Dignity in the Camps of Haiti
The journalist in me is excited to the max when I learn that for the first time the tent camp of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO) will open the doors to a group of bloggers and I will be in that group, along with Elena Sonnino, Leticia Barr, Ana Flores, Nadia Jones, Danica Kombol and Kelly Heisler.
They explain the rules, especially to protect the dignity of the nearly 23,000 people living in what was a golf course until January 12, 2010. I agree because I understand that these people have suffered too much from the earthquake that left them homeless and that many have come just to use them as a prop in a photograph. I also understand it because even though one of the founders of this organization is the actor Sean Penn, the work done here every day has nothing to do with celebrity or gossip.
We are divided into two groups and we go on a truck to our first stop: a recently opened a clinic. The pride of Susannah, Program Development Officer at J/P HRO, is evident. Finally there are two health care centers outside the camp and they are fully staffed by Haitian personnel rather than relying on foreigners. And that is a tremendous achievement. After all, J/P HRO is just celebrating its second year on the day of our visit.
Our guide in JP1, as they call this medical center, is Marc, who two years ago never thought he would be trained to provide medical care. He happily shows us what will be the X-ray room and explains that he will take the x-rays. He then shows us where pregnant women will give birth and explains that he also attends births. No cesarean sections are performed because they are not equipped, so any emergency involves referring the mother to the MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) hospital, a.k.a. Doctors without Borders, which is about 45 minutes away.Continued on the next page