Haiti Relief

Ridgewood man says no one should be critical of relief efforts in Haiti, The Bergen Record, Monday, February 1, 2010
TEANECK — James Delia learned about the logistical problems of shifting people and goods around Haiti well before the Jan. 12 earthquake shattered the impoverished country.

Delia, giving a presentation Sunday about his experiences in Haiti to the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County in Teaneck, recalled a trip he took last July with a group of soccer players in a YMCA program in Haiti.

“It took 13 hours, door to door,” to go 140 miles, he said. “Our bus broke down often. And then when we got to Port-au-Prince it was bumper-to-bumper traffic.”

An attorney with a lifelong passion for soccer, Delia traveled to Haiti last year for two weeks, and in 2008 for a week, to coach Haitians playing in a YMCA program. The organization, of which Delia is a board member in Ridgewood, started a Haitian branch in 2001.

Since the earthquake flattened much of Haiti’s capital, emergency workers have often found it difficult to get help and supplies to residents, in part due to the country’s poor infrastructure.

“I understand the degree of the logistical nightmare they are going through,” Delia, 47, of Ho-Ho-Kus, said. “No one should be second-guessing the coordination effort.”

Delia, who coached about 70 players on each trip, said he found himself fascinated by the country. He expects to make another trip in August.

He said he has managed to communicate with some people he met in Haiti and two people connected with the YMCA there appear to have died in the disaster.

One, a YMCA board member in Haiti, was killed when the church she was attending collapsed, he said, while the other, who acted as his driver there, is missing.

The Ethical Culture Society said it has raised about $2,000 to help Haitian earthquake victims.

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