Visit to Haiti Leaves Lasting Imprint on FedEx Team Member
By Karen McConnico
One of the ways FedEx upholds its commitment to corporate social responsibility is through the support of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the American Red Cross, Heart to Heart International, Direct Relief International, and Water Missions International. In response to the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti, FedEx has donated transportation services and the time and talent of team members like John Frazier and me from the Global Trade Services department at FedEx Express.
Because of our active involvement with supporting Heart to Heart International (HHI) through our work at FedEx, we were recently invited to join a group that visited Port-au-Prince to see firsthand how relief supplies shipped via FedEx to Haiti following the earthquake were being used. Other donors were present such as Becton, Dickinson and Company, Welch Allyn and Blue Beacon that donated medical supplies and equipment and raised money to support HHI.
Based on what I observed, it seemed clear that relief supplies are being used as intended, which is heartening. During the visit, FedEx and the other donors were able to see the Amerijet terminal where some of the cargo was received, the warehouse in Petionville where the Ready Relief boxes are stored for regional distribution and the four clinics HHI has set up (in Port-au-Prince’s Bel Air neighborhood, the Valou Beach area of Gressier, Leogane and Fondwa). In addition, the Water Missions H20 treatment systems were also seen in action.
During my visit I could not help but wonder how the Haitian people as a whole have such a positive outlook after such a catastrophic disaster. Yet, despite their churches being in ruin, their faith is stronger than ever. Despite having no one to buy their goods, their markets continue to be open for business. Despite not having toys to play with, the children make do with their imaginations, laughing and skipping as if nothing had happened. And despite the impending monsoon season, the Haitians I met were still hopeful and still living each day to the fullest with smiles on their faces.
Their resolve to keep living and to move forward is stronger than anything I have ever encountered. The imprint left on my heart is one that will last a lifetime for they truly embody the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Handouts are not what they want. They want a hand up which is exactly what HHI is attempting to provide through the support of donors like FedEx, the medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies.
With triple digit temperatures (105-115F), as I stood and watched the number of people waiting to see the doctors I could not get over the fact that everyone was patiently waiting their turn. Out of respect for the volunteer doctors, the earthquake survivors had taken great pride to come dressed in their best, and they each carried a personal medical card that had been given to them by the HHI clinic a card that was nothing more than a piece of paper the size of a small index card. To them this card is as precious as gold because without it the volunteer doctors would not know how they were treated before and for what reason.
HHI’s medical team of volunteer doctors and nurses has been on the ground since January 17, just five days after the quake. Their first mission was to support the search and rescue operations by providing aid in the trauma tent hospital that was erected on the field of the National Soccer Stadium. During this time, the first clinic in Leogane was established. Both were operating 24/7 to treat broken bones, crushed limbs and impalements from rebar. At both locations, the H20 treatments systems that FedEx shipped for Water Missions were installed.
In the last 4-5 weeks, one additional full-time clinic has been established in the Bel Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince and two satellite clinics staffed by volunteers from the Leogane clinic. One is located in the Valou Beach area of Gressier and the other is in the rural mountain town of Fondwa just two hours south of Port-au-Prince where we met Father Joseph, who was featured in the documentary “The Road to Fondwa.” The two main clinics treat 300-350+ Haitian people per day and the two satellite clinics treat 50-70 patients a day. All provide wound care, primary care, and medications to the sick and wounded using the HHI Ready Relief boxes and other medical supplies FedEx transported.
None of this would be possible without the dedication of all FedEx employees to deliver on the Purple Promise. Because of everyone who touched these shipments, FedEx has played a major role in supporting HHI’s effort to provide much needed relief to the crisis situation in Haiti.