Church members to volunteer their services at mission in Haiti

Members of a group that will travel to Haiti in June as part of a missions group from Faith Community Church of God, in Huntington.
Members of a group that will travel to Haiti in June as part of a missions group from Faith Community Church of God, in Huntington. Photo provided.

When Bill and Sandy Webb made their first trip to Haiti 30 years ago, they took their kids.

They've returned several times, using their skills - he's a physician; she's a registered nurse - to alleviate at least some of the suffering on the Caribbean island nation.

Some of the kids who went on that first and subsequent trips have gone on to serve in missions on their own, practicing what they learned growing up.

And when the Webbs return to Haiti in June, they'll be accompanied by a couple of grandkids - along with a group of like-minded individuals from their church.
"We thought, ‘Our friends from church would love being involved,'" Bill Webb says.

He was right.

The 11-member group from Faith Community Church of God will spend almost two weeks in Saintard, Haiti, working at a compound supervised by Phyllis Newby, a missionary sponsored by the Church of God denomination.

Newby's complex includes an orphanage and a hospital, serving a country devastated by a 2010 earthquake and held back by a corrupt government.

"It's the poorest country in the western hemisphere," Webb says. "Their need is critical.

"We end up doing whatever is necessary."

That includes traveling to remote villages to operate medical clinics, Sandy Webb explains, painting houses that were rebuilt after the earthquake, working with orphaned children and counting out pills in the temporary pharmacy.

Three to four hundred people a day are seen at the remote clinics, she says.

"They start lining up as soon as it's dawn, and they stay until dark," she says.

Villagers come to the clinics seeking treatment for parasites, skin diseases, diarrhea, and other ailments related to poor sanitation, Sandy Webb says, as well as care for diabetes and limbs amputated after the earthquake.

"Most don't have access to medical care," she says.

Malnutrition is a major problem, so the Webbs usually hand out vitamins that will provide some help.

Their goal, she says, is to "give hope; heal when you can ... It's more just offering hope to people in a very hopeless situation."

Sometimes the help is of a basic nature. In one village, the Webbs handed out a childbirth kit consisting of a blanket so the mother would have clean place to give birth, a razor blade to cut the umbilical cord and a string to tie the cord. The simple kit has generated a significant decline in the childbirth mortality rate in that village, Sandy Webb says.

She also explains to the Haitians the importance of boiling creek water before drinking it, and of washing knives after cutting up a chicken.

"We do some teaching," she says, "but we're not there long enough to make huge changes."

Newby has a steady stream of volunteer groups visiting her complex, Bill Webb says.

"They couldn't survive without the American teams that go in for humanitarian purposes," he says.

With the exception of Bill and Sandy Webb, members of the Faith Community group don't have medical training. The volunteers range in age from 16 to 72 and include students, teachers, a pastor, retirees and homemakers.

"God's been working in the background and it's just come together," says Connie Anderson, one member of the group that will travel to Haiti.

While each member of the group is responsible for his or her own transportation costs, they are seeking financial donations to buy medicine and paint once they get to Haiti.

Restrictions make it impossible to carry in large amounts of supplies, Bill Webb explains. The supplies are available for purchase in Haiti, but most residents simply don't have the money to buy them, he says.

"They have it to sell, but people can't afford it or don't have access to it," Sandy Webb says.

Financial contributions designated for the 2013 Haiti trip can be sent to Faith Community Church of God, 3615 Norwood Rd., Huntington, IN 46750.

Complete caption: Members of a group that will travel to Haiti in June as part of a missions group from Faith Community Church of God, in Huntington, are (front row from left) Rev. Stephen Stull, the church’s pastor; Sandy Webb, Susie Dieringer and Dr. Bill Webb; and (back row from left) Kyle Hamilton, Connie Anderson, Nora Green, and Win Wetherbee. Three students — Neal Hamilton, Abby Webb and Jeff Webb — will also make the trip.