Charity Angels...Celebrating Those Who Give of Themselves
Haiti Outreach Ministry
by Judith Lawrenson
“When people ask me how it was there [in Haiti}, I am at a complete loss for words. How can you explain that it is the most awful place you ever thought you would see, and yet it is filled with golden rays of the light of hope?” —Terrie Kirkpatrick (RN)
Charity Angels are alive and well, not just here in the Lowcountry, but also in spots around the world that you might never imagine. This is the story of 20 angels, who traveled to Haiti at their own expense, paying for or soliciting their own supplies and equipment and bonding together in ways they never dreamed possible. The team was composed of doctors, nurses, teachers and committed volunteers, all willing to put themselves on the line to do whatever tasks needed to be done. What a band of angels.
Lately, the “mission trip” has been put in a bit of a bad light. Dubbed “vacationaries” by some media, the whole idea of going to a foreign country to do good for the less fortunate has become a bit of a joke. Undaunted, First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island sends at least three mission teams overseas per year. They go to Nicaragua, Kenya and Haiti. This year’s Haiti team spent the first week of April in the worst slums on the island, Cite Soleil and Repatriot.
The medical part of the team worked at a clinic that was next to primitive, bringing all of their equipment and supplies with them. The oldest physician on the trip is in his 80s and the youngest was 32. There was an internist, a neurosurgeon, an emergency room resident, a pediatrician and a registered nurse among the group. Each morning they were greeted at 7:30 a.m. by a line of approximately 150 people patiently waiting to be seen. Yes, they always tended to every one in line. I have never seen such dedication!
They were accompanied by a group of teachers who called themselves the “education team.”
This group also never ceased to amaze with their talent and flexibility. One even moved over to the medical team as needed and used his organizational skills in the clinic pharmacy! Teaching everything from English to catchy songs, the education team made friends wherever they went.
As the trip unfolded, the 20 participants all moved into areas, some unplanned, where their skills were needed and where they felt they could best serve. Ego never seemed to be a part of anything anyone said or did. There was never dissension and never an unkind word spoken in conditions that were at best poor and at worst dire. This tribe of pilgrims was beyond belief. It just goes to show how the will of God can work in people who are open to His word and willing to listen to His call. Yes, Amazing Grace was their theme song, and well it should be!
“Twenty-eight years ago Pastor Leon Dorleans graduated from Cincinnati Christian Seminary with a burning desire to help create a better future for the poor in Haiti. His vision was to build a sustainable community amidst the squalor of the worst slums in the world, Cite Soleil. He believed the cornerstones of a better future were faith, education and health.
Fast-forward to 2016. With the help and support of numerous United States churches, Pastor Leon can now boast of not one, but three thriving communities built around these very principles. Each community has a church, a school, a clinic and access to fresh water. They supply fresh water to over 10,000 people!
One of the churches offering major support is First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island, which just sent its fourth mission’s team in the last five years. This year’s team included 20 people aged 32 to 82, with backgrounds as diverse as humanly possible. Many had never been on a mission trip before. Their commonality was a passion to serve the poor. It was as simple as that.
The First Prez team members paid their own expenses for the trip. However, funds are desperately needed for medical, surgical, diagnostic, nutritional and educational materials. If you are interested in supporting this mission, send funds to First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island marked “Haiti Mission.”
(Note from Author: I had the humbling honor to be a part of this team and I will never forget the impact that was made and the people who made it!)