Group from 2 local churches head to Haiti with new mission

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

GLEN ALLEN, VA (WWBT) - A group of 9 people from two churches in the Richmond area are heading to Haiti for a week, to help the country recover from the devastating earthquake that hit the country a little more than a month ago.

Right now, there is just a range of emotions from this group of 9 heading to Haiti to embark on a trip, unlike any other.

Even 6 years worth of trips is not enough to prepare this group for the real life pictures they are about to see.

"You're jaw drops to the ground, you say, 'Is this really happening in this day in age? Can this really be true of what you see and what you experience?'" asked team leader Dan Burns. It's those questions and experiences that Dan and the 8 others from St. Michael's Church in the West End and St. Ann's in Ashland will likely see in the coming weeks.

"Our hearts are fill of love that we carry with us here. We are a little anxious and nervous at the same time," added Burns.

The group will not go to Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. Instead they will head to Dos-Palais, a community 35 miles away, seeing a new challenge: a population problem.

Many of the refugees who survived the earthquake are now living in Dos-Palais and other neighboring communities with little to no resources.

"A lot of what our trip now is how much more help do they need. How much more is needed and how many children need to go to school," said Nancy Kunkel.

The group will bring medical supplies, food and some other needs. It's estimated the Dos-Palais community has doubled since the earthquake.

"We've prepared ourselves as best we can but at the end of the day, when you do get there, you'll see different things," said Burns. Some of what they'll see may be total devastation. So this group plans nightly talks, relying on their faith and each other to guide them through.

"At the end of the day, they care about us and we care about them and that's all that really matters," added Burns.

Just knowing that brings peace to this group and some peace to this nation suffering now, more than ever.

"The situation needs ongoing help. It's not just right now after the earthquake but this is going to be years and years of rebuilding helping people," added Nancy.

They will bring their experience back to Richmond, hoping to find people to sponsor some of the refugees.

The group will arrive back in Richmond late next Tuesday night, when they will begin to work on their trip right here at home.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.