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GEORGIANNE NIENABER REPORTS FROM HAITI: Haiti Watch: There Are No Loaves and Fishes in This Purgatory

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Babies seemed to be crying everywhere. Not fussing, but the kind of painful crying that makes the listener's ears hurt.

What about the old? They should not be forgotten. The writer nodded him forward, and did not like the responsibility of triage.

The man opened his shirt to reveal a scrawny ribcage on a body that looked fit but hungry. He was in a lot of pain and the diagnosis amounted to a stress ulcer. It sounds small compared to the dead and dying, but searing pain in the stomach is pain all the same. We kicked ourselves that we did not think to bring medications for posttraumatic stress.

And so it went. Stress illnesses, infectious diarrhea in the infants, colic, asthma from the damn dust, dehydration from the sun, mothers with withered breasts who have nothing left, and the rains had not yet hit. This was two days ago at this writing.

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Imagine hearing a doctor telling a young mother with a listless infant that she must drink more water, when there is little available. The mother explains that she is hungry, someone stole her tarp, she is sleeping outside, and that is why she cannot make milk. The doctor says she will make milk if she drinks. It is all he has to offer.

There are no loaves and fishes in this purgatory.


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Today, March 15, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks to Haiti earthquake task force volunteers "to express the U.S. Government's appreciation for their help" during the earthquake crisis.

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten and the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au- Prince will participate in the event via digital videoconference.

"More than 1,800 Department of State employees from the Foreign Service, Civil Service, and Department Contractor Companies, many of whom will be in attendance in person or via videoconference on Monday, volunteered in the six different State Department Task Forces that were in play during and after this disaster," Clinton's press release said.

Forget the kudos, leave Port-au-Prince, and see what is happening an hour away from your videoconference, Ambassador Merten.

Bring water. Just because the media has left does not mean all is well. There is no recovery here. Your Haitian patient has flatlined, Madame Secretary.

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Georgianne Nienaber

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)

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