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One step up, two steps back

One step up, two steps back

Relief efforts in Haiti taking hits with hurricanes

By Willie Kiernan

republican@cnylink.com

A year ago, almost to the day, Bob Hood shared his experiences in Haiti with the community at Common Grounds in Cazenovia. At the time, he was making headway.

"I know we made a difference in their lives," Hood said. "We've turned it around."

Today, Haiti is in different circumstances fighting the devastation caused by flooding from Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike.

"My friends in Haiti are suffering beyond comprehension," Hood said.

Hood, who has made more than a dozen trips to Haiti in the last few years embracing the small community of Thibeau, has personally taken on some of their basic problems, like clean water. He built the Kara Hood Center for a community meeting place. He built a store for villagers to barter for food. He's given business loans and has been repaid. The horrific consequences of the hurricanes represent two steps back after taking a step forward.

"We need to tell the story of this tragedy in Haiti...in our back yard," Hood said.

In a letter written to colleagues and supporters of Partners In Health, Dr. Paul Farmer, the esteemed humanitarian made famous in the bestseller "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder, described the situation as painful beyond his experience.

"I apologize for writing again and for asking my own colleagues and friends to consider sending more resources--we need food, water, clothes, and, especially, cash (which can be converted into all of the above)--so that Zanmi Lasante, and thus all of us, can do our part to save lives and preserve human dignity," wrote Farmer. "We're faced with another round of death and obliteration. Haiti's naked mountains promise many more unnatural disasters. We know that a massive reforestation program and public works to keep cities safer are what's needed in the medium and long term. But there's a lot we can do in the short term to help out with disaster relief."

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