PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- U.S. Marines and soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force -Haiti distributed water to a geriatric home here March 21.
Nearly 2000 gallons of purified water transported from Marine Air Ground Task Force -8’s compound was deposited into a well at the home for the elderly in the Bel-Air District of Port-Au-Prince, providing a much needed resource to the residents there.
“The residence here have not had water for three days,” said Vilaire Etiene, who works at the facility. “The residence are sixty to eighty years old and without water they could die.”
The Task Force’s civil affairs team received a request for support regarding the home while meeting with several city officials March19 to assess the most urgent needs of Port_Au-Prince’s community.
“We came down Friday to assess the facility and found out that they were in desperate need of water, there well was nearly completely dry” said Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Baotolo, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne). “We were able to get water here in less than thirty-six hours.”
The water delivery was made to the residence by Marines from Combat Service Support Battalion 20 attached to Marine Air Ground Task Force-8.
“I didn’t know what we would be doing when we deployed to Haiti,” said Cpl. Heriberto Becerra, a hygiene equipment operator, who helped purify the water delivered here. “Now that I’m here, it’s a great feeling knowing that what I am doing is having an impact on these people.”
This was the first time many Marines from CSSD-20 were able to feel like they were directly reaching out to the community according to Lance Cpl. Roger J. Lopez, a motor transport operator, who helped pumped the water into the well.
“I’ve been so busy driving equipment and supplies to the Marines here that this was the first time I had the opportunity to get out and help the people directly,” he said. “It feels great and I think it’s important that we a re here today to show the people of here that we are here to help them,” he explained.
Although the delivery provided relief to the facilities residents many Marines left wishing they could do more according to Staff Sgt. Dana J. Rutan, the water delivery mission commander.
“I wish we could have taken more water,” said the Des Moines, Iowa native, “but I’m glad that we were able show a different side of why we are here, we’re not here only to restore democracy, we are here to help.”
The delivery mission was just one of many planned civil-military missions planned by the Task Force here according to Bartolo.
“While we were here today we assessed the facilities generators, refrigeration equipment and their food supply. We are looking at ways that we can help the people here in these areas as well.”
Barolo also said the Multi-national interim forces here are looking at future missions that will extend beyond helping the people living in the facility here.
“We are linked in with the organizations here and are constantly assessing where we can provide assistance,” Bartolo stated. “We are trying to interface with key members of the community other organizations to see where we can help.”
Bortola stressed the Task Forces’ desire to help reestablish the organizations and charities here that have suffered serious blows from the looting and instability before the Multi-national interim force arrived.
“Many organizations here were looted and are having difficulties paying bills and their services are starting to be cut off or lag behind,” he explained.
The Multi-national Interim Force’s here working to build a stable, safe environment for the Haitian community while providing a foundation for the United Nations‘ peacekeeping force to work from in the future.