325 tents, ethanol sanitizers, Apollo Shampoo, baby formula, diapers, chocolates and drinks. Twenty skids of product and 5000 pounds of clothing in all.
Landing in Haiti, we are informed that prior to our arrival yet another earthquake, with a magnitude of 4.2 on the Richter scale, has struck the people of Port-au-Prince.
We wait attentively on the tarmac in order to secure the 9000 kilo load of goods and are met by Guilene Viaud from Partners in Health.
Ian was very efficient in unloading all the goods, thanking everyone who contributed and making sure the product was divided properly between ONEXONE, Partners in Health and a church he promised to help . Once a product came off the belt, Ian knew exactly where everything went.
Loune and I walked over to meet Kathryn from Partners in Health who brought a truck . Ian and the crew quickly fill it to the brim . The truck then departs from the tarmac and Kathryn informs us that she will return once they have dropped everything off at the clinic.
Haiti Free Clinic
After loading into a van with Jude and Loune, I am introduced to John Bopp, a clinic volunteer, and Alphone Edouard. The clinic is surrounded by walls that help prevent overcrowding. My first perception of my surroundings is that there are too many sick people and too many worn out doctors. After meeting and speaking with several of the international doctors,, they all ask me “is the blonde Joey coming back?” . The Greek doctor informs me that his wife has gone back to Greece due to exhaustion and is currently being replaced by another woman; he tells me that the woman has just finished tending to 150 patients and to please allow her sit down in order to talk.
Jude then runs into a sweet little man, who he introduces as Carlos. That day approximately 300 people were treated. I witnessed a doctor draft and remove a cyst or piece of debris from the inner shoulder of a woman under one light bulb that went out much to his frustration. The surgery looked so neat under the circumstances and the woman completely poised and relaxed.
In another tent I could see a doctor from Asia taking notes on many of the patients, trying to communicate with each of them in order to better understand the cause of their illness. After clearing out the first rush of people, it is only a matter of seconds before the second wave of people begins to assemble outside the gate.
The late lunch finally arrives along with the thirty orphans that come to the clinic everyday to take a break from their daily hardships. The tiny children are happy and seemingly carefree as they eat their meals within the confines of a dirt yard, if this isn’t a glowing sign of resilience, I don’t know what is.
Amidst this jam packed day we are called in by the captain who informs us it is time to leave. I had hoped to have the opportunity to visit the Partners in Health clinic but there simply was not enough time to make that possible.
BACK AT THE AIRPORT
Upon our return to the airport we run into Kathryn again standing by with a van, she is waiting for a water purification system a young gentlemen named Jamieson Slough has offered to donate to Partners in Health. Together, we help lug this heavy system stored in big black trunks out of the truck and are educated by Mr. Slough on the machine’s operation.
Another incredible human being I had the pleasure of encountering, Mr. Paul Jones, the voice of the Raptors on Fan590 and Sportsnet.ca told me just how jolted he was bythe whole situation and how leaving Haitiawas going to leave him wanting to tell more. People like Mr. Jones are important in keeping the flame of hope and survival lit for those devastated by the earthquake.
The scene on the plane as we come to the conclusion of our mission is one of mixed emotions. Gilles Charette tries to keep the moral upbeat. It is now 7:45 pm and we are on our way back home safely. Alain and Jude begin planning how they will round up yet another mission I guess it is safe to say there is never a last flight; with monsoon season soon approaching many issues are brought up; such as what will be done for the people in terms of shelter and care.
Our flight back to Montreal through Toronto is delayed, while waiting, a familiar face, Debbie Travis, enters the room with a big smile. I introduce the Air Canada group to her, Debbie seemed to be very enthusiastic as I continued to ramble on about the mission and the relief we continue to provide Debbie makes it clear that she wants to help out in some way, she gets on twitter after I finally give her a break she is able to write “just landed & knackered but just met a group enroute from Haiti -have just promised to help rebuild their hospital – they are the heroes-( via web)”.
-Special thanks to Joey Adler-our visionary
-Ian Clarke ,along with his sponsors and crew for making this flight possible
-The Air Canada team-security and logistics.