Updated on Jan. 25—Jimmy LeBon, a Haitian-American from Boston, traveled to the Dominican Republic last weekend in an attempt to enter Haiti to assist friends and relatives on the ground. Jimmy has been relaying a blog to a friend here in Boston — Elie St. Brice— who shared it with the BHR this week. Below (after the video) we print excerpts of his diary. Jimmy and his companions also filmed a brief video on Monday from the DR in which he urges other Haitian Americans not to try to come down "just yet." Jimmy has since made it into Haiti and is relaying information to friends and family here on ways that they can help relatives get out of Haiti through the D.R. The Reporter will update Jimmy's account with new excerpts as we get them.
Day 1 — Friday 15 January 2010
Just arrived In DR
"Tired and ready to go to sleep. We will let everyone know our status as best as we can. I’m able to use the Sprint card (for internet) we're waiting for electricity to get turned on (Saturday). We are an hour ahead as I'm writing this @ 6:40AM. We plan to cross the border by Sunday. It is expected to be a very long journey as we have to go much further North.
By sometime this afternoon we should be able to get phone service. Neither my T-Mobile or Stanley's work but our phones can take SIM so it shouldn't be an issue.
See you soon.
IF GOD WASN'T GOOD, I WOULDN'T BE HERE. :)
Day 2 — Saturday 16 January 2010
I Found Me
What a day yesterday was!! Where do I begin?
How about sleep: It's for losers and the dead (no offense).
Here's what I found out when I woke up this morning. When you seek guidance with a pure heart you will get/find it. Just understand it and accept it.
So here is my recap of Friday January 15:
GOD IS GOOD....
Chilled for most of the day getting some web access to get in touch with everyone. Chilled may not be the appropriate word but you understand. We came to see what we can do and in what capacity. WE CAN DO EVERYTHING BY THE GRACE OF GOD.
I got a call from my friend and he told me his parents took the bus to Santo Domingo. He wanted to know if I can help in any way. We all know that's not a question but a how and when statement.
I spoke to his father around 3-4 p.m. as he crossed the border with an expected arrival in SD at 6-7. They didn't get here until 8-9. Finally got them to a hotel (the driver that was with us helped secure a hotel) around 11 as they were booked on a 4a.m. flight Saturday morning. Got them some food and went to tend to some personal things... So it's 1AM now dealing with a few issues so why bother sleeping.
I have my brothers with me and there is NOW a chance with one of Cappi's organization (AMURT) that I may be able to leave for the border with them. They're doing humanitarian work. Also the apartment we're staying in was just us 3 brothers now as grown to 7. A few people from AMURT will be staying here to see if we can make it a headquarters of some sort. We're waiting for electricity to be turned on today (i'll tell you the story another time). But they're packed and so I couldn't go (extremely disappointed but everything has their reasons).
So back to task at hand. So the driver comes and pick me up around 1:50 to go to the hotel and pick up the family (mind you it wasn't just my friend's mother & father but also another couple with them — it was probably their 1st time in Haiti). We get to the airport by maybe 2:30 and the line is just NOT fair.
Now I must wear my hustle cap. I told to a guy who tells to check with the counter. I use my charm and talk to this young lady (thank GOD she spoke English and she was cute - that is also another story (i'm just kidding)). It is now 2:54 and she tells me to go to the form guy and then bring them. Mind you they have luggage (tell anyone travelling you ONLY need a coat). So I tell Dad (did i mention my friend is my brother so his parents are mine) to get the rest and go talk to the same young lady while I wait with the bags (damn bags).
Once they get word wave me. I'm watching the situation unfold and then get the wave. We check the bag and are now on the way to security. I'd say it is now 3:15, maybe 3:20. I say goodbye and now go downstairs because my cousin is coming in from Ft Lauderdale on JetBlue (did I mention all my brothers, my cousin and his 2 friends and all 4 that came from Haiti and all flew JetBlue). So I wait and say around 4 they come. Oh totally forgot. My plan was to use the same hotel room with the 4 from Haiti to give to my cousin and the other 2. So finally I get to the apartment, everyone is sleeping so I make my way to put down a sheet to sleep. The new people that came in met a Haitian man who came in just to try to head to Haiti to find his family. We chat for say a few minutes and I fall asleep for what seems eternity but truth is I was awaken at 5am. Deal with the situation for an hour and sleep.
That was my day and as I send this message I found out why I’m here.
I'm here to get people word about loved ones and get them home. This wasn't planned, scripted or outlined by some big committee or agency. It was real time and effective.
My plan is to get a phone line, a line of credit for anyone who wants to come home but doesn't have the means. We need to set up a credit line to pay for those who can't their bus ticket and we'll work out hotel stay and such. Once they get here we can have them talk to their family and arrange for them to be home. When you seek you SHALL find.
Still trying to head into Haiti. I told my brothers (Cappy and Stanley) once that we're a 3 head monster. Well I need 3 areas to make this happen. One in Haiti, another in DR, and you in US. Use my house to set-up shop. Whatever is needed make it happen? I honestly don't know when I’ll be back but I know I’m near you right now. just don't look at me funny because I’m wearing the same clothes I’ve had on since Wednesday or that I haven't showered or brushed my teeth. But to make things better I've eaten and I’ve laughed and I’ve found YOU.
So I need suggestions and opinion on how to fund and set this up. I already have a credit card that has sufficient funds to get started. We can get the rest, this I know. My GOD told me, trust me.
Day 3 — Sunday 17 January 2010
We are still in DR.
Last night seemed like everything was going to work. A perfect planned occurred with Greg's friends to give us a ride to Haiti as they were going 3 cars deep.
The plan was to leave at 3am with 4 cars but 1 car would return. That would be the car Greg was with as he spoke to his brother who planned to bring himself, wife and baby to the Haitian border. His brother lost his passport at the bank he works for. They actually store their password at the vault and that building is no more.
I tried to send word to my brother to meet me at the border also.
Simple plan to either meet him or try to bring him to DR.
Going to border had 2 goals: either cross it or survey it to see what can be done.
Gas is a huge issue in Haiti so someone coming to the border would need to be sure they can return or not.
So this morning we're somewhat in a mood of what NEXT. It is Sunday and truthfully I felt it was Monday. This is my 2nd attempt at going or making it to the Haiti. I will honestly say I can't take any more of this. I may need to regroup.
I know exactly what I’m going to do today:rent a car as we found out you can't count on people to help because this isn't their issue (I’m speaking of some Dominican people we tried to talk to – I have story to tell about that but I guess that can wait).
Here’s my gut feeling about these past 2 days (I’m a fool sometime but who knows): I feel too many people have brought this cloud over us. Don’t get me wrong I feel they want us home safe & sound but you must try to give some positive thought/energy to us as we make this trek. None of us want to do anything stupid or rash but we need everyone to get together like yesterday and think positively. These are just thoughts, my spiritual thoughts about the situation we're in. you must understand we're here to do something that at times may seem difficult and very dangerous. But we're here now and the only thing we can do is get results.
So here's the plan: If we're here tomorrow the plan is to set this place up properly. We now have electricity so we need to make this apartment feel like a home. I realize it is essential that we have a place where we feel happy.
As Greg said this morning as we understand we're not going anymore. All things happen for a reason. Maybe we're not meant to go to the border or Haiti. We just don't understand God's plan sometime. We just need to be patient and allow God to make things go as planned. He said sometime you just don't want to force things. There is always a reason to/for the madness. Those that know me know I somewhat live by that motto so I should at this time understand it. I will but I may not see it at the time it occurs.
Today has just begin! And on another good note it is just Sunday (I actually thought it was Monday). Feels like I got an extra day.
Day 3, part two — Sunday 17 January 2010
They say part 2 is so much better.
THANK YOU ALL YOUR WORDS OF LOVE (it was easier to say love, encouragement, support.....).
I had a moment of release (I NOW HAVE MOURN, you are all safe). Yes I cried and I cried. I shall cry NO MORE (if you believe that then you need a hug). I may ask Stanley to load a personal video that I’d like to share with you.
So GOD said, "Jimmy, NO. Don't go to Haiti." With some real arguments, I lost the battle. THANK GOD.
It seems there is something I need to do but it may take some time. So I told that bitch (patience) fine you got me.
So Greg, Stanley and 2 other guys went to get some FISH (you have to eat it to believe it). I ate mine, some of Greg's. Had fried green/sweet plantain, sweet potatoes and Avocado. I ate like James (hungry ... you can fill in the blank).
Some GREAT news, Greg's brother, his wife and child have made it over the border to DR. They're waiting for a bus to the capital (Santo Domingo) where we're going to pick them up and bring them to a place to sleep. We're working on getting an apartment to put people who need to stay here or just transition over. The car will come soon. Until these things are in place I would advise anyone who isn't here to wait for my return (it will be before end of January 2010, or by valentine I'm feeling the LOVE and my favorite color is RED).
The plan is to continue the border process and see how many people we can get out. It would help to get some out so we can have room to work more effective in Haiti. We have folks that went last night that plan to return Tuesday. Please wait for their report before making any decision. As I mentioned to you ALL. I’m here to survey the situation close enough. If GOD is not allowing me to go then you may want to learn patience. All that occurs in GOD's will. Let his WILL work. I’m doing it. You may want to do it also.
So within the next 24 hours I will try to information and start having collective discussions to come with a concrete plan (something much better than us being here and being helpless or feeling disappointed). Trust me. I need you exactly where you are currently doing what you're doing. Opening up doors and doing what you did yesterday. Haitians!!! And all others who know a Haitian in their live are worth more than all the GOURDE in the world.
GOD is GOOD.....
Day 4 —Monday 18 January 2010
Today is a new day. This is the best thing we all need to do. Start fresh and make TODAY a new day. I slept last night. I went somewhere to lie down, take a shower and eat (like nobody’s business).
Last night 3 more people were able to make it thru the border to DR and you'll hear their story soon from FB.
We're waiting on news from Cappi (he is safe and taking care of business). Stanley and I are holding up the fort here and keeping FAITH. Our plan is focused on the DR border and getting people across. We worry about where they're staying when they get here.
Here is what I need for everyone here. Patience (I just wanted to add this but really something else.
We need for you to call/email/fax write all type of letters to your Mobile provider and tell them you’re sorry. Get the word to the highest person and explain all your calls. You never know what people are willing to forgive. We want to help but we don't want to make life difficult for ourselves.
GOD IS GOOD.
Day 5 — Tuesday 19 January 2010
I'm in Haiti today at the border and I'm staying here. I'm fine safe and not going into Port-au-Prince. We are waiting for a few people to come to the border to get them across. I will be here for a few days. Friday will be the latest that I'm here at the border.
Day 6 — Wednesday 20 January 2010
Woke up to a tremble today and they call it here boom boom, which happened around 5am something maybe 6am. It was worse in PAP. I am not going to PAP, I say again I am not going to PAP.
My advice to you is "DON'T COME HERE" Seriously, do not come here. I can tell you what we need is transportation from Haiti to DR. (Phone umber redacted). Tell your friends and family to meet me halfway. Tell them to call me. Tell them to find either friends or family to take them out of PAP. Transportation cost between 150 - 200 per person depending on status. If they have a passport it is easier for them to leave. If they do not have a passport it wll be harder for them to get out. DONT COME TO HAITI! If you want to help send the money you were going to pay for your ticket to help with the transportation and housing for the people crossing the border.
Jimmy also said he wants to set a meeting for this Sunday, 24 Jan 2010 at 2pm at a hall that can hold our friends and family members there. (Elie) will be working on getting a meeting space for that date and time. he will be giving an update for Haiti at 2pm. Please make it a point to be there. I will send the information by Friday the latest. If anyone can help me get a space I will greatly appreciate it.
Day 5 (part two) – Wednesday, Jan. 20
Resilience and laughter
I'm in DR for a short stay – probably about an hour, and then I’m heading to Haiti.
Haiti looks good. The funniest thing happened this morning. "I shook up"! I WOKE up to an earthquake (technically, an aftershock). Where I was I couldn’t feel it but this FEAR has been implanted in the minds of the Haitian people. But their SPIRIT is crazy. For the next 2-3 hours the entire household where I was staying was joking. I mean, this isn't something funny but you must be Haitian to understand that we deal with everything with laughter. This is all they have. They know tomorrow isn't promised but if they're here, they're thankful.
I’m doing a “back & forth” thing from Haiti (not close to Port-au-Prince) for the next couple of days.
I'm tired, sleepy, but honestly, I’m happy. You should see all these people working together. Everyone is here at the same location and everything is being taken care of. People are beautiful and they will not do or be anything else.
Today I took a trip in the back of a pick-up truck and I didn't even notice I lost a piece of my "watch your mouth". The ONLY thing I could remember is concentrating on the sunset as I was entering the city, knowing I made this trip, and tomorrow GOD will show me the way again. Three down, not sure how many more to go.
GOD IS GOOD.
On a different note: Haiti needs our help. NOW! I’m not talking specifically about the people of Port-au-Prince because they have the entire world watching and "helping" them. I’m talking about the other places: like where I went and gave this little girl $20 US - and then about 8-9 people crowed me because I looked like “HELP.” There were telling me their stories; and I couldn’t help thinking that I can't do anything because, well, the world doesn't believe in ME or the people I'm here with. I HATE politics (as I told my brother Mike)! I'm here and ALL I want to do is get 5-10 bags of rice, maybe a little oil, some beans and definitely some sugar (that “wa sa” special request). People want to give us donations but we're not non-profit or are reputable organization. I'm not MAD (ok, maybe a little). Just know that I will do what I can with what is here with me. THANK YOU ALL. The world looks better every second; and I close my eyes and I see YOU. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.
Day 9 — Sunday, Jan. 23, 2010
Endurance and Politics
WHAT A LONG DAY.
It started at 6 a.m. and it is still not over. Getting ready for another long day tomorrow but I need to gather my thoughts. I MUST sit back, eat some fish (GOD sent treat) and then shower (yes shower, i smell over 14 hours of travel).
Today I learned we're doing a few things wrong...There are many people in Haiti that are legal (Green Card and Citizenship) that can make life so much easier for us here to get them. They just need to contact us and have us help them get out of DR. It doesn't require illegal things. We just need to either get them on the legal bus for a one way and then work out the details of them leaving for the states. I have 2 people here today that are permanent residents (Green card for those that don't know). I came with them legally. We got a ride to the border and filled out all proper paper work. From there we went to a town called Jimani (I mentioned it before) on the DR side. We took this bus that drops us off at the capital and we took a regular bus to where everyone is staying. You know this was my first time so all i knew was putting these pieces together. ALL I know right now is that we made it.
Before I left Haiti I made stop at the US Embassy to take pictures and evaluate the situation. I got there a little after 9 and was talking to the marines. It appears I was too late to be in line or get a chance to be seen/processed. There were maybe 100 people in line. The marines were very helpful but even a US Citizen as myself with some credentials could not be seen this morning. It was odd to see the people out there and the issue getting US Citizens seen. It may be me but I was always under the impression US Citizens would be evacuated as soon as needed. Sorry I'm still trying to put these pieces together.
Anyways tomorrow I need to be up extremly early. I have a very important package that needs to come over the border and here same.
Tonight I rest because I need to see these folks in my best. Yesterday was tough. I saw my aunt and she didn't say a word but started crying as soon as I saw her. I had to be strong. See she doesn't ask for anything but as soon as i said we're out she said OK Jimmy (i would tell you what she called me but that's not going to HAPPEN so HA!!). I know in my heart she's coming thru and I will feel her love again in a different set of tears. JOY and LOVE.
GOD IS GOOD...