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Redskins Ken Harvey Discusses His Haiti Relief Effort Trip

Ken Harvey in Haiti
Ken Harvey in Haiti

Last month we sat down with Ken Harvey to talk Redskins and his alliance with Diaego, which was promoting SoberRide. Since Ken has a good community relationship with the spirit company, it only took a few quick phone calls before both parties were on Dan Snyder's plane to Haiti loaded with medical supplies. The former Redskins linebacker returned yesterday and I was able to chat with him for a quick 15 minutes today:

Hogs Haven: From the reports I have seen on 60 minutes and the news, it appears there are problems getting the medical supplies to the doctors and natives that need them. Did you find that was the case?

Ken Harvey:  "Well, things have smoothed out now, but the roads were destroyed, organization, getting things to the doctors. That's part of a normal disaster.  It's the organization.  Who's in charge? How things going to go? Where are the shipments going to go? Who gets them first? All those things take a few moments. When  I was there, doctors were performing surgeries and doing things they should. That's one thing Diageo did...they brought in medical supplies to help out." 

Hogs Haven: Thousands of American soldiers have poured into the Port-au-Prince airport since President Obama announced that he was ordering a "swift and aggressive" campaign to help millions of you notice their presence? Are they doing anything?

Ken Harvey: "What some people don't realize when things like this happen that there is chaos. Everyone is going in a thousand different directions. Even at the airport there is chaos. Who's going to land the planes? There were closes misses and things like that. There were American troops at the airport to help setup the airport, to get organized, get planes in and out, to get a system going. There was security at the front gate to make sure there were no disruptions coming in. There was a presence, but not like the Americans are taking over presence. The UN was there.

Just because the medical supplies are there doesn't mean anything. There has to be a system of where it is going to go and how people can get it."

Hogs Haven: Is there a story you can share from a mother, son, refugee you got to meet?

Ken Harvey: There is so much of "Who's going to help us?" Looking around there's so much to do. What can you do? It's that feeling of who are you going to turn to? One man I met wants to be an engineer, but he's been out of school awhile. And you want to help, but you can't. To be an engineer is a great thing, but then there are no schools anymore... You don't know what to do in some of those situations. Little kids are nervous, as they should be, about who to talk to. Talk to strangers?

Once you get to a certain point you see smiles on their faces and they're playing soccer in whatever little areas they can. So there is hope...a little a bit. 

Hogs Haven:As the major effort is still digging out potential survivors and giving medical attention to the casualties, what is being done for all the kids that are left homeless? Is there a team of people working to help them?

Ken Harvey: It's such a massive problem. There's a lot of things helping in certain sections, but there's only so much. I've heard a lot of different countries have taken some of the orphans and trying to adapt them. But it's a massive scale and that's the heart of the picture. Thousands & thousands of homes sitting on top of each other and all those homes and people are gone. Communication among people is a massive problem.

Hogs Haven:Some people I have talked to hesitate in donating to causes such as the Red Cross because they don't know where their money is going? Is there anything you can share about the Red Cross that ?

Ken Harvey:  Yea. Definitely. Physically there are a lot of people there and you see the Red Cross there. It's an image and a name that people can identify with. People are going to go to what they trust and know. You saw them at the airport and in the inner city part, handing out things, supplying, unloading trucks. 

Hogs Haven:  I remember looking back on community service projects I had done, there was always something I got out of it which made me a better person. Is there anything that you personally took away from this?    

Ken Harvey: Like all things, you're only a step away from poverty. You want to make sure that when you give to somebody, at anytime it could be you. And we had it with Katrina. In one moment you have a riot where people are trying to get food. If I had my kids starving and no one had eaten in 5 days...if I saw a food truck I'd do the best I could to make sure my kids got fed, but the people in Haiti were actually really civilized. 

The one thing I took was the smell of death. It's tough to have that smell in the air and knowing that people have to go to sleep with it every night. I could put my little mask on and walk away, but everybody had to live with it. Knowing it could have been one of their relatives or them. You don't take life for granted. Living you try to make a difference.

I'm sure you've seen this on the million TV commercials, but donating couldn't be any easier. Simply SMS/text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross relief efforts.