Keeping hope alive

9 Apr 2003 |

Soldiers with the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, here supporting Combined Joint Task Force – Haiti, delivered more than 2,500 pounds of fish, rice and beans to a home for the elderly in the Bel Air area April 8.
After delivering nearly 2,000 gallons of water just a few weeks ago with the help of the Marines from Marine Air Ground Task Force- 8 from Camp Lejeune, N.C., the team returned to the home to drop off food for nearly 100 malnourished residents battling various medical problems.
“These people don’t have a balanced diet,” said Katia Bonte, an administrator at the home. “The food delivered today is definitely a welcomed relief. The food delivered here will feed the residents for at least one month,” she explained.
Bonte contributes her time to help her parents, who both are residents at the home.
The administrator said she is glad to see the multinational interim forces here.
“This will help people throughout the city to understand that the military forces are here to help,” she explained.
The food was donated by Food for the Poor, a local charitable organization, according to Capt. Kevin K. Corrica, civil affairs officer, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C.
“The opportunity to get some food and help these people presented itself so we took it. Helping people is what we are here to do.”
He also said they plan to establish a direct relationship between local and national charitable organizations and Haitians in need of assistance.
“Eventually, we want to be able to step back and let the Haitian people and the organizations work without our assistance,” Corrica explained. “We want the people here to be self-sufficient.”
The team also visited the local Red Cross to coordinate possible future civil affairs projects.
“We are trying to do as much as we can while we are here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Bartolo, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion. “We are looking at trying to bring in the Haitian National Police, and possibly some of the medical university students, as well as other local organizations to aid the people in need,”
He cited the lack of physical resources as the main obstacle faced by the people here.
“Our plan is to provide as many supplies as we can and let the Haitian people help themselves,” Bartolo said. “The organizations here want to help, they are just in need of supplies.”
In addition to providing medical supplies and equipment, the team is also working with the Marines from MAGTF-8 to fix Red Cross ambulances in order to bolster the emergency management system here.
“The little things here mean so much” Bartolo said “and we are trying to provide as much as we can.”