PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Soldiers with 96th Civil Affairs Battalion here supporting Combined Joint Task Force-Haiti delivered more than $30 thousand worth of medical supplies to two hospitals in the district of Cité Soleil April 19.
Both Choscal and Chapi hospitals, which received the supplies, treat more than 250 patients per day in general medical care, blood tests, limited emergency services and dental care to the community.
“We received a list from the Ministry of Health, did a site survey and interviews, and found that these two hospitals serve the majority of the community in Cité Soleil,” said Capt. Fernando Montoya, team leader, Civil Affairs Team A, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion.
The medical supplies delivered today were donated to Combined Joint Task Force-Haiti by a U.S. humanitarian assistance program and included bandages, gauze, I.V.’s, mattress pads, defibrillators and many other medical supplies.
Today was the first of many scheduled deliveries planned by the task force, said Montoya.
“We received four 40-foot trailers filled with supplies, and we are going to continue to give it all out to those in need,” he said.
The soldiers that help coordinate the effort to provide assistance to the many Haitians in need here say they enjoy what they do.
“It brings me a lot of satisfaction to deliver supplies that will be used to help these people,” said Sgt. 1st Class William I. Butler, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion.
The soldiers from the battalion that visit areas in Cité Soleil everyday are welcomed with open arms, Montoya said.
“I’m here every day, and the people welcome us every time we come. They are very receptive to our presence here,” Montoya said.
Montoya also said that with every visit they make, the people become more and more at ease with their presence in the neighborhood.
“We are still foreigners in their back yard,” Montoya said. “So you never let your guard down, but I feel welcomed and people wave at us when we are here.”
Many of the soldiers who move throughout the city say that the level of violence here has been overstated.
“The crime here is no different than that of any major metropolitan city in the United States,” Montoya said.
Personnel from CJTF-Haiti are in constant communication with the Haitian interim government and non-government organizations here to help provide assistance to those in need, according to Montoya.
“We have contacts with a number of organizations that don’t have the resources to move the supplies out into the city, that’s where we can step in and help,” Montoya said.
Because the NGO’s have stores of supplies but no way to deliver them, they have attempted to make arrangements for those in need to pick them up.
“The problem is that many times the would-be recipients don’t have a way to pick-up the supplies. That’s were we can help,” Montoya said.
By using the internal resources available to the Task Force here, such as large vehicles and trailers, civil affairs personnel are able to link up those in need with the supplies available.
“We can make assessments and coordinate the transportation of supplies, bridging the gap between the NGO’s and the people, like we did here today,” Montoya said.
As this and other humanitarian projects are conducted, one thing remains true: CJTF-Haiti and the Multinational Interim Force are here to assist in providing safety and security for the people of Haiti.
“Delivering these supplies helps to promote safety and security in the environment here,” Montoya said. “It also lets the people know that we are here to help those in need.”