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Monday, February 8th, 2010 - One comment

Giving back in Haiti: One young volunteer’s story

Régine Zamor, a Haitian-American, has gone to Haiti to volunteer her services, despite being unaffiliated with any major NGO. In a video interview, she talks about distributing food that she herself arranged to bring and  about volunteering in a clinic.

Régine Zamor is a Haitian-American based in New Rochelle, New York, but raised in Brooklyn. Her Haitian family is from Martissant. She decided to come to Haiti after the 12 January earthquake and volunteer on her own, without signing up with a major NGO. She had contacts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic before arriving, having volunteered with Haitian indentured laborers in Batey Ocho, Barahona, in the Dominican Republic last summer. Her family and friends in the United States were supportive of her decision.

Régine is a film producer and writer who just finished a documentary film on street children in Cap Haïtien, titled Bagay Dwòl. She has been blogging about the film and about her first-response volunteering at her blog, Bagay Dwol Journal.

When she initially arrived in Haiti, a couple of days after the quake, she researched where her help was needed and wound up volunteering in food distribution, information sharing — both in person and through her blog — and in medical supplies distribution through various contacts at smaller NGOs such as SOIL, Wynn Farm, and COHEF.

Georgia Popplewell and I met with her at the Hotel Oloffson a couple of afternoons ago.

“I didn’t want to wait”

When I told other Haitians living in the United States that I was traveling to Haiti with Global Voices, many who were on waiting lists with large well-known NGOs and US government agencies expressed dismay. For example, my friend Alex — who holds a masters degree in public health administration and has been working in the healthcare industry in the United States for years — was itching to be picked from a volunteer list. When Régine explained to Georgia and me how she made it to Haiti shortly after the quake, I immediately thought of Alex and all the others waiting in the U.S.

Régine decided not to wait, and in this video she explains how she connected with the work she wound up doing:

(A version of this video with French subtitles is also available on dotSUB.)

Régine and other first-responders took food distribution in their own hands and at their own cost

I have only spotted one UN-run food distribution line since my arrival here a week ago. It was near the National Palace, and proved so chaotic that either tear gas or pepper spray was allegedly used on the crowd. A handful of UN officers seemed to be handling a crowd of thousands. A system for the distribution of the global influx of aid by either the UN or the Haitian government has yet to materialize. But in speaking to Régine, it became clear that many Haitians and others willing to help took matters into their own hands during the first-response period.

Here Régine explains how she coordinated with an NGO contact in the Dominican Republic to buy food, have it sent to Port-au-Prince, and distribute it to Orphelinat l’Amour du Bon Berger.

Volunteering with the Parc Antoine Izméry Clinic in Delmas 33

When we met Régine at the Oloffson, an American buddy from her hometown of New Rochelle, NY, interrupted our meeting to introduce some doctors to her. Régine left Georgia and me to go and meet them, and eventually introduced us to one of them, an American doctor who has served Haitian patients in the Bahamas for the past 11 years. She turned to us and said: “He just agreed to come to the Sité Solèy Clinic with me tomorrow morning.”

That is precisely what Régine means by her role in “information sharing”. Via word of mouth and using all means available, she has connected tens of people to whatever service needs she has identified or become aware of.

Here Régine shares a bit about the work she has been doing at the medical clinic at Park Antoine Izméry in Delmas 33:

On her blog, she explains how she delivered needed medical supplies to Kenscoff.

Régine’s journey is far from over. Like many of the Haitian-Americans I have met in Port-au-Prince, she is planning on installing herself permanently here in the next few weeks. Here are her “Helpful Resources for Volunteering in NYC.

This blog post was originally published on Global Voices Online on January 31, 2010.Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The views expressed in this blog-post are solely those of the author.

Comments (1)

Andy Keller
Wednesday 10th February, 2010, 2:08pm

Millions have lost everything in the quake – homes, food, jobs! For the next 12 months, the World Food Programme says 2 million people will need critical food assistance! If you want to help and learn more about the crisis response, go to: http://wfp.org/crisis/haiti> or you can text FRIENDS to 90999 to make a $5 donation.

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Guest Editor

Alice Backer

Lawyer, Global Voices, Poto Mitan

About

Just returned from a 10 day citizen media training mission in Haiti. I am Haitian-American. I am the Global Voices Lingua Founder and former team Leader. I was formerly the Francophonia editor at Global Voices, covering French-speaking blogs of the Caribbean, Africa and Oceania. I worked as a Brooklyn for Barack field organizer, New York State Democratic Primary, USA. I was also a Communications and political consultant in 2009 Gabonese presidential election.

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