Special Report from the Red Cross Aruba

working against the clockThis report written by Greg Peterson, outlines a very swift and well coordinated humanitarian action between Red Cross Aruba, the Dutch Marines, the Government of Aruba, Horacio Oduber hospital of Aruba, members of the business community and the Ports Authority of Aruba.

The Dutch Marine ship Hr. Ms. Pelikaan was dispatched to Haiti on a humanitarian aid mission. After departing from Curacao, the ship entered Aruba’s harbor to collect equipment and marines, 77 men in total, to then head for Port Au Prince, Haiti.

Seeing that there was still space available on board for transportation, the Dutch Marines contacted the Red Cross of Aruba and offered the possibility to transport relief material to Haiti. However, this offer entailed one very particular challenge. Red Cross Aruba received the offer early Friday evening, January 15, 2010, with the notification that the ship would be departing the next morning, Saturday, January 16, at 5 a.m. A little bit of a mission-impossible since government offices and businesses were already closed for the weekend.

marines deployedThe Red Cross sent out communiqués to Ministers, the hospital, the business community and the port authority soliciting their support. Several businesses managed to find their employees at night and convince them to help with this effort. The businessmen encountered extra challenges, they would have to transport the goods to the harbor themselves as well — talking about asking too much sometimes…. But miracles do happen!

More than 30 pallets of water, juices, packaged foods, flashlights and batteries, medical equipment and very valuable medications including morphine and paracod, were delivered to the harbor on time and loaded aboard the Marine ship, and all of that in a couple of hours, working through the night.

A complete pictorial of the loading of Hr Ms Pelikaan was sent to the local newspapers, it clearly gave the impression of this swift ‘together we can’ action. Not everyone who helped was in the pictures, but the Red Cross sends gratitude and it goes out to these unknown volunteers!

The images in the local papers showed the Red Cross Aruba volunteers on board the Marine ship; Eddy de Veer, co-owner of Tropical Bottling Company, a subsidiary of METACorp, whose company donated 50.000 florins, the day before, to the Red Cross for Haiti, was in Curacao when he was reached, and he directed his humanitarian gesture from a distance and made 5 pallets of AWA water available and then convinced Viking Freight Services, Stephen Daal and crew to have them delivered to the harbor platform; Gerardo Oduber and his crew from Oduber Agencies, his brother Eddie and an entire crew from their warehouse managed to prepare and transport no less than 20 pallets of material in 4 trucks; A young man driving the forklift deserves extra credit. He works for Oduber Agencies all night moving not only the materials donated to the Red Cross, but also assisting the Marines in moving their equipment as well and the forklift itself, borrowed yet from another company; Arnoud Boesten director of Aruba’s hospital and Bob Harms, his communications chief, arrived at the harbor with 3 pallets of medical material and medication; The Red Cross volunteers assisted the hospital crew unloading their humanitarian donation; Ruben Croes from Aruba’s hospital — also a volunteer at SARFA, Search and Rescue Foundation Aruba —  delivered very special restricted pain medications donated, which had to be accounted for and handed over to a special Marine on the ship; Loaded into the cargo hull, a great number of stretchers, donated by Red Cross Aruba;  Aruba’s Prime Minister, Mike Eman, made a surprise visit to the harbor at 3:30 a.m., encouraging the volunteers. He was accompanied by the First Lady,  Doina Eman, and 2 more ministers, Visser & Winklaar, also the secretary of the Council of Ministers, Nicole Hoevertsz. Dr. Richard Visser, the Minister of Health, played a very special role in this action in convincing Oduber Agencies to participate. During his surprise visit at the harbor, he also brought along more pallets of water, juices and medical equipment, donated by Visser Trading; Donations packed into trucks, were stored on board Pelikaan, in the trucks, which will be used for transport in Haiti; During the visit, Director of Red Cross Aruba, Michell La Haye, escorted the first lady, Doina Eman and Michelle Winklaar, the Minister of Economic and Social Affairs,  for a tour aboard Pelikaan where the Dutch Marines were working under pressure to load everything in time, including the deployed, fully geared Marines.

RCAThe report complied by the President of Red Cross Aruba – Greg Peterson, also an amateur photographer demonstrate that together we can. He thanked all those who have made this humanitarian gesture possible, and motivated all Red Cross volunteers worldwide to keep up their great work, and to encouraged one and all here in Aruba to donate their funds to the “HELP HAITI RED CROSS” fund drive organized by Red Cross Aruba to assist in the relief of those suffering in Haiti. You can help make a difference, too, he added!!