Somos Amigos® Response to the Disaster in Haiti

When the ground shook and swallowed the life of thousands of Haitians, a group of volunteers was working in the Somos Amigos® clinic only one hundred miles from the quake’s epicenter. We felt the earth jolt and roll but were spared damage and injury. As the night became a new day for us, we became aware of the lingering darkness that had settled and of the unspeakable suffering that was taking place in Haiti. And we knew we had to respond. In the weeks since the earthquake, many people have contacted Somos Amigos® and have inquired how they might help our Haitian brothers and sisters through Somos Amigos®.
Now that the dust has settled and aid has started trickling in to Haiti, there is a painful awareness that while the initial shock has subsided, the crisis is not over. Our attention now turns to the future and we ask ourselves how we can contribute to an impactful and sustainable recovery – a recovery that all experts agree will take years. And it is that sort of long-term thinking and commitment that has always defined Somos Amigos®.
The Somos Amigos® clinic is located about thirty miles from the border with Haiti; the tragedy happened in our backyard and has already had an impact on people we serve. Even before the hurricanes and before the earthquake, the situation in that country was already so desperate that the effort required to find our clinic made the journey worthwhile for those who were seeking quality medical and dental care from non-judgmental and generous volunteers. In recent years we have seen a marked increase in the number of Haitian patients we treat in our clinic from a handful in our early years to over 15% of our patients today. Those numbers will increase significantly as Haitians flee the urban areas of their country, moving farther into the mountain communities and then crossing the porous border into the Dominican Republic.
Somos Amigos®, through its steadfast commitment to serving the region around Naranjito, stands ready to serve the earthquake survivors…the countless refugees whose exodus has already begun. Aid workers on the ground tell us we can expect long-term complications stemming from earthquake injuries, and that disease and illness will travel with the people as they move. And, as we always have, Somos Amigos® will welcome them into our clinic.
You can help Somos Amigos contribute to the long-term healing of the Haitian people in two ways:
1. You can make a financial contribution to Somos Amigos®. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already found their way into the pipeline to address the immediate needs of the Haitian people. Somos Amigos® is determined to be a part of a deliberate, sustainable, and long term recovery effort. Medicines, vitamins, supplies and equipment are costly. As we look forward, we know that our needs for such items will only increase. Your support allows us to reach out to new patients who have been displaced by the disaster in their country as we continue to meet the needs of our regular patients who depend on us.
2. You can volunteer with Somos Amigos®. We need not only healthcare professionals, but also volunteers who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole. Prospective volunteers should contact me at fbrightwell@hotmail.com.
– Frank Brightwell
For images of Haiti two months after the disaster, please visit www.eightdaysinhaiti.com