Holzer Clinic pediatrician Jon Sullivan, MD, FAAP, and Holzer Medical Center pharmacist Terry Spurlin were scheduled to be in Haiti March 27 through April 3 to assist International Missions Outreach (IMO) with its medical outreach.
International Missions Outreach, based in Clendenin, W.Va., was founded in 1976 by Dr. John Hanson and his wife, Joyce. It is a non-denominational organization that specifically ministers to the nation of Haiti. IMO’s main compound on the island is located in the city of Delmas, which sustained heavy damage due to the earthquake and the aftershocks that rocked the nation over the weekend.
Sullivan and his wife, Debra, have been partners with IMO since 1992. Spurlin said he caught the vision about four years ago and has been part of medical mission teams since then.
“Usually, we go down and do a one-week medical trip,” Sullivan said. “We have a dentist that comes with us from Gauley Bridge, W.Va., an optometrist from Indiana and other people from all over the country. (Holzer Clinic physician) Dr. Mike Zirille also came with us on one trip.”
Sullivan said he received word from Hanson this week that this year’s mission trip would at the very least be delayed.
“He won’t let us come if he considers it dangerous, and two of the walls at their compound were compromised enough that they can’t guarantee our security,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re going to be delayed until, probably later this year, but it’s all going to hinge on when enough order gets restored.”
According to the IMO Web site, www.imohaiti.org, the ministry has built 26 churches and 200 “brush arbors” (basically, outdoor places of worship) during the past 34 years. Some of these structures are believed to have been destroyed or badly damaged by the earthquake. The full extent of the destruction is still unknown at this point.
“It may be months before they find out about all of their ministries,” Sullivan said. “Until they get a chance to get up into some of the mountain areas, they’ll have no idea.”
Spurlin said that, according to the IMO Web site, the ministry is in dire need of a wide range of items, including contruction materials, generators, power tools, cots, tents, batteries, flashlights, blankets, sleeping bags, mattresses, pillows, medical supplies, bottled water, dry foods, rice and beans, and canned meat and fish. IMO received two shipments of supplies Monday from the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.
IMO also operates a child sponsorship program in Haiti that supports 1,200 children. The monthly support of $25 will provide basic needs like food and clothing as well as education.
Sullivan said area residents who wish to help can contact him or his wife, Debra, at 446-7154. He said that Faithe Claxton, director of U.S. operations for IMO, can be reached at the Clendenin office at (304) 548-7009. Donations may also be made through the Web site.
Sullivan encouraged local residents to support other relief agencies and ministries currently on the ground in Haiti, including the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.
Sullivan and Spurlin both encouraged local residents to pray for Haiti during this time of distress.
(On the Internet: International Missions Outreach, www.imohaiti.org; Salvation Army, www.salvationarmyusa.org; American Red Cross, www.redcross.org)