Baptist Men plan long-term effort in Haiti
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
February 02, 2010

Baptist Men plan long-term effort in Haiti

Baptist Men plan long-term effort in Haiti
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
February 02, 2010

Three weeks into an intense and immediate response to Haitians injured and left homeless and hungry by the Jan. 12 earthquake, it still feels like the second day of a domestic disaster to Gaylon Moss, who is coordinating the North Carolina Baptist response.

The difficult maze of coordinating communications, transportation, facilities, supplies and volunteers that normally begins to sort itself out a few days after a disaster still runs into bewildering dead ends in Haiti — a nation on life support even before the earthquake crumpled its capital.

Moss, disaster relief coordinator for North Carolina Baptist Men, said Haiti is fading from the public consciousness even as the extent of its rebuilding need starts to become clear.

“Next week, Haiti is history, it’s gone,” he said in an interview at his home during Raleigh’s own transportation crisis following a snowstorm Jan. 30.

While the public consciousness is only as long as the news cycle, Moss wants North Carolina Baptists to know they are in it for the long haul. He recognizes it is hard to maintain an edge of eagerness in volunteers who do not know when they will be loosed to serve.

But the only requests thus far and for the next month or so are for medical personnel to help in regional or make-shift hospitals. Early volunteers treated many broken bones, amputations and burns — often with no more anesthetic than an aspirin. And often, after treatment patients could only hobble across the road and lay down in the grass and dirt.

Because of response through the Baptist Medical Dental Fellowship, medical personnel from many states have traveled in the first five groups of medical volunteers from N.C. Baptist Men.

Scott and Janet Daughtry of Selma left Feb. 1 for Haiti to be onsite coordinators. They will assess needs and search for the key to the labyrinth of Haitian regulations and reality. They performed a similar task in Sri Lanka following the tsunami.

“Our vision is to help rebuilding in Haiti,” said Moss, who has led disaster relief for Baptist Men for 12 years. He asks North Carolina Baptists to keep following updates in the Biblical Recorder, www.biblicalrecorder.org and at www.ncmissions.org where volunteers should register their skills and availability.

Tremendous medical response

Moss said there has been “tremendous response from the medical community,” to volunteer in Haiti, a response beyond what is typical.

“North Carolina Baptists can be proud of that,” he said. “Those doctors have made a difference in those people’s lives in the hospital, no doubt, hands down.”

N.C. Baptist Men has a reputation as builders. There is no immediate blueprint for rebuilding houses for Haitians. If and when that time comes, N.C. Baptist Men will work with local officials to determine the plot of land on which to build but will have nothing to do with determining which residents get a house.

In an immediate response, N.C. Baptist Men is organizing a "bucket of hope" collection in which donors can buy a 5-gallon plastic bucket and fill it with the food staples like beans, noodles, oil, sugar, flour and rice. Mike Sowers is coordinating that task. Drop off at your area reception center (often your associational office) is Feb. 27.

The food buckets will be distributed in Haiti by responsible churches or established agencies.

In Haiti, N.C. Baptist Men has been working with Global Outreach Haiti. Global Outreach is a Mississippi based world relief organization working in Haiti since 1983. Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) has no career missionary presence in Haiti.

The IMB had a 30-year presence that ended last year. Missionaries who had been in Haiti moved into the Dominican Republic, to minister among Haitians leaking across the border to find a better life, but who were running into significant difficulties.

Global Outreach Haiti’s operation site in Tintayen is about 8 miles from the airport. The organization has been working in Haiti since 1983. One of the N.C. Baptist Men’s board members, Jack Hancox, was an IMB missionary to Haiti who suggested Global Outreach when Baptist Men’s Director Richard Brunson asked whom in Haiti he could trust to establish a working relationship with.

N.C. Baptist Men medical teams have worked out of the “burn clinic” in Tintayen. “Think in terms of a few rooms, not a hospital,” Moss said. All N.C. Baptist Men teams started there, and some migrated to Petionville Community Hospital 12 miles and 90 minutes away, and others to Little Brother Little Sister Children’s Hospital.

Team Five departs for Haiti Feb. 4 and will include a handyman and auto mechanic.

The community hospital has asked North Carolina Baptists to commit to six months of medical help. No commitment has been made yet.

As with any recovery effort, Moss said, “We stay until the money runs out, the people run out or the project is finished.”

Haiti will never be finished.

Moss said Haiti is a “top tier” disaster, with a “protracted time frame” for aid. “Within the next several weeks we should be able to solidify our plans for Haiti, which are constantly developing,” Moss said.

With so much need and so many international organizations flocking to help, Moss said N.C. Baptist Men will depend on “the Lord’s leading” to determine where best and most effectively to plug in.

“We will follow the open doors and opportunities God provides,” he said.

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