Sunday, January 31, 2010

Many Rivers to Cross

"Help life where you find it."
-- Albert Schweitzer

Here in Pittsburgh, where it is currently eight degrees (eight!) Fahrenheit, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls sometimes find ourselves feeling far removed from world events and the compelling stories of others -- those poor people in Haiti, for instance. Well, although there may be Many Rivers to Cross, as Jimmy Cliff sang, maybe we're closer to one another than we may think sometimes. The least we can do is try to send out some good vibes and cultivate some good karma. Ain't no hoo-doo like some good ol' voudou. So, here goes ...

With longtime close ties to Pittsburgh, Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS) is doing its best to help victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake. Established 55 years ago and now run by Ian Rawson, M.D., managing director and a former Pittsburgher, HAS is one of the few established institutions in Haiti positioned to provide care for the injured.

Although the people at HAS have done truly heroic work since the January 12 earthquake, the hospital is now strained beyond imagination. The hospital -- and Haiti in general, of course -- needs help.

You can read Dr. Rawson's updates here at his near-daily "Earthquake Blog."

More Links:
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dennis Roddy traveled to Port-au-Prince (and is there now, apparently) and has been filing gripping, detailed reports such as this one. Mr. Roddy began his excellent coverage the day after the quake, when he caught up with Pittsburgh internist Steve Williams, M.D., a longtime doctor at HAS, who equated the quake aftermath as "Armageddon."
  • KDKA-TV's Mary Robb Jackson filed this report on Dr. Rawson and his team just a couple of days following the quake.
  • Twenty-something sisters and Pittsburgh natives Jamie and Allie McMurtry dedicated their lives to helping the kids at Brebis de Saint-Michel de L'Attalaye (BRESMA) orphanage in Port-au-Prince. This article in Pittsburgh magazine a year ago highlighted the McMurtrie sisters' work in Port-au-Prince. Since the earthquake, the McMurty sisters' story has been chronicled on television and in other mainstream media, but perhaps nowhere as passionately as at the popular blog, That's Church, by Virginia Montanez, formerly known as PittGirl.
  • My Road to Deschapelles, the autobiographical book by Gwen Grant Mellon, co-founder (with husband Larry) of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti, and the mother of Dr. Rawson, HAS's managing director.
  • As detailed in Gwen Grant Mellon's book and in other places, Hôpital Albert Schweitzer has a fascinating history. For a snapshot version of how the hospital came to be founded, read this brief account posted on Dec. 28, a full two weeks before the earthquake, by documentary filmmaker Diana Odasso.
"Larry Mellon pursued a seemingly hare-brained dream: to restore human dignity to a small sliver of the underdeveloped world. True, he was a Mellon and had the financial wherewithal most do not. But imagine also the obstacles: Haiti's turbulent political history, its lack of infrastructure such as an electric grid and proper roads, the dire poverty, the corruption, the violence. How many of us would uproot and move to an area not with the best view but with the most need? When confronted by such grand acts of sacrifice, maybe we assume we are cut from a different cloth, that we are incapable of such heroics. But Larry once said 'People tell me what I am doing is noble but I really know it is selfish. I have found happiness in helping people no one else is helping. It was worth everything I had to get to this. I have sacrificed nothing.'"

One more link:

Because the communications infrastructure in Haiti is so strained right now, the best way to contact Hôpital Albert Schweitzer may be through its Pittsburgh contact-point at:

Hôpital Albert Schweitzer
P. O. Box 81046
Pittsburgh, PA 15217 USA

Phone: 412-361-5200 phone
Fax: 412.361.5400 fax

Contact HAS's Pittsburgh contacts to learn about development, finance, purchasing, freight forwarding, and travel to and from Haiti.