Former Governor of Oklahoma Frank Keating and his wife, Cathy, long-time supporters of the American Red Cross, visited Haiti to see firsthand the Red Cross relief operations in action.
After arriving at the Port-au-Prince airport, just a temporary metal building, we stepped outside and were greeted by several hundred people gesturing, hoping, for a glimpse of a friend or relative who might have been aboard our flight.
Matt Marek, a Creole-speaking American Red Cross employee, met us and we boarded Red Cross-marked vans that whisked us around two-lane mountain roads through the capital city. Trucks filled with water and provisions squeezed by as we twisted and turned from camp to distribution center where the main work of sharing and caring took place. On either side of the str eet were the pulverized r emains of houses, businesses, schools and what had a few short months before been sites of acti vity. Now it was all broken glass, shattered stones, crushed and splintered cars. And silence. Nothing lived there anymore.
Areas spared of rubble are now filled with tents—lots of them in multiple colors— where the displaced temporarily house themselves. American Red Cross responders, speaking Creole and walking with their Haitian counterparts, explained the need for water purification to families we passed along the way. What wonderful people are these Red Cross professionals! Living in tents themselves, they are up early and late, consoling and providing fresh water, medicines and food to people who have nothing. As the rainy season continues and hurricanes move in from across the ocean, the Red Cross will be there.
Thank you Red Cross. For holding up people whose only mistake was to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. For providing the hope that keeps pain and despair at bay. I know you will not forget Haiti because this is what you do. When bad things happen to good people, you come, selfless and courageous. And that is why we are so grateful to the American Red Cross.
—Frank and Cathy Keating