Here is a letter we received a couple of days ago from the Mexican Christian medical team in Haiti, where two of our young people from Templo Cristiano Libertad are serving.
Greetings from the CIRENE team.Today has been one of the hardest days that we have had here, but it has also been one of the days when we have been most touched by what it is that we have been able to do here. To begin the day today, we separated men from women, the women stayed at the house with the two doctors that are still here with us (Oscar and Luis). The rest of us went to a different part of town where there is a concentration of more than 7000 people, a surprising number. It is difficult sometimes to understand the people here, not so much because of the language barrier, but because of the few actions that they take in the face of the catastrophic event that has just occurred to them.
Today we went to the zone which is said to have been most damaged by the effects of the earthquake. We arrived at a huge building; There was rubble everywhere and the second floor was collapsed, which left the first floor was holding the weight of the entire building. At the beginning, they told us that we were going to be helping remove the rubble from the building, but upon our arrival they wanted us to remove the benches and a few other things that were usable. Out of the Haitians in the area, we only counted two people that had come to help. One of the men that had come with us, along with some of the guys, went inside the building to see if there was anything that we could do, but we were told that there was no reason to try, it was too complicated and could also be dangerous. Apart from this, there sadly were three bodies still trapped in the rubble, one of which was notably visible.
Since we arrived in Haiti, there has been no word of the Haitian people mobilizing to help their own. It is not my intention to criticize because I understand what these people are going through. The majority of them lost everything; many lost family members, parents, children, friends, and the much or little they did own collapsed around them. Apathy is a very strong force in this nation, above all now, in their time of need. It is one of the biggest challenges that we are facing; helping the people help themselves out of the situation. We have much work ahead of us.
In the end, we were able to do nothing, so we returned home. It was a tedious trip and there was a lot of traffic. Upon our arrival at the house we were surprised to find that the doctors who we left behind were inundated with work. People wanting medical consultation filled the patio. The problem was that the majority of the people were not sick, they merely wanted something. There were people that wanted us to look at their children because the sweat a lot, or because their eyes were slightly yellow. Others came because they had the flu, but they didn’t display any symptoms. Despite all of this, we pressed on trying to attend to as many people as possible. In reality, the people who weren’t really sick made our job much more difficult, but we were still enjoying being able to help. The whole event was somewhat striking to me; the whole world was joking around about it, and we were amiably taking care of every person in the place.
Oscar keeps painting his face like a clown, even though he can’t perform for anyone because if he did, the kids wouldn’t understand. Morales and Emmanuel continue to blow up balloons and make little animals out of them so that each child can have at least one. Meanwhile Mike, who is from the North, Edwin, from Guatemala, Isodoro and Will, from Oaxaca, Biso, a guy from San Luis, and myself on occasion, help by putting together the food rations that will be given out during the day. It is a bit tiring because the food rations are in a metal container outside of the house, and you can imagine the heat after being inside for five minutes is almost unbearable. I wish I could say it is helping us lose weight, but that is not the case, because our food here is too delicious. Also, on top of this, we are incredibly careful about hygiene, as we try to avoid everything that could possibly cause some kind of infection.
All of the women here are fundamental for the team to function. Yesica and Anayansin are in charge of efficiently distributing the medicine that we have to each patient that is indeed sick. Cristina and Nydia are in charge of taking the patients’ blood pressure and checking to see if they are truly sick. Paloma and Pati are nurses and they help the doctors immeasurably. Today alone, they had around 60 consultations before noon. Julio, who is also from San Luis, along with Aaron, help in any way they can; when they aren’t working with the food rations, they are working crowd control or working on whatever else is needed. Iveth along with Luckson are the ones who help us translate and there are times when they never stop because of the constant flow of people. Pancho and Pedro, along with Jorge, were in charge of going to the embassy to ask for more help. When we began the day, we were hoping that we would receive more help, but we could have never imagined how much.
Later in the day, after we finished attending to all of the people that had come, we were informed of the enormous amount of help we were going to receive. Luckson took charge of locating three semi trucks to bring all of the goods possible and the three left immediately to the embassy. Around four in the afternoon the first truck arrived. The truck was filled to capacity with food; it took us around three hours to unload it. We had to move some girls sleeping in one room, over to another, where the rest of the women from our team sleep in order to use the room for the food. After we unloaded everything we were able to realize that there was a variety of goods in the truck. There was also the medicine we needed so badly, diapers, powdered milk, and clothes. We were all laughing when we realized that some people had packed thick winter coats to send to a country of such high temperatures, but any and all help is appreciated. We have unloaded a mass amount of Red Cross boxes, along with boxes from many other institutions. Many Haitians are incredibly grateful to the country and people of Mexico, for their generosity.
We had around two hours to arrange everything that we had unloaded and rest a little. Finally the second truck arrived, just as full, if not more so, than the first. The inside of the house is filled with medicine, bottled water, cans of tuna, and so much more. The room where we had started to unload things was filled to capacity, so we even had to begin unloading some things onto the roof. This truck even had huge quantities of blankets; there is no doubt that as Mexicans, we know how to act in solidarity, even in moments of hardship.
Right now we are taking a little break, as we wait on the third truck that Pancho is bringing, which should arrive soon, and we’ve been told that it is filled just as much as the first two. We have all helped; the girls have also put forth a lot of effort. We have received so much today that we don’t even know where we are going to store everything from this next truck. We have done inventory and now know that we have received approximately 35 tons of food. This means that we are ready to hand out more than 1000 food rations per day. This is going to require a great deal of personal strength for each of us on the team, and we ask you to keep us in your thoughts.
Well, I will say goodbye for the moment. I need to rest a little before Pancho arrives with the last truck. I don’t know that time we will be done, but tomorrow we have to get up early enough to be able to make up the food rations and have enough time to be able to hand them all out.
We continue to send greetings and many hugs from everyone on the team. We hope you are all well and we thank you again for all of your support. The CIRENE team.