Haiti Relief Effort- Design Starts Here

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Like others moved to act after seeing the reporting from Haiti, documentary and travel photographer Simon Russell wanted to help in the rescue effort anyway possible. Russell along with friends, restaurateur Stan Tankursley, founder of Tortilla Flats, Gulf Coast, Acme Bar and Grill in New York City, and Ed Gavagan, an architect and builder with construction experience, sent their donations to organizations such as Doctors without Borders and the Red Cross. Then they watched the logistics nightmare unfold in the days after the quake and saw the extent of the damage to an already marginal infrastructure.

The three of them realized the need for a micro-level relief effort that could save lives with the delivery of medical supplies, food and water-purification equipment to areas beyond the reach of the large aid organizations. With their skills, equipment and connections, they partnered and delivered a rapid-response effort to those in need, especially those in the rural areas cut off from supply lines. They delivered a truckload of emergency medical supplies to a medical center at the edge of the quake zone, approximately 75 miles, and brought supplies such as antibiotics, gauze and latex gloves. Cheap items and simple but desperately needed to save lives.

Russell and his partners specifically located a community where it was possible to establish a long-term partnership with local organizations to assist in the reconstruction process and assist with material support oriented towards environmentally appropriate building technologies and sustainable forms of agriculture.

They reported from outside the mainstream news-feed of pan-caked buildings, recovery operations and field hospitals and instead established contact with local leaders and NGO's in rural areas. They are committed to making a long-term effort in Haiti. The key challenge is to support these five sectors in order to combine short-term relief with long-term reconstruction and development: smallholder agriculture; reconstruction; port services and light manufacturing; local small-scale trade; and public services, including health care and education.

On March 18th, 2010, in New York City, they held a benefit for relief and reported on their latest efforts. Russell, Tankursley and Gavagan are moving forward and will continue to keep us posted with updates on Haiti Relief Effort -Design Starts Here.


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