MAF making progress in Haiti, but many still without life-sustaining supplies

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GONAIVES, Haiti-09-15-08-Progress is being made on several fronts as Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and other groups work around the clock to bring aid to thousands of Haitians who lost homes and other possessions after four severe storms ravaged their island.

A mule train carries life-saving supplies to a hospital run by Union Evangelique Baptiste d'Haiti near the village of Anse Rouge. MAF flew 400 intravenous (IV) bottles for the hospital into Anse Rouge, but the road to the hospital was washed away. It took a mule train seven hours to reach the hospital from the airstrip. More Photos...MAF is making relief flights with supplies to the village of Anse Rouge.

With logistical support from MAF, Air Calvary has made helicopter flights to Bayonnais with supplies donated by Myers Park United Methodist Church of Charlotte, N.C.

To date, various groups have sent MAF 2.8 tons of supplies for distribution.

MAF pilot and operations manager Will White has met with Samaritan's Purse, which will be working with Baptist Haiti Mission. Eight hundred sacks of supplies are being delivered by MAF planes, with each aircraft hauling 25 sacks at a time.

Roads seem to be opening up, White said, but he predicts another week will pass before vehicles can travel on roads to main towns. Even then, smaller towns will still need food and supplies.

After Tropical Depressions Fay and Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna struck, Hurricane Ike hit, dumping more rain on already flooded and soaked land.

Even before Ike arrived, MAF pilots estimated the damage to be greater than that caused by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004.

MAF serves several airstrips in Haiti. The organization's airstrip in Gonaives, located 170 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince, lay under some eight feet of water late last week. The remaining MAF airstrips in the area were reported to be operational, albeit muddy.

In addition to flooding, waterborne illnesses pose a major problem, with the greatest threat to infants and the elderly, White said.

MAF is seeking prayers for the victims, as well as for the missionaries who are ministering to the unchurched for whom they are providing aid.

"To be able to witness about Christ to those we help is an amazing opportunity," White said. "We come in contact with a lot of government officials, and we are able to witness to them as well. We might not get that opportunity again."