On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti. An estimated 3 million people were affected, and a global outpouring of charity donations, good will and volunteers flooded Haiti. Locally, more than half of Indiana households donated to relief efforts. But, this is not a story about the earthquake nor is it about the millions of dollars raised. This is a story about one woman's love affair with Haiti and how that affair has impacted her home city of Indianapolis and the world.
"You should come to Haiti with me!" Amy King said with such sincerity and enthusiasm I thought it might propel her right off her seat at Calvin Fletcher's Coffee House, as we sat and chatted on a blustery January evening.
King wore an over-sized fleece pulled over her scrubs. She'd just come from the VA hospital where she works as a nuclear medicine technologist in the radiology department.
That's her job in one world, but in another world, Amy inhabits a small village in Haiti. She volunteers on a medical mission, leading responsible tourism trips, visiting orphanages or simply enjoying some rum and freshly caught lobster.
"Trust me," King said. "I want to live here and I love the convenience that America affords and I love the fast Internet connection. I'm way more efficient here, but Haiti has, even in the midst of chaos, what matters: family, tradition, colors, dancing, music, more family, working together."
I asked her if her heart was in Haiti and she answered in a dreamy, drawn out, "Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh."
King brought that passion back to the States in the form of the web site Provocate-Haiti, which features a vast amount of articles King and others have written, on everything from the history of Haiti, to local initiatives in Haiti, to recommendations for books about Haiti.
"This web site is how I've taken the last two years of chaos in my mind and it's actually becoming something, like this real idea of having the local community work together to help this global initiative," King said. "The future idea, when I don't have to work at the hospital every day and I can do this and really spread this idea, it would be so every state could have a Provocate idea."
In addition to this web site, King is active in social media, including Twitter and Facebook.
"I love networking probably more than anything on earth," King said. "As soon as I meet someone, I connect with them on Facebook and connect them to the people who I think they could have great synergy with. When I meet someone, I can't just talk to someone and have a normal conversation. I immediately see what they have to offer and what they need or what the need is and I immediately am in my head connecting them."
Via Facebook and Provocate-Haiti, King compiled a list of approximately 300 people and organizations that were either working in Haiti or had an interest in Haiti in doing so.
In the process, she forged and facilitated relationships that have changed the way groups in Indiana are working in Haiti. As King is fond of saying, there are "10,000 groups in Haiti doing 10,000 different things," — she means this figuratively, of course but her goal is to connect those groups.
"There are three huge water groups working in Haiti and none of them knew that all three of them are right here in Indianapolis," King said. "It just so happens that one of them does purifiers, huge water purifiers, that can give water to a community of 5,000. And another does bucket filtration for individual houses.
"So, it ends up that they complement each other perfectly, but they didn't even know the others existed. Whenever a connection like that is made, it makes me so happy. It's like the fuel that keeps me going."
Read more about Amy's personal life.
Warning: The next part of this story contains a dramatic image of doctors helping an earthquake victim that some readers may find disturbing.