Islanders open their hearts for Haiti

6 WNY churches coming together Sunday to perform

 Change for Haiti” benefit concert


By Kelly Petrie


We’ve all seen the gut-wrenching images…the devastation of human life and land left by the recent Haitian Earthquake. As if it wasn’t bad enough before.


Imagine having to walk 7 hours to visit your doctor. Many of us drive around and around the supermarket parking lot hoping for that near-by spot so that we don’t have to walk further, yet we have perfectly capable feet. We complain when the store has run out of inventory, though we are not hungry. Imagine, for just one minute, that you had to go without running water for even half the day, or without sanitary products, soap, shoes, or shelter. When we are sick, we have the luxury of calling or emailing our doctor for advice, or seeing him within minutes or hours. Though our healthcare may not be perfect, or as cheap as we may like it, we at least have it. Now imagine, walking those 7 hours, literally sick and exhausted, simply to get medical care. For thousands of Haitian people, this is reality.


But thanks to some good hearted people of Grand Island and the surrounding Buffalo area who have traveled to Haiti over the last 6 years, the future of Haitian Healthcare is about to improve.


John Harbison, member of Trinity United Methodist Church and longtime Rotarian, has spearheaded a mission project to establish a new medical clinic.


The Mission Project


John Harbison says, “A medical team made up of people from Grand Island and the surrounding Buffalo suburbs has traveled to Haiti over the last six years.  We have set up temporary medical clinics each year in churches located in villages near LeCayes for one week each trip.  During each week, they typically see 750 patients. There is only one doctor for every 20,000 people in Haiti.” Imagine that line! We complain when our doctors are an hour behind!


Harbison continues, “There needs to be a more permanent solution to the medical needs of the area.  To accomplish this, we are raising money to build a permanent clinic.  The new clinic will serve 8,000 people from the surrounding area.  It will be staffed six days a week with nurses, technicians, and a doctor, which will travel to the clinic on a weekly basis.  Most people in Haiti have next to no medical care due to the lack of money and transportation.  Currently a patient without any transportation means must walk 7 hours from the village of Maniche for medical care.


Local Rotary Clubs have been raising funds to equip this clinic, lab, and pharmacy.  We are working with churches to help fund the construction of the building. The cost for the equipment and training is $25,000 and another $25,000 for the building. Our goal is to have by the year 2011, a fully operational, successful, and self-sustaining clinic for the village of Maniche where services will be low cost, and nobody is turned away for lack of funds.”



Benefit Concert, Sunday, March 21st at 2pm at Trinity Church

This Sunday, musicians from 6 churches from the WNY area, including Trinity and St. Martin in the Field of Grand Island, along with The Brighton Community Church Choir (Tonawanda), First UMC Church Choir (North Tonawanda), St. John Vianney Church Choir (West Seneca), Trinity UMC Choir (Amherst), and the Grand Island Community Chorus will perform a “CHANGE FOR HAITI” benefit concert. to help fund the medical clinic mission project. Though this project has been in development for years, the current destruction and devastation means stable health care is more critical.


The concert begins at 2 p.m. at Trinity Church on Whitehaven Road. Admission is free, but a goodwill offering will be collected. Your support could change lives.