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Haiti, up close to disaster
In Jan. 21 Issue
By Derek Aaron
Times Journal Reporter

The three local missionaries who were in Haiti last week when the 7.0 magnitude struck are now back in Russell County after the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission decided to send all short-term missionaries back to America.

Bro. Wendell Roberts, Glenna Hammond and Phillip Marcum of Freedom Christian Church in Jamestown returned to the states on Saturday and made it back to Kentucky on Sunday after arriving in Haiti one day before the catastrophic earthquake struck last Tuesday.

The three were part of a missionary group of 20 scheduled to be in the country for two weeks but that was cut short following the destruction of the quake that left as many as three million people displaced and more than 100,000 dead, according to reports.

Although not in Port-au-Prince during the earthquake, the three local missionaries and their team, who were 100 miles north in Saint-Louis-du-Nord, felt the tremors of the quake as it rattled the ground beneath them for more than a minute last Tuesday.

Now back home, Bro. Roberts is calling for local donations to send to the country to help in aid and relief and more specifically, medicine and medical supplies, which the country's humanitarian workers need badly.

"100 percent of whatever is given to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission will go to the people of Haiti, that is vitally important," Roberts said. "There is no overhead."

Roberts was joined early this week in Russell County by Mary Beth Winkler, Nothwest Haiti Christian Mission's director of sponsorship, who oversees programs for school children, feeding programs, orphanages and homes for the elderly in Haiti and was also in Haiti when the tragedy struck.

Roberts said the group currently has a medical team in Port-au-Prince, the hard hit capital of Haiti, with two Haitian doctors, two Haitian nurses, an American nurse and an American pharmacy lab technician.

"They are working with the mission in Port-au-Prince to do everything they can to help out medically," Winkler said.

Roberts said that if churches or individuals want to donate they can make their checks out to the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission or to Freedom Christian Church and he will see to it the money goes to the mission for earthquake relief.

"I'd rather they make the checks out to the mission though," Roberts said. "All money will go to the Haitian people."

Roberts said he and his team of missionaries were able to fly out of the country on a Missionary Flight International cargo plane built in 1944.

"We were able to get a charter out of the country because the Port-au-Prince airport is totally shut down except for military traffic and relief support so there are a lot of Americans that are stuck," he said.

Roberts said the group had to travel seven hours by bus to reach an airport they could fly out from.

"It took us seven hours to make a 100-mile trip," he said. "That is how bad the roads are in Haiti."

He said the people that brought the group out was God-loving and that the group bowed their heads in prayer before taking off in the plane.

"Freedom has always been very instrumental in building all the shipping crates that go into Haiti and if someone wants to help with that they can contact me and it is a major expense too," he said.

Roberts said his mission is currently using funds to buy medical supplies and send them down int Port-au-Prince.

"There are medical personnel in the capital but they don't have medical supplies," Winkler added. "They are trying to set broken bones with duct tape and are washing wounds out with water because they don't have anything sterile."

She said the infections that set in will continue to kill many people who survived the earthquake with injuries if no supplies are soon obtained.

"I would like for the people of Russell County to really have a part in this," Roberts said of the aid to help the Haitian people.

Winkler added that there are several people involved with the mission that were in Port-au-Prince during the earthquake they hadn't yet heard from or were killed during the quake.

"We're very concerned for the ones we know aren't accounted for," she said.

Roberts said there were no morgues in Haiti, nor were there any identification system which makes it hard for people trying to find out if their loved ones made it through the disaster alive as many of the countless dead are being buried in mass graves in the city.

"There will be a lot of Americans that never know what happened to their relatives," he said. He also said the Hotel Montana, a hotel in Port-au-Prince that housed many missionaries, was destroyed.

"We flew in with a bunch that were going to stay there and we hadn't heard about what happened to them yet," Roberts said.

But Roberts is continuing to ask for Russell County's help for this region which has seen its worst earthquake in 200 years.

"Whatever the people will be appreciated and will go directly to the Haitian people," he said.

For more on the mission group's progress in Haiti, visit their Web site at

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