This is Part One in a series of blog posts by Maria Bello, who is traveling with Artists For Peace And Justice in Haiti. Read Part Two of the series now.
The acrid smell of death is not the first thing that hits you landing in Port-au-Prince. It is the screams and wails of mourning that are overwhelming. The cries of mothers, fathers, neighbors and friends who have lost so much and so many in the last week. The Haitian people whom I have come to know over the last year are a strong, compassionate, resilient bunch who mourn with the same passion they live by.
Paul Haggis and I landed this morning with a team from the JP Haiti Relief Organization, a private foundation created by Sean Penn and Diana Jenkins to help in the rescue efforts. They have gathered 10 doctors, nurses and surgeons, a water specialist, logistics people and two cargo planes filled with medical supplies, food, tools, thousands of water filters and generators to help existing institutions and set up a clinic that will service those in need. They are generously supplying our group, Artists for Peace and Justice, with medicine we desperately need to get into the hands of our friends at St. Damien’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince. For the last 48 hours, operations have been performed without anesthesia, children are dying from dehydration and simple wounds have become so infected that many require amputation.
We have been called here by our dear friend, Father Rick Frechette. A doctor and priest in Haiti for the last 22 years, Rick defines the power of one man’s call to action. He and his Haitian colleagues have built and run the only free pediatric hospital in Haiti, the only hospital for disabled children, two orphanages, 20 street schools, free medical clinics in the poorest slums of the city, Cite de Soleil and most recently, New York City, a job training center that includes a bakery and shoe factory. He supplies the only free drinking water to the people of Cite de Soleil and feeds thousands of people a day in and around Port-au-Prince.
To read the full article on HuffingtonPost.com, click here or on the image below: