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Haiti trip will change, challenge, bless
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
September 07, 2010
7 MIN READ TIME

Haiti trip will change, challenge, bless

Haiti trip will change, challenge, bless
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
September 07, 2010

In the first two minutes on

the bus from the airport in Port-au-Prince, disaster relief volunteers from

North Carolina learn three things about Haiti from on-site coordinator Scott

Daughtry: Haiti will break your heart; it will bless you, and it will change

your life.

In 36 consecutive weeks

hosting teams from a rented missionary house on the 66-acre compound started 27

years ago by Global Outreach, Daughtry has been right every time.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Brenda Barker, a member of Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington, takes blood pressure at a Haitian medical clinic. See photo gallery.

For the first few weeks

following the devastating earthquake Jan. 12 that killed an estimated 230,000

in 30 seconds, North Carolina Baptists responded by sending emergency medical

teams, operating out of roadside clinics and teetering hospitals.

Sometimes, Daughtry said,

volunteer medical personnel didn’t leave the hospital until they caught their

plane home.

Daughtry and his wife Janet

arrived Feb. 1 while bodies still lined the streets of Port-au-Prince,

everything was covered with dust, chaos reigned, relief materials backed up in

port, the top floors of crumbled buildings lay atop the bottom floors.

Today the bodies are gone.

Most of the bodies —

government estimates 80,000; locals estimate 200,000 — are buried in a mass

grave in an unremarkable depression between hills on the road to Titanyen.

A simple, hard to see cross

marks the spot.

Since an estimated one-third

of Haiti’s 9 million people live in and around Port-au-Prince, the capital city

receives most of the attention and many of the estimated 3,000 NGOs (Non

Governmental Organizations) operating in Haiti concentrate on Port-au-Prince.

Florida Baptists have a significant presence there as they have for decades and

are about to begin construction of 1,000 permanent homes.

Village work

Since the initial medical

team response, North Carolina Baptists — coordinated through the disaster

relief office of N.C. Baptist Men — has sent a constant stream of carpenters,

mechanics, doctors, nurses and general handymen to help however they can.

Currently construction crews

are assembling on site 12×12 shelters made with 2×4 frames, a metal roof and

wrapped with durable tarp. These shelters are prefabricated at two Samaritan’s

Purse construction sites.

Daughtry is given all the shelters volunteers can

assemble and his Haitian crew delivers them to the build site.

Of the 17 Haitians employed

by Baptists in the relief effort out of the Titanyen compound, all but one live

in a tent or shelter, including two doctors.

During the week of Aug.

22-28 a 22-member team organized by Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington

was on site, the largest team so far. It included enough medical people for two

teams, and enough construction people for three teams.

Medical teams saw more than

1,000 clients in tent cities, orphanages and remote villages with no other

access to medical care. Construction teams built 25 shelters during the week

for people in the village of Titanyen, which lost many homes in the quake.

“When we don’t have help

it’s very difficult,” said Francise Milien, who conducts the clinics when no

medical volunteers are available.

“We must stay later and most

of the time we must send patients home but when we have help, we can see

everybody.”

Patients are waiting when

medical teams arrive at whatever church, tent or makeshift shelter they will

hold clinic in that day. While volunteers set up the pharmacy they’ve carried

with them, Milien addresses waiting patients with a brief lecture on oral

health, hygiene or the importance of abstinence to avoid sexually transmitted

diseases. Young girls blush and boys snort, either from embarrassment or from

bravado.

Then Milien or a volunteer

leads in song and prayer before patients take a number and wait for their turn

before the doctor, physicians assistant or triage nurse.

“Lots of organizations do

good, but if those who proclaim Christ are not at the forefront of the effort,

we’re not doing what we should be doing in Christ,” said Jimmie Suggs, missions

pastor and administrator for Scotts Hill.

Plastics

In the 1967 movie The

Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s character Benjamin Braddock was advised to seek a

career in plastics.

That must be Haitians’

favorite movie as Haiti is awash in plastic. Shelters wrapped in plastic, water

bottled in it, water carried in plastic buckets and all manner of goods carted

in thin, strong plastic bags. Plastic bottles tossed and flattened into shoe

leather by truck tires loosely pave roads.

There likely is no Creole

word for “littering” because littering implies some places are off limits to

trash.

BSC photo by K Brown

Haitian boys explore their new shelter provided by North Carolina Baptist Men volunteers working through Samaritan’s Purse. See photo gallery.

That evidently is not true

in Haiti as the ditches, roads, intersections, dirt yards and every wind break

is awash in trash. Most of it plastic. Other refuse taints the air in what can

be a suffocating mix of diesel fumes, dust, sewage, fried food, spices and the

sweet sick smell of sweat leaking from your body as if your skin is a

sieve.

Shelters

Recognizing the immediate

post quake need was shelter to get people out of the elements, donor nations

flooded Haiti with tents. They are the primary shelter in 1,300 refuge camps

that popped up like weeds and are still growing as refugees move out of the

city where hope for improved services is slipping away.

A tent city recently

blossomed on barren hills just a couple miles from the Global Outreach

compound. N.C. Baptist volunteers hold clinics there, among a thousand tents

where there is no visible water or sanitation source, and no intentional roads

— only meandering footpaths.

Samaritan’s Purse designed a

more stable structure and has a goal of erecting 10,000 of them.

It has engaged dozens of

partner organizations like N.C. Baptist Men to put them up and has met nearly

70 percent of its goal.

They have surpassed their

goal of 500 in Titanyen, and citizens on the short list there are getting very

nervous that volunteers will leave for another village before their own shelter

is built.

That led to some arguments

but volunteers simply referred the distressed citizens to their own mayor, who

made all decisions about who would get a shelter and in what order.

Call the disaster relief

office at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5605, or visit www.ncmissions.org to inquire.

North Carolina Baptists are continuing to form teams to help in Haiti.

After several days working

in dusty, dry conditions in which the heat index reached 120 degrees, and

beginning to comprehend the scope of the problems in Haiti, volunteers wondered

if their efforts were the most effective response.

“I don’t know the right

response,” said Daughtry.

“But the wrong response is

to do nothing.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Jameson wrote about his experience while in Haiti. Follow his daily blog by reading the first entry.)

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