Amway jet brings missionaries from the Dakota's back from Haiti earthquake zone

8:20 PM, Jan 18, 2010   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The Amway corporate jet carried a medical team and supplies to Haiti Monday on a flight of mercy. It returned with 10 Americans who were on a medical mission trip when the earthquake struck.

North Dakota nurse practitioner Sarah Kaspari Baker recalls, "I was holding the baby and grabbed the young mom. And it just rolled under our feet. It felt like being on a ship. The roar was amazing." She was working with a Haitian interpreter at the time, and says, "A young medical student whose university collapsed. And all his friends were killed. And he would have been there if he wouldn't have been on the island helping us."

The team worked on an island ten miles off the Haitian coast called La Gonave. The damage on the island was not as bad as the capitol. They still saw collapsed buildings and felt the fear that comes with a major quake. Team leader Bruce Blumer of Mitchell, South Dakota says, "Just beyond where the clinic was, there was a big open area. And it looked like it had snowed. There were probably 500 people lying on sheets because they were afraid to be in their homes that night."

As the days went on, their volunteer medical crew saw more earthquake victims who fled Port au Prince and sought out their relatives on La Gonave. Kaspari Baker says she saw "huge burns on one lady's leg. A street vendor was cooking next to this woman and the oil splashed up on her and burned about 19 percent. She would go to a burn unit in the U.S. We did the best we could to debrided it and wrap it and give her antibiotics and give her a tetanus shot."

The trip out of Haiti required a boat ride, and a ride in the back of a packed pick up truck, until they got to the chaotic airport in Port au Prince. Blumer recounts, "The gate was just being crushed by local people because they know food's going in and out. We talked to one of the armed men there and he said this is falling apart. So what happens is they shut the doors and then aid doesn't get distributed."

Fortunately for these missionaries, they were able to escape the area, thanks to the Amway jet.

The flights are not the only Amway effort to help earthquake victims. The company is also sending 10,000 personal hygiene kits, which workers were busy packaging Monday. Amway and its employees have also donated more than $270,000.

A second Amway flight is scheduled to go to Haiti Tuesday.

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