The devastation is unimaginable, the need is overwhelming, and the feelings of helplessness are almost suffocating. It's hard to know what to do, whom to donate to, whom to trust will do the right things, get to the right people. In the wake of such a crisis, scams abound, preying upon the desperate need to do something to help. I have to say in the hours and days following the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti I've been a bit numb to it. On purpose. It was just too much to take in.
That was before I learned about #BRESMA.
For those not familiar with Twitter-speak, the hash tag is a way of linking and following a common thread on Twitter. As I reviewed my daily Twitter feed, amidst the #Haiti tweets that were rolling in, the tweets about an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince that is spearheaded by two young sisters from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania started to catch my attention. By Saturday, when the distressing tweets started to appear that this orphanage, currently caring for 150 children and babies was nearly out of water, I knew I couldn't turn away.
I started retweeting the distress call put out by @JanePitt
, a columnist from Pittsburgh who is working with the women's family to coordinate information and get their story out via her blog
. As I started to learn the background
of these amazing, and humble
, young women who have found their life's calling in helping these children, I became convinced that amidst all the chaos and bewildering need, focusing on getting attention and immediate help to these individuals that make such an impact was a way that I could contribute something more beyond my dollars. These women literally climb mountains, and have traveled in treacherous hurricane conditions to reach children in need. And they have a astounding 100% placement rate, and the fastest in the Haitian adoption community due to their dogged determination. These kids all have families waiting for them! I felt something needed to be done, and NOW.
I am not alone. This is where Twitter gets amazing.
My fellow tweeters have also been furiously broadcasting this singular SOS. News people, politicians, even no joke, an aircraft carrier
sitting off the coast were targeted to try and get their attention, to find someone
who knew someone
on the ground to get water to them. Celebrities with large followings were appealed to, and it was wonderful to see@JillianMichaels
take notice and retweet to their followers, eliciting an immediate bump in the volume. CNN had even been
there previously, and was running a segment about them. GPS coordinates were posted to aid anyone who could get someone there.
Information and pleas were flying. This is where Twitter gets dicey.
As I said, CNN had been there
in the last several days, and they started to report the news that the women had secured permission to get the children out! But unfortunately that information was inaccurate
, taken from an AP report sourced from an incorrect local Pittsburgh media report
. So the tweets started rolling out to not lose focus, these women and their charges ARE not out of the woods by a long shot.
But a bright spot. This is where Twitter gets inspiring.
, a managing editor for a travel publication based out of Mexico City, I learned that he and a connection had networked to get a person on the ground to the orphanage, and had spoken with him this evening. He reported that while their need is severe (especially for baby items) that they are staying strong and holding on.
Tonight I'll pray. Tomorrow, I'll check my Twitter feed, and see if beyond resources there is anything else I can do to help people a world away, caught in hell, who thanks to social media now have names and faces.
I pray that it will be enough for the McMutrie sisters and their young charges.
Resources to learn more:
This morning 53 of the 150 BRESMA orphanage and one of the McMutrie sisters, Ali, arrived safely in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to great celebration. Jamie McMutrie will be arriving soon with one last child who had gone missing and she had stayed behind to find. They have been granted a two year humanitarian visa. 47 of the children had already been in various stages of adoption to the U.S., Canada, and Spain before the quake, and 7 are to be placed. The balance of the children at BRESMA were similarly evacuated to France and the Netherlands, where they had also been in the process of being placed before the quake struck.
They were accompanied by Gov. Rendell and members of Congress and a host of medical personnel.
To say that this is a unique situation is a gross understatement! The unfolding of this story involved a inspiring and at times flawed marshaling of human power through networking channels, most notably through social media networks.
There will be alot of lessons to be learned from the situation, but for now two American women and a vast network of supporters inspired by their passion moved mountains and over one hundred Haitian children are on their way to the arms of their new families.
To learn more:
(a Must read behind the scenes look at what was happening to make this a reality from a key player)