Two years ago, Betsy and I started a relief effort for
Roatan, Honduras in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. We
made a major effort in our home town of Port Aransas and the
nearby city of Corpus Christi, Texas. Via newspapers,
television, the Internet, word of mouth and speaking at
business clubs, we quickly raised about $20,000 and an equal
amount in food and construction supplies, and medicine and
medical supplies. We called major wholesalers of food and
lumber in Fort Lauderdale and arranged for them to purchase
food and lumber and load it in containers which were
delivered to Hyde shipping. Hyde transported it free to
Roatan (after a delay of several months). Then we had a
terrible time getting it out of the customs area and to the
people. We finally got an American missionary nurse to
spring the stuff and get it delivered. The mayors and the
governor whom we knew personally just would not get moving.
We had a lot of worry about it getting into the wrong hands.
Even then the roofing material was scarfed up by the
government, but it was used on a big school and the
hospital, so that was O.K. Mostly the culture is, that if
it is not for me or mine, I am not going to waste my time
for the poor people who really need it.
If we were ever to do something like that again, we would
raise ONLY MONEY and the fly down and write checks. Sending
stuff is an amazing pain in the ass. Tons of clothes were
donated, which ended up rotting in a warehouse up here.
The response on the U.S. end was amazing with private
donations up to $500 and $1000 and money coming from far
away with people just trusting us. An amazing elderly
gentleman who owned a small trucking company gave up his
Thanksgiving WEEK with his family and towed a huge trailer
with 20 pallets on it all the way to Miami from South Texas
by himself, with a very old and beat up truck, all at his
expense. Other people boxed, palletized and packed goods.
It was non-stop work for weeks, then at the destination, no
one in power gave a shit. We should have expected that,
after living there for 17 years, but I guess we have been
Your experiences are no surprise. Take money down and hand
it out personally. Several small houses were finally built
with the construction materials by U.S. missionaries, while
the locals watched. The food was distributed where it was
Oh, yeah. Not one word of thanks ever came back even though
the source of the donations was on every singe package.