Food For The Poor Missions Director Hospitalized After Being Buried Alive 17 Hours Beneath Rubble

UPDATE: Food For The Poor Missions & Travel Director Leann Chong will be on NPR's The Story tonight. It can be heard in South Florida at 8 p.m. on WLRN 91.3 out of Miami. This is a nationally syndicated radio program, so please share with others you think might be interested.

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Jan. 15, 2009) — Food For The Poor’s Missions and Travel Director, Leann Chong, is recovering in a Dominican Republic hospital after being pulled from the rubble of a hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday morning. Chong had lain trapped for 17 hours beneath 3-feet of concrete, chin tucked and face to the floor, since the 7.0-magnitutde earthquake hit the struggling country on Tuesday evening.

Chong was on the second floor of the Hotel Montana in Pétionville at the time of the quake. She was in Haiti leading a mission trip, which included 12 students and two faculty advisors from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.


”I prayed continuously all night,” said Leann. The scripture, ”Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ,” (from Thessalonians 5:16-18) kept running through her mind, as she lay in a fetal position, after, as she put it, three floors from the hotel fell on top of her.

Leann says she cried out from beneath the rubble every time she heard voices of people as they walked by. She says she could hear many who were trapped moaning through the night. The following morning around 10 a.m., someone did hear her. Leann believes it was a United Nations/ Haiti rescue worker who finally pulled her out.

Leann appears swollen, and she suffered an injury to her right leg, which is slowly healing, but she believes it is a miracle to have survived the earthquake. Three of her Food For The Poor colleagues have been able to visit Leann in the hospital.

After speaking with Leanne on the phone, her sister Georgine Chong wrote a letter detailing Leann’s experience.

Her prayers are now with the Lynn University students and faculty advisors who had joined her on the trip to Haiti. There are six from the group who are still unaccounted for.

”We are overjoyed that eight of the students will be reuniting with their families,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s Executive Director. ”We are anxious that the other four students and two faculty members be found. We will remain optimistic at all times. I’m hoping soon we’ll get news that will bring great relief and happiness to everyone involved.”

The President/ CEO of Food For The Poor, Robin Mahfood, was grateful to finally have communicated with Leann.

”It is truly heartbreaking what is happening in Haiti. Hearing Leann, and the students who were found are all alive brings us much joy, ” said Robin Mahfood, President/ CEO of Food For The Poor. ”I know she is tremendously worried, as are we, for those who remain missing. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families and to all of Haiti.”

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information please visit,

Aimee Vignola
Public Relations Associate
954.427.2222, ext. 6079