Showing posts from February, 2010

More on the Task Force

Another article about the task force this week. This time in the LDS Church News, and with a terrible picture of me at the top!

This one line from the story cracks me up. "a member of the Utah Hospital Task Force, dances to entertain Haitian people at one of the improvised clinics in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Such entertainment helped many Haitians experience a moment of normalcy." Um, because it is normal for white guys to do silly dances to entertain Haitians?

Images of Haiti Photo Exhibition

Come out and support Haiti!
Friday, March 5 5:30-8:00 pm Alpine Art Studio (downtown SLC 430 E South Temple, SLC
On March 5, 2010, Alpine Art in downtown Salt Lake City will join photographers Joel Addams and Misha Tulek in presenting images of Haiti during the month after the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Admission is free, but a $10 donation is encouraged to benefit the locally founded Healing Hands for Haiti and the Red Cross, both groups that Joel and Misha worked with in Haiti. Joel has been photographing for seven years and is currently represented by Aurora Photos, Getty Images, and Corbis. Misha Tulek, recently completed an internship with internationally-recognized photographer James Nachtwey and now freelances out of New York City.

Healing Hands for Haiti has been focused on providing prosthetics, orthopedic devices and rehabilitation for Haitians in need for over ten years. They have also extended the benefits of their organization by employing local Haitians at their…

Finally, my first non-Haiti post

I managed to go two weeks in Haiti without so much as indigestion or a hiccup, but one night out with my family to a sushi place, and I've got a "tummy issue" going on. (As does my brother, mother, and sister.) So not fair.

I guess this means we are back to life as usual. I'm back to job-hunting, back to watching way too much TV, and back to my lovely case of insomnia. The hard part about job hunting post-Haiti is wanting to do something more important with my life. It is hard to convince myself that I can just work for money for any job. I still have this overwhelming desire to serve, to change the world, and make a difference. But as a career adviser once told me, "Even Superman had a day job."

So I've reconciled my ideals, motivations, and expectations. It is now my first priority goals to adopt a young child from Haiti, and to become a foster parent. (As long as I am unemployed I am not in a situation to become a foster parent, as soon as I have a …

Haiti news links

As I wrap up my Haiti blogging I thought I'd share a few of the news articles about Haiti, the orphans, and our organization.

Sean Penn Talks to Larry King 
Health Crisis in Haiti

Couple Dies Picking Up Newly Adopted Son

Utah Hospital Task Force
LDS Church News- Home From Haiti  (includes a really bad picture of me)
One of our volunteers blogged from Haiti daily for

Meridian Magazine special features on our trip and on Haiti-

Photography- our group had two professional photographers with us that have now posted their pictures on their sites.  (on both sites you will need to look at portfolios, then haiti)
Misha Tulek  (#6 is my favorite, #10 breaks my heart)
Joel Addams (served double duty as doctor and photographer!)

And not that my photography is any great thing, but if you'd like to see the rest of my Haiti photos, you can see them here- http://www.t…

Miscellaneous Thoughts on Haiti

I am just about out of things to say about Haiti. (I'm sure a few of you were wondering if I'd ever run out of material!) So before I'm done, I thought I'd share some of the "volunteer lifestyle" experiences.

Port au Prince is covered in "tent cities." If you've been paying attention you will notice the "tents" the refugees are living in are not actually camping tents. They are sheets strung up with sticks and boxes. Seeing such poverty and conditions it wasn't hard to be grateful for our little "tent city" back at main camp.

We lived in these lovely little 1 man tents, with a wool blanket, and a thin 1 inch inflatable mattress pad. Most people were living in them with a roommate. (2 people in a 1 man tent!) I was one of the very lucky few who only had a roommate for 2 nights, (then got sent out to the orphanage with 15 men) and then had my own solo tent. You'll noticed in the picture a lot of people threw their gear …

The Lord is My Shepherd- in Haiti and everywhere else I go

the view from the roof of the orphanage

Haiti Voodoo: 
Another central feature of Voodoo is the service, the religious rites of the religion.
These are usually held outside, under a rough roof and around the poto mitan, the center pole. A houngan or mambo almost always directs these. Drums are used extensively to provide music and dancing is absolutely essential to the whole service. Services are fully participatory. Not only the houngan and mambo participate but nearly everyone present.A master of ceremonies (La Place) is often present.A hounganikon directs the music and motion. Hounsi (women only) are serving ladies, usually dressed in white.Those in attendance are nearly all participants and most can be mounted by loa.In most services the loa mount people. That is, they come and take over a person's body for a time. When the loa come the person is gone. (It's not clear where the person goes.) The body is the body of the person, but it is really the loa…

The People and Faces of Haiti

Today I thought I'd share some of the beautiful faces I saw in Haiti.  The stories behind each face are starting to become fuzzy in my head already. I wish they weren't. I'll add what I can to make their faces and stories more real to you.

This little darling is Nathalie. She's 9 mos old, but only maybe 6 or 7 lbs. I love her natural mohawk. Most Haiti babies have these funny little mohawks. (From always being held, and the hair rubs off on the side. As compared to American babies that get bald spots worn off on the back of their heads from their beds!) I love the way she's looking up at me, like we're having an interesting conversation. She was such a little doll. I loved her!

This little Haitian princess was afraid of me at first. She didn't want the "blanc blanc" touching her. (White white.) I couldn't touch her, but she always wanted to touch my hair. I came back a few times to visit her. By my last day she had warmed up to me, and let me h…

God Bless the USA

Today's Haiti subject- the US military! And why I love them so!

More on Haitian Orphans

Want to hear me cry on the radio? Well, here's your chance!
 (taken at the airport, waiting to get the orphans on the plane)
This interview was conducted at the Port au Prince airport, literally just minutes after we got the 66 orphans on to the plane. To give you more context, I was suddenly placed in charge of 13 orphans (which turned out later to be 15 orphans!). We (the volunteers and security agents standing around us) were all heartbroken that we didn't get all of the children on the plane. I was probably also in a good amount of shock! It was our first true day in-country, and I was in a very surreal situation.

That all being said, I still stand by what I said. But I do want to go on record as saying that I do support the US government in how they are handling the situation. I am grateful for all that the Haitian government did on that day to get the orphans out (which at the time of th…

The Volunteers of the Task Force

I thought today I would change directions a little bit and share a little bit about the volunteers that I served with. Put a few faces with the stories, and put a more personal spin on things.
As mentioned before our organization was divided up into three basic groups- medical, construction, and translators. But actually there was a fourth group of miscellaneous people. I fell into this fourth group. We were the ones who had a variety of other skills, from being organizers, to having political contacts, or maybe money contacts, to being able to fly a plane, or provide security. Let's say you are taking a plane load of volunteers into a Third World country and things are volatile there, and you aren't sure what might happen. What's your contingency plan? Your SNAFU-back up plan? How about someone who knows how to make phone calls to political powers? And a person with financial resources to make things happen? Someone who packs a big gun? And how about a pilot to fly you ou…

The More Spiritual Side of My Haiti Experience

I thought today being Sunday would be a good day to share some of the more spiritual aspects of my trip to Haiti. I hope that I can share these in the right spirit and light, and that you can receive them as such.
Before going to Haiti I heard the question raised "How can God let this happen?" And I admit, I asked myself the same question several times. But for every moment of doubt, as my eyes searched over ruins of rubble, wondering how many bodies were trapped inside, I saw dozens of Acts of God as well.
Something worth noting about the Haitian people, no matter how awful and terrible they have it right now, they still praise God. They gather in parking lots at night to create makeshift worship services and sing together. They break into songs of praise in fly infested and boiling hot hospital tents. They pray together. They have not turned against God.
There is one particular personal experience I want to share of a spiritual nature. There were dozens and dozens of momen…

Images of Port au Prince

The earthquake epicenter was in Port au Prince, the largest and most populous town in Haiti. As is widely known, over 200,000 people were killed, and continue to die, from the earthquake. As many people will point out, Port au Prince was a dump before the earthquake. But it is far worse now.
I wish I could tell you the story behind each of these buildings and houses. But in all but one case, I won't know anything about the buildings at all. The simple explanation is that yes, there were probably people in the buildings when they fell. No, they probably did not get out alive. Their bodies are trapped in the rubble, and will never be pulled out. The stench of death is prevalent around the larger buildings. There are no definitive plans yet as to how Haiti will clean up all of these buildings. Most people intend to live in their "tents" indefinitely, which will pose some very serious problems come the rainy/hurricane season in a few months. I took over 90 pictures of just …

Orphans in Haiti

There is a lot of focus on the orphan situation in Haiti. I don't know what the current legal situation is regarding adoptions. There are too many rumors and not enough stable facts. And I do know everyone (American and Haitian) is trying to make some fast changes. I've heard way too many conflicting things to know enough concrete facts to be an expert on how to adopt out of Haiti.

But this is what I can tell you. I will be going back to Haiti (soon) to adopt my own children. I will adopt them from the orphanage I helped build. I will go back and rescue my own children from that field. I can tell you I left a part of my heart in that field. And there will always be a part of my heart in that field.

There are thousands of orphaned children in Haiti. There were thousands before the earthquake, and there are thousands more now. They are in orphanages, in the streets, and in the hospitals. Not all are available for adoption, because they are parental surrenders. Their parents hope…

Things I Can't Wait to Tell You About Haiti

I'm back from the big trip to Haiti. There are so many things to tell you and to share, and honestly it is hard to know where to start. There are so many stories, experiences, feelings, people, places, and more to tell you. So I'll start first with telling you the things I can't wait to tell you about. Rather than the usual travelogue diary, I will break things down into subjects, and not day by day activities.Today's subject- service.

Service It is an incredible experience to be able to spend every day in the service of the most humble of people. The days were not about me. They were about helping our serve Haiti. (My role primarily being a support role to the camp and organizers.) We served. I can honestly say no one complained. Sure there were little comments made here and there about how much we all came to hate MRE's, (seriously, the egg omelet MRE is of the devil), how much we missed showering, and oh my stars and garters, the state of the latrines. We jokingly…