Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Humanitarian Relief- From this Travel Agent's View

By Vicki Thorp
Travel Consultant & Lead Specialist on our Access Travel Team

For those of you who have been thinking or praying for our sister and brother-in-law, missionaries in Haiti, here is a quick update. They are safe and had plenty of supplies (thankfully) purchased 2 weeks ago from Port-au-Prince and a grocery store that is no longer there. They are in northern Haiti, near Port-de-Paix (northwest). There is a small domestic airport in Cap-Haitien (which coincidentally is fairly close to Royal Caribbean’s private beach peninsula of Labadee). Deb and Bruce have a team of volunteer workers from the US who have been with them a couple of weeks and were scheduled to fly home from Port-au-Prince last week and today. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening, and I’ve assisted last week to notify connecting flights, etc. back in the US. There is work underway to have Missionary Flights International (MFI) from Florida fly into Cap-Haiten to bring supplies, etc. and to take the volunteers back to Florida. A small domestic airline flies from Cap-Haiten to Port-Au-Prince also, where American Airlines has flights to Miami (whenever they start those again). Hopefully MFI will be able to accomplish the above since it is completely unsafe to be in Port-au-Prince without protection where many local people are killing, beating and/or stealing the smallest bag or back pack out of desperation.

Many of the people in other regions are arranging for relatives in Port-au-Prince to come and stay with them. This is a good idea but will place higher demands on those regions and people as well since there are limited supplies and money to care for massive extra people. Many of these people are already arriving with no belongings and some with injuries that are still untreated.

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity plan to deliver relief supplies to Haiti via Labadee. Hopefully, this began on January 15 if they received official approval and safety information to allow them to resume this port of call. A press announcement is below. As you can see, they have a relief fund anyone can donate too, as well as a shipboard collection feature.

My relatives, Deb and Bruce Robinson, work with CrossWorld, a missionary organization. It also collects donations and has some serious and heartbreaking photos on its website, And, of course, there are other organizations that are helping as well, i.e. Red Cross and numerous other foundations, churches, etc. Not all of these may be using funds the way they are intended so it is wise to check them out first.

Bruce and Deb expect another team to arrive later this week, but this may be on hold as plans are revised and flights are limited. Safety is a primary concern. Bruce and Deb will remain at their home in Haiti for the timebeing and work on those plans. We hope and pray the violence does not expand into their part of the country. We are grateful that they, their home, workshop and equipment sustained no damage and are available for whatever role they will play. Bruce is an engineer by training and has been in Haiti more than 30 years. He indicates most construction cannot commence for months, partly because of continued shifting of the earth which isn’t good for pouring concrete and partly because of all the rubble that must be cleared away. Shelters of some type are urgently needed, and rain occurs frequently here. One of his projects is work to obtain supplies to create and place Quonset huts to shelter people and humanitarian workers or store furniture and equipment removed from buildings that were partly destroyed. These huts will be needed in many of the smaller towns and areas outside of Port-au-Prince as well to shelter newly arriving people. They are also seeking medical supplies for their closest hospital, which are now needed to treat arriving refugees also.

Again, thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers not only for them and their work, but for the country as a whole and the relief workers and security forces. The news is heartbreaking, and the next few weeks and months are dangerous and critical for many more people.

(Below: RCCL announcement)

Royal Caribbean Sets Plan for Haiti Humanitarian Relief
Published on: January 18, 2010

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), following up on measures announced by Royal Caribbean International President Adam Goldstein on Thursday, revealed plans to provide at least $1 million in humanitarian relief to Haiti in response to the catastrophic earthquake in Port-Au-Prince.

Royal Caribbean one of Haiti’s largest foreign investors for almost 30 years, said it will be partnering with charitable organizations – such as Food for the Poor, Pan American Development Foundation and the Solano Foundation, the company’s foundation in Haiti, to provide additional assistance to the people of Haiti. Royal Caribbean will also be delivering much needed goods and supplies to Haiti via their cruise ships.

“The effect of the earthquake on Haiti has been catastrophic, leaving the country in need of not only immediate support, but assistance in their long-term recovery,” said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of RCCL. “Royal Caribbean wants to do its part to help out not only the general response, but also our hundreds of Haitian employees and their families through this disaster. In addition to our financial contribution, Royal Caribbean will continue to provide economic support through the continuous business we bring to Labadee.”

Leslie Voltaire, special envoy of the government of Haiti to the United Nations, said: “Given the terrible economic and social challenges we now face in Haiti, we welcome the continuation of the positive economic benefits that the cruise ship calls to Labadee contribute to our country.”

Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas is making a call Jan. 15 at Labadee, Haiti, the company’s private island destination, to deliver supplies for Haitii. The supplies were loaded on the ship during its call in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and include items such as rice, dried beans, powdered milk, water and canned goods. In addition, 100 percent of the company’s net revenue from Labadee will be contributed to the relief effort.

In the next two weeks, the following ships are scheduled to call on Labadee with additional supplies: Navigator of the Seas on Monday, Jan. 18; Liberty of the Seas on Tuesday, Jan. 19; and Celebrity Solstice on Friday, Jan. 22. When the supplies arrive in Labadee, they will be transported to an offsite location to be distributed by Food for the Poor, a long time partner of Royal Caribbean in Haiti.

In addition to working with Food for the Poor to distribute relief supplies, guests sailing onboard Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises will be able to make a donation to Food for the Poor’s Haiti Relief Fund, via a charge to their onboard account. Guests who would like to contribute immediately can visit to make a donation. Royal Caribbean also plans to use a portion of the $1 million donation to augment the company’s Crew Relief Fund, which can be drawn on by any of the company’s more than 200 Haitian crew members for assistance, as well as to match employee contributions to the partner organizations. As the initial response effort gives way to the long-term recovery effort, Royal Caribbean said it will consider further support efforts. For more information, visit

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