UPDATED: January 12, 2011
One year after the earthquake that killed 300,000 and made a million or more homeless we take our readers back to this article, first published on February 8, 2010. Also worth reading is a new Barbados Today editorial Haiti I’m sorry! that says this…
It seems like ages since the appeals for aid disappeared from our landscape. The pictures of aircraft and soldiers from the Regional Security System flying into Haiti with aid have also disappeared. Even more telling, we have heard little to nothing from our CARICOM leaders about Haiti of late. Haiti, never known for being high on the agenda of our leaders, has no doubt slipped further down the list, given that regional integration and Caribbean unity have taken a back seat to the “home-drums-beat-first” mentality of our current leaders.
As far as we are aware, there has not even been a regional attempt to commemorate what must arguably be the greatest human tragedy in this part of the world for centuries.
What’s sad about this is that we must all be aware that what visited Haiti one year ago had not been invited by Haitians; and that every island of this region is as vulnerable to such a catastrophe. In the blink of an eye, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, St. Lucia, any of our islands, can be thrown into absolute misery by an act of nature.
Have a read of the Barbados Today editorial and our original article below and you’ll see that we called it correctly back then. For all the words of our leaders and the hours of non-stop coverage on CBC, Barbados as a country did so little. We and our Caribbean neighbours basically said…
“No stinkin’ Haitians aboard the good ship Barbados. Not a one. Let ‘em die.”
And that, my friends, is exactly how it turned out.
Original BFP article published February 8, 2010…
It didn’t take long to cut through the Bajan veneer of sincerity about Haiti, did it?
Barbados will not take in a single injured patient from Haiti. Not twenty. Not ten. Not five. Not two. Not even one.
Our sovereign nation was formally asked by the USA to take some patients from the hospital ship, the USS Comfort, because the ship is full and people are being turned away to die. We were asked to take critical care patients, but if we couldn’t manage that we were also asked to take amputees in stable condition to free up space and medical resources in Haiti.
Barbados said “No”
You might not like to hear that simple truth. I don’t.
Barbados’ refusal to take Haitian amputees is a Political Decision to refuse Haitian refugees. It’s not about our medical capabilities.
Before you get all defensive about what Barbados is doing and the limited medical resources we have for our own population, I want you to read to the end of this article so you will understand that our government’s refusal to take any injured Haitians at all is a political decision about immigration and not about our lack of medical resources.
By the end of this article you will also know that our refusal to take stable amputees will directly result in more deaths in Haiti.
That is not speculation on our part – it is based upon direct reports from our friends at the Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center where nurse Licia Betor and the other angels working with her are taking in dying patients from the USS Comfort hospital ship.
The medical staff at the USS Comfort and the other field surgeries are operating in disaster medical conditions. They are triaging patients who could be saved under ordinary conditions because there is no large scale airlift to remove patients from Haiti. The medical personnel are having to choose to save who they can save and that means that critically-injured patients are being sent back to Nurse Licia to die.
Some of the Haitian patients are taking weeks to die.
They could be saved if there was room and resources on the USS Comfort. If Barbados took ten patients from the USS Comfort, there would be ten more surgical beds available. That’s why we were asked.
Barbados said “No”
Our government will no doubt point to the Bajan money pledged for Haiti and our part in the medical clinic that Caricom has promised to deliver sometime in the future.
That doesn’t change the truth that Barbados was asked to receive and treat injured Haitians – to free up resources in Haiti so more lives could be saved immediately, and that Barbados said “No”.
The Barbados Media Spin
Our Bajan news media is full of stories of hope for Haiti; how Bajans and their businesses are raising money. How Barbados has pledged long term support for Haiti. How a few container loads of used clothing and personal care items were packed and sent. All that is true.
But then comes the big lie in the Barbados media: Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxine McClean states that Barbados was asked to take only the most critically injured, and that we don’t have the capability. (Stabroek News: Barbados turns down request to take injured Haitians)
The truth is that Barbados was asked to take in two types of patients: those needing critical care, and amputees who are stable but need longer term treatment. “Do whatever you can” was the overall request.
Barbados said “No” and people will die because of our refusal.
On January 29th our friends at the Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center reported that the US Navy hospital ship was filling up and that critical care patients were being sent back to their poor little clinic to die because there was nothing to be done and no other resources available.
If Barbados had taken ten patients from the ship, there would have been ten more beds available and some of those people might have lived.
People who could be saved are taking weeks to die in Haiti
When Hell on Earth came to Haiti back on January 12th there were tens of thousands of people unlucky enough to be not killed outright. They are still dying by the hundreds every day with torn limbs and smashed bodies. Many are in excruciating pain and what’s left of their friends and families are praying for them to die soon because the morphine is gone and they’ve been in agony for almost four weeks.
That’s not hyperbole – that’s the story from our friends on the ground at the Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center.
The world’s news agencies feasted on the Haitian earthquake for a week or two and have now largely moved on to fresher stories.
I have the impression – perhaps wrongly I hope – that many organisations around the world loaded up an airplane or a container as an immediate response, but that’s where their active response will end. There will be no second wave of airplanes or containers from these organisations and indeed we see the reports of food shortages starting to surface again in the news.
The USA launched a massive response and was soundly criticized for being a “bully” by other countries and organisations that sent an airplane or two each, but if almost a month after the earthquake the US Naval doctors are still lacking space and resources and evacuations of critically ill patients then I guess the “ramp up” from the USA has slowed too.
CARICOM? Well, some of our leaders had a meeting during the first week of the disaster and were very pissed when their observation team was turned away from Haiti’s only airport. Barbados pledged some money and loaded some containers – or so the news media says. We’re “planning” helping out with a long term medical clinic on Haiti. I guess. Or so the news media and government say.
I don’t know how many Bajan medical personnel and equipment are on Haiti right now. I don’t know how many containers we’ve delivered or promised for the future, but I do know that we were asked to take in some injured Haitians and their close families. We were asked to save lives. To relieve some of the burden of those doing what they can with what they have.
Barbados said “No”
The above article was submitted by BFP reader West Side Davie, with additions and editing by Cliverton
Here is a report from the Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center blog. You can read the full report by clicking on any of the photos in our post…
N’ap Degaje Nou…
This roughly translates to, “We are making due with what we have.”
God, in His Sovereignty, is piecing things together in such a way that we cannot help but worship Him. Despite the difficulty and despair, we are confident that His promises and His purposes will prevail in the hearts and lives of the Haitian people and ours as well.
As I wrote earlier this week, Lori was able to work on the US Navy ship Comfort as an advisor and coordinator, finding places to send people after they had received treatment/ surgeries on the ship. The media reports are true that the ship is filling up fast. If there are no available beds, then no more critical patients can be seen. This is an urgent need, and my dad’s philosophy has always been, “where you see a need, fill it.” So that is what we are in the process of doing.
The theme verse for RHFH has always been Isaiah 58:7, “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wander shelter, when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” God has always given us opportunities to live out this verse in our lives since coming to Haiti in 1994, and now He is providing another means by which we can demonstrate His mercy, compassion, and love.
We are now receiving patients from the US Navy Ship Comfort. My dad felt a strong impression from the Lord a few days ago to offer the newly acquired land (a little over 30 acres) to be used to serve quake victims.
One patient is a young girl in her 20’s with a open book fractured pelvis, dislocated ankle, and is a Type 1 diabetic. Any movement is excrutiatingly painful and she already has a bad decubitus ulcer from laying in the bed. She is on a morphine drip and will not survive. Her mother and a couple other family members are here keeping vigil, holding fast to their bibles and praying for God’s mercy. We only have 30 mg of morphine left so you can pray about that.