Inside Look: Interview with Sarah Ehrlich from DR/Haiti

February 9, 2010, 12:54 am
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Sarah Ehrlich, Founder/President, Help for Orphans:  http://www.helpfororphans.org

Transcript of Interview on Lisa Wexler Show 02/02/10:


LW:  I am very privileged and very honored that Sarah Ehrlich is taking time away from her terrific life-saving and support work to talk to the Lisa Wexler Show from Haiti.  Welcome to the show Sarah! 

SE:  Thanks very much, Lisa. 

LW:  So tell us where you are and what it looks like.

SE:  OK. Well actually it is not so exciting where I am right this second.  I am in a store, luckily, in the Dominican Republic, and I just left Port-au-Prince last night.  You know there is just a lot of chaos and a lot of fantastic organizations that are trying to put order in, and there are no supplies available.  So we came over to DR last night, and we're just loading up on supplies so we can take them back.  It's really sad, but you have to do what you have to do.  We're taking it back to one orphanage where there are 200 kids.  We already started building them a school.  We're working with the World Food Program to get out food to about 4,200 children.  So we teamed up with them, which is not the easiest thing in the world, because there's a lot going on, and those people have a lot on their plate.  I'm really happy that we met great people and that we are able to help the best that we can in doing that. 

There are a lot of horrifying things, but I'd say that the most horrifying is going into the hospitals.  I know a lot of people have seen them on TV.  There are some hospitals that you don't see on TV, at least that I know of. One, for instance, we were at the other day.  There was literally a funeral director, a dentist and a nurse in the hospital.  There was a guy who had internal bleeding and he was vomiting, and there was just no one around to help him.  I mean they are really, really short-handed down there. 

My focus really is orphans.  There are even orphans in the hospital.  It's just really sad.  Actually being at the orphanage, the kids are so sweet.  They run up to you.  They hug you.  Yes, we have my favorites.  There's this one boy.  He is blind in one eye.  He will just not leave my leg the whole time we are there walking around.  There are just wonderful children there.  Our orphanage is really close to the Port-au-Prince Airport, and it's really not that dangerous.  When you go into the airport, it can seem a little scary.  It's unbelievable. There's absolutely no customs there at all.  There's none.  The building is all cracked up.  They just actually started trying to have customs. 

Anyway, so basically what we are doing right now is we're just getting lots and lots of supplies because there is nothing there.

LW:  Nothing there.  Even with SE's helpfororphans.org.  We are hearing that millions and tons of supplies are going there, but when you are on the ground, it just seems like a drop in the bucket?  Is that what you are saying?

SE:  Well, it's mostly about organization. I got really friendly because we have 2 airplanes down there that are taking supplies.  Jonathan Nash and Glen who you spoke to last time I called in, and also another pilot, Charlie, and they are taking the planes back and forth with narcotics and different hospital supplies.  It's really unbelievable.  Yesterday I flew to Jacmel in the morning, and I'm just holding extremely heavy narcotics, and the doctor, all he could say was, please just make sure they get into the right hands.  Of course, I did.  A doctor met us on the ground in Jacmel.  Jonathan was continuing.  He did about 4-5 trips yesterday doing the same thing.  He has basically been focusing on medical. 

It's really something else.  A lot of work needs to be done.  It's not going to get the correct media attention that it needs for maybe 2 weeks, I'm sure.  They need a lot of help down there, so bad.  Again, my focus is orphans, and our website is helpfororphans.org, and it's all spelled out, but I really see that the thing they need most is doctors.  It's really, really needed.  You walk through the hospitals, and you just hear the people screaming.  A lot of times it's children.  It's a tragedy.

LW:  It's heart-breaking.  I remember when I would go down to DR, to Esperanza which is near the Haitian border, you instantly just fall in love with the children, because the children are innocent, and they are so loving, and there is no barriers, they are not shy, nothing, and if they are shy, they are adorable and sweet and shy.  It's so easy to have your heart broken, Sarah.  It must be difficult for you not to take at least one or two home. 

SE:  Well I'll tell you.  WIth everything that's happening in the media right now, I just think the kids ought to stay exactly where they are.  Honestly, from what I see and understand there, there are some children who are at the orphanage who do have parents.  But their parents basically abandoned them when they can't take care of them.  It's way too early to take kids out of that country.  You see them, and you just want to help.

LW:  Right.

SE:  And I can understand in a partial way why that lady would go and try to take kids out of the country.  The bottom line is I don't speak French.  I don't know that the kids are screaming out that they want their moms and dads.  They're reacting to their emotions, and I think we need people who will analyze the situation. Not people who are emotionless either. 

LW:  How can people help / donate to your organization?

SE:  We want to keep the children there.  There are so many people out of work.  What we're working on right now is we're building schools.  UNICEF is handling water.  World Food Program is handling food in any possible way that they can.  Everybody can do their part.  Right now our focus is schools and getting the kids back on a schedule.  Right now we're just buying tons of uniforms, as many as we can fit in the large vans and supplies.  We want to build.  So if anybody can help us, financially, volunteering, but anybody can make a donation at our website.  100% of the money goes right to Haiti.  We are working with a wonderful group down there, and we are just building. As much money as we get in we can put many Haitians to work.  They want to work.  It's sad.  People are even coming up to us and asking if they can just volunteer.  They want to help.  Even if you can just give them a meal.  So the key thing is just to start rebuilding and get the kids back in school.  So that is my mission anyway, and I think that is the most effect thing we can do right now.

Transcribed by Burton Danet, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist (retired)
Co-Founder, ABC4All Portal4Relief


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Danet, B. (2010). Inside Look: Interview with Sarah Ehrlich from DR/Haiti . Retrieved from http://home.abc4all.net/view/news/51cbebf27896bb431f68a8f8


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