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On my way to Haiti

Haiti, January 19, 2010

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Tonight, just before midnight, I will board the first flight on my way to Haiti. As most all of us have, I've seen the shocking imagery in the press and on television, so I know how it looks.

As I finish packing my backpack and rolling up my sleeping bag, I'm wondering how it will feel once I hit the ground in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's ruined capital, to begin my assignment to report the stories of survivors.

This won't be my first emergency deployment for Mercy Corps: I went to India shortly after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, then to the U.S. Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina later that year. In 2008, I visited China's earthquake-ravaged Sichuan Province and then, exactly a year ago, was in war-torn eastern Congo talking with families in displacement camps.

But there's something about Haiti that feels different from all those places — indeed, different from the 15 countries where I've already traveled to visit Mercy Corps projects. On daily conference calls with our team in Port-au-Prince, I've heard about the level of destruction there. The level of need.

And, again, I wonder how it will feel once I get there.

It's now been a week since the earthquake struck. The first members of our emergency response team have been on the ground for several days. I am among the second wave of responders, and am both proud and anxious to be going.

My job will be, primarily, to help in whatever way I can in a situation that changes by the minute. I'll also be bringing you daily stories that describe the places we go, the work we do and the people we meet. Please feel free to ask me questions as I go along — I'll try my best to answer.

I will write more on my way. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support of Mercy Corps' work.