Vern Groves, pastor of United Church of DeRuyter, will return to Haiti with his daughter, Bec Groves-Haley, of Freeville, to serve Wings of Refuge, a children's home in Petionville, Haiti. It opened May 2011 and now cares for 20 children. Groves was one of three missionaries from DeRuyter who had just arrived in the hillside community of Carrefour in January 2010 for their 10-day mission when the quake hit.
A DeRuyter missionary who was in Haiti when a massive earthquake struck in 2010 is planning to return to the island nation in April to serve an orphanage established in the wake of the disaster.
The Rev. Vern Groves of the United Church of DeRuyter and parishioners Andy Clendenning and Linda Springer arrived in Haiti just hours before the magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit on Jan. 13, 2010. They were on a 10-day mission trip to serve the church and orphanage of Independent Christian Alliance Ministries in the village of Carrefour, nine miles west of Port-au-Prince.
Instead, they found themselves providing relief to hundreds who were injured and displaced. They evacuated a week later on a military cargo plane, leaving Port-au-Prince so they wouldn't deplete the mission's dwindling supply of food and water.
Groves said he always hoped to return to Haiti. In the months following the earthquake, Groves, Clendenning and Springer made numerous presentations to local civic organizations and sent more than $10,000 for food, water and basic supplies to Haiti.
"I was waiting for the right time, the right moment," he said.
Devastation in Carrefour, where the three missionaries from DeRuyter were stationed when the earthquake hit in January 2010.
He will make the trip in April with his daughter, Bec Groves-Haley of Freeville, who also has vivid memories of the earthquake.
"When we were disconnected from each other during those days, I wanted to hop on a plane immediately and go and help," she said. "I always told him, 'If you go back, I'm going with you.'"
The pair will spend two weeks volunteering at Wings of Refuge, a 50-bed orphanage that is under construction in Petionville, Haiti.
Groves-Haley will be documenting the journey on her blog, haitiexpedition.blogspot.com.
Groves said he hopes to see improvements in Haiti, but is realistic about the problems that the island nation still faces in the aftermath of the disaster.
"There are still tent cities, still people in temporary housing," he said. "The unemployment rate is still very high. There are a lot of people who are still displaced.
"Hopefully there will be some signs of hope," he continued.
How to get involved
Bec Groves-Haley is blogging about her experience at http://haitiexpedition.blogspot.com/. She is also raising money for the trip and collecting school supplies, medical supplies and clothes to bring to the orphanage.
Rev. Vern Groves hugs his wife Roxanne, left, and his daughter Bec Groves-Haley of Freeville after his airplane landed in Syracuse following his return from Haiti in January 2010.
Here is how she described her own experience during the 2010 earthquake:
"Losing power and cell phone service, Haiti was disconnected from the world and I was disconnected from my father," she wrote. "Huddled with my two daughters, husband and sister, unsure if my father was still alive or trapped under debris like so many other victims of this earthquake, we waited, hours, many tormenting hours, tearfully, painfully thinking the worst until finally we got word that my father and the other missionaries were alive and okay."
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