Barge loaded and headed for Haiti

Over the weekend of 19 to 22 a giant barge docked on the southwest coast of Louisiana was loaded with relief supplies and equipment by a coalition of Haiti earthquake relief organizations that included Plenty International. A total of 75,000 tons making up 150,000 cubic feet of food, medical equipment, medicines, shelters and other essential items is now on its way to the Haitian town of Jacmel where it will be received by more than 20 relief organizations for distribution. A second barge is already in the planning stages.

Plenty volunteer, Elaine Langley at the warehouse where supplies were collected.
Boxes on pallets had to be shrink-wrapped before being loaded.
Some of the volunteers who helped with the packing.
Some of the barge loading crew.


Poverty, Profit and Disease
Haiti and Health Care


Genyen tout yon sosyete ki pou change.
(There is a whole society to be changed.)

— Haitian Proverb

It is no exaggeration to say the forty-five second, 7.0 earthquake
that rocked the capital of Haiti on January 12th and reduced hospitals
and clinics to rubble set the country on a trajectory back to a
medical stone age. Forty-five seconds.

The earthquake destroyed the health care infrastructure in Port-au-
Prince and shut down basic services critical for the delivery of
health care: the electrical grid, transport, water and sanitation
systems. The country didn’t have much of a health care system to
topple. Haiti lacks modern medical resources: state-of-the-art
hospitals and clinics; sufficient numbers of trained nurses, doctors
and other medical staff; medical devices, diagnostic technology and

Haiti is a medical backwater, an island trapped in a time capsule
where disease, disability and death stalk impoverished Haitians year
after year. About 80 percent of Haitians live in poverty (on less than
a $1 day) and 54 percent live in “abject poverty.” No one should die
of tuberculosis: medicines to cure the disease have existed for half a
century. Yet in Haiti, over 5000 a year die and rates of TB infection
are increasing. HIV/AIDS is considered a chronic disease treated by a
cocktail of anti-retroviral drugs. But not in Haiti – over 7000 die
every year. AIDS is the leading of cause of death for those between
the ages of 15 to 49. TB and AIDS are the infections of inequality and
unremitting poverty.

Dozens of foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have provided
medical care to Haitians for decades. Haiti has become a “medical
missionary’s mission.” Thousands of committed and compassionate nurses
and doctors travel to the island to offer medical services and then
fly back to the developed world. Paul Farmer, a physician and
anthropologist at Harvard University, has brought attention to poor
Haitians dying from curable diseases. The organization he founded,
Partners in Health, has offered basic medical services to Haitians for
20 years. In his groundbreaking book, Infections and Inequalities, The
Modern Plagues, Farmer explains how the social determinants of health
collude at every turn to debilitate and kill.


There is an urgent need for tents in Jacmel, Haiti where the Bumi Sehat clinic is located. Tents are being collected at the following locations in the US:

West Coast:
Penny Tyrrell
c/o Bumi Sehat Haiti-Tent Drive
93 North Polk Eugene, OR 97402

East Coast:
Andre Gillis
c/o Bumi Sehat Haiti-Tent Drive
417 North Front Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

Midwest people please ship to the East Coast.

The first shipment will depart for Jacmel in about one week from today, but there will be a continuing need for tents for some time.

We are looking for tents in good condition of all sizes that are water proof and have a rain shield protection. In addition, if possible include a tarp to go with these tents for additional rain protection.


The Bumi Sehat women’s and child health clinic in Jacmel, Haiti is 25 miles from Port au Prince. Plenty has been communicating with the Bumi Sehat staff. The clinic is serving the hundreds of people camped out on the clinic grounds and more people are arriving daily from Port au Prince. Plenty is recruiting volunteers, especially health professionals who can help staff the clinic, but they also need people with skills such as carpentry. If interested in a three-week minimum posting, please contact Plenty or Bumi Sehat directly from their website.
This morning we received the following email from a staff person at the clinic in Jacmel:

“Week 2 update Team 1 Bumi Sehat.
Since the last formal update, so much has happened.
Bumi Sehat now has rented a house which is on the same piece of property as the new clinic. Our team is building a vision for our future superstar teams for the clinic and a class room which will be used to teach healthy, gentle midwifery care, family planning, small garden & earth friendly handicraft projects, breast feeding support and overall health and wellness. Our hard work that we are currently creating extends well into the future that will sustain healthy families.

A good way to explain the energy of help and aide here in Jacmel, would be the vision down at the docks this morning….Coming through a gate being watched by the Sri Lankan UN guards. Then driving past the Canadian military guys, smoking cigarettes and playing cards. In the distance one Dominican Republic military boat is unloading with the logistics efforts of 2 folks from a small NGO from US and CA. Then the conversation comes up about what supplies are coming on the next boat and the next boat is coming closer to the dock. A large sailboat filled with tattooed, mohawked, pierced pirates from the US. They pull up beside the dock and unload massive amounts of medical supplies. Then we drive out of the docks and back into the rubbled city where the people sleep in the streets all night because they are homeless or afraid to sleep inside.

Bumi Sehat has gone into all of the refugee camps and laid down our sarongs and held prenatals for pregnant women. Each day has been filled with sorrow and an awakening of the gratitude of life and how fleeting it can be. We rocked in our arms a 28 week old baby girl that did not make it due to hospital conditions. Robin will forever remember a husband’s/ father’s grief for his malnourished wife and mother of his 4 children when she took her last breath under the tents filled with smiling new mothers nursing their newborns. Strength, beauty, poverty, pride, sorrow, anger, love and laughter….Haiti is rich with all of this.

We are almost ready to erect our permanent clinic. We have a room in our house that is a small prenatal clinic and we have one bed for a mom to give birth. We have been giving well child check ups. Yesterday we saw about 30 kids. All of them were smiling ear to ear and a bit nervous to sit down and let us talk to their parents. The tarped tent was full of squiggling hungry children and crying babies. And we managed to see each one and leave them with sardines, EmergenC , donated clothes. cleaned open sores and a smile. All of the children have scabies and many with dengue and even more with systemic staph. We will have 5 consecutive days to see these children to help the parents care for the children in this way. There is no wash water and plastic tarps are their homes. Being dirty is not a choice right now in Haiti.

We are waiting for our dome. Yes, this is true. We have cried, yelled, prayed, kicked dirt and rolled with laughter at the unbelievable journey of the dome. When it comes it will bring a whole new understanding of ” Domes Day”. Please mark the day of it’ arrival on your calendar. We will make it a public holiday with greeting cards. Heather will be our master of ceremonies for this day. She has been our rock with the journey of the dome and EVERYTHING that to do with ANYTHING not here. She is celebrating her’s and Daisy’s birth 3 years ago today. Happy birthing day, dear sister. We are on to you…we just want to know where your invisible airplane is, so we can fill it with medical supplies and food. Hot red and super hero blue are your best colors.

Thank you to everyone who is helping. Your donations and/ or energy has helped soooooooo many people. We are dedicated to doing our very best with what we have begged, borrowed and bought, which is NOT enough water, NOT enough food and NOT enough roofs over homeless and hopeless souls.
Bumi Sehat Haiti team members are going to become many and we need team members here and there. So, pass on our passion for wanting this world to be a better place and keep the vision alive that every child is going to bed under a permanent roof, freshly washed with a full belly. We are going to bed tonight knowing that their are some that are, due to your help.”

There is an urgent need for tents in Jacmel, Haiti where the Bumi Sehat clinic is located. Tents are being collected at the following locations in the US:

West Coast:
Penny Tyrrell
c/o Bumi Sehat Haiti-Tent Drive
93 North Polk Eugene, OR 97402

East Coast:
Andre Gillis
c/o Bumi Sehat Haiti-Tent Drive
417 North Front Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

Midwest people please ship to the East Coast.

The first shipment will depart for Jacmel in about one week from today, but there will be a continuing need for tents for some time.

We are looking for tents in good condition of all sizes that are water proof and have a rain shield protection. In addition, if possible include a tarp to go with these tents for additional rain protection.


The earthquake that has battered Haiti is the worst natural disaster in this part of the world since the earthquake in Guatemala in 1976. Plenty is recommending that people donate to the smaller, less well-funded organizations that have people on the ground and pledge that 100% of your donation will go directly to their relief efforts. We are in touch with some of these groups and if you want to make your donation to them though Plenty, we will be pass along 100% of it to one or more of these groups. Meanwhile, Plenty has volunteers with emergency responder experience and medical skills standing by to go in whenever they can and you can designate your donation to support them when they are able to get there. Right now is the time for the heavy equipment and massive delivery of relief supplies that governments and the big relief agencies can manage. Soon the search and rescue phase will be over, but the emergency will not. Plenty is monitoring the situation closely. We were in Guatemala two weeks after the ’76 quake but stayed four years. We’re still in the Gulf four years after Katrina. The people of Haiti are going to need long-term commitments of basic support. While it has forever been the poorest country in the western hemisphere, it has also been the most neglected. Hopefully that period of neglect has ended.

Plenty returns to Guatemala

Five Plenty staff and volunteers were in Guatemala from October 30 until November 7 visiting long-time Plenty projects and exploring potential new ones. Guatemala, of course, was the location of Plenty’s first major international engagement when we responded to a catastrophic earthquake that shattered the middle of the country on February 4, 1976, killing at least 23,000. Along with several large reconstruction projects, village water systems and medical assistance, Plenty did a lot of work introducing Mayan famers and families to soyfoods, at their request. (They saw us eating soybeans and making and milk and tofu in our camp). Ultimately, with funding from UNICEF and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), we helped the Mayan community of San Bartolo near Solola, Guatemala, construct and equip a “soy dairy” or soyaria. Amazingly, the community has kept the soyaria going all these years (after the opening in 1980), even through the 1980s when Guatemala was torn apart by an internal civil war and virtual holocaust when more than 100,000 Mayans were killed outright by the army, or caught in the crossfire between the army and the guerillas, and another 150,000 fled the country to Mexico, the US and Canada. The Plenty team met with the current staff of the soyaria (Called “ADIBE” now) and, after reviewing their plans for expansion, provided them with a grant of $3,000.
Plenty Soy Tech, Charles Haren talks with ADIBE staff.

The team also met with the staff of UPAVIM, the women’s cooperative in Guatemala City where Plenty installed a small soyaria three years ago. Many of the women are widows who relocated to Guatemala City during the violence of the 1980s. UPAVIM operates a clinic, elementary school and day care center in the middle of one of the City’s most violent (due to gang warfare) barrios. The UPAVIM soyaria (they call it UPASOY) produces soymilk and other soyfoods for the school and day care center. Plenty is donating $3,000 to UPAVIM to support UPASOY and is providing ongoing technical support.

UPAVIM staff and Plenty team members, Guatemala City

They visited the country’s largest dump and landfill. It covers 40 acres of a canyon 300 feet deep. There are no regulations about what can be dumped there so much of the waste is dangerously toxic. Hundreds of families live off what they can scavenge from the mountains of trash. The Plenty team met with groups that are helping those families and we’re looking for ways we can lend a hand.

3,000 people live off Guatemala's biggest dump in Guatemala City.

According to one of the new groups the team met with, Food for the Poor, “undernourishment among Guatemalan youth, mothers with babies and the elderly has increased…in part due to diminished family income and local food supplies, both caused by serious droughts experienced during the past three years. Chronic undernourishment stands at 49.3% for children aged 5 years and younger. This represents nearly 1 million children.” According to UNICEF, malnutrition is the primary cause of child mortality worldwide…even moderate malnutrition can be deadly when combined with the typical infectious diseases poor children are exposed to. Since Plenty’s earliest days in Guatemala we have seen that soymilk is effective in relieving malnutrition in young children. Other organizations we’re connecting with in Guatemala such as Food for the Poor are discovering the value of introducing soyfoods to populations experiencing malnutrition.

Plenty in Guatemala: Slideshow

Plenty began working in Guatemala after the massive earthquake on February 4, 1976. This slideshow contains photos of some of the work from post-earthquake construction to village water systems to medical care to soy agriculture and food processing. This week (Oct. 29 to Nov. 7) Plenty has five volunteers meeting with project partners in Guatemala City and Solola assessing ways we can continue to support their work.[wpvideo KibWCgWX]

Plenty’s Fall 2009 Bulletin now available at

Dear Friends,

Just wanted to let you know that Plenty’s Fall Bulletin is now posted on our website. To go directly to the Bulletin please click here. This issue includes the following:

• Introduction
• In Memory of Karen
• Bakahno Pawanka Women’s Cooperative
• Kids To The Country
• Imani House Liberia Medical Clinic
• Meals for the Homeless in New Orleans
• Gulf Recovery Continues
• State of the Art Technology in Toledo Rainforest
• Books to Kids
• Plenty Guatemala Soy Project

Thanks again.

Peter Schweitzer
Executive Director

25,000 children die each day due to poverty

According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die every day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”