WEBSTER COUNTY, KY (11/21/12) – We tend to think that here in western Kentucky we’re isolated from the rest of the world, but at least one Webster County resident has reached out to make big changes in the lives of people thousands of miles away.
As Hurricane Sandy was working her way towards the US, Bobbie Puckett was headed for the tiny island nation of Haiti where Sandy was already causing havoc.
“I suppose getting there is half the fun,” Puckett joked. “We left Webster Co. in a church van at 2 a.m. Friday (October 26). We flew from Nashville to Miami. Then from Miami to Port-au-Prince..sort of.”
The plane, carrying Puckett and other members of a Medical Mission Trip to Haiti couldn’t land in Haiti because of Hurricane Sandy. After circling the island for half an hour, they were forced to fly to Jamaica too refuel. After trying to wait out the storm, the plane was forced back to Miami. The next morning they tried again.
They finally reached Port-au-Prince after 32 hours of travel on about four hours of sleep and only two meals.
“From (Port-au-Prince) we drive for about a couple of hours in the truck over bumpy roads,” Puckett said. “Then we arrive at the river. There is no bridge, so we pay a boatman to ferry us across in a wooden canoe. Then we set out on foot...typically about a forty-five minute walk.”
Sandy had left the path from the river to the mountain village of Pouille a mess. At times the team had to walk through mud that was knee deep.
“I started out with shoes, but the knee deep mud kept sucking my shoes off of my feet,” she said. “I kept my socks on for the protection of my feet as long as possible, but soon decided it would be best to just go barefooted.”
The usual forty-five minute walk took nearly three hours.
Pouille is a place close to Bobbie Puckett’s heart. Following the death of her father in 2000 and her mother in 2009, she said she felt God leading her to do something special with her inheritance. Her parents, Bob and Mary Mackey, were very active in Sturgis First Christian Church and had been big supporters of its mission work, through a program called Village to Village (V2V) started by several members of the congregation.
Puckett spoke with Haitian Pastor Volner Sprague and his wife Julia to see if they needed anything specific from V2V. Immediately they told her they needed an orphanage. Research revealed that were over 300,000 orphans in Haiti even before the earthquake of 2010.
“They came to my home in November of 2009 with a blueprint for the orphanage and an estimated cost,” said Puckett. “ The blueprint was in the shape of a cross. The head was where the house parents would live, the arms would each be a wing for 10 boys and 10 girls. The foot of the cross is the common area and dining area for the orphanage. I wrote a check that day for the orphanage to be constructed in memory of my parents.”
Two months later a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake; the Haitian government reported that an estimated 316,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. The government of Haiti also estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged.
Plans for Mackey Maison Orphanage (maison is French for “house”) were put on hold.
“Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere before the earthquake and is now the poorest country in the entire world,” Puckett said.
When she arrived in Pouille, Puckett found that work on the orphanage had resumed, and great progress had been made.
A team from Scottsville, KY will arrive in February to do the water and electrical installation. Next summer a team from Clay plans to travel to Haiti to do the stucco walls and concrete floors.
“Early in the Fall of 2013 we will send another team to paint the walls and beds in bright Caribbean colors and make Mackey Maison a welcoming home for the children,” she said,
Currently five boys live at Pouille with their caretaker, Levi. They live in a room about the size of Puckett’s master bathroom, with no closets and no bathroom. They bathe in a nearby creek.
V2V provides one hot meal per day, beans and rice, and there are lots of fresh tropical fruits growing nearby.
Another child that will come to live in the orphanage when it is completed is a young boy named Joseph. About five years ago, a V2V medical teams was in Haiti when Joseph’s mother went into labor. Nurse Jo Franklin, who is the daughter of Bob Franklin from Clay, sprang into action and delivered a baby boy. His mother was so grateful for the help with the delivery, she named her son Joseph after Nurse Jo.
On the flight home from Haiti, an older Haitian man collapsed. He had no pulse and was not breathing. By the time EMTs arrived two of the medical staff traveling with the team along with an ER doctor had revived them man.
J-E News Editor
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