Hope for Haiti – And a Friend

update 4/11/10-Jaimee remained in Haiti to teach and help the locals after the earthquake.  She came back to the U.S. last month to visit family and friends, and to collect donations of money, clothing and other items to bring back.  She is having difficulty getting enough to get back there and still have money to buy food when she is there, especially with the airline baggage fees.  Donations of airline miles would be greatly appreciated.  Contact me for details.

update 1/18/10 9:00 am-I heard from Jaimee this morning! She is not on Les Cayes, but on a remote island past there. She made it to Les Cayes on Friday and found everything closed, but there was a company giving out cell phones for free use Monday & Tuesday. She had no idea things were turning worse on Port au Prince or have gotten so bad on Les Cayes -- the only place she can get to by boat. Now, it's a matter of getting her off or getting supplies on. With the bad connection, I could not even get the name of the island. If anyone has ANY information that might be helpful, please email or tweet me. Thank you.

I know this is far off topic, and I promise you I will not regularly go off on tangents from Wine and Spirits Travel, but this needed to be written.

It has been difficult for me to concentrate on work this week with everything going on in Haiti. All of us have looked at the photos and newscasts in disbelief and sorrow. I feel for every single person in Haiti who is suffering, whether they were injured, lost a loved one or no longer have a home. My heart goes out to all and I wish my pocketbook was as deep as my emotions. But this is personal to me.

My oldest and closest friend (we met at junior high gymnastic tryouts when we were 12) is there. She was a victim of the recession who could not find a job so she chose to go to Les Cayes, Haiti, help build a school and teach. I can honestly say that it shocked everyone who knew her. “Impatient” was her middle name and I found it hard to imagine her without her daily Starbucks, but we were all wrong. She has been there since May and has reported back the poverty and need there even before this earthquake. There have been many days when she – like the village she stays in – also went hungry.

I had received email from Jaimee after the earthquake, but nothing in two days.   Twitter has been my lifeline to that area and I have been reading about the unrest moving through to Les Cayes with tears. The fact is that she and those with her have no idea what is coming. They have no phones and no electricity, which means no radio or television. They only had minor damage from the earthquake and they have no reason to imagine what really happened in Port au Prince as we see it on television. The one communication tool is a computer an hour away that can get out that occasional email.

There are so many who are helping and will give their time, but let’s not forget the volunteers who were already there. Hope for Haiti has organized many of these and they are doing their best to make sure the volunteers (as well as the people of Haiti) are safe and have supplies. I would be lying if I said I didn't want my friend back on American soil. I don’t know that she is going to come back yet as her purpose in going was to help others and that is needed even more than ever, but I would hope she and all those selfless people have the opportunity to come home -- and supplies they desperately need.

Please donate as you can to http://www.hopeforhaiti.org. And, if you have any information on Les Cayes or my friend, please email me or send me a message on Twitter.


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