Volunteers meet U.S. Secretary of State Clinton in Haiti

Coconut Creek, Fla. (April 27, 2009) — When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Haiti this month, volunteers serving on the USNS Comfort had the chance to shake her hand and talk with her briefly about Food For The Poor.

Clinton was in Haiti on a trip to meet with Haitian President Rene Preval and to meet up with some of the military and civilian crew members of the Comfort, currently deployed on a four-month trip throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

The hospital ship's mission, Continuing Promise 2009, is an annual humanitarian assistance operation supported by U.S. and international military medical personnel, U.S. government agencies, regional health ministries, nongovernmental organizations and U.S. academic institutions. The Comfort is staffed with a military and civilian crew of more than 800.

Huguette Guerre was a Food For The Poor volunteer who joined up with the mission in Miami and traveled onboard the ship back to Haiti. There was an urgent need for speakers of Creole, and Guerre was able to help fill that gap so children and the elderly could get much-needed care.

“This has been a wonderful experience, and we enjoyed every minute of it,” said Guerre, who lives in Haiti but volunteered to fly to Miami and join the mission there so she could help prepare the crew and other volunteers for what awaited them. “The Comfort’s mission meets that of Food For The Poor, concentrating on relief and hope to the needy, and a quality of service provided with respect and dignity.”

The treatments ranged from general check-ups, dental and eye examinations in some of the surrounding communities to surgery onboard the ship. In total, 450 people sponsored by Food For The Poor were able to get necessary medical care that is rarely available to them in Haiti.

“This mission was a true gift to the people we serve, and we are so grateful to the crew and volunteers who have given of themselves,” said Robin Mahfood, President and CEO of Food for the Poor, who noted how hard medical care is to come by in developing countries. “The children warm our hearts, especially when we see their smiles and know that this elemental health care will help them continue to grow and be healthy.”

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. Since 1982, we have provided clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and emergency relief, with more than 97 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information visit www.foodforthepoor.org.

Kathy Skipper
(954) 427-2222 x 6614