10 Feb MADRiH Conference Call

notes taken by Grace.


THOMAS: We treated 700+ patients the first week — from 80-100 patients per day, and double that when we split into teams. We probably directly saved over 100 lives from death by infection and indirectly saved many more. We could have done better with our own transport in country. We worked effectively as a team plugging into other groups with similar missions.

FIDGET: We could have done better if we were there 3-4 days earlier. We were told they couldn't work after dark — I'm used to 17-18 hour days in the U.S., and it was frustrating to have to stop at 8pm.

THOMAS: We were most effective the first 5 days, because we were seeing immediate trauma. That's what we were most prepared for. After that we were seeing chronic conditions like urinary tract infections and 10 year-old migraines. We were not as prepared for that. It is hard to treat chronic disease with insufficient translation. We only had 1-2 translators, and 1-2 people who felt comfortable administering most medications.

FIDGET: Other things that frustrated us after the first 5 days was our lack of information about areas outside of Port au Prince. We had problems getting out to areas outside Port au Prince. We didn't know where to sleep, who to work with, etc.


BUGZ: We went in with a mixed skillset, as a medical, media, comms, and logistics team. We went in with Claude Hillel, a physical therapist who took a position on the USNS Comfort hospital ship after 2 days in the country. Claude's cousin introduced us to BIC, which has 2 divisions: Information and Supplies. It functioned like a convergence center for Haitians who wanted to help.

Roger and Anne went out with BIC medical teams and saw patients who were brought to the BIC compound, and Grace did logistical work and did dressing changes in the BIC compound. Bugz worked with BIC to help them get supplies through the United Nations, U.S. Army, PROMESS, the World Health Organization, and other big organizations, with frustrating results. We were able to get some supplies from the University of Miami, and placed a big order with PROMESS, but pickup was the day after we left. We made contact with the Navy and asked them to deliver 900 meals, but it is unclear if the order came through.

I spent a lot of time trying to get stuff for shelters. I made lots of contacts, and got names of more contacts and who to harrass. I worked on an order for plastic for covering 5,000 people in Petionville.

ROGER: I didn't know where we would plug in at first. We ended up becoming logistical support for BIC — an organization of Haitian national businessmen, which became a civilian disaster relief organization on the day of the quake.

BUGZ: Kobie and I also did media work with a Haitian national radio show host. I have pictures, documentary video, and audio.


SOPHIE: I came into the country through CDR in Cap-Haitien, in order to see what kinds of supplies and skills they had. They had lots of supplies and doctors, but I couldn't stand being in a hardcore Baptist mission after 3 or 4 days — I have problems working with them as a radical anarchist. More importantly, they had no concrete plans to head south anytime soon, so I made friends with some Turkish filmmakers and a Turkish pediatric doctor and hitched a ride across the country to Port au Prince with them.

I met up with Grace in Petionville for about an hour or so. She explained things, introduced me to important people at BIC, including the doctors, and we walked around Petionville. Since then I have been staying with friends, then other friends. I'm helping set up a clinic, but enjoy working in the tent cities much more with BIC's team of Haitian doctors and nurses. I'm going with my bodyguard's brother to the World Health Organization tomorrow, because we don't currently have a supply line for essential drugs. I mostly take buses or ride with friends and pay for gas. The bus to Jacmel is $3, gas to downtown is $7, and the bus from Cap-Haitien was $20.

Actual work has been:

  • Lots of exhausting scouting. In addition to Port au Prince, I've been around Cap-Haitien and Jacmel. In Jacmel I visited a hospital which is fantastic and doesn't need help, although ambulatory care may need help, and an imam in Jacmel who needs lots of help.
  • Nursing and lots of wound care around the clinic and camps.

As the situation has evolved, BIC teams have triaged lots of buildings for demolition. Tomorrow I'm assisting with a big surgery, then taking care of the PROMESS / WHO order, then meeting Team 4. I spoke to the imam about 3 times on the phone, but Kreyol is hard for me to understand on a cellphone. I just chuck the phone to a friend to work things out for me. French is much easier on the phone. If the imam can't take care of trips to Jacmel and St. Marc, my friends will.


KATYA: You mentioned clinics etc, have you seen anything that was Haitian-run?

SOPHIE: Everything I work with is Haitian-run.
GRACE: We worked entirely with Haitian-run groups too.

KOBIE: Teachers in the middle of the camp at Plaz Bwaye know teachers in other camps. We have names and bank info for anyone who would like to directly support them.

BUGZ: Dr Stephanie and Dr D'argout need to eat and need essential drugs. Dr. Stephanie asked for $4/per person per day, which adds up to about $100/day for her team of 28 Haitian doctors and nurses.

SOPHIE: BIC got 2 trucks of food yesterday, and I'm eating dinner with Dr D'argout every night. Jacmel may have been fucked up when Team 1 went there, but it's wonderful now. Everything changes from day to day.

Immediate priorities

GRACE: We need to support our people on the ground — Sophie and Team Montana.

BUGZ: Ekip Bon Fwa tried to get plastic and tarps for the rainy season in through Team Montana, but they said they couldn't carry the tarps. We want to get the tarps in through Haitian American nurses in New York City who are leaving soon.

KATYA: At $700 per person and about a grand total per day — is it cost-effective for us to support our teams which are non-Haitian run?

GRACE: It is irresponsible to abandon our teams on the ground. We have scouted and found Haitian-run organizations that were not identified by other groups like Incite. Our scouting provides information that we can build on for years. We also did treat a lot of people and do a lot of logistics.

ROGER: Why donate to us? Because we are anarchist, anti-capitalist revolutaionaries who support the spirit of the Haitian revolution. We need to be up-front that we are anti-imperialists and if people want to donate to us, they are donating to revolutionaries.

SUNCERE: Are we a relief organization or a political organization? If we're a political organization, we need to be raising money for lawyers and stuff, but I want to keep it vanilla for now. I just want to funnel money so the aid work can continue.

MARTY: People read on our website that if they donate $5, that whole $5 goes to direct relief. That's different from the Red Cross, who take more than 50% for administrative overhead.

KATYA: Do we need to keep money for ourselves?

KOBIE: I want to support Haitians who are supporting fellow Haitians who have no financial presence in United States or time to develop that presence.

GRACE: It is not appropriate for MADRiH to do long-term support of Haitian nationals and their work. I propose that after Team 4 comes back we dissolve the network, as its work is done.

ROGER: There are four phases to disaster response:

  1. Rescue — immediate injuries;
  2. Relief — getting food and water to people that have had societal relations disrupted;
  3. Recovery — government reinstitutes or reconstitutes itself;
  4. Rebuilding.

Action medics are very good at rescue and very good at the beginning of the relief phase. Our structures are no good during last 2.5 phases of disaster response.

SOPHIE: I'm going to be in Haiti after Team 4's come and gone, at least until the 3rd or 4th of March.

BUGZ: Long-term work is possible, but not under this increasingly bloated network. What Roger is saying about when street medics are affective applies to our organizing model. We have evolved beyond a street-medic organization, so we should evolve beyond a street-medic structure.

What's next

KATYA: Go-around — where's everybody at with respect to what's next?

SUNCERE: I'm out after the 28th.

THOMAS: We have done a big job saving lives in Haiti. In every school there are different classrooms. As we move up in school we need to move into different classrooms. Lots of us are frustrated with big conference calls. We have done good work, keep that in mind, but we need to do it in a different way now.

ROGER: I never expected to go to Haiti. I always wanted to go. I'm committed to Haiti as a light of liberty, and now I'm committed to people I met there. If the network dissolves, I will not stop working on Haiti issues.

MARTY: As long as there's something to call into, I will call in.

KOBIE: I have 2 big questions: who constitutes MADR and what is its decision-making process?

BUGZ: I'm committed to 2 projects. Short-term media and longer-term remittances to skilled Haitian nationals doing volunteer disaster relief. I'm really tired and having trouble navigating this conversation, and I'm sorry you feel out of it, Sun.

SUN: Team 1 talked to me all the time when they were in Haiti.

JEFF: I wasn't sure where to plug in. I have a good short-term role in terms of coms, and my team is heading into Haiti right now.

OLIVIA: I want to acknowledge the work that has been done by teams in Haiti and in the States, and also recognize the importance of our role as a small civilian group which has been able to change form and adapt. The first 2 teams changed from medical to logistical. I feel like my role is to not have an agenda but to provide support according to the will of the group.

SOPHIE: I came alone because I had money and skills. I used MADRiH for connections: people and places to connect to and fit in. I did many of my own logistics since then. I would be sad if there wasn't this structure. I don't know about continuing conference calls, but would like the contacts to remain available to the wider public.

GRACE: A mobilizition structure only works well for a mobilization of a couple of days. We have hard decisions to make ahead and we can't make them at a round-table conference call with no clear membership. We need to dissolve the network in order to be able to do long-term work that is directly accountable to organized disaster survivors. We should not repeat mistakes Common Ground made as it outgrew its structure.


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