MAF Disaster Team Ramps Up Relief Efforts in Haiti

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Ministry's History in Haiti and Knowledge of the Land, Culture and Language Invaluable to Outside Groups Bringing Aid

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - The MAF presence in the devastated nation of Haiti has transitioned into full disaster response mode, as the team began working with Samaritan's Purse to provide relief to the suffering people.

"MAF has been ministering in Haiti since 1986. We know the country, the culture and the language," said John Boyd, MAF president. "This experience and knowledge will be invaluable to groups coming to Haiti to help. What's more, MAF will continue to minister here in the months and years following this disaster."

John Woodberry, MAF manager of disaster response, arrived in Port-au-Prince Friday afternoon to aid in the ministry's relief efforts. MAF is ramping up its assistance to aid agencies by coordinating the storage, distribution, and transportation of food, water and medical supplies, as well as tarps and water purification systems.

"Our first priority is to establish a reliable communication structure, which will allow us to more effectively collaborate with aid groups trying to bring relief supplies to the people of Haiti," Boyd said. MAF will install a GATR Technologies inflatable satellite terminal at the Port-au-Prince airport, which will provide reliable internet and wireless data connectivity, including VOIP (internet telephone service), to aid organizations.

In past disaster situations, including the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Felix and Cyclone Sidr in 2007, and the Haitian hurricanes of 2008, MAF provided communications systems, delivered relief supplies, transported medical teams and assisted humanitarian organizations in reaching people and areas that have been otherwise cut off from assistance.

Woodberry also reported the following from Haiti:

- Wives and children of the seven MAF missionary families have been evacuated to Florida for counseling and debriefing.

- MAF is committed to providing assistance to the families of Haitian national staff members, as well as to the communities in which they live. Of immediate concern is ensuring that aid goes where it should.

- MAF is ramping up efforts to assist aid agencies, networking with relief agencies such as Samaritan's Purse and World Vision.

- A Samaritan's Purse DC-6 has finally arrived carrying 25,000 lbs of relief supplies. The MAF hangar at the Port-au-Prince airport is being used as a logistics point for this flight and will likely be similarly used for other flights. - Although small aircraft are still not allowed to fly out of Port-au-Prince, MAF continues to ready its fleet to contribute to the relief efforts.

- MAF staff housing is being used to accommodate MAF staff as well as relief workers from other agencies.

The situation in the already poverty-stricken nation is heartbreaking. And the needs seem overwhelming. Thousands are dead, and thousands more are suffering from injuries following the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that stuck Jan. 12. Millions of people who survived the quake in Port-au-Prince are now suffering without food, water or shelter. Fear remains high that already desperate people will turn to violence.

How You Can Help:

"We are touched and encouraged by the hundreds of supporters who have contacted MAF to offer their prayers and assistance," said John Boyd, MAF president. "We are grateful to God for this overwhelming show of love."

To respond to the disaster, MAF has set up the "Haiti Disaster and Recovery Fund." Donations can be made by clicking here.

Many have also inquired about volunteering to assist MAF in the relief efforts. Currently, MAF is unable to bring volunteers into Haiti. There may be a later need for those with specific technical skills in logistics and communications, coupled with disaster response experience. Watch the MAF website for more information.