As I have mentioned in the past, I will be visiting Haiti this March as part of a course I am taking at my university. The focus of our study is global health, and Haiti will be used to illustrate many of the things we will be learning. Here is an excellent video by Hans Rosling that should give a good idea of what the class is all about:

In addition to possibly seeing awful things such as kwashiorkor first hand, we will be conducting programs for local children and volunteering at the village health center in Casale. (Spellings of the place vary, but this version can be found in Google Earth.) We will also bring a number of donations, including clothes and cash. The average annual income for Haitians is roughly $1,000, so the straight cash they get (which will be more than that) will serve as a big boost to the local economy. The other supplies will clearly also go a long way. Of course, we only have a troupe of 10 people, so what we can do is somewhat limited, especially whereas 9 of us are students. More donations are welcomed:

Ways you can support the Team by:

  • Donate craft items and school supplies (paper, stickers, colored pencils, school pencils, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, beads, ….)
  • Donate supplies for the Health Center (disposable diapers, children’s vitamins, pre-natal vitamins, ibuprofen, aspirin, hydrocortisone cream, antibiotic ointment…)
  • Donate items for the On-line Silent Auction in support of the trip and then participate in the auction. Auction begins 2/1/12. Details can be found at http://faculty.uma.edu/SBaker/
  • Send a donation in support of the Team to: Office of University Advancement, UMA, 46 University Drive, Augusta, ME, 04330 (checks payable to UMA with Team Haiti noted on the check).

I am not the point-person for all this, but I obviously am not going to turn away anything anyone wants to give. I don’t want cash (use the information listed above for that), but I will be more than happy to take any of the other listed items (this is mostly for people who read this and personally know me or live in central Maine). I will also update things as the online auction gets closer.

My plan is to invest in a number of Mountain House meals since we have to supply some of our own food. They’re light and easy to crush without any real consequences, so they will save a bunch in weight and space for our bags, freeing things up for other supplies (which, obviously, will also see an investment from me). Of course, I can only buy so many $6 meals – plus we need to be able to easily share our food with our hosts – so there are logistical issues here, but I’m sure it will all work out.

If you can donate, please do.

8 Responses

  1. I think it’s great you’re going. You’ve also hit upon the proper way to improve the local economy – by bringing in money and resources from outside.

    I am curious to why you want supplies and not money. This is the opposite of what the aid community normally states, as cheap goods like school supplies have to be transported and sorted for distribution.


    You can ignore the advice about not going to Haiti, of course, as it’s improved in safety since this article was written.

  2. Asking for supplies does seem strange given how you’re trying to pack lots of food, but I’ll leave the logistics to you. (I’m terrible at packing.)

    Given the Rosling video, I half expected you to ask for a washing machine. :P

    And hooray for going!

  3. Michael – I only mean that I don’t personally want money. I would feel compelled to go about proving that the funds are going to Haiti and not my wallet and I would just rather not deal with that. I feel there’s less of a burden when it comes to supplies – I doubt anyone thinks I’m interested in hoarding crayons and colored pencils. If you or anyone else wants to donate money, there is information in that blockquotes.

    Hortensio – It is important that we bring actual supplies because these things are not easily available. We could shower the village with cash, but that doesn’t mean they can drive down to the local Wal-Mart to purchase all these items. If we were talking about an American city, or maybe even Port-Au-Prince, then money might be the better solution, but that just isn’t the case for Casale.

    Also, the food is a necessity. We will have one meal provided for us each day, but we have to make up the difference. As such, I think it makes the most sense to bring things like Mountain House meals since they are light (thus making it less likely we exceed the 50lbs limit for bags on the plane) and can be somewhat compressed.

  4. What’s the story of Casale? It doesn’t have an English or French Wikipedia entry (big surprise), and my research skills have long since atrophied to the point where I am dependent on Wikipedia for basic knowledge.

  5. It’s a small village with limited resources. People who have serious medical conditions, for instance, are unlikely to find their way to a hospital in an emergency because the nearest place capable of administering care in 50 miles away at Port-Au-Prince (and, of course, there is no guarantee of care there, anyway). So while handing them money will be a help, it makes just as much sense to bring them supplies since we will have the ability to easily transport things.

  6. Of course, I will need to be prudent in exactly what it is I bring. For instance, I have a pretty nice pair of jeans that I don’t like (though the girlfriend I had the time I bought them did, hence why I own them), but I will only bring them if I have the extra space. Jeans aren’t exactly a need in the tropics, but someone may find a use for them or be able to sell them.

  7. […] In my recent post about my upcoming trip to Haiti I mentioned that I planned on purchasing Mountain House meals. I used these for a trip I did nearly 3 years ago over part of the Appalachian Trail known as the 100 Mile Wilderness. It was a grueling hike that took over 8 days and required everyone involved to lug in a lot of weight; we probably started with 45 pounds each, trekking over some of the most difficult terrain the AT has to offer. The Mountain House meals made things much easier than they otherwise would have been. We saved space and weight, plus they were extremely easy to prepare (boil water, dump boiling water in pouch, wait, eat). I have to imagine they will be a big help for us in Haiti, especially considering the fact that we specifically have space and weight concerns. […]

  8. […] have more information for my upcoming trip to Haiti. First, there is an online auction which is currently taking place. There aren’t a ton of […]

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: