AGUA FOR HAITI Axis of Logic Foundation Ships 9,000 Liters A child with cholera with his mother at an MFS clinic in Haiti.(MFS: Medefinancierings Stelsel) . Photo: Julie Dermansky ©2010
of Potable Water to Haiti (Includes photo essay)
January 8, 2012
AGUA FOR HAITI
Axis of Logic Foundation Ships 9,000 Liters A child with cholera with his mother at an MFS clinic in Haiti.(MFS: Medefinancierings Stelsel) . Photo: Julie Dermansky ©2010
A child with cholera with his mother at an MFS clinic in Haiti.(MFS: Medefinancierings Stelsel) . Photo: Julie Dermansky ©2010
At 5:20 p.m., Thursday, December 8, 2011 our shipment of 9,000 liters of clean water left the El Libertador Air Base (BAEL), at Palo Negro, Venezuela and landed at the airport in Port au Prince, Haiti about 2 hours later. We purchased the water at San Miguel Water Company in Maracay on December 1. A group of 5 young Venezuelan soldiers volunteered to load the 500 cases of water onto a truck at the water company and to unload them at the air base about 8 miles away. The water company delivered the load to the base where a Hercules C-130HV cargo plane was reserved for the flight to Haiti. We paid 25,200 bolivares fuerte (USD 5,860) for 6,000 1.5 liter bottles with break-seal caps from donations received from friends and readers of Axis of Logic. The water was pumped fresh and bottled specifically for this project from deep wells owned by San Miguel within 2 days of shipment. We want to thank each of you who donated and made possible this important project.
The Need For Potable Water in Haiti
Haitians need fresh clean drinking water as much as ever since the United Nations brought cholera to Haiti in October, 2010 through their Nepalese “peace keeping” troops. Cholera was virtually non-existent in Haiti until the United Nations polluted their water supply. Raw sewage from Nepalese troops who were infected prior to their arrival in Haiti, was dumped directly by the UN camp into the Arbonite River, a primary source of drinking water for many Haitians. Cholera quickly established it’s grip on Haiti and spread throughout the population. As of January 7, 2012 nearly 7000 people have died from cholera in Haiti according to Tropical Disease News:
“Jon Kim Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, said that as of December, on top of the deaths, the Haitian government had reported more than 520,000 cholera cases with 200 new sufferers appearing each day. Andrus said it was ‘one of the largest cholera outbreaks in modern history to affect a single country.’
“There are also 21,000 cases in the neighboring Dominican Republic where there have been 363 deaths, Andrus said at a briefing for the second anniversary of the January 12, 2010 earthquake which killed more than 225,000 people."
There is no cure for cholera other than rehydration. Donors to this project need only to think of a child or adult, desperately sick with cholera, sipping life-saving water from one of the bottles you provided.
Jon Kim Andrus also indicated that Haiti needs a massive campaign to improve its supply of drinking water since the cholera epidemic struck and that the estimated cost could be between $746 million and $1.1 billion. The longer term needs for desalinization plants, water purification stations and well-drilling are far beyond our capacity but the potable water you have provided through the Axis of Logic project, Agua for Haiti, is saving lives of those who are most critically ill.
We had a special concern about distribution of the water after it reached Haiti. After all, there has been a history of elements in Haiti gaining control of donated food, water, clothing and medicine and selling them to the people for profit. Our friend and colleague, Daniel Mompoint, a Haitian working at ALBA-Caracas organized distribution inside Haiti. ALBA and the Venezuelan Embassy in Haiti has established an infrastructure in Haiti for intelligent and responsible distribution of aid to the people who need it most. They are sending the water to the people through their network of storage facilities and distribution points. We are currently waiting for distribution photos from ALBA which have been delayed due to the December holidays but will provide them when received with an “UPDATE” indicated in the title of this article.
Water shipment organized by ALBA
This project has been the fruit of an alliance between Axis of Logic donors, ALBA and the Venezuelan government who helped organize the shipment with the Venezuelan military. The Venezuelan government flew the shipment to Port-au-Prince free of charge eliminating transport costs. After running into a number of bureaucratic problems that hindered the shipment, we met Amenothep Zambrano, Secretary General of ALBA, at the Latin American-African Conference in Caracas. Herbierto Rebolledo, a mutual friend with whom I work at a local radio station introduced us and later set up a meeting to discuss the Agua for Haiti project at the ALBA office in Caracas on August 9, 2011. Ruben Pereira and Daniel Mompoint from ALBA coordinated the meeting and organized the shipment. Our friends Herbierto Rebolledo and César Torres, translator, participated in the meeting. Protección Civil's Director of Logistics, Juan Carlos Romero coordinated our efforts with the Venezuelan military and Leslie Davis, Haitian Consul to Venezuela also attended.
We were met with a number of protracted delays in getting this shipment off following an initial phase of fundraising. First there was a period of about 6 months when all available mineral water in Venezuela was being shipped to Bolivia due to heavy rains and flooding. Then the worst drought in many decades came to Venezuela when power dams and reservoirs reached dangerously low levels. This was followed by more flooding in Venezuela which placed heavy demands on the water companies. Also, this was the first time we have ever attempted a project like this at Axis of Logic. We had to forge new relationships within ALBA and the Venezuelan government to make it happen. A lot of time and work was involved in raising the funds and to achieve success but completion has been extremely rewarding making it all worthwhile. We are pleased to be able to share those non-material rewards with each of you who have generously contributed and with all others who support the work of Axis of Logic.
The total cost of the water (USD 5,860) was greater than initially expected due to the rise in prices over the period of the campaign. We received contributions totalling $3529.00 from 71 donors. Donations ranged from a few dollars from some who gave what they could to $hundreds from others. Regardless of the amount you were able to give, your generosity and sacrifice are greatly appreciated. One of our favorite stories comes from Nicaragua where low income folks collected donations among their friends and sent them in a cash envelope to our accountant in Boston (I think I just heard someone gasp!) :-) That effort was coordinated by our friend, toni solo, founding editor of Tortilla con Sal. All donations to Axis of Logic during the campaign were applied to Agua for Haiti. The $2331 shortfall was covered by the Axis of Logic Fundación, a non-profit organization registered in Venezuela. All receipts and documentation are available upon request.
Finally, we would be remiss if we failed to mention how the Agua for Haiti Project began. In 2010 a close Venezuelan friend of Les Blough, Francisco vasquez (the small "v" in his last name is not a mistake, btw) invited me to participate in Venezuela's program to send water to Haiti. We went together to Town Hall and donated water with him. Then Les returned home and told his daughter, Solmaz Zeeba Blough (then 15) about this donation. After hearing this and thinking about it, Solmaz asked Les if we could ask Axis of Logic readers to contribute to a larger shipment of water to Haiti. The rest is history. So we take this opportunity to thank Solmaz for her compassion and concern for the cholera victims of Haiti and their families!
We have now learned the needed bureaucratic processes, made the appropriate connections and forged new relationships with our friends in government and ALBA should we embark on another humanitarian project in the future. We want to thank all of you who helped us with this important endeavor, for entrusting your funds with us and for patiently waiting until we were able to bring it all to fruition. On behalf of the Haitian people we thank you for your compassion and generosity.
- Axis of Logic Editoral Board
and Fundacion Axis of Logic
Publio Pante of Venezuela's Protección Civil (appearing in the photo above) transported 5 volunteer soldiers who did the heavy work of loading and unloading the water. Juan Carlos Romero, Director of Logistics for Protección Civil coordinated our efforts with the Venezuelan military and organized the volunteer soldiers for transporting the load from San Miguel Water Company to Grupo Aereo de Transporte No. 6 at El Libertador Air Base (BAEL) in Palo Negro near Maracay. (Photo: Axis of Logic)
Five young Venezuelan soldiers volunteered to load 500 cases of water at the water company and off-load them for re-loading at the air base. (L-R) Victor Viera, Ramos Freddy, Jose Luis Santojo, Miguel Cuicas and Nicolas Torres and Nicaloy Korovaichenko. Their group leader (not pictured here) was Miguel Cuices, Logistica Servicio Generales, Protección Civil Nacional. (Photo: Axis of Logic)
Fresh water being taken off the bottling conveyor belt and stacked for loading at San Miguel Water Company in Maracay. (Photo: Axis of Logic)
|Part of the 500 cases of water stacked for shipment on the loading dock at the water company. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Our team of 5 volunteer soldiers began loading onto the truck provided by San Miguel. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Two of the soldiers paused for a photo with the truck half-loaded. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|A shameless photo-op of Les. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|A soldier places the last of 500 cases and 9000 liters of clean drinking water are ready for the trip to the air base at Palo Negro! (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|The fully loaded truck, provided by the water company, leaves for the air base. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Grupo Aereo de Transporte No. 6 Air Base at El Libertador Air Base (BAEL), near Maracay. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Inside the front lobby at the air base at Palo Negro. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|When we arrived at the air base the Hercules C-130HV Cargo plane was prepared for loading. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|The Air Force officer in charge of cargo at Grupo Aereo de Transporte No. 6 instructs the soldiers as they take the first steel plate pallet to the truck for loading. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Our volunteer soldiers laying down another steel pallet for reloading onto the C-130. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Off-loading from the truck and onto the pallets. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|The cargo loading officer kept track of the number of cases to ensure the count and to calculate the weight of the shipment. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Taking a midway break. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|We happened to catch this group of Cuban doctors nearby, unloading their gear from a truck at the air base, getting ready to return home after their 3 year tour of medical service in Venezuela. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|The Venezuelan soldiers begin to stack the last pallet. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Venezuelan Air Force personnel secure the first pallet for loading. Just before loading onto the plane, General Luis Manuel Jatar, commander of the air base called asking me to visit him in his office. Because of this I was not able to see the actual loading onto the plane. But I returned to the staging area for take-off. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|The C-130 rolling down the runway and off to Haiti. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|These squawking macaws announced the plane was in the air! (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|... and the coco tree at the edge of the air strip tells of the fruits of fresh drinking water for the people of Haiti. (Photo: Axis of Logic)|
|Treating cholera. A health worker feeds bottled water to a child being treated for cholera, in a health centre in the impoverished Wharf Jérémie neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, the capital. (Photo: Unicef)|
All photos by Axis of Logic unless otherwise indicated