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Haitian Red Cross at the Heart of Relief
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Gennike Mayers
January 17, 2010
At the St. Pierre square in Pétionville – a small suburb to the east of Port-au-Prince – hundreds of earthquake survivors have taken refuge. Families have set up make-shift tents using sheets, curtains or whatever could be salvaged from their crumbled homes.

Across the road, just a few meters away, is a small branch of the Red Cross working out of a garage beneath the Mayor’s office. It bears very little resemblance to a first aid station - the space is cramped and full of cars. But these are some of the conditions to be overcome in order to provide support to injured, explains one Red Cross volunteer.

“It may not be the best place with all these cars around but plenty of people are coming in and we are caring for them,” says Rita Aristide, a Haitian Red Cross volunteer since 1999. ”We have been dressing wounds for hundreds of people already.”

The range of injuries vary from scrapes and scratches to deep gashes, open head wounds, and fractured arms and legs.

Dr. Grégory Gué, a physician from the southern town of Jacmel travelled to Port-au-Prince to work alongside Red Cross volunteers.

“I came where there was need. We have to do what we can to help our people. Haiti needs all the help it can get. Help will come from outside very soon but we also have to help ourselves,” he explains.

Among the steady stream of wounded persons receiving medical attention from Dr. Gué and the Red Cross first aid team were two pregnant women who suffered damage to their backs during the quake. Both had been hit by falling blocks. One of the women lost her child. They were brought over on stretchers from the square to the Red Cross station. Serious injuries, like these, are being treated where possible and referred to the nearest hospital.

On January 16, a Red Cross convey arrived in Port-au-Prince, having travelled overland from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It included a 50-bed hospital. Earlier in the day, the first of three basic health care teams landed in the city as well. This unit can provide basic but vital heath care to 30,000 people.

You can help the victims of countless crises, like the recent earthquake in Haiti, around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org

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