Brother’s Brother Foundation will send construction buckets filled with hygiene supplies to Haiti in the next few days. (Photo/Henry Clay Webster)

After a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake on the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 12, left Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with over 50,000 casualties, a local relief organization was quick to respond.

 Brother’s Brother Foundation, located at 1200 Galveston Avenue in Allegheny West, began preparations to send aid that night.

Amy Langham, BBF’s director of finance, said she was in the office about two hours after the quake struck, calling BBF’s partner organizations in Haiti.

“We had to find them, we had to find out if they were okay,” she said.

After reaching them, she needed to know if the country was able to accept aid and what it needed, because sending the wrong aid would impede workers and slow down the emergency care process.

The organization’s next step involved calling all of its stateside partner organizations, in this case the Pittsburgh-based Functional Literary Ministries of Haiti and Food for the Poor in Miami.

Once BBF determined what Haiti needed, they examined what they had in stock, and what they still needed. Langham said the process went, and continued to go, smoothly.

“We’re trained, we have experience,” she said. “It’s been a treat to kind of watch it happen. So many people called here [Wednesday] to ask ‘What can I do?’”

Langham said that community’s support and concern has been the bright spot of the tragedy.

Currently, Brother’s Brother is asking for donations of basic hygiene supplies like new toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, washcloths, combs, brushesand baby wipes or wet wipes. Donators should place those items into a construction bucket, which they can purchase at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Donators should avoid shampoos or anything that might leak.

Langham said the buckets will be reused in the rebuilding phase. She added that right now, BBF is only taking hygiene packets and nothing else, because the organization wants to sort through donations and prepare them for shipping as quickly as possible.

Pharmaceuticals from Mylan, Inc., waiting to be shipped out to Haiti in the Brother’s Brother Foundation warehouse. (Photo/Henry Clay Webster)

In addition to the hygiene supplies, BBF will send basic pharmaceuticals like painkillers and antibiotics, medical supplies and medical equipment to replace what’s being used now, said Liam Carstens, the medical coordinator.

“The health infrastructure, which was shaky in the first place, has completely fallen down,” Langham said.

On Dec. 30, the organization sent another shipping container as part of the several it sends per month. That container, as well as many of the others, contained medications for clinics and hospitals as well as supplies and equipment like face masks, hospital beds, wheel chairs and gloves.

“We rely on a network of partners throughout the world … to receive and dish out our goods,” Carstens said.

Langham said that as far as they knew, the Port-au-Prince airport’s runway was functional, although the terminal suffered damage.

“We’ve heard that soon Cap Haitian in the north will be able to accept shipping containers,” she added.

The containers are either 20 feet or 40 feet long boxes that can be placed on the back of a tractor trailer. Brother’s Brother generally sends the 40-feet-long containers.

BBF is also helping Functional Literacy Ministries of Haiti send a medical mission to Port-au-Prince Jan. 23 to Feb. 1 by supplying them with medications and supplies. The mission isn’t set in stone, Langham said, because it’s still unclear whether the Pittsburgh doctors and nurses will have access.

Normally BBF’s warehouse is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but on Saturday, Jan. 16 it will open from noon to 4 p.m. and on Sunday, Jan. 17 it will open from 1 to 4 p.m. to allow donators more time to drop off goods.

Langham said BBF is also accepting monetary donations to defray the cost of shipping. To make a donation, visit the Brother’s Brother Foundation donation website, www.brothersbrother.org/donateform.htm or call 412.321.3160.