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Letters from Haiti

Below are letters from our two representatives (Hai Pham & Quang Nguyen) who volunteered their time, energy and heart to go to Haiti to report on our water project:

Day 1 (letter from Quang): Safe in Haiti

Arrived into Haiti, very devastating here. My living accommodations are pretty good. First arrival, we were taken to a children's school. The kids cheered and sang songs for our arrival. I lost the luggage of candy and extra food (I knew it was a bad idea). Airport here is chaos, but we were greeted with a nice Haitian band at the terminal.  Tomorrow, we will be going to a village where Operation Blessing has set up fish farms and demonstrating how to use the Lifesaver Jerrycans. Tonight, I will be dining with most of Operation Blessing group and the Lifesaver guys. Weather is extremely hot, but I hope it stays like this (rain will flood this place).
Anyways, just wanted to let you all know that I am safe. I will be home soon. Time for dinner.


Day 2 (letter from Quang): Productive Day in Haiti

Today was great. We did a lot and actually helped a lot of people. The day is still going on, because tonight Operation Blessing is having fresh Tilapia fish from one of the fish farm projects (w/ Caribbean Harvest - Dr. Valentin Abe) they are supporting. This project is by far one of the greatest achievements I have seen happening here. These farms can provide thousands of fish to the villages that maintain and need a source of nutrition, let alone food. The village (near Lake Azuei) we visited is literally miles away from any market where food and water are available. They are unable to grow their own vegetables since the salt from the nearby lake has bleached the soil to be infertile. We distributed 43 Lifesaver Jerrycans to this village. Before our arrival, villagers would need to walk 3.5 miles just for water. The Jerrycans will serve very well for the prosperity/economics of the village. All donations from Compass/Lifesaver are going to a good cause.
This morning I had Haitian breakfast, which is actually spaghetti. We went into one of two Operation Blessing warehouses to pick up Lifesaver Jerrycans while also taking some time to talk about the value that the cans will be to the villages/orphanages that we would visit later. We went into the village that I wrote about earlier. The road to it was extremely rural and many miles away from Port-au-Prince (40 minute drive). This area is much more poverty-stricken in comparison to what I saw in Port-au-Prince - it was literally stick and mud huts.  After some demonstrations and talking with the villagers, we collected some fresh fish that the villagers had grown through the fish farming project that Operation Bless and Caribbean Harvest have partnered for. I'm currently grilling them for the group right now - can't wait to eat.
We also went into an orphanage where nursing mothers were in need of fresh clean water. These mothers received Lifesaver bottles. We took a short tour around the old and now collapsed orphanage that the children used to be in. Like the schoolchildren we visited on the first day, many of their classmates were killed when their building had collapsed on top of their friends.

It's currently raining now, and everyone is pretty hungry from the long day. Dr. Abe just brought in a large amount of chickens for the Operation Blessing group. They are all running around right now as I write this email. Today, overall was very productive, I will write more when I get back. Can't wait for the fish!       

Day 3 (letter from Quang): Third Day in Haiti 

It rained all night last night and the streets were running with water today. Breakfast was great - bacon, eggs, and croissant.  Quickly afterwards, we headed out to a children's hospital specializing in disabled orphans. I will admit that visiting this hospital was a bit emotional/sad. The children here no longer have a family, and some are only two months old. You can still see the curiosity and smiles that the children have when we arrived.  I enjoyed lots of beautiful innocent smiles when I was recording them with the LCD turning toward the kids showing them their faces. We left the hospital and actually headed to what will later be a surprise for the children and workers of the hospital. We drove a distance and to a very discreet gate. As the gate opens, a large plot of land rich of mango trees/palm trees, farmland, animal pens, swimming pool, beautiful bridges, and large gorgeous mansion. Operation Blessing has partnered with Partner's in Health (PIH) and bought this property for the sole use of the hospital that we visited. Walking around I envisioned all the kids and workers happily staying at the place. The place does need a lot of cleaning up, and is definitely a great project for any able and dedicated workers willing to volunteer for a wonderful cause.
We later headed back over to the school/village that we went to on our first arrival. School was not in session and it was still raining droplets. We had picked up some Lifesaver Jerrycans on our way and would be distributing 10 to the poorest mothers living in the camp. We did some demonstrations and even did a demonstration using the dirty brown water out by the street that surrounds the camp. I'm adventurous, but not as adventurous to try out this filtered water (Lifesaver guys were unsure of a malfunction with their demo jerrycan - water was still coffee-colored and the pump was not spewing out the water as it had before). Some of the children that greeted us on our first trip quickly recognized us and started singing the greeting song again. Always so cheerful and still smiling, despite that some of their tents had collapsed due to last night's rain. This camp has over 3,000 residents.
Today we went by the government palace and through downtown Port-au-Prince. We entered into the General Hospital (largest hospital in Port-au-Prince) located nearby, and walked by the morgue where bodies were literally lined down a quarter-mile and up to the waist right after the quake. A three-story nursing academy around the corner had collapsed during the earthquake and killed four generations of Port-au-Prince's nursing staff. Over 300 in-training nurses were killed in the buildings which put the nursing supply for the years in Haiti into almost a halt. Walking by the area, you can sense and feel how tragic it must have been.
After some time relaxing at Relax (Operation Blessing's HQ), the whole group headed out to another orphanage with a bunch of chickens we received from Dr. Abe. A long drive and a lot of traffic (approximating 1 hour to move 1 mile – this happened daily on the route through the airport), we all shared stories and past experiences. Finally arriving at the orphanage, we were greeted with big smiles and even bigger hugs. We brought a mini USB projector (connects to Iphone) and showed a short movie on the side of the truck. Apparently, I have two girlfriends from the village now. We told stories and sang songs with the kids. Such warm and cheerful hearts.
Today has definitely been a unique experience, we just had meatballs (local beef) - I'm not sure whether I should be concerned or not, but I will be back in the states tomorrow (stuck in Miami until Sunday morning) - I definitely need a shower. Hope all is well with you, and I will see you all when I do. I'm not sure whether I should be concerned or not, but I will be back in the states tomorrow (stuck in Miami until Sunday morning) - I definitely need a shower. Hope all is well with you, and I will see you all when I do. 


Day 4 (letter from Hai): Miami, here we come

After landing on the US soil, Quang generously treated me a good Mushroom sauté Boca burger and special French fries at a local restaurant in Miami. We sat there eating our dinner and talking about the trip until 1 am Sun and then headed back to the hotel. We all agree to each other that we should not miss the coming follow-up trip to Haiti.