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Old 10-12-2010, 09:19   #1
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Sail from Florida to Haiti or Dominican Republic to Help Non-Profit

Hi, I am a nurse and the alternative energy director for the Cloud Forest Medical Clinic in the remote mountains of Seguin, Haiti. We operate a non-profit organization that lies deep within the mountains, a world where food is more valuable than gold, where clean water is a luxury not a right and where families of 10 often live in modest homes the size of an American living room. A place where life is hard, breaking backs and minds alike. We provide medical care, educational opportunities, and other humanitarian and environmental initiatives to this beautiful region.

We are interested in the possibility of sailing supplies to either the Northern coast of Haiti or the DR. These supplies include medical equipment, educational supplies, and other essentials that facilitate the organization's mission of providing hope for the helpless and a voice to the voiceless.

To accomplish this goal we are looking for an interested individual who is willing to offer their skills and boat to transport the materials. There are personnel, including myself, who would be able to make the voyage as well to serve as crew.

Any information would be greatly appreciated. It should be said that we are a 501(c)(3) so any expenses incurred would be tax deductible. Please see our website for more information. Feel free to contact me via Private Message (PM) for my phone number, or email me at: block_c :at: hotmail :dot: com and I thank you for your interest.

"Where the Stars Still Shine"
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:10   #2
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Be especially careful of involving yourself in this endeavor even though it seems to be a very genuine charitable situation. You will be entering an area of very extreme poverty and little, if any, law and order. Importing drugs and medical supplies which are highly prized on the black market can possibly lead to some nasty and expensive encounters with both the legal authorities and the illegal local groups.
- - It would be more prudent to ship such stuff under the auspices of the United Nations Relief Efforts which have the knowledge and expertise to get the supplies to their intended destination.
-- By personal experience and knowledge I have seen a vast amount of Haitian Aid end up in the streets of the D.R. - for sale.
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Old 12-12-2010, 17:05   #3
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Osirissail I appreciate your response, but I think it is important to point out that we would not be importing drugs into the country, legal or illegal.

Can you clear up a few things for me please? When you refer to the area of lawlessness, is this off shore or on land? Are you warning me or others about the danger, or both? Having lived in country I feel that the danger in country is not an issue. It is a beautiful country. Yes there are some rough parts, but this does not make the entire country dangerous.

Concerning shipping through the U.N., we would love to ship through the normal avenues, however these are plagued with corruption. See any news report about the aid that has remained in ports around the country for nearly a year. The ports will hold the goods and demand extravagant fees to get the goods released. When the non-profits can't afford the astronomical sums the officials just keep the items, which is a win-win in their eyes. An example is paying $15,000 in customs fees for a vehicle that is worth $30,000. This is the main way that aid ends up in the streets for sale.

It's true, I have little experience about the waters off of Haiti. However, from what I've heard it isn't as dangerous as people say. Which in my experience is true about most things.

If the fear is indeed on land, fear not. We would love to give an intimate and beautiful tour of the Haitian countryside to anyone who is interested in traveling down. Our clinic is nestled in the mountains a mile away from one of two national forests. The people are subsistence farmers who have little yet will give all. For more information on the beauty of this area see our website: "Where the Stars Still Shine"

Are the waters indeed dangerous, or is it a case of "I've heard it's dangerous"? I am not attempting to be confrontational. However, I have seen first hand the vast disparity between what people say and the reality, not only in Haiti but in other places as well. Qualifying statement: having served as a Navy SEAL before becoming a nurse, I believe that I am a fair assessor of risk.

Thanks in advance to the sailing forums, I am excited about the possibility of tapping into this extensive knowledge base and finding answers.
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Old 13-12-2010, 05:38   #4
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, swelldaddyo.

Best of luck with your Cloud Forest Medical Clinic!
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Old 13-12-2010, 05:58   #5
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We will be going in that general direction in about six weeks from Key West and can carry up to 20 tons. Would love to help out.
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Old 13-12-2010, 06:02   #6
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I'll second the Greetings and Welcome... hope things go well for you guys and endevours be as good as the dream..
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Old 13-12-2010, 06:02   #7
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If the problem is with the ports and customs, are you asking us to participate in smuggling the goods you want into the country??
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Old 13-12-2010, 06:48   #8
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Even giving OP the benefit of the doubt on the good (honest? ) intentions – I would not wish to risk both boat and person in what is clearly intended as an illegal smuggling operation. (whether folk agree with the laws & practices that make it so is a separate thing).

And I would be very surprised if leaving US waters with the intention of committing crime abroad (especially in a part of Uncle Sam’s backyard) wasn’t well covered in a myriad of offences…….even before you leave.

In OP’s shoes (and being genuine) I would look to buy my own boat. And run in from nearer shores. But at tbe end of the day gotta bear in mind that if you are hands on with stuff like this you are in the wrong part of the food chain, so would probably make more sense to avail yourself of any existing "alternative supply chain", rather than creating your own (given the circumstances described the the market will already be well catered for). Just won't be free.

For the avoidance of doubt, no experiance of smuggling in that part of the world. Honest
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Old 13-12-2010, 06:50   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
If the problem is with the ports and customs, are you asking us to participate in smuggling the goods you want into the country??
This is my thought as well. no matter who brings the goods in, whether a private sailboat or an NGO, the goods have to go through customs.
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Old 13-12-2010, 10:21   #10
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Be prepared to declare the items in each country that you clear into along the way, as well. Anything more than "ship's stores" must be declared, even if you don't intend to land it there.
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Old 13-12-2010, 12:29   #11
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This desire started because I have a living room full of items that we were going to fly down with on the 11th (two days ago). But flights to Haiti have been temporarily canceled due to political unrest concerning the recent elections. These are items that clear customs at the airport with no issues (solar panels, peroxide, protein bars, etc).

From all reports in the field, the ports are not an option.

Given my lack of knowledge with the bureaucracy surrounding shipping, I realize I have been living in a false reality. My simplistic thoughts were we could just sail down, avoid the problematic ports, and unload at a friends house on the beach. I now realize that this is actually smuggling. I am not asking people to break any laws, sorry for giving that impression. I am simply looking for solutions to a problem.

Does anybody have experience with shipping goods into Haiti, or the Dominican Republic lately? Any creative solutions to this problem?

I will say this, from speaking to local Haitians who work with charities, to get your items out of customs it is all about who you know and how much you are able to spend. There is no such thing as a legitimate, "honest" way to ship to Haiti.
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Old 13-12-2010, 12:59   #12
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Sounds like you have some homework to do on logistics, but if you can put it all together I would be happy to take it there. I would think the DR might be easier to enter, but you will still have to cross the border. Why not ask the people there how they get their supplies in and what they would suggest. I do know that small volunteer boats transport relief materials to Cuba and Haiti all the time. Mostly Canadian boats go to Cuba.
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Old 13-12-2010, 15:28   #13
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I wouldn't give up on the project, even though it is technically smuggling. It is just important to understand the implications of what you are doing. It would be best if your organization had some 'air cover' at a fairly high level of government in case things go bad. However, if you had the right contacts, you probably would be able to get things past customs yourself.

I remember the missionaries who got in trouble in Haiti trying to get babies out, so there are some local mine fields to avoid. I also remember in Vanuatu, one chap got into trouble trying to give away used eyeglasses. Its best to use some discretion, and keep the quantities low enough that the boats could argue that they are indeed ship's stores.

My wife is an RN who looked into volunteering in Haiti after the earthquake.
The logistics and security issues were too much for her, but more power to you.
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Old 13-12-2010, 17:32   #14
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And don't loose hope Swell daddy. Just keep looking for a solution and one will usually come along. I have manned jungle clinics in the Amazon, and often it is finding how to bring it safely into the country is the solution. There are tons of aide agencies in Haiti right now. There has to be a way most of them get supplies in.
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Old 13-12-2010, 18:04   #15
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Somebody who has experience cutting through red tape in Haiti is now UNESCO's special envoy to Haiti
The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean - Eminent Personalities | UNESCO.org
Get in touch with the Unesco Field office in PAP and tell 'em your story.
email the envoy directly for help at unesco.org good luck,.
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