Friday, January 29, 2010

Aftermath, and learning how to fish

Woodley, a great kid who went back to Israel with the team to get special treatment for a rare heart problem!
The duty free in port au prince.

I can't believe I am finally home.
It took about 2 days and 3 flights, but I am back in a place with running water and washing machines.
The first time I actually cried real tears during the trip is seeing all my new friends board their flight to Israel. I know it sounds odd, but I was so busy and excited during the mission, I didn't have a moment to reflect on the horrors I saw and the heartbreaking stories I heard. I guess saying goodbye was an excuse for all the tears to come out.

ever since I got home everyone keeps asking me "how was it?"and my initial reaction, although not very politically correct, is: "fun"! Of course I don't mean any disrespect, but I was lucky enough to be in a very unique place, one where people come to heal and little miracles happen. In addition, I was in the company of some of the most noble, kindest and talented people I have ever met. From the EMT's to the doctors, from the kitchen staff to the electricians - everyone was so professional and rarely stopped smiling. It really made me proud to be Israeli, and even more than that - restored my faith in humans even if just for a little while.

I believe it will take a few weeks till everything sinks in, and maybe a few nights from now I will wake up in a cold sweat with horrible images in my mind. As for now, i am mostly feeling a mixture of pride, excitement and fatigue and the only thing that woke me up is the cat snoring (true story). In conclusion, it is easy to say this from the comfort of my own home, but I am thrilled to have taken part in this mission and don't regret any moment. Even though my job was to work with the press and not to heal, i feel a huge sense of accomplishment in just being part of the whole experience. In today's world it is a little old fashioned to feel proud of your country and to want so much to belong to a group of individuals who are not serving themselves. In that case, call me the most old fashioned gal in the world!

Two afterthoughts:

in my short time in Haiti, I learned a little about 3rd world countries. The situation in Haiti was terrible before the earthquake, and will probably continue to be terrible when the world will find something else to talk about. The country has a history of shady leadership and dependence on charity, and when you travel around you rarely see farms stores or factories, but you do see tons of lottery booths and western unions. I can only hope that the world will help Haiti not just by giving out food and medicine, but by helping grow their own food and build their own hospitals. We as Israelis did what we do best - we set up quickly and used our advantage as excellent first responders. We could not do this for long, and hopefully larger countries like the US and Canada will help the Haitian people rebuild their society, not back to what it was before the earthquake, but beyond. I hope the world will help the Haitian learn how to fish....

the second thing is something that I figure everyone should be aware of. Every night in Haiti I would go on youtube, click "Israel Haiti" and follow the stories of the reporters who came to visit the hospital. As time went by, these two words brought up horrible and saddening videos, mostly accusing Israel of organ harvesting, trying to steal Haitian children, exploiting Haiti for PR and so on...These where not just coming from your average left wing or right wing psychos, but from respectable papers in Arab countries and Europe. It is beyond me how people can take such a positive situation and put such a disgusting and negative spin on it. Can Israel never win? I can only offer my own personal experiences - the stories of the nurses who slept two hours a night, the paramedics who gave blood to help children they never met, and the surgeons who performed 20 operations a day in a tent with a temperature of 100 degrees. and you know what? If all these hard working people put their lives on the line for PR's sake - so be it. The casualties of this "Zionist PR campaign" were the 1,111 patients treated at our hospital and the 15 babies born.

Will update more from home front :)


Monday, January 25, 2010

closing down..

Hi Everyone,
so it's final - we are leaving on Wednesday. We are slowly starting to pack up and transfer patients from the hospital. Much of the equipment (tents, cleaning supplies, food) is being left here for our local translators who have been doing a great job.
As for us, things just keep getting weirder and weirder. Yesterday, the Columbian doctors gave us a salsa lesson. Today, Sean Penn stopped by (still don't know why...).
I will try to answer some of your questions from twitter:

The mood - like I said people are in teally good spirits, but we are getting tired. I think everyone is excited to go home, that being sad, it will be hard to leave. Doctors and nurses got pretty attached to some patients and saying goodbye is a difficult process.

International cooperation - it is pretty much like a mini UN here. We have Medical staff from Colombia and Canada working here with us and journalists from all over the world popping in.
Medically speaking there is a lot of cooperation with the US military, the Miami University hospital and an Italian hospital (both in Haiti), and of course a steady transferral of patients to the USNS Comfort.

What does Haiti need - it's a bit of a bubble in here, we see many happy stories and a lot of hope. However, this is only a little bandaid on the huge wound this earthquake caused. Many of the patients we help are in need of long term treatment, and the whole country needs a long term plan to rebuild it's infrastructure. We, the Israelis, are excellent first responders and we worked hard since we got here, but now it is time for the world to step in and make sure that these people are not forgotten once the news starts getting old.

Why did I come - I don't know. For those of you who know me, I am a little anxious, I like to be in control and I enjoy showering :) When I saw the images on TV of the Israeli delegation I felt such pride that I knew I wnated to be part of this effort. My job here was to work with the press and indeed I did entertaing reporters most of the time here, but every moment I could I spent at the childrens ward or with the babies. I still can't comprehend the magnitude of this whole operation, but I know it is something that will be with me forever.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day who knows in Haiti

Vladimir and Daniel
Hi All,

Sorry I haven't written for a while, it has been crazy here as usual and when I get to bed I pretty much crash. Today I was in the shower (which is basically a plastic thing of water with a tap attached) and I honestly couldn't remember if i arrived to Haiti last Wednesday or the one before. In any case, it seems like months.

The team is tired but still in good spirits. we have started transferring some patients to the USS Comfort hospital but are still admitting new ones every day. I can't even remember if I wrote about this - but yesterday i got to help deliver a baby!! Well, not really deliver, but I saw the whole process (ladies - quite traumatic if u haven't had children yet) and I helped clean the little boy up and wrap him in a blanket. The nurse had to leave the room and as a matter of fact said to me "oh do you mind giving the baby to the mother? and so I did. Amazing. Other than that babies number 14 and 15 were born here today, identical twins by the names of Daniel and Vladimir (I kid you not). Daniel is named after the Israeli owner of the plant we are located in.

Today I went out to town for the first time since I got here. I drove with the search and rescue team to a girls orphanage to evaluate the building and see if we can help install some lights. When they are not doing that S&R are distributing water tanks and portable bathrooms. We also bought tons of candy with us which was much appreciated. I hope that the earthquake will put some of these orphans in Haiti in the spotlight so that they will be adopted. I can't help but think that if all the red tape was cut, they would all be out of here.

The streets are filled with people. Like you may have heard before, some of the buildings are completely crumbled, others look brand new. The people are trying to sell anything they can get their hands on. Most of them sleep on the streets, those who have homes are afraid to go in.

It was an amazing sight, needless to say I was relieved to come back to camp, home sweet home.

No final word yet on when we are leaving. The staff here is tired as I mentioned, but it seems like the more exhausted we get, the funnier we get too. Sense of humor is very important here and luckily we have it, i think some of it rubs off on the patients too. I admire the doctors and nurses so much for all their work here and the fact that they always have a smile on their face. the dynamics between the doctors and the medical staff here is amazing. i don't know if it just being together for so long that serves as an equalizer, or if these are just really unique human beings, but it seems like there is no division of classes here. First name basis of course, jokes, medics freely expressing medical opinions and just good cooperation all around. Even got my ass kicked in backgammon a few times by one of the chief pediatricians (round 2 coming soon).

Ok I am going to visit Vladi and Daniel now!!!
check out the flickr account for all the pictures.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


A team of Medical Clowns just arrived to the hospital. I don't know who they are helping more, the kids or the staff....

5 babies born here yesterday!!!

Here are pics of 4 of them. They are the cutest thing ever.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What a day!

Wow. Today was probably one of the most eventful days here in the camp.
This morning I wandered into the maternity ward. The Dr. asked me if I ever witnessed a birth, I said no, so he told me to stick around, I might have to help. Luckily they handled it pretty well, but I got to help clean the beautiful baby boy and even put the tags on him. The nurse had to leave the room, so she casually called out to me "oh, can you give the baby to the mom?". And that was pretty much the coolest thing EVER.

Not that I even had time to think about it. Shortly after that mike came in, the 4 year old boy who was diagnosed here with Leukemia. We started a huge twitter campaign to find someone to help him, and 2 hours later he was taken away to the airport on his way to Miami university hospital.

After that I went to take a shower, I came back to discover that our search and rescue team had found a live 23 year old man who had been trapped for 11 days. He survived by drinking liquids that he found around him, mostly his own urine. He is currently being treated here and his physical condition is excellent. Here is the incredible video of the rescue

Good news!!!!!!!!

Mike, the adorable 4 year old is on his way to Miami university!!!
He was picked up about an hour ago by a charity called "God's Planet for Haiti". Not sure who set it up, will send more details soon..

Mike with his dad and the awesome doctors Amit and Ram

Help Mike!!!!

Hi Everyone, we really need your help!

This is mike, he was brought in today (Jan 22nd) to the Israeli Defense Force hospital in Haiti with his father. Our doctors ran a blood test and found he has Leukemia, and needs to be treated urgently. We need someone to take Mike to America and treat him properly in a hospital which could take a few months.

Can you help?
please tweet to @idfinhaiti and we will get in touch or email

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hi All,

It is Thursday night, after another long day here at the Israeli hospital. It has been a long stressful week for the team here and the Psychiatrist (yes we have one!) suggested we unwind a little. We are all sitting on the grass drinking coke (quite a treat) and singing songs. I showed the group some of the beautiful stories from the foreign press and everyone was clapping. we are in a bubble here, most people dont have computers and are too busy to even think about what is going on outside. Seeing CNN and others praise their work and the work of Israel in general was so rewarding and really heartwarming. It is so nice to see some news about Israel that doesn't mention the conflict. Gotta go, the Medical team from Columbia is singing a salsa song.
Here are some of the stories:


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Good night from port au prince.
Feels like it has been a week already, can't believe this is only my second night. Met some more people today at the camp, everyone is so nice and relatively relaxed. There is a Psychiatrist and a social worker here with the military, and they are definitely busy. i am exhausted, so I can't imagine what the doctors feel like. We are all kind of slurring our words and mispronouncing our own names. Nothing has sunk in yet, at least not for me. Right now I am exhilarated at the thought of the people we are helping, still haven't had time to think about those we aren't. I know it will kick in sooner or later.

NBC gives you a good idea what it's like here

more pictures from Israeli hospital in Haiti

Maggie, a Hebrew speaking Haitian!

Deborah, a few minutes old.

pictures from the hospital

Praying for the safety of a friend giving birth. both mom and baby are doing well
Doctors cleaning up

6.1 quake

Hi Everybody,

Jumped out of my sleeping bag today to a 6.1 earthquake, not a nice wake up call. The ground was literally sliding around.

Spent the day escorting reporters. Yesterday we had two kids come in (brother and sister) who were buried fr 7 days!!!!! They walked out of here today. walked! it was amazing, even the doctors who usually keep their cool where so touched.

here is a picture of me and my friend Max. He may look little but he is a decorated soldier (probably ranked much higher than I am) Who found a survivor at the U.N building a few days ago.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


i don't know what time it is (late?). I am in the baby ward sitting on a field bed trying to get some work done. I am sharing the bed with a girl who is about 3 hours old, covered in a towel. So far we are not bothering each other.

We have a few locals with us translating, i always ask about their families and they usually reassure me that everyone is fine. i just ask this one man and got the answer I didn't want to hear. His wife and kids where at home, he was lucky to be outside. He used to work at a bank but the bank is gone as well. He said that God does whatever he wants. He wasn't angry, just accepting and so happy to be alive. surreal.

For those who are asking:

We sleep in tents.

The food is ok, today i had canned tuna and mustard for dinner but we are lucky to have anything.

It is HOT

dunno how much longer!

An Island of Happiness

not my words - the words of Dr. Avi here Who delivered his 7th baby at the Israeli hospital here in Port Au Prince. A woman came in this evening in labor and was immediately taken to the one air conditioned tent. The Doctor, who had just explained to us how much he hates performing C-sections because of possible infections, was forced to perform one b/c of the position of the baby. 20 minutes after the woman came in this little thing was screaming her head off. mazal Tov!


My new little friend and his new little friend

Watching the airport from behind the fence in POP

Help please

the Israeli Hospital

In a foreign country in the Caribbean I have never felt more at home in my life.

There are over 200 Israelis here, over 100 medical staff (doctors, EMTs etc) , search and rescue, logisitcs and everyone is incredibly nice. most of the medical staff are reserves, Doctors that left their families and practices in Israel and jumped on a plain. the hospital is huge - there is an ICU, a Pediatrics unit, an ER, an Xray machine, an operation room and even 3 incubators with 3 beautiful babies. Although I am just here to report, i have never been prouder in my life.

Today when I got here (after a delicious lunch of spam and green peppers) I started wandering around and getting acquainted. I stumbled upon the two pediatrics tents and gave the kids some dolls I had brought from home (lucky I am a 27 y/o who owns some stuffed animals...) and even helped feed one gorgeous 6 year old boy with an amputated leg who's name I don't know. He then fell asleep with the doll and that was pretty much worth the whole trip.

hello from Port Au Prince

Hi Everyone,

i have finally arrived at the Israeli Military hospital here. My journey was pretty nightmarish- LAX to Puerto Rico, PR to Santo Domingo, then stuck overnight in Santo Domingo. 5:30 am we left for the airport with a driver who did not stop at one red light and I am not exaggerating!

In the airport we scrambled around for a flight, it was only private jets and aid. We finally boarded a tiny private jet (after paying the pilot too much money) and somehow landed in Port Au Prince.

the airport was pretty chaotic - like a mini UN with soldiers and people from all over the world. We asked pretty much every nation for a ride and finally got a ride to the hospital with the wonderful people of Timoun lakay - a charity for children ( The streets where pretty crazy, packed with people. no one crying or screaming, didn't see any blood or what they see on the news. Just thousands of people sad, jaded, walking around aimlessly.

Anyway got here finally - more soon!!