My niece and nephew Kelly Dunn and Josh Sarvis just got back from quake devastated Haiti after opening a clinic for women and children. They are the founders of Bumi Sehat Haiti (Healthy Mother Earth, Haiti), a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides maternal and child healthcare to victims in disaster areas.
The whole family gathered around the dining room table during their 3 hour layover we listened to their stories, and saw pictures. Kelly is a midwife/healer whose style and personality are combination of Joan of Arc and Annie Oakley. Josh is less overtly intense, more the wandering Samaritan, he’s a carpenter, builder, musician, and farmer.
In 2004 they went to Indonesia after the quake and tsunami devasted Aceh. They stayed months until the Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth) Clinic was up and running. They returned to Indonesia in May 2006 after the earthquake in Yogyyakarta, and again in September 2009 after the quake in Padang.
When the quake struck in Haiti, Kelly and Josh knew they would go. They’d never previously been to Haiti they had no contacts, but once Joan of Arc and the Samaritan wanted to make it happen, they mined their network. They got in touch with friends and relatives and within weeks raised enough money to get the food, water, infant formula, medicinals, sterile supplies, volunteers, a geodesic dome structure, a boat to take it all, and a place to land.
During this time they explored leads; with their established credentials, one good contact led to another and another, and by the time they arrived the “Mayor” welcomed them on the tarmac. Their gall, courage, and indomitable spirit inspire me; their savvy about how to get to the most under-served survivors, awed me.
Kelly and Josh knew that that the epicenter of disaster was Port-au-Prince; the seat of government, major airport, and harbor. They understood its bureaucracy, and the administrative delays that would cause massive backups. They chose instead to go to Jacmel, where they made relationships with the political heads of the city. While the boat was underway, the President of the Chamber of Commerce guided them through the city and they reviewed potential sites for the structure. After the boat docked he arranged for the workers, the storage facility, and the watchmen.
The first night after unloading, 1/3 of the guarded inventory disappeared. Kelly called a gathering together in the community on the land where the clinic would be built. To all those assembled, the workers, families, and the heads of Jacmel she said, “we are here working for the sick women and children of Jacmel, these are your people. Do not steal from us because if you do then we cannot do our work and pregnant women, babies, and children will suffer and die”. At that moment everyone understood that these people would survive here (and that their success would reap the leaders kudos as well). The stuff stopped disappearing, and the Chamber President negotiated a long-term lease.
Talk about effective disaster relief! Bumi Sehat Haiti, Healthy Mother Earth Foundation has no overhead, its funds go directly to purchase food, supplies, and maintain the village-based clinics. This is the kind of direct hand-to- hand relief that reminds us of our noblest selves. Find out more at (www.bumisehatbali.org ) and to donate go to the Haiti relief button.
P.S. 3-Day workshop on Creating Healing Ceremonies in Phoenix May 21-23, 2010 (www.healingdoc.com)