The Power of People

Both the story of getting to Haiti and the story of getting supplies has been incredibly helped by people online, especially on Twitter.

knows

about them, but I think she knows about them through Twitter, through reading the tweets. These people like Alyson Gale are, I guess, drawn to reading tweets about the support efforts rather than watching CNN. She’s pointing us to not only the resources to get there, like the flights, but also resources to get medication, like AmeriCares, which provides medication for free to people like us who are providing free international aid.

For example, for the flights, the person who’s assisted us the most is Alisyn Gayle (AlisynGale on Twitter), and I’ve never met this person; even now I don’t know who this person is—and she is an example of many people like her—but she’s the one who identified the United opportunity, a number of small volunteer charter airlines that are willing to donate the time but not the fuel, and then this last opportunity that we’re probably going to take advantage of, which is the Angel Flight West. She pointed us to all those resources, and I don’t know how she

So there’s just an amazing group of online volunteers, none of whom have met us, but who just believe in what we’re doing. A lot of times, you have a lot of volunteers who provide lots of noise, and the suggestions are ones that you’ve already considered or not really helpful, but these have been really high-quality suggestions that we’ve gotten really direct benefit from. And so it’s been very helpful to get their suggestions online, as well as depend on the resources that we’ve depended on before, such as the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church Missions Team, who have contacts with suppliers who provide these kinds of teams with medications, such as Blessings International, at a very, very discounted rate.

Getting the logistics down has been a story of just God opening lots of doors and providing us with support from people who we do and have worked with before and people we don’t know—a really broad base just based on the passion for people to care about bringing help to Haitans, and it’s been a great experience, even though it seems to be a terrible disaster and has been very difficult with lots of things changing.

And we’re expecting the same thing when we get there, that all of our plans will probably change, just as they did in Katrina. We had multiple contingency plans for where to stay and where to work following Katrinia. None of those initial plans panned out, so we made them on the fly and found where the people were asking us to go, and as we responded to those locally identified needs, we found that we really helped the most. So we’re expecting to apply the same principle here when we go, depending on these locally identified needs and depending on them to help us identify ways to re-supply.

I’ve been in contact with lots of people who have been coming back, and they’re helping me see how, when they ran out of stuff, where they could re-supply at different hospitals. For example, AmeriCares is willing to resupply us, so in hearing back from the physicians, policemen, firefighters, and people who have been there and have just returned, we’re learning a lot from them. Violence is increasing, so we’re hearing that it has been safe, and it’s safe for us to go, and it’s important that we do go; the people who have been there are able to reassure us.

Both the story of getting to Haiti and the story of getting supplies has been incredibly helped by people online, especially on Twitter. Without an enormous group of supporters on Twitter, we would not know about many of the resources I’ve discussed in my previous two posts, since we’re not a large organization. But other people who are supporting us on Twitter have identified resources for us to be able to access.