With the Haiti death toll reaching 200,000, Hare Krishna Food For Life Global has just joined a convoy of trucks accompanied by the military, heading into the center of the carnage caused by January 12th’s devastating earthquake.
The ISKCON non-profit organization plans to complement the work of larger relief organizations such as the Red Cross, CARE and OXFAM, helping to feed the 300,000 survivors made homeless and desperate for food and water.
Food For Life will be working in close coordination with local relief workers of the Haitian-Dominican Chamber of Commerce, under its President Rosa Maria Garcia. It will also work in cooperation with the Ministry for Defense, who will provide protection from the frequent assaults on relief agencies that have taken place due to desperation.
“We feel very confident now that we have this military protection in Haiti,” says FFL Project coordinator, Richard Higgins. “This first mission into the disaster zone will give us first hand knowledge of what we are up against.”
To tackle one of the major challenges faced by all aid agencies—sanitation—FFL Global has partnered with New Directions Foundation, which specializes in sanitation solutions. “Haiti is extremely unsanitary at present,” explains Higgins. “There is sewage all over the ground.”
Meanwhile, FFL volunteers are already distributing freshly prepared vegan lunches to earthquake survivors being cared for in Santo Domingo’s Dr. Dario Contreras Hospital.
And more volunteers keep arriving to assist. Flying into FFL’s Santo Domingo base on January 27th, Vaikuntha Krishna Dasa and Robin Laing of England’s Bhaktivedanta Manor joined about 30 other volunteers from the USA, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, the UK and the Dominican Republic.
“I didn’t even think about whether I would go or not—straight away my heart went for it,” says Vaikuntha Krishna, whose first relief mission was in 2004, cooking for 2,000 survivors of the Sri Lankan Tsunami per day. “It is a human instinct to help people, that’s all I thought about.”
Food for Life Global is coordinating yet more volunteers to arrive soon from Slovenia, South Africa, Mexico, USA, and Canada over the next few weeks. “Our goal is to set up kitchens in government controlled and secured camps in Haiti,” explains FFL director Priyavrata Dasa.
Food For Life now has a plane waiting in Florida to fly in bulk organic produce, grains and other supplies such as a mobile water purifying system from partner Water for Life Global. Yet food and transportation costs are high, and FFL are asking for donations to fund their efforts.
“Your donations are still crucial at this stage of the development, and we sincerely thank all who have already come forward to support us,” Priyavrata says. “Please continue to give whatever you can and remember: Food For Life can serve more than 100 meals in a crisis like this for as little as $25. So your dollars will go a long way.”