It is only today, five days after Haiti's catastrophe, that we find the time to quickly dash off a few lines about Airline Ambassador's response.
We aren't beginners at shipping aid to Haiti - in fact the country was the first we supplied after we began operations back in the early 1990s - but the magnitude of the disaster has given us four days of round the clock labor before we were able to charter an aircraft out today with money we raised from our members. The plane was filled with 10,000 lbs of food and 60 medical personnel - more than half whom are Haitian-Americans from all over the United States.
They are going to a country that is in a true state of utter collapse. In many places there is no food, water, electricity, fuel, sewage disposal, communications of any kind, medical care, system to dispose of the dead and public order. Most people are sleeping on the street. As the days wear on the desperation of those trapped in this apocalyptic nightmare becomes ever more apparent.
AAI has also managed to fill three other aircraft with medicines and food aid and has been given space on United Airlines mercy flights departing out of Chicago on a regular basis.
The generosity of our members - especially the remarkable contribution of Voices for Homeless - enabled us to pay for today's flight in only 48 hours with more flights to come.
LDS Charities have donated huge amounts of food for us to transport. Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) donated money for fuel that allowed us to do all this, and the Community Voices for the Homeless donated half of today's AAI charter aircraft expenses. Homeless people helped load the airplane to maximum capacity.
There was a moment when today's charter was told it would have to land in the Dominican Republic but, as passenger Daniel (who is on our Board) said, "we had all of our paperwork and the whole crew and passengers started singing in Creole and praying and ... we landed in Port-au-Prince! Thank you Nancy and Dave for everything. Your clearance and our reputation with SouthCom helped along with divine intervention. I am in tears (and you know I am a tough guy!)"
Nancy & Dave Rivard