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St. John’s dispatches medical rescue team

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After spending a decade doing aid and development work in Haiti, Kew Gardens resident Kevin Jamison was devastated to hear of last week’s earthquake that left the island nation in shambles and will lead a St. John’s University team to the Caribbean country next week.

“As soon as this happened, we assembled a team of people, including doctors and nurses who know Port-au-Prince,” Jamison said. referring to Haiti’s capital that was left ravaged by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake Jan. 12.

About 30 individuals will be in Haiti from Jan. 26 to Feb. 3 as part of St. John’s Center for Global Development’s relief efforts. Jamison, who will travel to Haiti Feb. 26 and remain there indefinitely, is the director of programming at the CGD.

The team will include doctors and nurses from throughout the country as well as individuals from the CGD, which has in recent years worked with schools and conducted numerous development projects in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. They will fly to Port-au-PrinceTuesday and will focus much of their efforts on three areas — Bel Air, Turgeau and the Center St. Vincent Pour Enfants Hanycapes.

St. John’s has previously worked with a primary school in Bel Air, the Edeyo Foundation’s Ecole Communautair du Bel-Air, which was demolished in the disaster and had served several hundred students in one of the most impoverished areas of the capital. The school also has partnered with the Haitian Education and Leadership Program,whose headquarters in Turgeau were destroyed.

“We will head to each of these locations, assess the situation, see what the needs are and start helping,” Jamison said.

Along with basic supplies, such as water and canned goods, the team members will be bringing antibiotics.

“People have open wounds, and they don’t have the type of medication they need to clean those wounds,” Jamison said. “We’ll try to bring lots of antibiotic medication, and we’ll be bringing lots of water and canned foods. We’ll have items like protein bars.”

The group has been receiving donations of medicines, food and water, but Jamison said they are still looking for support, particularly in the form of cash. He is hoping they can partner with a large store like Kmart or Target to receive gear they will need to work in Haiti, such as flashlights, backpacks, tools and shovels.

“Our one truck we have down there that we’ve confirmed is still working needs some parts so we don’t have any breakdowns because we can’t get the parts we would need for it in Haiti,” Jamison said.

The group held a fund-raiser at Pop Burger on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan Tuesday, where they asked for donations of blankets, towels, tents, candles, flashlights, lighters, lanterns, bandages, gauze, soap, baby diapers, canned food that has tab openings and does not require can openers, energy bars and bottled water.

Jamison first traveled to Haiti on a mission trip when he was 18 and has helped to build a medical clinic, a school and a church in the country. He has worked on installing solar technology at Haitian institutions and worked with schools there.

His most recent trip to Haiti was at the end of October, when a group of about 14 people from the CGD met with United Nations officials to discuss support for schools and micro-credit organizations. During that trip, they stayed at the Hotel Montana, which was destroyed and was occupied by many foreign visitors at the time of the quake.

“I’ve been able to talk to my friends and colleagues, though we haven’t heard from a couple,” Jamison said. “Most of my colleagues there have lost daughters, uncles, family members. There wasn’t one person who hadn’t lost someone.”

For more information about the rescue trip, e-mail Jamison at kevin.n.jamison@gmail.com, call Jamison at 757-373-3219, visit stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/liberalarts/departments/cgd, or call the Center for Global Development at 718-990-8052.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

Updated 5:44 pm, October 10, 2011
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