|Florida Baptists respond to cholera-stricken St. Marc—Volunteers urged to keep scheduled plans
By Barbara Denman
November 2, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE (FBC)—As the death toll from Haiti's cholera outbreak climbs to nearly 300, Florida Baptist relief workers are shipping bottled water and water purification filters to St. Marc, the hardest hit city, in response to pleas from the area director of missions.
Fritz Albert, director of missions for the Artibonne Baptist Association in St. Marc, contacted Eddie Blackmon, North American Mission Board coordinator for the Haiti rebuild effort, with pleas of help.
“Pastor Albert asked if there was anything we could do to help provide pure water for churches in the St. Marc area,” said Blackmon, who is stationed at the Florida Baptist Mission House in Port-au-Prince. “The outbreak has scared everyone in the area making them afraid to drink any water.”
Cholera, a bacterial infection of the small intestines, can cause vomiting and diarrhea so severe it can kill victims within days from dehydration.
Health officials have been concerned about a possible outbreak of the disease as well as others since the Jan. 12 earthquake left an estimated one million homeless and living in unsanitary conditions. The disease is spread through contaminated water, food and poor sanitation.
A team of volunteers from First Baptist and Hillcrest churches in Pensacola will travel to Haiti on Saturday, Oct. 30, taking 30 water purification drip type filters that can be installed on five-gallon buckets to help stem the lack of pure drinking water.
Additionally $30,000 has been allocated to purchase water in Port-au-Prince to be shipped to St. Marc, located about 60 miles northwest of the capital city.
Albert will dispense the water and purification filters to the churches for distribution to families in their communities.
Meanwhile, Florida Baptist Convention officials have released a statement to their churches encouraging mission volunteers to continue with scheduled plans.
“We do not allow our volunteers to drink anything but safe water while in country. We are also very careful with the food they are served,” said Cecil Seagle, missions division director.