With me in Haiti is Kathleen deLaski, a former journalist and AOL executive, whose father Don has made possible everything we’ve done in Haiti. Since Don’s death a year ago, she has headed up the family foundation, and now wants to experience firsthand the program that Don so generously and lovingly funded. Her daughter, Catherine Grubb, who is studying neuroscience, is with us, as are Lee-Ann Gallarano, who manages our Global Trauma Relief program, and Laura Milstein, our Development Director. It’s Laura’s first trip to Haiti, as well as Kathleen and Catherine’s. Linda Metayer, the psychologist who leads our Haiti program, has organized our visit.
An auspicious beginning for our trip: We meet with President Bill Clinton at the Karibe hotel. He’s in town, he tells us, to look at some innovative agriculture projects and, as always, to encourage foreign investment in Haiti. We have a chance to talk to him about our work which he appreciates and wants to learn more about.
The next morning we meet with René Domersant, the psychologist who heads up mental health efforts for Haiti’s Ministry of Health, and has also been part of our leadership team, as well as his boss Dr. Jocelyn Pierre-Louis. They are hoping that we will be able to train key Ministry people in all ten of Haiti’s districts so that our work with ongoing stress and psychological trauma can be integrated into the Ministry’s work at every level. It’s wonderful to feel their support as well as that of Bishop Pierre Andre Dumas who heads up the Catholic Church’s social welfare activities.