Reflections on the "Hibernian Miracle" and its follow-up

Nancy Rachel RousseauNancy Rachel RousseauOn January 16, over 85 organizations pulled together in response to the earthquake that hit Haiti just four days earlier.  What is now being referred to as the “Hibernian Miracle” by some was an event that galvanized the humanitarian efforts of over 3,000 people.  There is no other way to describe it: the collaborative effort was extraordinarily amazing and overwhelmingly emotional.

Within weeks, the effort continued as our organizing group followed through with getting the items to Haiti.  Our first success came on January 20 when medical supplies were given to the LaKou Association to take to Haiti on that day.  They were referred to us by State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, who has been exceptionally supportive and has acknowledged that members of the Boston community are contributing to the efforts just as much as the government.
The next success came when we connected with the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina.  I had heard about a ship heading to Haiti to deliver water.  Working with Jacqueline at the shipyard, we delivered over 200 cases of water on January 22.  That day was equally memorable!  Imagine, sending an e-mail message for assistance and meeting someone for the very first time, who graciously donated his time and van to transport all of that water.  It was a slow ride, but Frantz was as determined as we were and wasn’t going to relent. 
The test of our will came on Wednesday, January 27.  We knew that we had to have the over 1200 boxes of clothing, food, and other miscellaneous items out of the U-Haul Storage by Saturday, January 30.  We had been working with a government agency on temporarily relocating our collection, since it seemed unlikely that the remaining items in storage would soon go to Haiti.  They couldn’t help us.  We had already received an extension from U-Haul and didn’t want to take advantage. What would you do?
We went back to the shipyard to inquire about the possibilities.  Seeing that God wouldn’t have it any other way, the shipyard arranged for us to get all of our items en route to Haiti.  On Sunday, January 31, merely two weeks after the “Hibernian Miracle,” approximately 65 volunteers came out and helped to remove the items from storage to trucks.  Again, by the grace of God, we were able to prepare over 70 pallets of boxes for the Sea Hunter.  The Sea Hunter is a ship that doesn’t ordinarily transport cargo; but upon hearing about the items that we needed to get to Haiti, they came to our rescue. 
Little did we know that they would be met by several obstacles along the way.  The first was a series of storms.  Then there was a docking issue in Miami.  Then, worst of all, I was told that the U.S. Coast Guard wasn’t going to allow the Sea Hunter to dock in Haiti due to it not being a cargo ship.  There was a customs issue.  My first reaction was panic, but if God brought us this far, how could He not allow for us to go all the way?  While preparing a strategy to contact the U.S. Congress, I received word on February 22 that the Sea Hunter had finally received clearance to dock in Haiti.  They left for Haiti on the morning of February 23.
The ship arrived in Miragoane during this past week.  Most of the items are going to Pwoje Espwa – Project Hope.  Items will be distributed from there.  It certainly has been a long journey! 
Moving forward, I urge everyone to continue to keep Haiti and it’s restoration at the forefront of their minds.  Many relief efforts are still underway and the rebuilding effort will take years.  The Collaborative that produced the “Hibernian Miracle” is working to make sure that efforts continue.  Next steps include assisting families that are now starting to migrate from Haiti to Boston.  If one is interested in learning more information or seeing the pictures, join the Collaborative Earthquake Relief Effort for Haiti group page on Facebook. 
Thank you!  Merci Encore!
Nancy Rachel Rousseau lives in Boston and was one of the organizers of the Collaborative Earthquake Relief Effort for Haiti.