Tag Archive | "Haiti"

Haitian Art Benefit at Christ Church

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Georges Desarmes Image

Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor will host its fourth Haitian Art & Handcraft Sale this weekend, July 18 to 20, to benefit the village of Chermaitre in partnership with the Vassar Haiti Project.  The event will take place in the Upper Parish Hall on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 pm and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with an opening reception on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.

The sale will feature 200 original paintings as well as a wide assortment of unique and affordable gifts, including silk scarves, jewelry, and iron sculpture.

The event is free and open to the public, with handcrafts starting from $5 and paintings from $50. All sales are 50-percent tax deductible.

The Vassar Haiti Project is a registered non-profit organization, based at Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie. For the past 13 years it has been supporting education, health and sustainable development in the village of Chermaître in mountainous northwestern Haiti. This is Christ Church’s fourth partnership with the Vassar Haiti Project and the previous sales hosted in Sag Harbor have been a tremendous success.

In 2008 the church’s sale raised over $30,000 to complete the building of a seven-classroom school. The second sale, in 2010, raised $26,000 toward the construction of a medical center, which has since opened and offers health care to thousands of Haitians in Chermaitre and neighboring villages. The 2012 sale, which again yielded more than $20,000, helped pay for a new kindergarten.

Proceeds from the 2014 sale will go toward building a community center that will support the women of the village who desperately want to support their families by creating small businesses from the crafts they will create and the coffee they are growing.

For more information, call (970) 946-7614 or visit the haitiproject.org.

Bringing Healing Practices to Haiti

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By Emily J. Weitz


Urban Zen is a foundation begun by Donna Karan whose mission is to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children. One of the ongoing efforts of the Urban Zen Foundation is their committed work in Haiti. Next month, another group of local Urban Zen Integrative Therapists will travel to Haiti to bring their healing efforts there.

The Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program, created by Sag Harbor residents Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman, is a specific healing methodology that includes Restorative Yoga, Reiki, Aromatherapy, Nutrition, and Contemplative Care — learning to be a companion or a witness. These techniques are designed to help with the most common problems associated with trauma: pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation (PANIC).

“Doing these things together is exponential in its effect,” says Yee.

“They dovetail amazingly well together,” adds Saidman. “You do the bodywork to get rid of agitation, then get the patient into a restorative pose, then do reiki and essential oils. We didn’t know how well they worked layered on top of each other… When we did it in the training and all the modalities came together at the same time, Rodney and I looked at each other and we knew it was something pretty magical.”

The idea behind each of these healing techniques is to rebalance the system. If the body is in balance, it will heal itself more efficiently.

“It’s a holistic system,” says Janera Soerel, an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist who has spent time in Haiti. “It’s very restorative. We usually start with yoga, to stimulate circulation. After a little movement, we place the person in a restorative pose to relax or energize [depending on their needs].”

Soerel says forward bends, like child’s pose, with the forehead on the floor, are calming, while backbends, like supported bridge, are energizing. Once the patient is in a comfortable restorative pose, the practitioner will integrate essential oils.

“If we have someone who is depressed, we use an oil like peppermint for energizing,” Soerel explains. “If we have someone who needs to be calmed down, we use a soothing oil like lavender.”

Once the oils have been applied, the therapists will do Reiki healing techniques, which is a laying on of hands.

“By placing the hands on specific points on the body, we can help balance the system,” she says.

Contemplative care is a specific modality in which therapists learn how to be with patients as they go through the reality of their illnesses and treatments.

“It’s just about being with them in the situation that they are in,” says Soerel. “We are trained by different teachers, like monks, about holding the space to allow the patient to experience whatever they are going through. It’s in the line of the Buddhist tradition of being mindful and present in the moment, allowing the reality to be as it is.”

The nutrition aspect of the UZIT training is very much about self-care. As they are not nutritionists, Soerel says they do not coach their patients on what to eat. Rather, they use their understanding of food as medicine to take care of themselves.

Eric Pettigrew, a local yoga teacher, homeopathist, and Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, traveled to Haiti with the Urban Zen program a few months back.

“We were so well taken care of,” he says. “We shared a clean tent, where they changed the sheets every two days. The food was awesome. We were very well received.”

The days began early in the morning with an hour-long class that incorporated the five modalities. Most of the students were doctors and nurses.

“The most profound work we do there is helping the core: the nurses and doctors who are exhausted,” says Pettigrew. “They work 12-hour shifts and maybe one day off in the week. They are performing surgery after surgery… They were so happy to take the time off to come and work with us for an hour.”

After the morning class, though, Pettigrew’s group headed to St. Damien Hospital, where they worked directly with patients.

“When the people at the hospital saw the maturity of our group (we were all in our 40s), they invited us to work in the emergency room. We did one-on-one movements, bedside, with patients, helping people who had just arrived at the emergency room.”

Pettigrew was in Haiti for about a week, and his daily life consisted not only of working with people but living with them.

“The tent was close to the maternity wards,” he recalls. “So you could hear babies crying nearly 24 hours a day… And there was a chapel right next to our tent. Every morning there was a mass at 7 a.m. And every morning there were corpses wrapped in plastic or cloth. Not too many people were there. With the priest we might have been five or six people in the church. Sometimes there were family members of the corpse, but rarely. Starting the day like this, coffee and then mass, kneeling around the corpses piled up in the middle of the floor. On a daily basis it was a reminder for me of the circle of life and death.”

This juxtaposition of life and death is something Pettigrew got used to as the days wore on.

“At first it was shocking,” he says. “But by the end of the week it’s just, there’s the corpse and there’s the baby crying. It’s a reminder of dying and living and birthing. That was quite transformative.”

The upcoming trip to Haiti is part of the UZIT training – students need to finish their clinical hours, and they can either work in Haiti, at Southampton Hospital, or at Beth Israel in the city. To learn more about the UZIT program or other work that Urban Zen does around the world, check out www.urbanzen.org.

There are a number of ways to get involved with the efforts of Urban Zen. At the Sag Harbor shop, all proceeds go to the foundation. Every Sunday at Yoga Shanti, there is an Urban Zen class that’s open to the public. To learn about the training itself, go to the Urban Zen web site at www.urbanzen.org and click on Well-Being.

Students Trip to Haiti Fuels Passion To Help Others

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By Kathryn G. Menu


In 2004, Aprillina Setyawati watched in horror as Indonesia was devastated by a tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries, including many around her native Bali where she was living at the time. While Bali was untouched by the Christmas Eve tsunami, considered one of the most horrific natural disasters in recent history, witnessing the ruin in the aftermath of the waves changed the young girl and she began to feel a calling.

“It really impacted me,” said Setyawati in an interview this week at the Bridgehampton School, where she has been a student for a year-and-a-half.

The impact of watching people struggle in the wake of the tsunami left Setyawati with a desire to find a life in the work of humanitarian organizations that come to the aid of others in crisis. That passion led the high school senior away from the traditional Spring Break destinations and to Haiti last week.

With Bridgehampton School teacher Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz fostering Setyawati’s desire to contribute to a greater cause and the support of Sag Harbor resident Jonathan Glynn’s Wings Over Haiti organization, the 18-year-old spent four days in Haiti last week, and just days after her return, is itching to get back into the field.

Setyawati passed out Kashi bars in Haiti that Bridgehampton School students and faculty collected for her to bring to the small Haitian village of Croix de Bouquet. There she spent time at an orphanage that has most recently suffered from the effects of a nationwide cholera epidemic, and met other volunteers from across the country, unified under the Wings Over Haiti mission for long-term, sustainable solutions to the crisis in Haiti.

But her main task was leading a new project by Wings Over Haiti — to construct a vegetable garden near the future site of a school the organization has founded.

In its current space, the school now educates children ages three to five, but it’s growing. In addition to basic education and language courses, it now provides students with a hot meal during the school day and dry goods to take home to their families — homes often made out of tents that sit in lines, one after the other, dotting the Haitian countryside.

The garden, which has already started to germinate, will grow corn, beans, peppers and cucumbers, providing a valuable food source in a region that has yet to recover from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people, leaving over a million homeless.

It was that quake that led Glynn to fly his single-engine plane to Haiti to provide emergency aid in January 2010. A year and a half later his organization, Wings Over Haiti, has evolved into a not-for-profit committed to long term, sustainable growth in the ravaged country. In addition to the school, which is getting ready to move to a new location near Setyawati’s garden, the organization has branched out into other areas of need like health care.

The organization hopes to build a medical center on the same site as the new school, if funding allows the project to move forward. Last week physician assistant Rich Ruppenstein, who will serve as the organization’s medical director, traveled with the group to Haiti to aid children in the cholera stricken orphanage, as well as conduct over 200 sick and well visits throughout the community.

Setyawati’s contribution on her first international excursion as a volunteer aid worker was tied directly to her experience over the last year and a half at Bridgehampton School. Specifically, Setyawati brought the knowledge she has cultivated through Carmack-Fayyaz and the landscape design course she has taken at the school as Bridgehampton has grown to offer both outdoor gardens and a recently opened greenhouse where students learn.

Working with Carmack-Fayyaz and retired teacher Nancy Karlebach, Setyawati was able to design a plan for the garden. She and her classmates also collected donations of Kashi bars, and gardening equipment and supplies she would need on her trip to Haiti.

On the ground, Setyawati helped choose the site for the new garden and constructed it with volunteers and family members who have children in the Wings Over Haiti school, creating a similar growing space to the one right outside the doors of the new Bridgehampton greenhouse.

However, she modestly deflects the conversation away from her own efforts, and towards the strength that her fellow volunteers, and more importantly, the children of Haiti, have given her.

“People ask me, why would I want to do this for my life,” she said while flipping through over 100 photos she took during her trip. “They say, you won’t make a lot of money, but for me, helping people, it is so satisfying that I feel like I am helping myself too.”

Setyawati plans to attend college in the fall, but admitted the call to return to Haiti is strong, and working in international relief aid is something she will strive for.

“Coming to the United States was my first dream,” she said. “I came here and I feel like I have so much now. I want to give something back. I was happy there. It is not about the place. People were so worried for me when I was going down there, worried about the crime. But it is not about the place, it is about the people and I had faith in them.”

Beyond Tears: Scenes From Haiti

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web Mike Taibbi

by Mike Taibbi

14 February, Port au Prince– We heard there were protests downtown that were angry enough they could soon become riots, so we gathered our gear and headed that way. It had rained overnight, drenching downpours, the first rain in the month since the quake, but the morning skies were clearing.

When we got to the airport road, blue-helmeted UN peacekeeping troops tried to turn us around and away from the protestors we could see and hear from a couple hundred yards away, until the troops understood we were press.

It was a group full of rage and frustration, some holding signs in English saying ‘We Need Food,” “We need water,” “We need toilets,” “We need HELP!”  One man told me, through our translator, that the group all came from the tent encampment that had sprung up between the airport grounds and a wide sewage trough, a couple of thousand people squeezed in that fetid noisy space, and that it was the rains overnight that had pushed people over the edge.

“A baby was born last night and then died,” he said, “the mother with no cover from the rain.” He said most in the camp had lost loved ones to the earthquake, but that “living like this…with no help… it’s like we are dying mentally…”

Just then a tractor-trailer rig inched toward the crowd of protestors, who massed in front of it and forced the driver to stop. There was a big Red Cross logo tied to the front bumper and the driver… gesturing nervously… waved a manifest in front of the face of a man who’d climbed to the cab to confront him. Other protestors forced open the back flaps of the trailer, confirming there were no supplies inside worth taking. The truck was allowed to pass.


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They wanted us to meet the mother who’d lost her child but she was no longer in her spot in the camp; no one knew where she’d gone.  Afterward we kept walking through the camp, not really a “tent city” in that there were few actual tents.  Most had fashioned shelters using nothing more than sheets or blankets or slabs of plastic dressed over poles or lengths of twine. In fact, the vast international aid community, 900 or more relief groups, had just reached a new consensus regarding tents… that even a good tent would provide poor cover in the coming rain and hurricane season and that the better way to go was to plan for sturdier structures of wood frames and corrugated tin roofs with a projected life span of three-to-five years. So the distribution of family-sized four-person tents had basically stopped at fewer than 50,000…with more than one million Haitians made homeless by those 40 seconds of horror on January 12.  We met dozens of them on this visit, some pointing to the two huge water tanks the Red Cross had installed two weeks earlier…that had not been replenished in more than a week.

As it happened, a Red Cross team arrived just then, led by a genial soft-spoken man named Stanley Miles, from Arlington Texas. He said it was still a huge problem getting gasoline and diesel so the trucks could make their deliveries, and that even when supplies have been delivered “they’re often hoarded by someone, I don’t know who, and they never get to the poorest people who need it most. We’re doing the best we can, the need is so great…”


MIKE TAIBBI is a correspondent for NBC News. He lives in North Haven.

Coordinating Relief From 1500 Miles Away

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By Marissa Maier

Before the earthquake in Haiti, Christina Carter was a regular mother balancing her responsibilities as a film producer while raising her seven-year-old son. This would all change after Carter’s close friend Jonathan Glynn, a Sag Harbor based artist and recreational pilot, decided to jump in his four-seater Cessna and fly to the seaside city of Jacmel, Haiti, on Monday, January 18. Suddenly, Carter found herself coordinating multiple relief efforts for Glynn and other organizations from 1,500 miles away in her East End home.
Carter’s typical day now consists of sending hundreds of text messages to and from people on the ground in Haiti, soliciting donations of medical supplies or fuel for Glynn’s plane, finding orthopedic equipment in Port-au-Prince to send to doctors in Jacmel, among dozens of other tasks. Because many volunteers in the devastated Caribbean country cannot make phone calls to one another, Glynn and others communicate with Carter to arrange pick-ups and drop-offs between cities and even other nations.

Above: The scene from one of Glynn’s first stops about one and a half hours from Barahona, Domincan Republic, near the Haitian border. He wrote that an orphanage for 40 children has since been transformed into Jiminy hospital. The makeshift medical center is serving close to 400 patients. Glynn said he hopes to create an airstrip to facilitate deliveries of supplies.

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Above: The children amputee recovery room at Jiminy hospital.

“It has been constant coordination and asking people for favors,” remarked Carter, during a brief moment of down time on Wednesday. “Sometimes I will talk to people in four different countries in one day … Between the islands people aren’t able to connect with each other. I am getting the text and I will send it back through email or Facebook.”
The ubiquitous social-networking website has been an invaluable tool for Carter to rally donations and raise awareness of Glynn’s mission, dubbed the “Haitian Aviation Relief Project 2010.” Through posts on his wall and pictures taken from his iPhone, Glynn has been able to document every leg of his journey. Glynn’s comments are usually made up of pleas for supplies and colored with first-hand accounts of what life is like on the ground after the earthquake.

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Above: Temporary recovery rooms set up outside the building.

On January 23, Glynn wrote from a makeshift hospital in the Dominican Republic, which is a few hours away from the Haitian border, “Everyday is a new obstacle to [overcome]. Tomorrow scouting out the region north of here near a hospital that needs one so I can shuttle supplies, doctors, etc. by the plane and save them 3 hours of commuting time — also they are in desperate need for more doctors and surgeons. Lots of amputations needed and I think it will get worse this week as more Haitians make it to the clinics.”
Later that week, Glynn attempted to fly back to Jacmel but encountered a snag in his plans: “Customs from Dominican Republic bringing in medical supplies is suspiciously and remarkably slow all of a sudden. Trying to get supplies to doctors in Jacmel. The customs people in Barahona D.R. kept me here for hours to look at every bandage, surgical sponge, aprons, etc.”
“The biggest challenge in the beginning was not enough help. Then there was a wave of too many medical personnel and not enough supplies,” said Carter, recounting reports she is hearing from volunteers. “Then it became too bureaucratic. There were people who were appointing [Glynn] to coordinate volunteer groups because he happened to be one of the first people there. There is still a sense of ‘who is in charge?’ There are still distribution problems. There are a lot of doctors there now but people fear in a week or two the doctors will have to go back to their real lives.”
“We need a second wave of aid,” she added.

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Above: A recovery area at Jiminy Hospital.

Sarah Ehrlich, founder of the non-profit organization Help for Orphans, of which Carter is a board member, is heeding this call and reported on Glynn’s Facebook wall that her group plans to open a school in Haiti. She said a “truckload of school supplies including uniforms, shoes, chalkboards, etc.” had already been brought in from the D.R.
Glynn’s work is similarly inspiring others back in the U.S. Facebook user Lily McCullough reported to Glynn that she had gathered $4,000 worth of medical supplies in two days by calling stores.
Although scores of people are donating their time and efforts, Carter said the needs often outpace the ability to deliver materials. Every day Carter posts a new plea for specific donations. A few days ago, Carter requested 50,000 gallons of marine diesel oil for a donated ship to travel from Miami to Jacmel. On Wednesday, Carter was looking for a trucking company to pick up a portable x-ray machine and x-ray film and deliver it to Sarasota, Fla.
After spending over two weeks in Haiti, it appears Glynn is at the end of his emotional and financial rope. Yesterday, Glynn reported he was traveling to Miami for an oil change on his plane, to spend a few days with family and raise funds to be able to return in the coming weeks. Glynn is looking to raise $20,000, which would cover the costs of fueling the plane for around two weeks and leave $8,000 for supplies.
Volunteering in a disaster zone is often emotionally taxing, said Carter, though Glynn appears intent on traveling back to Haiti. Carter said, “[Glynn] has said to me ‘I can’t help everybody. I have a mission for the day and I’ll do the best that one person can do.’”

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Above: A small boy at Jiminy Hospital.

Donations for the Haitian Aviation Relief Project 2010 can be made to Jonathan Glynn through Paypal at jnashglyn@aol.com. Donations for Help for Orphans can be made at www.helpfororphans.org. For more information visit the group “Friends of Jonathan Glynn . . . Helping in Haiti” on Facebook.

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Above: Glynn and others unload medical supplies from his small private place in Jacmel, Haiti.

Richard Grubb

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The former Haitian missionary and head of Impact Haiti, a ministry based at Living Water Church in Wainscott, about the mission he supports and Haiti’s future in the aftermath of the earthquake. In March, Grubb plans to travel to Haiti to assess the situation first hand.


Tell me about your ministry work in Haiti.

“I partner with Pastor Jean Carlo Thomas and his New World Mission. It’s based in Meyer, northeast of Port-au-Prince. They also have churches and schools on the southern fork of Haiti in Jeremy, Balix, Roche a Bateau, Cog Chante and St. Louis. All are in rural areas except Meyer. All told, the mission serves five schools and 2,500 children who walk for miles to get to school.”


How did you meet Pastor Carlo?

“My wife and I and our four children were missionaries in Haiti from 1982 to 1986. Pastor Carlo was a young guy who had just gotten out of Bible school and I have worked with this man since 1984. Since then, I’ve been organizing construction and medical teams to support his mission. I also work with other organizations to raise funds and utilize them to help his mission.”


Tell me how missions like those you’ve worked with operate in Haiti.

“We would have a church and a facility that would be a school and a feeding station. The children would come to school in the day, they would get one good nutritious meal with vitamins, then we would do medical clinical work with local doctors and nurses coming once every couple weeks.”


Though you’ve done mission work in Haiti, your efforts now support the work of Pastor Carlo, a Haitian. Do you feel missions can be more effective when administered by someone from the country?

“When we went down there, we didn’t see ourselves staying for a long time. Economically and socially, it’s better for a nation to work with its own people. We can go and help, but my goal was to lay a foundation to train others and leave.”

“When dealing with certain third world nations, if you don’t understand the culture, idiosyncrasies and ins-and-outs, you can be taken advantage of. It’s important just to be able to reach them on a grass roots level.”


What sort of damage did New World Mission sustain in the earthquake?

“In Meyer, the walls are falling and the building will have to be torn down because the whole infrastructure is compromised. Pastor Carlo himself lost 11 family members. We don’t have an accurate count of all the church members who were killed, but it could be in the hundreds.”


How do missions manage to feed and care for so many people in the immediate aftermath of disasters, even when they are damaged themselves?

“Pastor Carlo and other missionaries, in my opinion, are the best people to work through because they are already there working. Relationships and mechanisms are in place. What happens is a mission called World Vision, which is very big all over the world, partners with the smaller NGOs [non-governmental organizations] like Protestant and Catholic missions and say, ‘Here’s food for two weeks for 10,000.’ The military’s also giving things to missionaries.”


We’ve heard that Haiti had serious problems even before the earthquake. Why has life been so difficult for so long?

“The number one difficulty is political corruption. When I was down there, there were the Duvaliers — Baby Doc [Jean-Claude Duvalier] was in power. He was made president at 18, it was really the military people around him —the Tonton Macoutes —who ran the country. Between the Duvaliers, father and son, in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, over 1,000,000 people were killed and buried all over the island. Then when the Duvaliers were out after 1986, there was complete anarchy.”

“The second thing is abject poverty. The average Haitian eats once every other day. Our goal, while they were young, was to get the children vitamins and square meals every day and ensure they grow properly.”

“The third thing is education — 80 percent of the country is illiterate. There’s also a lack of medical facilities.”


What do you envision for Haiti’s future?

“I see Haiti can be better than ever. I think if the Haitian government would allow the world to get involved and help restore it. I think the Americans will play a very large part especially in Port-au-Prince to help them introduce building codes. The Haitians want us there, but they would be suspect if they thought we were trying to occupy them. We need to go in there and partner.


How would you describe the spirit of the people of Haiti?

“The Haitian people are the kindest in the world. They are also tremendously resilient. They pulled someone else out 10 days after the quake. They should have a few more days searching for people, these are people who are used to going without. But I’ve always found the spirit to be extremely positive. They’re very spiritual people with a strong belief in God and their faith keeps them going.”


On February 7, the Bridgehampton Parent Teacher Organization will host a fundraising pancake breakfast for Impact Haiti at the Bridgehampton Community House from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Richard Grubb will be on hand to answer questions and show some images of Haiti. A ping pong tournament begins at 11a.m. and there will also be live music. The cost is $10 for adults and $7 for children.

Aftershocks of a Nation

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The images are unforgettable. Injured children screaming in pain while doctors explain amputation procedures to parents, countless bodies piled in the street decomposing as the living pass by with hardly a glance, the desperate wandering in search of a morsel of food or a sip of water that might sustain them for one more day, mass graves and looters taking what they can carry. Meanwhile international supplies and personnel are stymied on the ground, unable by politics or logistics to get to where they are needed most.

Even in the best of times, Haiti was no island paradise. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, it lies less than 600 miles from U.S. shores — but it lags light years in terms of infrastructure and economy — and that was before last Tuesday’s earthquake.

It’s hard to imagine a silver lining to a tragedy that has claimed upwards of what estimates say will be in excess of 100,000 lives, but if we are looking for a reason for hope in the midst of this tragedy, it is this — the world’s eyes are now focused on a country in dire need of our help. People who may have never even bee able to locate Haiti on a map before have this week witnessed the abject poverty and lack of opportunity that has long plagued the island. And they have also seen the beauty and spirit of the Haitian people as they express their utmost thanks and appreciation for the big miracles — like a survivor pulled free from a crushed building — and the small —like a bottle of clean water to drink.

There are many good people on the East End doing their best to help Haiti right now. Doctors from Southampton Hospital are flying out this weekend to offer their skills first hand, while local churches, schools, musical groups and civic organizations are doing what they can to raise much needed cash to help in the effort.

We fervently hope that months from now when all is said in done and the last rescue workers go home, Haiti won’t be a forgotten country again. We hope that the people of this country will stay engaged and be committed to rebuilding Haiti for the next generation. Not by simply replacing what was, but by engineering what can be.

We owe that to our neighbors — whether they live around the corner or 600 miles off our coast. In the meantime, we encourage you to refer to the local organizations on page 5 that are raising money for the cause and do your part — give to Haiti.