One step up, two steps back

The day previous to writing the letter, Farmer colleagues from Zanmi Lasante had driven to the coastal city of Gona ves, where tens of thousands of people have been driven from their homes and thousands more are living on rooftops without any access to food, water or shelter. Hurricane Ike arrived the next day with more torrential rains and deadly floods.

"A speedy, determined relief effort could save the lives of tens of thousands of Haitians in Gona ves and all along the flooded coast," Farmer wrote. "The people of that city and others have been stranded without food or water or shelter for three days and it's simply not true that they cannot be reached. When I called to say as much to friends working with the U.S. government and with disaster-relief organizations based in Port-au-Prince, it became clear that, as of yesterday, there's not a lot of accurate information leaving Gona ves, although estimates of hundreds of deaths are not hyperbolic."

Animal carcasses litter the flooded streets of Gona ves and threatened the health of people with no access to clean water.

"No human can go ten days without water - food, perhaps - but not water," wrote Farmer. "The people are at great risk of falling ill with water-borne illnesses. There is also a lot of dead livestock floating down the streets of the city. The stench is overwhelming."

Paul Farmer, the world famous, Harvard educated doctor, has spent 25 years in Haiti curing aids, TB, malaria and the like.

"He's very inspirational," Hood said. "I have visited his hospital in Haiti...amazing!"

Many Haitian officials responded to the widespread tragedy.

"They showed up in Gona ves lucky to have avoided drowning," wrote Farmer. "They are doing the best they can with scant supplies. They are tired, thirsty themselves, hoarse-throated. Even Haiti's newly-appointed Prime Minister, on her first day on the job, showed up this morning in Mirebalais, keeping a promise she made many months ago, long before she was directly involved in politics. She now has to install a new government, perhaps this afternoon, and respond to multiple disasters at once. These people, who are trying to help their fellow Haitians, deserve our help."

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment