Jamestown group going on mission to help HaitiA group of Jamestown residents is getting ready to travel next week more than 2,400 miles to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. James Valley Youth for Christ is headed on a mission trip to Haiti on July 8. Once there, 11 students and seven staff members will be tasked with helping the people of Haiti after a January 2010 earthquake affected the lives of an estimated 3 million people.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
A group of Jamestown residents is getting ready to travel next week more than 2,400 miles to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
James Valley Youth for Christ is headed on a mission trip to Haiti on July 8. Once there, 11 students and seven staff members will be tasked with helping the people of Haiti after a January 2010 earthquake affected the lives of an estimated 3 million people.
“There was such a need to begin with and then when you have something catastrophic happen it compounds it to the oomph degree,” said Troy Gunderson, executive director of JVYC.
The group will primarily be helping at Mission of Hope, a 40-acre compound about 20 miles north of Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital.
More than a year and a half after the quake leveled much of Port-au-Prince and surrounding cities, most of the heavy cleanup is completed, Gunderson said. Now is time to help and educate those who were affected. There is a malnutrition problem, and education is needed to show Haitians the proper way to build homes and plant fields.
Many buildings collapsed after the earthquake because proper building techniques weren’t used, Gunderson said.
Troy’s wife Sheri Gunderson will be there to help. As a nursing instructor at Jamestown College, she said she’s ready for whatever she is asked to do.
“We’re all helping at a vocational Bible school, so I and the student nurses going with, we’re going to do the hygiene with that,” she said.
Mission of Hope is more like a city than a compound, Troy said.
A school there has 2,400 students, with half attending class during the day and half at night.
“They doubled up after the earthquake,” he said. “There was such a need for people wanting to go to school.”
Mission of Hope dispenses meals and medication, has a church and a clinic and is currently building a hospital.
JVYC was originally going to help Haitians in the construction of a 500-home neighborhood, but were diverted to a start-up vocational Bible school.
“They have a variety of things they’re doing,” Troy said.
The group from Jamestown may be asked to help in different areas during their time in Haiti.
“We’re going to serve ... wherever they need us we’re going to work,” he said.
The students going each have different impacts they want to make with their time in Haiti.
“I want to restore some buildings so people can have a little easier life and take some stress off the people,” said Michael Irish, a high school junior.
With help comes hope, said Meghan Prescott, a sophomore at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
“I really want to see the orphanages and the children and give them hope,” Prescott said.
With a need for help in many places including North Dakota, Troy said Haiti was selected to help the poorest of the poor.
“There’s something about going to a place you only hear about or see on TV,” he said. “It can teach you amazing things.”
Troy has gone on numerous mission trips, but for some people this will be their first mission trip.
“We like to think that we are going down there to help them, but in reverse I think we get more than we can help them,” He said. “Just the experience ... I think this is a powerful tool for young people.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com