Lake Norman & Mooresville

Gift helps support Haiti mission trip

Thirteen members of the Denver Baptist Church spent a week in Haiti in May ministering to the needs of the Haitian people. Their mission trip was facilitated by an anonymous $10,000 gift to the church designated for the purpose of sending people to Haiti.

After flying into Port Au Prince, they spent a day in several nearby towns.

The five men on the team worked on the construction of cinder block homes, while the women addressed the medical needs of more than 1,000 patients.

The youngest member of the group, 20-year-old McCoy Goforth, is a first-year nursing student. The oldest member, Bill Ratcliff, 67, is a self-described Jack of all trades, retired from AT&T.

His wife, Carolyn, returned just a week earlier from a three-week mission trip to Samaria in South Africa.

"I've always had a motivation to help people in a medical way, but our work in Haiti was the toughest thing I've ever had to do," she said.

The team leader, Diane Smith, had never led a mission team before, and had never been to a Third World country. "There is no joy in Haiti," she said. "People we saw are desperate. The basic infrastructure is not there."

"Haiti is on the verge of desperate, just barely able to meet their survival needs," said Jane Brown. A retired nurse, she left for a mission trip to Sri Lanka just five days after returning from Haiti. "You might be seeing a patient who had been waiting three hours in the sun to see a doctor or a nurse and they might be turned away and told to come back the following week when the clinic returns."

"Very few Haitians ever get to see a medical doctor," she continued. "When I went to take their temperature, they didn't know what I was doing."

"We saw people with life-threatening medical conditions who would have been hospitalized in the U.S., but we had to let them walk out the door," said Brown.

Medicines administered by the team had been purchased from a local pharmacy by Haitian doctors. All team members agreed the Haitians were extremely grateful for the help they received. "We heard 'merci' more times than I can count," said Carolyn Ratcliff.

"Haiti was a disaster that had a disaster, the earthquake," said Scott Daughtry, coordinator of North Carolina Baptist Men Haiti Relief. "Four thousand Baptist churches in North Carolina are supporting the relief projects, and their efforts are remarkable."

Since the earthquake, the organization has sponsored almost 800 volunteers. They have served more than 43,000 meals and seen more than 87,000 patients. In addition, they have built or assembled 803 shelters, housing 4,300 Haitians.