Each day in Haiti, I asked someone “what is our motto today”? The last day I was told “The Fixer” … which was so appropriate for what needed to happen. If I have not explained previously, life for the Haitian people is extremely difficult right now. Don’t get me wrong, I believe life in Haiti was difficult before the earthquake. But what happened in 30 seconds on 12 January 2010 was devastating.
Archive for April, 2010
Everything in Haiti is done on THEIR time. It doesn’t matter if you are in a hurry … everything just takes time. Which can be extremely frustrating, especially when we (as Americans) have learned to constantly be in a hurry and have things so instantly. However, even this week I witnessed the negative when someone rushes. Words are not said that need to be said, people do not do what they are supposed to do, and even a project is not completed in a manner worthy of a stamp of approval.
But yesterday, it was all about timing. The tears streaming down my face at various times, were because I believe it was and is … God’s perfect timing. For those of you that may not realize it … I was not supposed to be in Haiti this week. Let me give you a little recap …
Because of a volcano, I was not able to spend my vacation in Germany visiting and volunteering with the USO Wounded Warriors. Eric asked me a month ago to find a way to get the Peace Packs delivered to him in Haiti. When I helped Ruthie package & ship the Peace Packs in S. California 10 days ago, I had NO plans of being in Haiti right now. Every day since shipping those boxes, I have been on the phone with Fed Ex to make sure there were no issues. Funny thing … the minute they hit Haitian soil, there were issues.
As I explained previously, the government is corrupt. The government wanted us to pay duties and taxes on these little back packs that were literally filled with love and prayers from children in America to the children here in Haiti. The fact of the matter is, it took alot of work, tenacity, and resolve to get those boxes out of customs without having to pay duties and taxes. It was a God moment when they let us put the Peace Packs in the car.
But yesterday, it wasn’t just one moment … it was a culmination of knowing how hard I worked to get the Peace Packs here … and seeing Ruthie’s project come full circle for her. She would not have been here, had one of my friends not given me a buddy pass for her to use. If I had not gone through, the hoops with the translator that I went through … we would not have made the contact we needed to, in order to get a much larger and vital shipment into the country (more on this later).
You see, God can see the big picture … we can’t. And although there is death, starvation, dehydration, and tents all around us … I can see the beauty of us making a difference. If different steps had been taken, the result may not have been the same … and I am thankful that I listened to that still, small voice inside … that told me to “come” … because the beauty of following … is hearing God say “well done” … and that is far better than any words can really describe …
And for those of you who don’t believe in God … take a situation where you feel a tremendous amount of JOY. Where the universe has aligned, and you are just brimming from ear to ear. That is how I felt several times yesterday. Where the love you feel inside .. the admiration .. the gratitude .. is so enormous that you explode with emotion. When you look yourself in the mirror and really like who you see.
Now that my friends, is a really good day.
This blog is dedicated to an amazing “fixer” (and translator!) of all things necessary in a third world country. This morning we were having coffee, discussing our plans for the day, and this song came on the overhead speaker. He decided this would be our motto for the day! It seemed perfect, because we knew we had unsurmountable odds against us, with what needed to be accomplished. At one point, Andre told me “I believe we will touch the sky” … which is what kept me going as we drove through the streets where we saw nothing but destruction. It is very sad, seeing how these people are living. Yet, there is something to be said for their resilience. Children were still in school uniforms and carrying book bags. It seemed so out of place amongst the rubble.
On 17April, I was in Southern California, and helped ship 5 boxes of “Peace Packs” to Haiti for arrival. Ironically, the only two people who could “clear” them through customs here, was either myself, or Eric. (Neither of us knew this at the time of shipping … and keep in mind, I had no intention of being in Haiti right now … as I was supposed to be in Germany with the Wounded Warriors).
So I kept thinking today “this is a God moment” … or a divine appointment … or the universe is aligning. Put any definition on it that you want … but know it was a miracle in the works. If you have never been to a third world country, let me explain that many people are just out to scam you. They lie to get what they want and then deny what they said. The governments are often corrupt, and there is no one around to police the police.
The odds that were against us as we started out, was to get those Peace Packs out of Customs, without paying duties or taxes. Without a lengthy explanation … just know the “fixer” and myself completed that task. As I sit here typing this, the Peace Packs are in the corner of the room. Tomorrow morning we will set out to distribute them. You never know who you will meet … or who will help you along the way. Today, I felt “accomplished”, because I never knew what I was doing with helping Ruthie with the shipping, would be such a testimony of faith. These “Peace Packs” are literally a symbol of Peace and Love to the children of Haiti. It is my honor to have been a part of the project … and I can’t wait to tell you what tomorrow holds.
Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement. Although I would like to stay longer, I will be departing in a couple of days. Thanks so much for your kind donations! You are so awesome for helping me to make a difference to others.
Children cared more about getting their picture taken and attention, than anything else. Adults hugged us and told us thank you in Creole and French for bringing them water. Speaking of water …
We delivered 9,000 gallons of water, to over 3,250 families, all of whom have lives in tents or make shift housing since the earthquake. It is disgusting that the government does not provide water to their own people. It is frustrating the government wants to cut off the food supply via donations.
Tomorrow I will tackle the issue with Customs about the Peace Packs again .. but for tonite .. it’s hopefully sweet dreams. My body is exhausted from the sun, the experiences, and the sadness ~~ mixed with absolute joy of knowing I made a difference today … right along next to my fellow volunteers.
We have arrived in Port-au-Prince … and anxious to see what awaits. Flexibility is the name of the game. We are in a third world country, where corruption runs deep, and time is nothing of the essence.
The first order of business was to be a visit to Customs regarding the “Peace Packs”. However, they were closed by the time we arrived (12 noon). You see, the Haitian government is still charging duties and taxes on any items brought into the country. Since Ruthie & I sent “Peace Packs” via my discount at Federal Express ten days ago, the cargo still has not been delivered. We are hoping and praying for resolution as promised in the lengthy hours I have spent on the phone with Customs in Haiti the past few days. The last communication was the statement “all you have to do is show up, Robin” from Customs Officials. Too bad the employees didn’t get the memo … haha
It amazes me how the Haitian government is charging duties and taxes on items to help THEIR people. As I have experienced in many other countries where I have traveled, it is not what you know, it is who you know. We are hoping that my prior connections in humanitarian work will assist us to get this particular shipment released without further incident.
The “Peace Packs” are small back packs that Ruthie organized and had filled with kind donations of school supplies and hygiene / toiletries for the children. There are 230 of them, which Eric has coordinated for us to deliver and disperse to orphanages in Haiti. This will be one of the “missions” we will be involved with in the next few days.
Ruthie and I have a little competition going, to see which one of us can get the most in donations (to help with our individual expenses) … my expenses will mostly be hotel and petrol to get us from point A to point B while we are in Haiti. My goal is to get enough in donations to enable me to stay until 1May (when my vacation time ends). If you can help in any big or small way, please make a donation to https://secure.can-do.org/ (be sure to put Robin Schmidt in the comments).
Please know we are safe and have met up with Eric and the remainder of the CAN DO team on the ground. It’s going to be an experience of a life-time, and one I am very thankful to be able to make a difference for those in need. Thank you in advance for your kind donations … and of course, for your encouragement and unwavering support.
Once I arrive in Port-au-Prince, I will be volunteering my time and energy to whatever is needed of me. I will also take photos and tell you exactly what the conditions are on the ground, when I am able. Many of you have expressed concern about me making this trip. Please know I would not go if I did not feel safe. I trust Eric Klein and his CAN-DO team with my life. But most of all, I trust my faith .. and I trust my “gut”. This is something I have to do for mankind and for myself. I have to go do everything I can to help these poor, innocent victims, and bring them hope.
Why don’t I know when I am returning? … It literally, it depends on donations to cover hotel costs. For those of you who have asked how you can help …
Make a donation. Ask others to donate. Repost the updates I provide. If you can only spare even $5.00, it will help tremendously. Every penny donated to https://secure.can-do.org/ with “Robin Schmidt” in the comments, goes directly towards any costs I would incur.
In addition, Eric needs donations for petrol in order to get supplies out to the areas who have had no medical assistance, food or water deliveries since the earthquake. If you know of an organization or can rally for donations for necessities, please ask them to donate to http://can-do.org/ TODAY.
This morning I woke up with welts all over my arms, neck, and legs. Not really a new occurance for me .. I am allergic to SO MUCH STUFF. But along with whatever caused the allergic reaction, came a migraine. In an effort to battle both of those, the medication I took knocked me out. That caused me to miss the first flight out to meet my fellow volunteers. So I am heading that way now … with EpiPen in the suitcase. Along with Cipro and my “rubber duckies” … I think I am as prepared as prepared gets for a volunteer vacation like this!
PS. Please take time to thank a service member or their loved ones today. The sacrifices they make daily, should be honored and revered. Although I am going to Haiti, rather than visiting and volunteering with the USO Wounded Warriors … I still need them to know I salute them … and they are remembered!
Thanks so much for your encouragement about the decision to go to Haiti to assist with relief efforts. What my friend, Eric Klein and his CAN DO team have been doing, is nothing short of AMAZING. Check it out on http://virtualvolunteer.tv/ !
Today I am going back for round two of shots & making final preparations to head to Haiti. Tomorrow I will be meeting up with fellow volunteers as we make our way to Port-au-Prince early Saturday morning. Many of you have been asking what you can do to help. There are many things, actually. One is simply keep the encouragement and love coming, on Facebook, via your comments here, and sharing our mission with others.
The second is donations. Everyone keeps asking “how long will you be there”? I truly do not know at this point in time .. it literally will depend on donations to cover my hotel expenses while away. If you can spare even $5.00, it will help tremendously. Every penny donated to https://secure.can-do.org/ with “Robin Schmidt” in the comments, goes directly towards any costs I would incur.
Some of you have said “I don’t want to donate through another organization, I want the money to go directly to YOU” or “I don’t care about the tax write-off” … You can donate through my website of http://alwayssupportourheroes.com/ … or the address below.
Others have said, “Robin, I want to donate to help relief efforts, not your costs”. That is AWESOME! Please know that Eric needs money for fuel (petrol) and to pay the locals to deliver items to the communities where no other organizations are distributing food and water. He is working diligently to make sure HUMAN BEINGS are protected from the weather. Shelter is needed .. the rainy season is nearly upon us. PLEASE donate (again, every penny matters) your coffee or tea money today … and help us to help others.
At least at http://can-do.org/ I can promise you that you will see where your money is directly going. Eric has brought accountability back into aiding in a disaster, and I hope each of you will make the non profit organization that you donate to, ACCOUNTABLE. Do you know where your money is going? I hope in the next week to show you what one man and an entire team behind him is doing .. and how much each of us can do to make a difference. One person, and one life at a time.
Thanks for your support! By the way, God bless our troops .. and thank you for keeping me safe .. so I can make a global impact .. and for all you are sacrificing to make the world a better place. Thank you for your service and for the commitment your loved ones have made while you do so!
PO Box 122037
Covington, KY 41012-2037
- One of the first things I learned as a flight attendant, was to ALWAYS have a back up plan! When I plan a vacation, things tend to fall apart for one reason or another. I’ve learned to “bounce” because .. well .. I can. This past week as the volcanic ash began to spread itself further across Europe, the plans & efforts I put into our Airline Ambassador mission to volunteer & visit at the USO Wounded Warrior Center & Chaplain’s Closet this coming week, seemed irrelevant. It is as though Mother Nature is saying “I have other plans” .. which has been a bit overwhelming for me, as I am sure it has been for thousands of Europeans & other travelers who long to get to their destinations.
In reality, I consider myself lucky .. because I fly for virtually free (taxes) and I didn’t have to put a bunch of money down (none, in fact) for this particular mission. All I am out is the time and energy to put the trip together, items I purchased or gathering of the items you so graciously donated for our Wounded Warriors. The items you have all donated will be taken on the next trip, or as donations come in, I will ship items over to the Chaplain’s Closet.
Speaking of donations .. thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the cards, flip flops, tshirts, soap and toiletries. I promise I will get them to our Wounded Warriors .. and I will make sure they know they are remembered and thought of every single day. (I am still sad to not be going in 2 days .. but I know I will go as soon as the opportunity arises).
Normally I would not post and ask for money for anything not associated with supporting our troops. But the reality is .. I have felt a gnawing in my stomache to go help in Haiti for two months. Since the moment the earthquake occurred, I have known I needed to be there to “get my hands dirty”. Within an hour of postponing the trip to visit the Wounded Warriors, my plans shifted to another continent.
You see, I have a friend who can use my help. You all know how much I admire Eric Klein and the work that is done through CAN-DO.ORG to aid in a disaster. Instead of going to visit the Wounded Warriors, (because of the cancelled flights to Europe due to the volcano) … I have decided my vacation this month is going to be spent helping him on the front lines. There are expenses I need help covering, the main one being my hotel. I promised my family in January I would not go until I knew I would be safe and took all the necessary precautions to not get sick. When I return from my training tomorrow night, I have an appointment to get the remaining shots needed and any prescriptions. You see, any money (even $5) will help pay for these specific costs. If you are able to make a donation, please go to my website (http://alwayssupportourheroes.com/) and click on the “donate” button. If you prefer to make a tax deductible donation, please go to https://secure.can-do.org/ and write “Robin Schmidt” in the notation (I will tell the CAN-DO.ORG team I asked you to do this for my expenses).
You see, I have the time off … I truly will regret it if I don’t go to help. The thought of orphans on the streets or people having no shelter, it just kills me. I feel I have to do something … and I know I need help in order to do so. As much as possible I will provide updates. It’s going to be an interesting week … after all, I thought there was truly nothing that would keep me from my Wounded Warriors … and I just learned once again … how to “bounce” … and the importance of ALWAYS HAVING A BACK UP PLAN! <
Thanks so much for ANYTHING you can do to help … and if you want to send a donation rather than use the internet (remember, any amount, big or small will be greatly appreciated!), please send it to:
PO Box 122037
Covington, KY 41012-2037
Updates to follow … and thanks for your support !
Our next Airline Ambassador Wounded Warrior mission is right around the corner! (YEAH!) Thank you so very much for your kind donations and encouragement as I continue to support our troops overseas. The poster boards that I made and had so much assistance in getting signed look fantastic! (the signatures take away from the fact that I don’t have an artistic bone in my body! haha)
The luggage is filled with toiletries that were collected from hotel rooms .. and so very much needed at Ramstein Air Field for the transportation teams who take such good care of our Wounded Warriors. A special thank you to Charlene at Running Wild Spirit for the soap and chapstick she hand made to share with our valiant heroes.
It really is an honor to be allowed to volunteer at the USO Wounded Warrior center! This trip we will also be chaperoning Wounded Warriors on a day trip on a Rhine River Cruise (reminds me, I need to pack something warm to wear!). We are planning on volunteering at the Chaplain’s Closet .. which is where your kind donations of t-shirts, sweats, athletic shoes, and flip flops are distributed to the troops when they come from the battlefield. If you are not aware, most of the time a wounded service member will arrive at the hospital with only the clothing on their backs. The Chaplain’s Closet offers items to the Wounded free of charge, and is run by donations. That is why your donations are so greatly appreciated.
We are able to give our valiant warriors hope, and remind them they are not alone in their recovery .. and for that, I am eternally grateful. It is my strongest desire that NONE of our valiant heroes ever feel alone on the battlefield or when they return home.
Thank you so very much for your support .. and I promise to blog and share photos as I have time. The trip begins the moment I finish training in Atlanta for my job .. and volcanic ash clears so I can get on a flight .. our Wounded Warrior mission is expected to be 21-26April.
On a side note .. I was asked to go to Haiti to assist with relief efforts 27April – 1May … please pray my schedule at work enables me to do so (my work schedule comes out tomorrow). If any of my work buddies have a buddy pass you can spare, my friend Ruthie would really like to use it .. as she is the one who created the Peace Packs and paid for the shipping of them (the afternoon I spent at Fed Ex with her the other day) .. and I am going to help her distribute them. Thanks so much, you have no idea how much this would mean .. and we will get to help Eric Klein at Can-Do.Org at the same time!
Thank you to everyone for reading my blog .. I know it is hard to keep up with where I am in the world .. and I am learning the more information I share online, the less any of you worry about me! It’s just really important to me to support our troops .. and make a difference … one person, one life at a time!
Thanks again, and stay tuned for updates!
) Always, Robin
PO Box 122037
Covington, KY 41012-2037
Letter from Chaplain Andrew Lee of the 158th CSSB requested my support for a Battalion in Afghanistan. If you can help with any of these items for care packages being monthly, please send items to address below .. or of course, go to my website & make an online donation. http://alwayssupportourheroes.com/ (in case you can’t see the link on here).
|From:||Lee, Andrew J 1LT USA USA 158th CSSB|
|Sent:||Mon 3/15/10 12:35 PM|
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: FOUO Good Evening Ms. Schmidt, I received your name through Major Adam Calderon who said you might be interested in supporting our unit. Let me start off by saying thank you for your patriotism and support of our troops. I know it means a lot to Soldiers to receive this kind of love from back home. President George Washington said, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier war were treated and appreciated by the nation." I know our Soldier appreciate your support. My name is Andrew Lee and I am the Battalion Chaplain for the 158th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion of the Arizona Army National Guard out of Tucson, Arizona currently deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. We have about 80 soldiers that deployed from Arizona and we are the higher headquarters for over 1000 Soldiers here in Afghanistan from ActiveDuty and Reserve units. Our mission surrounds providing logistical support for Southern Afghanistan, which includes running supplies to our front-line fighters via convoy and air drops. Some items that have been highly requested have been: -plastic soap dishes (to carry soap back and forth from the shower) -shaving crème (for both male and female) -magnetic baskets (all our rooms have metal walls, and is a way to maximize space) -movies -deodorant (not highly requested now, but I'm sure will become an item once it starts to heat up) -Fruity Snacks (from Kellogg's) -stress balls Some items we have more than enough of: -hot chocolate mix -board games Some items that I am requesting as a chaplain: -anti-fatigue mats (like the ones cashiers stand on). We have transportation companies with gunners that stand in turrets for hours at a time across bumpy roads. -copies of "Surviving an Affair" by Harley & Chalmers -copies of "On Combat" by LTC Dave Grossman -copies of "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones into Schools" by Greg Mortenson Please let me know if there are any other questions you have about our unit. Thank you again for all of your support. CH (1LT) Andrew Lee 158th CSSB, BN Chaplain KAF, Afghanistan Pro Deo Et Patria Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: FOUO
Mail items to :
PO Box 122037
Covington, KY 41012-2037
Thanks a million …