Concern aid worker returns to New York from Haiti

February 9, 2010
Photo by Kim Haughton

Fresh from Haiti, a Concern Program Officers grapples with an urban life that seems out of touch with the realities of the world. For this officer, the need in Haiti was a very real call for them, but they had to return to New York. Despite the move, this officer is keeping Haiti a top priority.

I was obliged to return to base in New York last week in order to fulfill my role as Program Officer. It was a difficult decision to make as I felt like I was abandoning the team and the people in need in Haiti, but our programs in other fields beckon, and sadly, time waits for no man.

I have not had time to sit still since my return, and in the midst of these reports I have been trying to provide an insight to people on the outside about the situation on the inside. I flew to Chicago to speak at the Irish Consul General’s residence to a group of engaged, interested and generous Concern supporters.

It was quite surreal to go from the grim reality of Haiti to the plush surroundings of the Chicago elite. However, what Haiti needs is continued support from the international community and there are an abundance of charitable people wishing to assist in whatever capacity they can to grant assistance to the thousands of Haitians living through this very arduous time.

It was quite surreal to go from the grim reality of Haiti to the plush surroundings of the Chicago elite.

I am now on the other side of the fence looking on at the situation in Haiti and trying to keep abreast of what Concern and other agencies are accomplishing. I am reading my colleagues blogs and following them on Twitter and remembering how laborious the days were when I was there and how tired the team must be, nearly one month into this intervention.

The anecdotes from the field are hard-hitting and it is with a heavy heart that I read them – Pierre the malnourished orphan brought me to tears. ‘He didn’t have the strength to grab my finger but his eyes grab my soul and seem to ask why’ my colleague tweeted. I too looked at Pierre and have asked why?

Incredibly, the Haiti team don’t complain; they work vigorously to get information out to the international offices so that we can reiterate their progress and hopefully acquire further monetary assistance.

For Concern, distributions continued through the weekend. This week, a cash for work program, a WFP supplementary food kit distribution and the opening of five baby tents are planned, and 92 latrines are being constructed. The pace is rapid and unrelenting.

The anecdotes from the field are hard-hitting and it is with a heavy heart that I read them – Pierre the malnourished orphan brought me to tears.

On returning to New York it is difficult to express just how bad it is in Haiti and how far apart the worlds really are. It is difficult to understand why this has happened to Haiti and why they have been dealt yet another short straw.

It makes me want to work harder to help the hundreds of thousands of people all over the world who are struggling everyday for the most basic necessities. It makes me appreciate my own blessings and stops me in my tracks some days and tells me how fortunate I am.

The media interest is waning now and Haiti is no longer on the front pages, nor is it the first bulletin on the nightly newscast but Haiti must not leave our thoughts. Pierre and the hundreds of children like him need our help to move on from this, and Haiti will move on from this. I have hope for its future and I trust you do too.