By Kim Plummer Krull
An LCMS World Relief and Human Care emergency Mercy Medical Team (MMT) landed in the Dominican Republic Jan. 19, and half of the 13-member team worked through the night to care for patients at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Jimani, a city near the Haiti border where Haitian refugees have fled since last week’s devastating earthquake.
“People were laying everywhere, many with massive fractures,” said LCMS Life and Health Ministries Director Maggie Karner, who received word from MMT leader Jacob Fiene. “Conditions were chaotic; patients were critical, and it was difficult, but our team was very much needed and provided invaluable assistance.”
On Jan. 20, MMT members continued to work at the hospital, the base for LCMS relief efforts set up by the Dominican Republic Mission and Medical Team led by Rev. Ted Krey of Lutheran Church–Canada, who serves with LCMS World Mission in the Dominican Republic. Since the Jan. 12 disaster, the Dominican Republic Mission and Medical Team has worked to coordinate relief efforts and secure emergency supplies to assist Haitian refugees fleeing to the neighboring country.
LCMS teams are based at the Good Samaritan Hospital, a facility with a 30-patient capacity that, on Jan. 18, overflowed with more than 140 patients. In addition to the Good Samaritan Hospital, LCMS medical team members plan to treat patients at the Seguro Social triage center and Elisa Piña hospital, also in the Dominican Republic near the Haitian border.
This is the first MMT to serve in the Dominican Republic, although plans were in the works before the earthquake to send an MMT to Haiti in March.
LCMS teams are working with Lutheran partners in the Dominican Republic to get urgently needed food, water, and other emergency relief supplies to suffering Haitians. On Jan. 19, a shipment of 2,000 pounds of rice and beans secured by the LCMS Dominican Mission and Medical Team was en route to the Good Samaritan base camp. Arrangements are in the works to purchase and transport additional supplies of rice, beans, and water.
Rev. Glenn Merritt, director of disaster response with LCMS World Relief and Human Care, is working with Lutheran partners in the United States who are collecting relief shipments and making plans for transport by air and by sea as airports and ocean ports re-open. Orphan Grain Train, Lutheran Church Charities, and MISSION: Haiti are filling shipping containers with food, clothing, and other supplies that Merritt says he expects will be ready to transport within the next few days.
Last week’s magnitude-7.0 quake killed an estimated 200,000 people, left 250,000 injured, and made 1.5 million homeless, according to published reports.
The LCMS response to the Haiti earthquake is a collaborative effort by LCMS World Relief and Human Care and LCMS World Mission to reach out on behalf of the LCMS and assist the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti, an LCMS partner church body, with help for hurting congregations and communities. Funds are needed to buy and ship emergency supplies and to carry out what will be a long-term Lutheran response in the weeks and months to come.
To make a gift to help with earthquake relief in Haiti, click here.
Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
Posted Jan. 20, 2010