The people of Haiti are incredibly strong. Stronger than John Walsh and me - with welled-up eyes we just stared at each other last night. No words.
The hard realization of the devastation in Haiti had hit us.
Sunday: John Walsh, Andrew Kline, John's son Callahan, Bob Lowery from NCMEC, my son-in-law Wally Yoost "Turbo", and I flew to Haiti. Sunday was alarming - Monday horrifying. Haiti is in serious trouble and getting no meaningful help. Flight 17 and 18 for our plane. Usually Medishare Doctors down, docs and patients back. This time to assess children's safety. NCMEC reunited 5,500 children with their families after Katrina. What can NCMEC do now?
John and I, coincidentally, spent our youth in the Bahamas being the brightest colored black people. We certainly stood out in Port-au-Prince. Decades later, the brightest colored people again. By far!
We walked the streets of Port-au-Prince for 8 hours yesterday. Depression set in. The buildings that are standing are about to come down. I don't know if the aftershocks have caused them to be way worse, or that I concentrated on the pancaked highrises and buildings last trip and didn't notice. What a realization: Port-au-Prince cannot be fixed. Port-au-Prince is totaled and needs to be rebuilt somewhere else.
We went to Haiti to help protect the hundreds of thousands of new orphans living on the street. With that one goal in mind, our realization became shockingly broader. The Haitian people are in serious danger and only they can protect their children. Sure we can supply computer systems and post the missing children we find photos on the streets; but millions need somewhere to live. They need real tents now, not tents made from blankets and sheets. They need one story strong buildings in 5 months for hurricane season for millions of people.
A tropical depression this season would kill hundreds of thousands of Haitians. A hurricane - millions.
John and I have hunted the most ludicrously sick pedophiles-who have murdered children, mass murderers and terrorist. Nothing has hit us harder than Haiti. In John's words; "This is a thousand times worse than Katrina." John worked in the sewers of New Orleans that Katrina left, when we as a country didn't respond.
John's words: "Other than the Barth Green's Medishare Hospital, there isn't anyone helping anyone here. This is more disorganized than Katrina."
The Haitians were walking around Port-au-Prince with orange peels in their nose because of the smell of dead people. These incredible Haitian people looked like ants rebuilding their lives. Tens of thousands were grabbing sheets of roofing tins out of collapsed buildings and pieces of plywood and whatever to build their makeshift tiny new homes.
This morning as I was getting my suitcase out of the trunk of my car, I thought something was left in my trunk and spoiled. When I walked into my kitchen, I thought something had gone rotten. Then I realized it was the smell of dead people in my nostrils again. It doesn't come out. 3 showers later scrubbing my nostrils with hospital disinfectant soaps I could still smell it. Marguerite St. Fleur called, just back from Haiti and sick as a dog to see when she could go back. She told me to use alcohol and it worked. Incredible O.R. Nurse...
With the tens and tens of thousands of people in the streets, including recent amputees just sitting on the rubble of what used to be buildings. We saw about 3 police walking the streets. And then 5 military type Haitian Police came up to John Walsh because they recognized him. No soldiers, no UN, no Red Cross.
In front of the Presidential Palace we saw about $20,000 of rice given to the people by the UN and Paraguay Soldiers. It was run by an American; I would guess Colonel by his demeanor dressed in ubiquitous-nondescript uniform. He came up to us and asked if we needed protection. We told him we did not.
Pretty well run operation, but not a drop in the ocean of what Haiti needs. Our understanding from speaking to Soldiers from Paraguay in Spanish is that the United States doesn't want to look like we're running the operation. Maybe the rice bags shouldn't have had giant American Flag emblems on them if the plan was to make it look like we weren't in the lead.
US Soldiers on the ground in Port-au-Prince airport told us that the United States is trying to work out with the UN where we don't look like the lead country in what they call UN CLUSTER MEETINGS. I don't hit Beach Balls when they're thrown across the plate that slow. Cluster Meetings says it all.
UN vehicles and the vehicles of many militaries are rushing furiously around the airport. Almost no one is helping Haiti. There's a couple billion pounds of food, a billion gallons of water on the airport; and the equivalent of none going to the people.
We live these plastic lives in America. In Haiti, you're lucky to been seen by a hospital and lost a limb. A real tent, food and water have become luxuries.
As a lifelong Democrat and Obama true blue supporter, let me say it this way. Butch up Barack and let's be the Lead Country in Haiti. Let's go help a country we can really help! Let's be a Country of Peace and Compassion and not of war.
Drastic times call for drastic measures. Let's do the right thing.
Photos of Haiti we took will be up on: www.HankAsher.com -We'll throw a site together tonight and start updating frequently.
For now if you want to help Haiti: www.projectmedishare.org -The Governments from many countries cannot believe the private sector did this. Go Barth Green. Go Pascal Goldschmidt. Go University of Miami and Jackson Memorial.