Saturday, November 20, 2010

Change of Plans

I received a disturbing email from the volunteer coordinator the other night.  It stated that the organization was requesting I postpone my trip.  They had just gotten notification from the US Embassy that there was a new travel advisory for Port Au Prince.  Due to the increased violence in the area, it has been deemed unsafe for me to enter the area.

Many Haitians are upset and are holding the UN responsible for the recent outbreak of Cholera.  They have started burning trash to in the middle of roads to serve as barricades.  When aid workers exit their vehicles at the barricades, they sometimes have rocks thrown at them with gunshots heard in the background. The Haitian police force is attempting to control the crowds with tear gas, only to have the crowds regroup with even more protesters.  

In addition to these riots, I was scheduled to arrive in Port Au Prince on the Haiti Election Day.  As I'm sure most of you know, elections in undeveloped countries are often unpredictable. Many locals are very upset with current conditions and very well could chose voting day as the day to make their statement.

Although, every ounce of my heart desires to be in Port Au Prince helping the thousands of people affected by the Cholera outbreak, I have made the decision to not travel at this time.  I have two beautiful boys and I cannot justify the risk of traveling at this time.  I had been following these developments for a week or so and was struggling with a decision.  It was a small relief to get the email from both the organization and US government asking me stay home.  However, it doesn't make my heart hurt any less.

I have yet to get an answer from the airlines about my ticket.  If the US Embassy releases an official "No Travel Advisory", my ticket should be refunded.  However, as of now, the Embassy has only released a "Warden's Message" and the airlines view not traveling as the equivalent of cancelling my ticket.  If they allow me to switch dates, there is a chance I will leave for Haiti the end of January..  That trip, of course, is dependent on many things, including being able to get off work and the stability of Haiti.  If it all falls into place, I will gladly be on my way. 

Until then, I am glued to the news for updates.  It is unbearable for me to see all those suffering and feel completely spoiled sitting on my couch in front of my big screen HDTV, but at the same time, unavoidable.  I have been unable to sleep, for when I close my eyes, the beautiful, yet suffering, Haitian faces confront me. 

I am also haunted with the fact that I was originally scheduled to arrive in Haiti earlier this week.  The moment before I booked my ticket, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of anxiety and decided to push my departure date back a few weeks. I wasn't comfortable leaving so soon and just had a gut feeling that it wasn't feasible.  I have never been so happy that I listened to my gut and booked my trip for the end of November.  If I hadn't, it is highly likely that I would be unable to return home from Haiti.  I easily could have been ordered to stay in the tent city and not take the risk of traveling to the Port Au Prince airport.  Thank God I am safe and sound at home and I am praying with every ounce of my being that God grants Haiti citizens the same grace he has shown me.  

God Bless
Courtney 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Church

video

Driving past a tent city

video

Downtown Port Au Prince

video
I'm pretty sure this was an accident, but it turned out pretty interesting.  Just a short video of day to day life in PAP.  The male voice in the background is Pastor Ron, describing the day of the earthquake and his efforts to get a group of missionaries back on American Soil.

Everyday items of need

I am once again gathering items of need to the Haitians will be serving. I have two large duffel bags stuffed with as much as possible (I will be bringing all my personal stuff in a backpack that I will carry on again). Here is a list of most needed items.

• Feminine hygiene products, specifically pads. Most women in Haiti do not wear tampons. Socks/T-shirts / Baby clothes/ Diapers/ Baby Bottles/ Rain gear/ Toy cars/ Stickers/ Pens / Coloring books/ Notebooks/ Flip Flops/ Shoes/ Tents/ Tarps/ Stickers/ Water containers/ Water filters/ Sharpies/ Candy (Chocolate)/ Paint
• Building supplies, nails, basic hand tools; wrenches, screwdrivers, etc. zip ties, duct tape, rope, batteries, toolbox, electrical tape, electrical wire nuts, extension chords, fans, power strips, tarps.
• Office supplies: pads of paper, pens, whiteboard pens, printer ink (HP Color Laserjet Black CC530A).
• Currently Needed: a quality cordless drill

I have had a lot of people ask what I need and this is a great place to start! Because of time constraints, I think the best way to get me donations is to meet me. Leave me a comment or message of some sort and I will be sure to get in touch with you if needed!

Thanks again for reading!

Pictures Alast!

Monday, November 8, 2010

You are doing what?

First and foremost:  Pictures will be posted soon, I promise!  Thursday at the latest---I feel horrible that I have taken so long!


And yes, I'm going back to Haiti in a few short weeks.  I never imagined doing this, but again, God placed this opportunity in my lap, and I can't turn it down.  Let me share with you how this happened.


As most of you know, shortly after I returned, a devastating Cholera outbreak started in Haiti.  I actually spent a day in the area the outbreak started and of course it hit home.  While I was trying to adjust to my spoiled American way of life, this news hit me in the gut- hard.  I wasn't feeling all that great myself, but only imagined how the Haitians felt.  It is hot as Haiti (get it-Haiti instead of Hades...I crack myself up!) down there and to be afraid to drink the water is unimaginable.  I heard stories of people dying within hours and being able to put faces to those dying was keeping me up at night.  


So I did a little Googling and asked a few relief organizations on more information about medical relief volunteers.  New Reality International (NRI) replied within a few days and asked if I would be available for a Cholera relief trip starting Nov. 15.  At the time, I was still feeling the physical effects of my trip, I felt that my family needed me and it just didn't feel right.  So I just left the email sit in my inbox.  


Then the news of the hurricane took over the airwaves.  Paul actually texted me out of the blue saying, "I think you should go, they need you more than we do."  I knew immediately what he was referring to and his support moved me to tears.  I went to work that night and continued to pray about it.  Then it hit me:  I can not imagine sitting at home a week from now, listening to the horror stories coming from Haiti and know that I had a chance to help and didn't.  God was telling me to go and as my friend Sara so perfectly stated, "God doesn't make mistakes."  


So I filled out the information NRI asked for and decided to see where it took me.  I got a very rapid response and filled out the forms as they came (usually within a matter of hours).  I apparently gained their approval and was asked to come as soon as possible.  


I decided to ask for an extension on the Nov 15th arrival date.  That was literally a week away! We have agreed to have me arrive on Nov 28th and leave a week later on Dec 5.  Still coming up quick, but gives me some time to get my ducks in a row!


New Reality International is working to set up teams to respond to the Cholera Crisis.  I will be spending my trip working in a hospital/clinic in a tent city, most likely Petionville.  Not only will I be tending to Cholera patients, but will be educating Hatian midwives on the basics of NRP (newborn resuscitation program).  


My previous living quarters in the orphanage sound like a resort compared to this trip.  I will be sleeping in a tent, cooking my own food and taking showers with very limited water (they instructed me to turn off the water while I lather!).  I will be full on camping in the backcountry in between working 16 hour days at the hospital.  12 hour shifts at work will soon seem like a breeze!


I am in no position to ask for donations, as everyone was so generous with my initial trip.  But I also will not turn down anything! NRI has given me a list of requested items that I hope to post soon.  

Thank you for reading and understanding my motives!