Saturday, January 30, 2010

An eyewitness: Haiti, 1-16-10 at 1:07pm

I was handed a mask as we pulled into the city. “Oh yes, for the dust probably”, I thought in my naïveté. When I asked, the answer was not as easy to swallow. “The bodies… it has been three days”. And so it had been, the smells began to seep in through the windows.

It is Armageddon here. Everything you could imagine in a Hollywood production, but worse. Televisions only attack your sight and hearing. News cannot portray the screams, the death. It is a death that fills your lungs and seeps into your skin.

Before today, I had never seen a dead body. Of course of course, I have been to a few wakes. But the same is always said, “Oh, how they look so peaceful.” My first sighting was as we drove past pickup trucks leaving the city, men throwing families into pickup trucks, motionless. We passed buildings, rubble, wounded. I took some pictures. Some things were too horrific to, I did not want to capture. And then we reached where the hospital once stood. The sidewalks (or at least where sidewalks should be) supported lifeless figures, naked, blank. People walked by without a turn of the head. This was not a spectacle, and in the last three days they had seen much worse. The medians of only four feet in width transformed into campgrounds for families, both wounded and healthy. Parks harbor tens of thousands. There is no water.

And still the American response here is not as glorious as I hear from domestic news in the States. America is deceived. Yes, supplies have arrived, and the support is amazing from the American people, but little has been distributed. It waits at PAP airport, sitting there until the movie stars can arrive in their private jets to take pictures and get their publicity. I doubt they walk out of the parking lot.

Despite this news, my view of the human race is improving dramatically. As an American, this is so foreign to me. I have been here for weeks and I still am floored by the faith of the Haitian people. You hear that? Amidst the cries and gunfire of the night? That is praise. That is thousands of wounded singing to God hymns of worship, drenching the concrete with their own blood.

I have awakened to a shining sun in the rural village of Layaye. It is almost as if the world has decided to stretch, yawn, and awake after three days of slumber. And yet, the rays bring no peace. The increased visibility only shines light on the amount of destruction of the days passed. Some of the phone lines are opened, finally. For some, sighs of relief are audible as they hear that everything is fine with their families. For others, the ineffable mourning has begun.

Father Illric’s sister is alive. His cousin, cousin’s wife, and two small children have left the world. Franz’s house, which he has been saving for his whole life, is destroyed. His wedding will have to wait more years. Many, many lives are lost. Many children, many mothers, many people with souls, blood, flesh.

As the sun rises today, may the world turn its eyes to the western third of this island, rays illuminating mountains and valleys slowly with the rotation of our planet. May the cries be answered and may the existence of this land be acknowledged. May the food, clean water, health care, and shelter these people have needed for their entire lives finally be met by Christian brothers and sisters around the world. Today, with sun showing all, exposing the scars and new gashes in her body, may America and the world not turn their eyes away. Today, for the first time, the world sees her sister Haiti.

John Ryan McGreevy

Friday, January 29, 2010

Readings from Rhodes Memorial Vigil

"A Cage of Words", Joel Dreyfuss

I call it “the Phrase” and it comes up almost every time Haiti is mentioned in the news: the Poorest Nation in the Western Hemisphere. These seven words represent a classic example of something absolutely true and absolutely meaningless at the same time.

On a recent trip to Haiti, I asked a young journalist working for an international news organization why the Phrase always appeared in her stories. “Even when I don’t put it in,” she confided, “the editors add it to the story.”

The Phrase is a box, a metaphorical prison. If Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the fact is supposed to place everything in context. Why we have such suicidal politics. Why we have such selfish politicians. Why we suffer so much misery. Why our people brave death on the high seas to wash up on the shores of Florida […] The Phrase became an easy out for reporters confronting the complexities they could barely begin to plumb. What a difference it would have made if American, or French, or British journalists had looked through the camera at their audience and declared, “Yes, this is a poor country, but like Ireland or Portugal, it has also produced great art. […] Yes, many of Haiti’s most downtrodden, like the Jews in America or the Palestinians in the Middle East, have fled and achieved more success in exile than they ever would at home.” Such statements would have linked Haiti to the rest of the world. They would have made it seem less mysterious, less unsolvable, less exotic. But then, that really wasn’t the purpose of most reporting about Haiti over the last few years. Keeping the veil over the island was easier than trying to understand its factions and divisions and mistrust and history. And it gave America an out if the intervention failed. So foreign journalists fell back on the Phrase. It was shorthand. It was neat. And it told the world nothing about Haiti that it didn’t already know.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jan 21 - Thursday Morning Drive-by Donations

Earle Farrell from Fox 13 News will be live at Holy Spirit Church, 2300 Hickory Crest Drive in East Memphis to raise funds and collect supplies for Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis. The church parking lot will be open for drive by monetary donations of any of the following supplies:

Over the Counter Medications Pain relievers (Tylenol, aspirin, Advil, etc.)
New tube socks (protect dressings) Linens: Flat bedsheets
Bath towels, washcloths Light weight blankets
Plastic gloves, Work gloves Latex/nitrile Examination gloves
Chapstick Tooth brushes
Toothpaste Baseball caps (protect dressings)
Flashlights that do not require batteries
Wound Care Supplies of all kinds:
Ace bandages plain saline eyewash
Sterile gauze, Gauze rolls, Gauze sponges Adhesive tape
Adhesive bandages, all sizes Dressings, all sizes
Self-adherent dressings Self-adherent wrap tape

Haiti benefit concert at Young Avenue Deli

The Young Avenue Deli is holding a special concert to benefit the victims of the Haiti earthquake. "Hope for Haiti" concert
Young Avenue Deli
Saturday, January 23rd
Event starts at 8pm; music begins at 9pm.
Featured musicians include Amy Lavere, Snowglobe, Devil Train, and the Craig Schuster Band.
A $10 donation will be required for entrance to the event and raffle tickets will be available for purchase in increments of $1, $3 and $5 to be eligible to win local prizes.
All of the proceeds will benefit Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis and Food for the Poor, which provides for Haiti. This event is sure to be a win-win evening with the opportunity to hear great music, have fun and raise money for two very worthy and fiscally responsible organizations supporting Haiti.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Many of you have called asking about what we are doing to help our clinic and Haiti in general. Our group has sent supplies today and planning to send a team to Haiti in about 10 days. If you are interested in making a direct donation to our clinic, you can send it to
Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis
1779 Kirby PKWY #1 PMB319
Memphis, TN 38138

As always, donations are tax deductible as we are a 501(c)3 organization. All donations will be used for current needs such as first aid supplies as well as long term needs for replenshing what will undoubtedly be an overwhelmed and depleted medical clinic.

The clinic is in operation, however still damaged. Due to the overwhelming numbers of people, a triage area has been set up outside on the football field. The clinic is on a compund which uses well water and although it was disabled initially, it has been restored as of this morning. Fortunately, we recently installed solar panels and they are able to continue to generate electricity.

Our clinic relies soley on the financial support from our annual fundraiser, the 24-hour Tour d' Esprit as well as some donations made throughout the year. Clearly, the needs will be greater this year. Thanks for any support you can give as well as prayers for the people of Haiti.