Knoxville organization helping earthquake victims in Haiti

Knoxville organization helping earthquake victims in Haiti

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By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The images are hard to watch. Thousands left dead and even more homeless after a magnitude 7.0 quake hit the country of Haiti.

The capital city, Port-au-Prince, was hit the hardest.

Ben Johnson, General Chairman of Give Haiti Hope, an outreach program with Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville, was just in the country in November.

"Oh, not again," said Johnson, after learning of the earthquake. "In the last 12 months, they've been hit by three hurricanes, and now this?"

Johnson says Sacred Heart's organization has helped build a school and hospital about 57 miles from Port-au-Prince. They started the outreach program in 2001.

"We got involved because the pastor wanted us to served the poorest of our hemisphere," he said.

Workers at their facilities felt the quake, but none of their buildings were damaged.

Doctors and nurses from that hospital are now on their way to help set up an emergency clinic for the injured.
 
"When you get off the airplane in Haiti, you can't drive past the poverty. You are in it all the time," Johnson says.

He adds that this poverty has made the health and living condition there very poor and having such a large natural disaster makes things even worse.

Johnson feels if more help isn't sent soon, more people are going to die.
         
"I would say besides prayer, financially supporting the organizations that really do make a difference on the ground there," Johnson says.

Give Haiti Hope was already planning a medical mission for the first week in March, but hopes to move that up to help those in need.
   
Johnson reflected on why Haiti has been devastated so severely. "Maybe we need people to be more aware of the situation there."

If you'd like to help Give Haiti Hope, you can visit www.givehaitihope.org or call 865-584-5404.

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