MAF remains at the center of international rescue, relief and recovery efforts following the Jan. 12 earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince. The following are first-hand accounts from the front lines:
John Woodberry, MAF Disaster Response/Security Manager:
?Jan. 15: We received a call to go to the airport to receive aid workers, but ran into a traffic jam on a primary thoroughfare. We detoured on an unfamiliar side street, which forked. I was about to go left when a motorcycle passed me. Its rider wore a white medical mask against the stench of death over Port-au-Prince. He waved me to go right instead. I followed him through a complex maze of back hill roads. He kept looking back to make sure we could see him. Finally we came to a familiar road clear all the rest of the way to the airport. He stopped, and I waved my thanks. He simply waved back...an angel?
?Jan. 18: The Lord allowed 26 Haitian children from the Three Angels Orphanage to come home to their American and Canadian families. Abbey McArthur, director of Homeschooling at Three Angels, rescued the children and accompanied them on a Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR team aircraft donated in partnership with Missionary Flights International (MFI). MAF coordinated logistics for the MFI flight which carried the orphans to their new families. The adoptive parents had waited and prayed for six hours after the quake to hear whether their children had survived. Some had waited three years for Haitian government paperwork to release them to their new families. Monday morning the parents learned that the Haitian government had approved the adoptions. Through a series of miracles, including free chartered jet flights, most of the parents arrived outside of U.S. Customs in Fort Pierce in time to receive their children. By just after midnight the last set of available parents received their little one.
?Jan. 20: We started early with MAF facilitating its first C130 flight at the general aviation ramp of the Port-au-Prince airport. The MAF crew unloaded 46,000 pounds of urgent cargo in one hour. The forklift itself was flown in for our use on the aircraft and will be used tomorrow on the 6 a.m. DC4 arrival. The cargo of food, medicines, wheelchairs, and other vitally needed equipment is right outside the MAF hangar. MAF has been asked to make sure the cargo goes where is it is needed. A doctor/surgeon team we had transported on an MAF plane a few days ago came by as their hospital had run out of supplies. We helped them load relief we had just received into two trucks for the hospital. We also distributed food and tents to an orphanage with 140 children living outside.
?Jan. 21: The grassy field in front of MAF's hangar has been a hive of activity as our facility is the center of operations for receiving and coordinating delivery to many missions and aid organizations. Relief continues at a rapid pace. At 7 a.m. we unloaded our first DC-4 with some 30,000 pounds of medicines, food, and other relief cargo. At the end of the day, our grass is almost empty, signifying that life-saving food and medicine is being supplied to hundreds of thousands of desperate Haitians. Cargo from a C130, a DC4, and a Cessna Caravan has been delivered to orphanages, hospitals, and a mission station, all of which had run out of supplies.
As I write this at 11p.m., our forklift remains in constant use. It has not stopped hauling medical cargo for Operation Blessing, covering the grassy field in pallets loaded with provision for starving Haitians. MAF coordinated 16 flights and around 130 passengers today.
Will White, MAF pilot:
?Jan. 20: Eight missionary doctors were stranded in Les Cayes, Haiti. On Jan., 19, Mark Williams and I flew in two MAF planes to pick them up. A Hawker 900 was coming to Haiti to evacuate them. Via satellite phone I informed the Hawker their passengers were safely in Port-au-Prince. They were overjoyed with the service MAF provided them.
?Jan. 21: MAF released to missionaries Bill and Marylin Fair emergency food and supplies brought into Haiti via Missionary Flights International. Here's what they wrote us:
"We were able to get supplies from MAF/MFI and gave them to the hungry Haitians. Among provisions we delivered were six boxes of food to a woman we know, to deliver to her friends. She started crying: 'You are a blessing! Beni swa etenel!' Praise the Lord!"
"Thanks to MAF and MFI for working such long hours together. Because of their dedicated work, we are able to get food, supplies and tents to people who have lost their homes or cannot find food. We appreciate the hard work in getting us back home to Haiti so we can help the Haitian people. Once again we thank you very much, MAF, for all you are doing."
?Jan. 21: I was able today to fly more than 2,000 pounds of food to the island of La Gonave. Because La Gonave receives its food supply at the beginning of the week from Port au Prince, these 100,000 islanders have been cut off from food for the past week.
?Jan. 21: A mission group that evacuated most of its workers following the quake contacted me from the United States about getting food to their people. I flew two plane loads of MFI relief to them. While it was enough for his staff, it was not enough for the more than 400 people in his churches. The food was accepted at the landing strip by the ministry group WISH, which will distribute it.
From the MAF communications team:
?Jan. 19: We received an urgent appeal from the UN Disaster Assistance and Coordination (UNDAC) for use of MAF's inflatable GATR VSAT communications system to aid Search and Rescue (SAR) groups. In response, the GATR system was relocated.
Among groups the GATR is assisting is Instead, which receives SMS messages from Haitians and aid workers in the streets. These messages are encoded onto electronic maps for UNDAC, which sends relief or SAR teams. Also using the GATR is MapAction, a team that creates maps during emergencies to help coordinate relief efforts. MapAction's high-resolution imagery is too large for the group's own VSAT to handle efficiently, so they requested extra bandwidth through the MAF GATR. Maps show where SAR teams have already cleared buildings, as well as field medical hospital locations, collapsed bridges and obstructed roads. MapAction daily distributes maps pinpointing vital areas of need, to relief groups.
?Jan. 20: The GATR is up and running at the UNDAC area where satellite images are guiding plans for the transition from rescue to relief. We plan on being stationed in the UN compound for several days until the UN's own systems can be flown in. We hope we can then move back to the World Concern office to assist with the "internet cafe" for other NGOs. An additional GATR is set to arrive.
Mark Williams, program manager of MAF Haiti:
?Jan. 20: Our missing Haitian MAF worker is presumed dead. The others have been accounted for. I gave them money and food. Two left to join family who live in the countryside. Four Haitian MAF workers are coming to the airport to help out.
David Darg, Director of International Disaster Relief, Operation Blessing:
?Jan. 18: Our base is at the Mission Aviation Fellowship hangar at the Port-au-Prince airport. MAF's Disaster Relief Director John Woodberry has kindly allowed Operation Blessing to set up tents and use their infrastructure, including water and electricity. Without their partnership, we wouldn't be so well positioned to respond and save lives. John has coordinated relief flights of essential medicines used by our doctors to treat victims.
?Jan. 18: This morning our team left the airport for an OB clinic set up at the soccer stadium. Each time we exit the airport we find more people desperate for help gathered at the gates. Port-au-Prince's narrow streets are strewn with crushed cars and collapsed buildings. On our way we encountered a tree branch roadblock manned by Haitians desperate for food. Our interpreter explained we only had medical supplies. The Haitians pulled back the branches and allowed us to proceed.
Karen H. Carr, Director of Community Coalition for Haiti:
?Jan. 21: With the help of MAF, CCH's trauma team and medical supplies are in Jacmel helping heal the injured, hurt and hopeless. MAF has been a constant source of hope for all of the relief organizations trying to get supplies and medical personnel into Haiti. For the Haitians who are suffering and those bringing help, hearing the MAF flights overhead gives us more reason to believe that things will recover here and that more help is on the way. Without MAF, our ministry here to those in need in Jesus' name would not be possible. For the lives that have been saved, we owe MAF an eternal debt of gratitude. For those who will hear and see Jesus touching them through our medical volunteers and MAF's efforts, our appreciation on their behalf is infinite.