But they couldn't distribute food and run the airport at the same time, so they transferred that responsibility to Tiffany Keenan, an ER doctor from Canada, and Sarah Wallace (pictured), 24-year-old midwife and who is fluent in Creole and is preparing to open her own maternity center here in Jacmel. Tiffany, a kind of one-woman relief agency, was sending out medical needs lists and matching the incoming supplies to the clinic or hospital that needed it most.
Meanwhile, Sarah did the rest—everything from scheduling flights and managing security, to running "customs" and greeting arriving dignitaries. On several occasions, I heard someone ask a question to Maj. Kevin Skirrow, the Canadian Forces' commanding officer, and he'd shoot back, "Ask Sarah..."
I watched her in action, flipping between English and Creole. "Sarah, I need a translator."
"Okay, I'll get you one."
"Sarah, I need a truck."
"Okay, I'll arrange it."
"Sarah, do you have the number for the mayor?"
"Hold on—it's 372..."
For the first few days, I walked around utterly dumbfounded. Here I am, I thought, with these "house parents" who are now collecting and distributing thousands of pounds of food and two young women charged with coordinating all the private aid—often advising the military on how to streamline their operations.
Not surprisingly, these people have invaluable to my work here. If I need to distribute ceramic water filters, they have a guy with a truck. Travel to a remote village? They have a translator. Despite this being my first time in Haiti and my first attempt at disaster relief, I've been able to accomplish everything I've set out to do, and all because of them.