Well I've wasted yet another Sunday morning trying to track down the original tenants of the building at 133 Luckie Street, home of Turner Enterprises.
Just getting some background; you see, Turner Enterprises has a plane bringing in much needed supplies to the people of Haiti and the workers struggling to help them survive the effects of the earthquake and the aftershocks that still dog the island and its capital, Port-au-Prince.
I know you Southsiders have such compassion you haven't even thought to wonder what this has to do with the Southside and why exactly this is being published here.
This video is courtesy Toby Blanton, Fayette County High School Class of '85. He is the Chief Pilot for Turner Enterprises and I cannot tell you how moving this clip will be. Toby's recording this in the plane headed back (to the Airport, presumably) for a reunion with his family, and his pillow.
He tells us that on this trip they delivered to Haiti an NPR reporter, two Drs with the UNF, a CNN security officer, 500 pounds of supplies , 800 lbs of infant supplies such as Pedialyte, as well as rice.
Listen as he tells how the woman heading an orphanage -for which the supplies are intended, and her intrepid confreres- actually orphans themselves- get the truckload delivered. Two boys laid on top of blankets covering the supplies and played dead to discourage hungry would-be diverters along the way.
The Turner Enterprises team then brought out some stranded US citizens, as well as an 85 yr old Haitian man who had been a hospital patient suffering from stroke when the earthquake hit. Someone had gotten him out of the wrecked building, but he was found helpless on the side of the road a few days after the first quake. The man actually has family here in the U.S. and is now in Florida being treated.
"The (Haitian) people are maintaining...but it's on the verge..."
You can see the weariness in Blanton's face and feel the exhaustion in his tired eyes. Yet one senses a small bit of old fashioned southside satisfaction in a job he's given 110%, and hear the hope in his voice as he outlines plans to head back out this week with more supplies, and airlift more orphans to Florida for haven.
Toby advises us to please give money in lieu of visiting. He quotes a Dr. there who says, "There's ten doctors for every band aid."
Money buys fuel, money buys supplies.
Please give to a group that already has infrastructure and the all important established network of connections. The Red Cross, World Vision, Compassion: all groups that can put your dollars to work right away. I know the Florida Baptist Convention has established workers and orphanages and local indigenous churches they assist; your group may also.
Proud of you, Toby! We'll keep watching!
Here are a couple of videos from the ground that touch upon some of the logistical challenges that assistance comes up against.