By Staff Sgt. Stephen RoachJanuary 30, 2010
The 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team is working to feed more than 50,000 Haitians displaced by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that left much of the infrastructure of the country's capital city in shambles, killing an estimated 150,000 and leaving around 400,000 homeless.
Soldiers and Haitians citizens work side by side to feed thousands of families at an aid distribution point at the top of a hill, that two weeks ago was the Petionville Golf Course. People stand in line with pink, blue, or green tickets waiting patiently for hours for their turns to climb the hill and claim bags of relief supplies containing flour, beans, cooking oil and rice. Each bag weighs around 80 pounds and can feed a family of five for up to two weeks.
The camp elected officials to assist U.S. forces with security during the daily ration distribution and volunteers track which families still need to be supplied. While their friends and families stood in line the Haitian volunteers carefully checked tickets, maintained order and assisted those unable to carry the large bags to their waiting family members. Once the 82nd Airborne troops drag the bags down the hill and hand them off to the distribution team they are passed out to Haitians by Haitians.
Col. Chris Gibson, 2BCT commander, said that bulk rations allow the Haitians in the camp to address other needs because they don't have to worry about finding food each day. "They can start to get into some other things like sanitation and shelter."
Gibson went on to add that each day the environment in Port-Au-Prince is getting better citing that commerce is starting to re-establish itself in the city. "More and more Haitians are getting back to work, he said. "We're getting more commerce in the city and we're trying to bring a sense of normalcy to this emergency situation."
The ongoing operation has already delivered more than 470,000 pounds of food and cooking supplies to the camp of 50,000.