The University of Miami is working through its nonprofit health care arm Project Medishare to coordinate shipments of urgently needed medical equipment and other supplies with the Haitian government.
“We stand as a facilitator,” said Henri Ford, dean of the Miami School of Medicine, on an Aug. 15 call with diaspora leaders. “We just want to make sure that we can help facilitate the [aid] getting to the Haitian people in a timely manner.”
Project Medishare confirmed it is now receiving shipments at its Miami warehouse, located at 3200 NW 119th St. in Miami.
“We have a close working relationship with [the Haitian government] and are appreciative of their guidance on the response effort and are following their lead,” said Stephanie Caro, a spokesperson for Project Medishare.
Haitian officials are not seeking to work with Project Medishare exclusively, she said. A representative from Mercury Public Affairs, a public relations firm hired by the Haitian government, could not immediately confirm the names of other organizations the government is working with.
In the days following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck southern Haiti, diaspora leaders and the Haitian government have sought to coordinate the shipment of materials and aid, in hopes of avoiding the disjointed response to the 2010 earthquake.
To avoid “disorder” in humanitarian assistance, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said relief materials would be handled by a single operations center in Port-au-Prince.
The Miami-based nonprofit is meeting daily via Zoom with Haitian government officials and other organizations to coordinate aid to Haiti and stands ready to ship goods received from elsewhere in the U.S., Caro said in an interview.
“We request that people contact us prior to shipping items, there’s a lot of restrictions on what we can ship,” said Caro, citing Haitian customs laws that may prevent certain items from entering. “We are trying to purchase as many items as we can in-country from Haitian businesses.”
Led by the nonprofit Haitian American Alliance (HAA), diaspora leaders planned to create a list of New York-based organizations prepared to receive donations that will be shipped to the Project Medishare location serving as the central hub in Miami. The list has not yet been shared, although some organizations have announced separately that they are collecting.
Project Medishare is seeking items for donation that are harder to source in Haiti — including tarps, oral rehydration salts, band-aids, gauze, diapers, surgical gloves and mosquito nets. Other goods may be accepted as well, but potential donors should email firstname.lastname@example.org first to confirm, Caro said.
Other groups collecting aid
Aid to Haiti is already coming from multiple sources. The U.S. has sent an urban search and rescue team, joining numerous other countries sending relief to Haiti. In New York City alone, police precincts and local politicians have started collecting donations of material goods.
In an Aug. 17 diaspora leaders conference call, Food for the Poor Haiti chair Daniel Rouzier said medical supplies and knowledge, help with the cleanup effort and food are the biggest needs. As of late Aug. 17, Rouzier’s nonprofit had already shipped more than a dozen 40-foot containers of medicine and building materials.
“There is a tremendous amount of suffering,” Rouzier told diaspora leaders, about the situation in southern Haiti. “I’m just seeing, however, a lack of organization, even though you have a very good sense of purpose.”