Volunteers Orchestrate Help for Haiti Quake Survivors

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By Sara A. Fajardo

A symphony of clunks, clangs, and taps resonates in the Catholic Relief Services’ Dominican warehouse as dozens of volunteers drop crackers, sardines, canned beans, juice boxes, and other food items into endless rows of white plastic buckets. In the dimly lit but overflowing structure, Haitian University students work side-by-side with local youth groups, former street children, and CRS and Caritas staff to prepare much needed food and hygiene kits for survivors of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that wracked the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Dominican volunteers

A team of Dominican Republic volunteers form a human chain to load food kits for delivery to the neighboring country of Haiti. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS

Working long hours in sweltering conditions, some volunteers carry extra shirts to wipe their sweat-stained faces. Others sport back braces to support them in the fill-close-lift-and-toss-on-trucks workout that has become their routine. In the first weekend alone, enough food buckets to feed more than 5,000 people and another 500 hygiene kits were prepared and shipped out.

The response that CRS Dominican Republic and our partner Caritas Dominicana have seen since the earthquake struck has been tremendous, the waves of volunteers have not ebbed and staff members are stepping up to make sure that the caravan of aid is uninterrupted. Working 15-18 hour days, people like Eric Gómez, who usually heads a CRS program to help stop child labor, have scoured stores and taken over the logistics of keeping the warehouse stocked with supplies. “Life will never be the same,” Eric says of the impact the earthquake has had on her. “It makes you value what you’ve been given.”

food kits

A volunteer prepares food kits for quake survivors in the neighboring country of Haiti. Dominican volunteers have been working around the clock to prepare much needed food and hygiene supplies. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS

Trucks carrying in supplies and trucking out prepared food and hygiene buckets arrive and depart the warehouse in equal measure. With a conductor’s efficiency of movement, the volunteers fill rows of buckets, stack water bottles, and sort food cans. When the time comes to load outgoing trucks, they form a human chain and lob the plastic pails from hand-to-hand while counting off how many have been loaded, 345 they chant, 346, 347. . . .

A week into their efforts the volunteers continue to pour in and the rhythmic symphony of relief efforts has yet to skip a beat.

“It’s something we all need to do,” says Edual, 17, who came from the neighboring city of Boca Chica to help, “We don’t just share a border with Haiti, we share an island, and I hope that all people unite to help them.”

As long as there is a need the CRS and Caritas Domincana team will continue to work and dispatch trucks of relief supplies to their western neighbors.

Sara A. Fajardo is a CRS communications officer and photojournalist reporting from the Dominican Republic

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19 Responses to “Volunteers Orchestrate Help for Haiti Quake Survivors”

  1. jules Says:

    Thank you Sara for the visual…keep it going..everything helps in the Aid to Haiti..XO

  2. Kenneth Polsky Says:

    Viva la solidaridad!

  3. Laura Pohl Says:

    Good reporting, Sara. Stay safe out there.

  4. Liz O'Neill Says:

    We are with you in spirit, Sari!

  5. Kathleen Merkel Says:

    Your post has made us all part of the chain, Sara. Thanks for the work you and all the staff, volunteers and donors are doing to help.

  6. Lee Fiedler Says:

    Good photos Sara. Maybe you can tells us what is in each bucket.
    Peace. LeeF

    Editor’s note: From the story, “…crackers, sardines, canned beans, juice boxes, and other food items…”

  7. Wanda Babineaux Says:

    I want to join. I am a nurse. Tell me how.

  8. Kathleen Johnston Says:

    I would like to know how I can receive information for future help in Haiti. There’ll be the need for rebuilding and I would like to become a member of some organization so I can assist with the labor which will become necessary. I helped within my parish,here in Lafayette Colorado with home building in Mexico. I was wondering if there are parishs united with the desire of future help with volunteers to rebuild what can be in Haiti.

  9. Alex Ambrosius Says:

    Students at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI would like to spend their spring break helping to rebuild Haiti. How can we help?

  10. Richard range Says:

    Thank you for your tireless work to help the people that are suffering. I would like to see pictures of the places,like the port where CRS has made a special arrangement for a drop off of supplies, so I can see the progress.

  11. pauline kimeu Says:

    I would like to know the organizations here in Kenya so that i can join and help in future with other volunteers. God is Good all the time and all the time God is Good.

  12. Donna Winter Says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with the victims. It is so wonderful to know that people of all ages and from all walks of life want to be involved with helping the Haiti people.
    I want to help the orphans left after this disaster. I have a place in my home and heart to foster/adopt a child. How do I go about doing that?

  13. cristabel Says:

    I volunteered a couple of days at CRS, and I must say it was quite an experience. People from everywhere came to help, over 100 volunteers wanting to put their hands to the efforts and participate somehow in helping Haiti. It was practical, fun and something we can all do, today, tomorrow and in the future-because Haiti will need our us, not only now that is in the media, but many months later and years…..

  14. James V. Smith Says:

    I am a childhood friend of Bill Canny’s. Our families have been very close to his for more than 50 years. My 21-year-old son is most keenly interested in volunteering his services in Haiti. Would it be possible for Mr. Canny or one of his staff to provide me with any information for providing such services?

    Thanks very much in advance. Don and Mary Smith, the staff and clients back here at Broome Day Services, and myself, send our prayers, hopes, and best regards to everyone involved in this most worthy cause.


  15. liza ortiz Says:

    do u need medical volunteers?
    is there a need for dialysis nurses?
    plz. let me know…and what’s the best way to help…thanks! Liza

  16. Frank Says:

    Would like to send tents to Haiti, especially the folks at Petionville Camp.

    We are in the process of purchasing “WeatherMaster” #6, #8 and #10 Family Tents, model numbers 2000001597, 2000001596 and 2000001598, respectively.

    Does anyone know if there is someone at your location, that we can ship them to?

  17. Monica Sutton Says:

    Thank you so much, Sara, for the visual & info.. keep it going… We are interested in volunteering our services in Haiti,especially for children & orphanages. Please let us know how we can do for them!

  18. elizabeth Says:

    Dear Sara
    My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, and with you. My children and I would like to offer our service in Haiti during spring break.
    Please let us know how can we help

  19. suzanne schulz Says:

    good afternoon
    I’m a nurse along with my sister whom is a 25yr teacher and we are looking at some possibilities of getting to Haiti. At the moment there are four women, 2 nurses, 1 that use to nurse and 1 teacher. We all work but are trying to get 10 days off to come to Haiti.
    Can anyone direct us where and how we can do this. We were interested in Jacmal area. We are open to suggestions however we are not qualified to work with the Red Cross but certainly could work with dressing changes, teaching children, looking after orphans helping cook etc…
    thankyou so much
    cheers Suzanne, Diane& michele

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