Retired Vernon registered nurse Judy Douglas (pictured with her son

Retired Vernon registered nurse Judy Douglas (pictured with her son

Nurse rallies behind Haiti

Community support sought for victims of earthquake

A retired registered nurse and an organization dedicated to improving water, both from Vernon, continue to help earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

And they’re inviting people to join them.

Judy Douglas and Water Project For Haiti will host an information session about their upcoming trip on Friday, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Vernon Alliance Church (in the Arbor next door to the church).

The tiny Caribbean nation was devastated in January 2010 by a quake with a magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale, killing an estimated 316,000 people, left a million homeless, and destroyed or severely damaged 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings.

Douglas has been to Haiti every year since the earthquake, and will return again June 1 for two months, then hopes to go back in the fall.

“When the earthquake hit, they were asking for people like me that had Third World experience,” said Douglas, who has also served missions in Nicaragua.

“With my critical care background and my passport, I could go. I looked into going right away.”

Through a Vernon connection, Douglas ended up in Montrouis, located on Haiti’s western coast, an hour from the capital, Port Au Prince, and got connected with medical personnel.

She built that into a connection to a Haitian-run remote clinic in an area that never had medical access.

Last year, Douglas helped teach some nurses and got connected with the existing hospital in Haiti to bring it back to life.

“I worked with Haitian nurses and felt really blessed,” said Douglas, who was joined last year for a two-week stint by her nurse son, Sean.

“I worked at the remote clinic and the hospital, and now they’re connected.”

The epicentre of the devastating quake was near where Haiti’s national nursing school, resulting in the deaths of many nursing students and instructors. Douglas has been helping fill that void.

This year, Douglas has partnered with Water Project for Haiti, a Vernon-based non-profit group that is in Haiti producing biosand filters that bring clean water to the Haitian people, located in Borel, Haiti.

“Our organization’s vision is to promote hygiene, water management and all the different facets that water encompasses,” said Water Project for Haiti spokesperson Kyle Adam.

“Right from the source of water to dealing with waste management, water management and treatment of diseases caused by water, that’s where Judy’s going to help us out.”

The trip is open to anybody and Adam said any skill set is needed in Haiti.

“We have connections to use somebody’s skills, from carpenters to heal, there’s so much need for everybody,” he said.

The project is Canadian funded and managed, with the goal of having the Haitians run things.

“This isn’t going to go on forever,” said Douglas. “Our goal is to have the Haitians run their own country and eventually look after themselves but they need a lot of help. They’ve lost a lot of their expertise.”

Douglas will also be taking supplies and is looking, in particular, for a certain musical instrument to take.

“I want to take a trumpet,” she said. “Brass bands play at funerals and it’s a way for people to make some money.”

The supplies needed will be among the topics discussed during Friday’s information session.