While my blog lately has covered topics other than Haiti, the country and its people has not been far from my thoughts. We continue to transport pallets of supplies on each and every ship that calls on Labadee. The outpouring of support from the community has been unbelievable, with pallets and pallets of needed supplies coming into our warehouse every day from all over the country.
Below is a letter I received from Sam Davis, founding director of the Burn Advocates Network, whose organization is providing much needed medical attention to Haitians hurt and injured during the earthquake. We are thankful that we can continue to assist organizations, such as the Burn Advocates Network, that make a difference in lives of the Haitian people.
Dear Mr. Goldstein:
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your company’s generosity. I was blessed to travel to Haiti aboard your Explorer of the Seas cruise ship last week. There, at their Labadee dock, your staff and I oversaw the offloading of over 65 pallets of medical supplies and emergency food. In addition, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines donated 200 mattresses, bedding, and hundreds of pounds of clothes donated by the crew for this relief effort. With the precise teamwork of the Explorer’s ship and ground crews, the entire shipment of 65 pallets was unloaded onto the piers, providing 60,000 pounds of aid. After a one-hour convoy, we reached our destination in Cap Haitien, Haiti, where not a single package was damaged, delayed, or diverted. In other words…
“From Dock to Doctor” in 6 days!
Many of these supplies went to For Haiti With Love, a 24-hour FREE emergency clinic specializing in burn care. In the last few weeks, they have treated thousands of earthquake victims. While in Haiti, I also formed a relationship with the Justinian Hospital run by the government of Haiti. There Dr. Andre Voltain, Chief of Medicine, and Dr. Jean-Gracia Coq, Chief of Surgery, informed me that they lacked an oxygen generator and had only one x-ray machine, a beat up C Arm, which had been down for several weeks, scarcely the equipment expected at a hospital of three hundred plus patients. During my short stay, two gravely burned Haitian children had to be airlifted to Shriners Hospital in Boston because the equipment to save them did not exist.
Many wounded refugees from Port-au-Prince are now sleeping on the ground in north Haiti, with the only question being whether their injuries or starvation will kill them first. A young orthopedic surgeon from Maine was doing the best he could with the primitive operating room at the Justinian Hospital, but he expressed frustration about how many more patient limbs could be saved if he had certain needed orthopedic hardware and devices. Burn Advocates Network is exploring ways to get that equipment and an oxygen generator to the Justinian Hospital soon.
Our partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is proving an effective force in combating Haitian suffering. 50 pallets of medical supplies will be on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas leaving Bayonne, NJ on February 26, 2010. In addition, 50 pallets of food will arrive in Labadee Haiti on the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas later this week. Every pallet we send saves lives.
To say that your staff and crew went above and beyond in facilitating this pipeline would be an understatement. Captain Sverre Ryan is by far the friendliest, most guest-accessible ship’s master I have met in 20 years of cruising. John Block, the Park West auctioneer who accompanied me into Cap Haitien, an eloquent representative and an invaluable second set of eyes, is in full agreement that he was amazing, as was the rest of your staff. For instance, Staff Captain Malcolm Rodger showed genuine compassion for the Haitian people, and he handled the disaster relief effort as efficiently as he ran the ship. He and Captain Ryan together made our outreach mission safe, comfortable, and above all successful. It was inspiring to see how your international crew supported our efforts in both deed and spirit. Their unified efforts ensured that many burned children will sleep on mattresses rather than the cold ground, and that the medical facilities treating them will have more supplies and better equipment. John Tartaglia, Royal Caribbean’s Security Head, and Gabriela, your Ship Nurse, both took a personal interest in making sure our supplies and equipment got into the right hands. Between them, they knew and understood the local people, facilities, and the Haitienne way of doing business. They saw to it that our efforts reached the right people for maximum benefit.
On March 4th a hospital oxygen generator, donated by the doctors and directors of Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey, will be delivered to the Labadee docks on 6 pallets. From there it will be trucked to the Sacre Couer Hospital in Milot, Haiti. We hope to provide a similar machine to the Justinian hospital in Cap Haitien, Haiti in the weeks ahead. Please know that your generous overseas transport of these desperately needed medical machines will save tens of thousands of lives in the next few years.
It was not until I saw the needs on the ground that we were fulfilling that I could appreciate the magnitude of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s mitzvah. Thank you again for your support and generosity. We look forward to continuing our partnership with your company to save lives and reduce suffering.
Burn Advocates Network, Ltd.