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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Press Gaggle with the First Lady and Dr. Biden at end of Haiti Visit

3:47 P.M. (Local)

DR. BIDEN:  Okay, so this has been an absolutely incredible trip.  General Keen from the U.S. Army took us around with the U.S. military today.  We saw areas of devastation.  We saw schools.  We saw camps. 

But I think the one thing that we take away from it is really the strength and the resilience of the human spirit, and that's what we saw today and that's what we’ll take home to Washington with us.

Thank you.

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, and I think it was important for Jill and I to come now because we’re at the point where the relief efforts are underway but the attention of the world starts to wane a bit.  And as we enter the rainy season and the hurricane season, you know, the issues are just going to become more compounded.  And I think it was important for us to come and shed a light. 

But it was also important to speak to the President and First Lady, who is just -- she is just a powerhouse.  And she’s been working on education.  The school that we visited, this sort of bus camp, was one of two sites that are feeding and caring for nearly a thousand children a day that are coming through those -- that particular site.  They’re reading, they’re dancing, they’re painting.  I painted a purple fish, by the way -- (laughter) -- and Jill did a house --

DR. BIDEN:  A house.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  With trees and everything.  It’s very good.

But it’s providing some level of stability and normalcy for kids who don't really have a place to go yet. 

But what is clear is that there is still so much to do.  I mean, when we flew over -- we did an aerial tour because it was probably the quickest and safest way -- but what you see -- you know, imagine a country where every church and every school has been destroyed.  And at least that's what the -- every church and every school has been destroyed and has to be rebuilt from the bottom up.

Now, that's an incredibly daunting challenge, but as the President sees it, it’s also an incredible responsibility.  But it’s going to take all of us.  And that's what we talked about when we met with the U.N. staff, is that this has not been a U.S. effort.  This has been a global effort.  America has been a leader, but it has not been the only leader, by any close margin.  And in order for Haiti to get back to where it needs to be, it’s going to take the world continuing to invest, to partner, to show that sense of compassion. 

Stepping up and seeing the world work on behalf of Haiti has been the absolute right thing to do.  And it’s just been a privilege for Jill and I to be able to come to see for ourselves, to lend support, to boost morale wherever.  You know, I think it’s important for us and America to know that we still have U.S. Embassy officials working here, working here tirelessly.  They’ve left their families.  Some have sent them back home.  They’re living in tents.  The same for U.N. officials.

And the world needs to understand that there is still a small cadre of people working day in and day out to get this country back on its feet.  So we’re just happy to be able to shed a little light on this situation. 

DR. BIDEN:  God bless them.

MRS. OBAMA:  Absolutely.

DR. BIDEN:  And God bless the Haitians.

MRS. OBAMA:  Absolutely.  So thank you all.  Thank you for following us around and covering this.  This has been an emotional but important day for Jill and I. 

So thank you.

DR. BIDEN:  Thank you.

Q    Based on what you saw today, do you think that the aid money that's been contributed by Americans is actually reaching the Haitian people?

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes.  And, you know, by all accounts, the Haitian people are very happy with the relief efforts.  Still, accountability is key.  And, you know, I know that the governments are going to continue to work together.  But I think that my sense is the Haitian people feel a deep appreciation for what the world has done, that’s for sure.

3:51 P.M. EDT