MTV News has a team of reporters in Haiti to chronicle the recovery effort in the wake of last week’s devastating earthquake. We are following their journey via e-mails, tweets, BBMs and video in the lead-up to Friday night’s “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” telethon, which will air on MTV and dozens of other networks at 8 p.m. ET
Suchin Pak, 2:06 p.m., Thursday (January 21): “Today we got away from the safety and order of the military and saw what the city looks like. On one end of the runway are the U.S. Joint Forces and as you walk down the long tarmac you eventually reach the UN compound. Neither could get us out to an aid distribution center. So, with a tip from a reporter, we headed out of the airport in the hope of reaching a large tent city he had just come from. I didn’t even have my passport, but we took the chance and found a driver.
“Pierre, a 30-year-old Haitian who spoke English, drove us into town. You’ve probably seen on TV what the buildings look like here, but the overwhelming question is what to do with the people who are wandering around, looking for work, food, water and missing relatives. As we neared a hospital, Pierre handed me his facemask and warned me about the risk of tuberculosis [and other airborne diseases]. He wrapped his shirt around his head and we got out to see what the scene was like.
“A truck from Project Medishare, an aid group, was pulling in and offered to take us to another hospital where they were distributing food, water, medical supplies and attending to the wounded. Volunteer firefighters from Miami unloaded the boxes and we started to hand out water and cans of food. In minutes, there were hundreds of people mobbing our group.
“We took the children first and tried our best to keep order. There was no violence, just hands reaching out for the water as quickly as we could distribute it. As with so many in the media here, you can’t not get involved in a situation like this. Inside the hospital, you see the severely wounded on cots in the courtyard, children crying and volunteers attending to bandages.
“A 7-year-old boy had lost his thumb and our volunteers went immediately to work assessing the infection. No anesthetic, just candy to hand out while they tried to undo his bandage. If you’re wondering where your donations go and how quickly they get there, this is it. But they need more. And fast.
“The boxes they unloaded were emptied in minutes. It’s desperate here. There are homemade signs hanging from telephone wires and painted on buildings that say ’We Need Help’ with addresses and phone numbers. There is no system to find missing relatives, nor is there any real system to distribute all this aid, but it’s going out in steady groups through the UN, aid organizations and the military.
“Here on base they have made the medivacs the priority, bringing in the most critically wounded and hopefully transporting them to the USS Comfort stationed nearby.”
Head here to learn more about what you can do to help with earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti, and for more information, see Think MTV. Join George Clooney and Wyclef Jean for MTV’s “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon, airing commercial-free Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET.