Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day Two: All Hands on Deck

"Men anpil chay pa lou," many hands make light work.

This Haitian proverb, printed on the front of the t-shirts we wear during outreach and intake, captures the nature of our work today. With one group starting the day doing intake at Jackson Memorial Hospital and another making house calls to follow up on applications in progress, there were a variety of tasks and places we needed to be. By midday, the line of Haitians seeking assistance on the TPS application stretched outside the door of Chef Nicole, a Haitian restaurant that provides us with a place to do intake in the heart of Little Haiti. With our group split across house calls, intake at Jackson Memorial Hospital, and Chef Nicole, the clinical staff called in students from the University of Miami for extra support.

So many people, such a great need, and with the support of everyone--the work got done.

During both the intake and outreach work today, the need for more information and assistance to be provided on the fee waiver for the $470 application became readily apparent. One client, currently living with his cousin, has been out of work for six months. His family supports him as they can, which amounts to free housing and an income of about $100 a month. Even with the little he has, he sends what he can to his two children in Haiti. Our assistance in applying for a fee waiver makes it possible for him to apply at all for this relief. Likewise, during outreach, one person said, "Yes, I need TPS, but it is too expensive." Fortunately, he expressed his concern and we were able to reassure him that if he qualified, we could apply for a fee waiver for him.

While we were grateful to be of assistance today, we continue to be struck by the unmet needs in the community. We were asked multiple times during outreach whether we had a way of helping those that came after the earthquake. Unfortunately, for most of these people, the answer is no. Likewise, we felt at a loss when one woman approached us and asked whether we could help her get her children to the US. She successfully applied and received TPS, but her children are still in Haiti. We'll be consulting with the lawyers about her situation tomorrow and getting back to her, but again, we fear the answer is no.

Ed. note: Carolyn Slauson-Ali is a second year law student at Stanford Law School.

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