Preparing for 2010

Those of us who were involved in Haitian adoptions (or just in Haitian missions of any sort) ended up using the coup in 2004 as a way to prepare for the earthquake in 2010.

I can hear some of you saying it, “How can he call a natural disaster that killed hundreds of thousands of people the same as a man made overthrowing of an elected government?”

I’m not.

Not by any means.

Especially not for people who were actually in Haiti at the time that either of these two events happened. They were totally different – and to say the earthquake was worse is sort of like saying a hurricane is worse than a light rain storm. It was way worse!

But the coup, for people who were involved but weren’t in Haiti, provided some important lessons that helped them respond to and support people when the earthquake hit on January 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm. Let me share a few:

1. The power of connecting – going through a scary time and a time of significant uncertainty is much less difficult if you have someone who understands and can relate on your side. There were adoptive parents during the time after the earthquake who would call me three or four or five times a day looking for news. (And they are still friends of ours). I could take their phone calls and “hold their hand” because I had been on the other side, not knowing what was going on.
2. The importance of over communicating in times of crisis – that’s right, “over” communicating. I found it so often in those first few weeks where phone calls and blog posts and e-mails that said, “I don’t know anything more” would do a lot to help calm the nerves of the parents.
3. Being bold and asking for big solutions is okay. I’ll tell you the complete stories later, but after the earthquake, we asked someone if we could use his plane to fly adoptive parents to Miami (and that he pay the bill) – and he said yes. We asked a pharmaceutical rep in Palo Alto California to spend two days on a plane flying 2,000 doses of tetanus vaccines from San Fransico to Miami so that they would get there tomorrow and not get delayed by a week. I don’t know exactly what happens if someone is delayed getting a tetanus vaccine for a week but from what I understand, it’s really nasty.  And he did.

Earlier I told you some of my thoughts on the statement, “Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it.” I believe in many ways that what was learned from the coup in 2004 helped positively impact the response from people in the first world after the earthquake hit.

I’ve got a lot more stories about the earthquake – but those are for another day.

Tom

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