Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Group of HOPE Volunteers Get to Work in Haiti

As Project HOPE volunteers begin their orientation to the ship and received their assignments, ship personnel have expressed their appreciation for relief from their duty which lasted 12-20 hours a day in the first weeks of the quake.

At the request of the Haitian president and the minister of health, relief efforts are slowly being moved ashore. For the USNS Comfort, this means that intake activities have nearly stopped and the mission's focus has shifted towards discharging patients. Fifty-three patients were still onboard the ship as of midnight Tuesday night.

Volunteers toured the nearly empty Casualty Receiving ward today, becoming familiar with the equipment and meeting the few intakes. Thirteen-year-old Peniel Pierre was one of these intakes.

Peniel was visiting his aunt in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit. His aunt was killed and Peniel was hit in the head with a brick. He is now blind in one eye and suffers severe migraines. Almost a month after the quake, this is his first real medical care.

His father, Kastin Pierre, spoke quietly in Creole with Project HOPE volunteer Marie-Angie Casimir, his face drawn, about the search for his children immediately after the quake and his frustration trying to find medical care for Peniel. Casimir, who is Haitian and lived in the country until she was 13-years-old, listened intently and eventually drew a smile from Kastin.

Photos and story by photojournalist and HOPE volunteer, Allison Shelley.

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