Del Mar resident returns from Haiti
While much of the international attention may have moved past January’s tragic earthquake in Haiti that left more than 230,000 people dead, Del Mar resident Ruthie Kaminskas said the world took its eyes off much too soon.
“It’s worse than it was before. It’s completely off the world’s radar. It’s completely off the media’s radar,” she said, adding that many are still suffering even if not injured in the actual quake. “Now people are in the streets or in these desperate situations because of their health. There isn’t any running water and there isn’t any food.”
To help some of the roughly 1 million now homeless Haitians gain back some basic humanitarian needs, Kaminskas spent a week in Port au Prince delivering more than 27,000 gallons of water per day to tent cities, hospitals and orphanages. Kaminskas said her group negotiated $250 American per 3,000 gallons of water in Haiti. She said the actual distribution of humanitarian goods to the villages is most challenging these days.
“The food and the supplies are there, it’s just that there’s nobody doing it,” she said.
Traveling on last-minute notice with a nonprofit organization known as CAN-DO, which stands for Compassion into Action–Direct Outcome, Kaminskas said she rallied several Del Mar residents through social networking websites, texting and e-mailing to raise more than $7,200 to buy the water and transport it to those in need.
Kaminskas, who returned home on April 30, said she chose CAN-DO because it pledges to spend all of the money it receives within 24 hours.
“You don’t have the red tape, I have never seen that before,” she said. “Had I just sat at the hotel for two days sending e-mails, I can’t even imagine what I would bring in.”
But instead, Kaminskas visited some of the very tent cities that would be receiving the aid.
She said CAN-DO serviced four Haitian communities, five orphanages and two hospitals with humanitarian supplies during her trip. Founder Eric Klein also worked to install local governments in the areas visited, generally choosing five men and five women to form a community council.
Klein said he would provide them with the infrastructure to manage the town and instructions to report to him when the water and food supply run low.
“The biggest problem you have in these disasters is there’s a lack of communication between the people that are out there to help and the people that need help,” he said. “We bridge the gap.”
Kaminskas, a mother of three, is no stranger to providing humanitarian aid. She has traveled to multiple parts of Africa with her husband, a physician. Kaminskas said when she asked Klein for assurances about safety in Haiti, he told her, “The only thing you’re going to experience is people being so appreciative.”
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