of a recent mission trip to Haiti brings the tragic lives of
people living there home to the United States and closer yet
to Ripley County.
Michelle Russell of Moores Hill shared her story with at the
Church of Christ at Milan with those listening knowing they
have much to be thankful for this Christmas season.
Russell visited Haiti in October with an organization called
International Disaster Emergency Services (IDES) and saw firsthand
the continuing devastation Haiti is facing.
Those attending saw a video that detailed conditions in Haiti
- conditions that still exist from an earthquake the country
suffered in January 2010, nearly a year ago. Russell shared
that it looks like a war zone. She said there was
garbage everywhere, places where houses look like cardboard
boxes because they are cardboard boxes, and piles of rubble
everywhere that used to be actual homes. Nearly every area in
Haiti is damaged in some way, according to Russell.
Russells first shock was the sights and sounds of a country
in ruins. Her second shock was the way in which items that go
through customs are taken by government personnel on a whim.
Her third shock came after she boarded a bus that had absolutely
no shocks, no air conditioning, windows that wouldnt go
down, and a driver who thought he was a NASCAR driver. She said
taxis are just as dangerous and are often called tap-taps.
You tap on the top of the vehicle to let the driver know you
need a ride. A taxi can be just a pickup truck. Motorcycle taxis
often have three or four people on them and a crazy driver.
Traffic rules do not seem to apply to anyone in Haiti.
Other impressions of life in Haiti were made on Russell. One
of the most enjoyable was meeting and working with Etienne and
Betty Prophete, who began the Haiti Christian Mission in 1974.
They have an outpatient clinic, a church, classrooms, and dorm
rooms. The orphanage started there in June 2010 with six or
seven children. While Russell was there, she assisted with a
birthday party for the children. Since most of the children
have no idea when their birthday is, they just have one party
for everyone. They shared a cake, some balloons, and face painting.
According to Russell, Haitian people speak Creole, but she quickly
learned that God hears our prayers in whatever language we pray.
While Russell and her group were there, they helped build homes.
This is literally back-breaking work as they have very little
modern equipment to work with so houses tend to be rebuilt one
stone at a time.
It is estimated that 1.3 million people live in tent cities
at this time in Haiti. The water supply is very bad. And, bad
water, dirty living conditions, and sewage in the streets, is
a bad combination that has led to a serious cholera epidemic.
Approximately 2,000 people have died from cholera, thousands
more are sick every day. Without antibiotics, a person can die
from cholera within 24 hours of contracting it. And, sadly,
it is preventable. Immediate medical treatment means people
can recover. But, medical treatment in Haiti is sporadic and
very ineffective. Hospitals were either destroyed by the earthquake
or are already overflowing.
The International Disaster Emergency Services is seeing lots
of orphaned children. They too have bad water and three of the
orphans contracted cholera while at the orphanage where Russell
worked. Thanks to quick thinking and antibiotics, those children
An ongoing project at the mission is a water purification system.
Russell hopes to work on this project and help make it a reality.
Even though people are dying in Haiti by droves, they have not
lost hope. They believe God will provide for them, even when
they have no idea where the next meal will come from. They lined
up at the mission clinic while Russell was there, with their
babies hoping one of the mission team members would pray for
Russell says, Yes, I will be going back. The people need
to know about Jesus. She says she will do her part by
helping to bring relief and being the hands and feet of God.
She left the audience with a Creole word, Merci.
Mercy certainly is needed in Haiti. Russell invites anyone interested
in giving to the mission work to do so. You can send donations
to the Church of Christ at Milan, 631 E. Carr Street, PO Box
676, Milan, IN 47031 or IDES, PO Box 60, Kempton, IN, 46049.
Monies will be used for the water purification system at the
orphanage in Mirabalais and for repairs to the orphanage due
to the earthquake.
Russell shared that she was thankful for those who helped her
raise the money she needed for traveling and living expenses
while in Haiti. She expressed gratitude to the Church of Christ
at Milan; the Department of Child Services in Ripley County,
and the Hair Decisions Salon in Milan.
She told The Versailles Republican a spring trip to Haiti is
being planned through the IDES with plans to focus on the orphanage
and deaf school there.
Pictured above, Michelle Russell poses with some of the
orphans from an orphanage in Haiti where she recently
traveled. Pictured below are some of the deplorable conditions
Haitians are living in since the earthquake in January
of 2010. They are in desperate need of clean water and