Haiti Outreach Program members arrive to begin mission

Haiti Outreach Program members arrive to begin mission


6 News Reporter

BOUCAN-CARRE, Haiti (WATE) - For the past 11 years, members of the Haiti Outreach Program have visited Haiti and helped a community with basic needs. The program is affiliated with Sacred Heart Parish in Knoxville.

The community the program helps is called Boucan-Carre. It's more than two hours by car from Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince.

Haiti: Road to Recovery

Get more information on the mission, plus a slideshow and journal

The mission includes building a primary school, and helping with construction of a hospital.

On April 12, five members of the program traveled to Haiti to make plans to build a new secondary school.

6 News traveled with the group to document its work during the four day trip.

The members included Ben Johnston, Dianne Durand, Billy Stair, John Stone and University of Tennessee student Jarett Beaudoin. They'd all been to Haiti before, except for Beaudoin.

The trip to Haiti started at 6:23 in the morning. It's a short trip, less than four hours by air. The group landed in Port-au-Prince.

When we arrived, we could see the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 21 did a lot of damage to the airport including broken windows and visible cracks.

There was a strong United Nations presence at the airport with UN soldiers stationed through out.

There's a new building where travelers claim their luggage, but it has no air conditioning.

After we got our bags, it seemed we'd never get to Boucan-Carre because of the traffic. On the way out of the city, it was bumper to bumper, and it feels like there are no traffic laws.

We didn't see a lot of earthquake damage, but we drove past one of the large tent cities where people have been living since the earthquake.
As night fall came, we were still driving.

We went from paved streets in Port-au-Prince to streets of dirt and rock. You can't get to where we were going without a four-wheel drive.

It was a relief once we reached Boucan-Carre. Our group stayed at the rectory of the Catholic Church. A family that left Port-au-Prince after the earthquake made us a large dinner.

"Today has been pretty crazy," Jarett Beaudoin said afterward. "The traffic was really, really intense. We almost got run off the road coming up here, which was really frightening."

"I've got great expectations for the trip," said Ben Johnston, chairman of the Haiti Outreach Program. "Since the earthquake we've had a great interest in Haiti and outpouring of concern for the country. I'm looking forward to discussing with the administrators of the school the design of the St. Michele College."

Our trip already seemed overwhelming, but the group was ready for the challenge, and making a difference in the lives of the Haitian people.

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