Romane began the presentation by leading the gathering in singing "Come, Holy Ghost" and the recitation of the Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary and Glory Be.
Romane said that following the earthquake many people, especially from the Connecticut area where he works, were looking to make donations for the relief effort and they trusted Maryknoll to make sure the money got to where it was most needed. Maryknoll sent him to Haiti to access needs.
In Haiti he discovered three major needs: shelter, food and medical are still urgent and will remain for the foreseeable future.
Romane thanks the Sisters and Lay Missioners for volunteering their services.
Last month he put together a team of three doctors (including Dr. David Kim, former parishioner at St. Paul's in Queens where I help out), three nurses which originally intended to work with refugees in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but they ran into bureaucratic obstacles so they moved their operations to Port-au-Prince. He consulted with UN, Red Cross and other agencies to see where best to offer service to the people.
He found Haiti lacked an overriding structure to coordinate distribution of tents, water and food so much aid remains at the airport.
The team stayed with Romane's brother at his house in the mountains where it was cooler, no mosquitoes and great food. They only ate the one meal each morning and worked in the city throughout the day with their mobile medical team. They treated 50~60 people each day.
Dennis then showed a slide presentation of the team, the devastation, tent communities and the Haitian people.
One million people remain homeless, although water and latrine facilities are available to most people, Dennis said.
Dennis, in addition to offering Romane moral support, was also able to use some of his training in ministering to people with emotional trauma.
On Monday, March 15th, Romane will accompany another larger group of medical volunteers into Haiti.
Fr. Dan Dolan observed it may be 20~40 years to bring Haiti back. Although we have fewer numbers, he said, Maryknoll can offer our experience in working with refugees, the most forgotten and most neglected.
Ms. Jo Albright, a Maryknoll Affiliate from New York City, said the Affiliates are looking for this kind of opportunity to help and she herself has volunteered and will be going to Romane's hometown next week.
Ms. Terri Misrwa asked if reports were true that the Haitian government was charging for relief supplies to get out of the airport. He said the government's reputation is well known but believes this is their attempt to exercise some systemic control over how supplies het out.
Fr. Joe La Mar asked what reports where given to the General Council and what was the plan going forward. Romane said he did meet with a few Council members and Fr. Ed Szendrey (internal auditor) but nothing definite has been proposed.
Fr. Kevin Hanlon wondered what would happen should patience and hope give way to unrest and chaos.
Fr. Dick McGee (Planned Giving) said he has many donors who have contributed to Haiti relief and would appreciate getting some report.
Br. Alex Walsh asked if any contact was made with Sisters of Charity or other groups. Romane said sinece many religious communities lost houses ands personnel so contact is hard. Forty Sisters of Perpetual Help died in their colapsed convent.
Fr. Joe McGahren asked if the international military could help with distribution. Romane said at this point it is enough for them to supply security, because it is still dangerous.
Dennis said Catholic Relief organizes "surprise" food drops to prevent unrest. All distribution is to women as men are prone to fight.
Fr. Mo Zerr asked if any heavy equipment is clearing areas. Again, Romane says the lack of leadership from government is frustrating.
Fr. Jerry Nagle asked who is coordinating Maryknoll's funds for Haiti. Romane said Fr. Szendrey and the Council are managing the expenses.
Fr. Bill Frazier wondered if there was a history of bad blood between Haiti and the D.R. Romane said much does get through the D.R. but it is political and they are taking advantage of the situation, such as charging NGOs $150,000 for a five-year contract on rental cars. On the other hand, the first doctors on the scene following the quake were Dominicans.