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 :)