So this may look like the most boring photo to those of you that have looked at other photos we have placed on our blog or on Facebook but this photo has a very important story.
I wrote this post awhile ago but recently I received a mention on Facebook about an article written regarding the “Haitian Money Pit.” It was an article written about where the funds have been used or not used and where did all the money raised after the earthquake go. I would highly recommend this blog and/or the episode VICE (an amazing HBO documentary program). My response is that this is an extremely complicated issue. This blog might help…
The first time my husband and I went to Haiti was 10 months after the earthquake. The non-profit organization we were working with had been inundated with donations and supplies. Many of these supplies were items desperately needed by the facility but unfortunately many of these supplies were just donated in excess or donated because it wasn’t needed or wanted in the United States. This box of wrenches is a perfect example. Karl had been looking for some tools and ran across this box, which caused him enough alarm that he had to bring me back to this box and show me its contents. This box has about 50 wrenches in it; all 50 wrenches are the SAME size. Are wrenches needed at this facility?? YES!! One of each size, maybe two, but not fifty. Forty-eight of these wrenches will sit in this box, taking up space, never to be used. Wasted. I am sure the donors had such high hopes for these wrenches but it is just so easy pack a box and send it away with hopes and prayers. The question to ask instead is; “What do they NEED?” Not, here…we don’t need these… let’s send them to ________. I have unpacked and thrown away thousands of dollars worth of donated supplies. Arterial blood gas kits (thousands) but they don’t have any laboratory way to run these labs. BiPaP masks but they don’t have a BiPaP machine. Donators also rarely think of storage as well. We had to dispose of an entire gazebo (yes gazebo) full to the roof of non-sterile gloves. Not because these gloves were not needed but because they were sent and the hospital had no place to store all of these supplies when they arrived and they essentially were stored outside until they ended up unusable.
I get asked all the time about where all the money that was donated to Haiti following the earthquake has gone. I honestly don’t know. For one, I have never been to Port-au-Prince to witness the destruction or the rebuilding. I also think it is easy for people (me included) to see something gut-wrenching and instinctually want to make it better and what is easier than whipping out a credit card. But do we even know where that money is going toward? There are some amazing non-profit organizations that do great things. Challenge these organizations to have intimate partnerships with in-country facilities and organizations so that your money goes directly to what moves your heart, to what is desperately needed.
We are deeply integrated with Justinian University Hospital. Months before our arrival we speak with the anesthesia department representatives and ask them what we can provide for them on our next visit. In addition, we do our best to provide equipment that is built to withstand the rigors that Haiti dishes out. Our intimate partnership with Justinian and its staff allows us to transfer our donors’ donations directly to our Haitian partners. So thank you donors for helping us to educate and directly help our Haitian healthcare providers.