Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Second Rotation of Volunteers Has Arrived

The second rotation has arrived! Nineteen Project HOPE volunteers clambered aboard the USNS Comfort as the sun was setting on Monday from the last of a string of transports over the course of nearly two days.
The volunteers had been met the day before at the Jacksonville, Florida, airport, were hosted by the USO and briefed by Project HOPE Special Projects director Fred Gerber before good night's rest. The group was then split in half, with the first wave deploying Monday and the second to follow on Tuesday.

The Monday deployment was joined by medical volunteers from other organizations-- including the University of Michigan, Operation Smile and Massachusetts General Hospital-- before boarding a C-40 jet at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station for a non-stop flight to Port-au-Prince.

As the plane descended into the city, the devastation came into focus: smoky fires, collapsed buildings, a harbor dotted with military and humanitarian relief ships. A thirty minute bus ride to the port brought it down to ground level: clusters of tents, collapsed walls topped with rolls of barbed wire, more tents.

USNS Comfort Training Officer Chief Trent Ingram eventually welcomed the group on board, "We don't have palm trees. There's no confetti when you first come aboard. But it's the compared to conditions on shore."
Story and photos by photojournalist and HOPE volunteer, Allison Shelley.

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