Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Wrong Stuff

Moving back to the hospital, let me talk a little about well intentioned people who have sent ‘the wrong stuff’ (Read The Jumble of Haiti post first if you have not done so already.) After the earthquake supplies of every kind poured into Haiti. Many of these were life saving and worth every penny of the effort that was needed to get them here. However, some groups who probably lacked local experience and local partners also sent things that are not needed in Haiti. I saw an example as soon as I walked into the hospital last week. All along the walls in the corridor are multiple groups of tub benches, with their legs taped one to another to prevent them from being moved away one at a time. Tub benches are used for elderly and handicapped people in America to help them sit safely in the tub to shower. Now remember—most Haitians have no indoor utilities. Even here on campus with utilities there are no bathtubs, only showers. So a great deal of effort and shipping space was used to send something that the people do not use. They bathe at a well or in the river; not a tub. Fortunately, the Haitians are clever to use the benches for seating for families in the hospital. However, chairs for this purpose could have been made locally using the same funds that were used to ship the virtually useless tub benches. Local partners!!!! Sending what we THINK other people need is not the answer.

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