Movie Yacht Recommissioned To Help Cholera Victims in Haiti

This winter, a 55-foot oceangoing yacht is giving up the glitz of Hollywood and luxury tourist charters to go into some of the world’s most impoverished regions to give supplies, medical care, and hope to the people living there.

The yacht Tandemeer made its movie debut in Trading Places starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd:

It’s been five years since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, killing 200,000 people. A disaster of such magnitude would be major blow for any country, but for an already-impoverished nation, it’s going to take much longer than that to recover–even after the media headlines have moved on. Since the earthquake, more than 700,000 people in Haiti have been affected by cholera, a serious and sometimes fatal bacterial disease spread by contaminated drinking water.

Since fuel and maintenance on such a large vessel are expensive, as one of the volunteers, I’ve set up a GoFundMe campaign for those who want to help out: https://www.gofundme.com/cmk79fck.

According to Capt. Ray Thackeray, director of the International Rescue Group, which is sponsoring the trip: “We are taking much-needed medical supplies in support of the worsening cholera epidemic plus other supplies including 1000 cubic feet of recycled sails for Sails for Sustenance. We also expect to have doctors and other medical professionals on board to help in mainland clinics,” said Thackeray.

The media has forgotten Haiti–which is why we can’t. The media tends to report on the latest disaster of the moment, turning their attention away from those that dominated the headlines just a year ago. Just because you don’t hear about something anymore, doesn’t mean it goes away.

According to CNN, cholera has now infected upward of 700,000 people in Haiti, and has claimed the lives of nearly 10,000. And it may be that we’re to blame.

According to the AP, peacekeeping troops from Nepal carried strains of the disease with them, contaminating a large portion of Haiti’s drinking water. The U.N has denied any wrongdoing, and in January, a U.S. judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by human rights groups seeking compensation for the victims.

The last thing this country needs is for the U.N to dodge responsibility for causing this disaster. While there may be no legal redress for this anytime soon, the crew on the Tandemeer is bringing clean drinking water and medical supplies to do what we can to combat it.

Plus, we know that even when people get their basic needs met, their emotional needs are still there. Toys, books and other supplies are needed for children. These kids need a chance to be kids, and sailing on Tandemeer we can help them do that! For example, in Haiti, IRG partnered with Florida organization Zoe’s Dolls to distribute dolls to 40 girls.

Kids can’t learn if they’re struggling with basic needs, let alone afford school books or uniforms. IRG has partnered with Little Footprints, Big Steps to help the neediest children in Haiti get a good education and a chance at life.

After the mission in Haiti, the Tandemeer will head to the neighboring island of Cuba. Thanks to a historic move by President Barack Obama, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States are normalizing, but we still have a long way to go.That’s why cultural trips to Cuba, where we interact with the Cuban people, are so important to bring these two countries together after so many years apart. Getting to know and understand each other is a powerful way to combat hatred and mistrust.

On a sailboat, we can hop from port to port, see the faces of the people we help, get to know them, speak with them, share stories , and really understand what they need and how they live. But since we can travel easily, we can also maximize the number of people we help.

The results have already helped hundreds. In the first half of 2015, “Two boats (Thunderbird 5 and Tandemeer) and 50 volunteer crew delivered 12,000 pounds of cargo to the Bahamas and Haiti including food, medical supplies, clothes, tools, ropes, rigging, 55 sails for subsistence fishermen, 5 laptop computers, 20 water jugs, baby and children’s supplies, and an outboard motor for Ile a Vache’s community in Haiti to use on an emergency taxi boat to transport supplies and ferry people to the clinic on the mainland as needed,” wrote Thackeray.

The IRG has also developed relationships in Florida, Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Isla Mujeres Mexico.

The IRG has boats standing on call in the case of a natural coastal disaster where emergency aid is needed.

I’ve been blessed to help with this important mission. Since the yachts are expensive to maintain, crew members are asked to help fundraising to fund their trips. Each dollar donated helps to pay for the food and lodging of a volunteer, relief supplies, transportation, and fuel. As of January 25, I have raised $525 of the necessary $1400 through GoFundMe, (https://www.gofundme.com/cmk79fck), with more donations coming in from all over the world. Your donations help give the people of Haiti and Cuba hope for a better future.

For more information, check out my travel blog Princess of Pirates, where I will be blogging, taking photos, and providing updates in real time, so donors will get to follow along on every step of the journey and see all the different ways we will help out.