airlift to Haiti II – Return to Jacmel


Rich Pickett is SDSU’s CIO and a licensed pilot for 32 years. This chronicles his second volunteer trip to Haiti, flying relief flights to earthquake ravaged Haiti.

Brandon Campbell, who joined me for a portion of the last airlift, flew commercially to Florida and joined me again for a few days.  On Saturday, at Banyan Air Service, we loaded the airplane with Andy’s help.  The goal on our first trip was to visit Jacmel and help the friends we had made on our last mission.  I had purchased electrical wiring, and accessories for one of the orphanages in the area, and along with a large amount of supplies we were ready to go.  The Canadians were leaving Jacmel later that day and it would be impossible to fly direct to Jacmel after that time. All later flights would be required to clear customs at Port-au-Prince, which added additional flight time and delays.

(L) Rich Pickett and Brandon Campbell departing Florida  | (R) Flying into Jacmel, Haiti  Jacmel Haiti coast

(L) Rich Pickett and Brandon Campbell departing Florida | (R) Flying into Jacmel, Haiti

We landed at Jacmel just as the Canadians were preparing for the departure of the last remaining soldiers and equipment. We were the last international flight to Jacmel. It was like a family reunion. We opened the cabin door and were met with greetings from friends we had left just a few weeks ago. We unloaded N113FT and Jeanna, and Sarah who is a midwife, offered to take us to visit the orphanage we were helping to supply.

Canadians departing Jacmel

(L) Canadians departing Jacmel | (R) Unloading N113FT in Jacmel

While some of the street markets and vendors were active, we saw no signs of rubble removal or building construction on the drive to the orphanage. As we drove to the orphanage, I looked up from the back of Sarah’s truck to see our friend Pierre riding on the back of a motorcycle behind us. Pierre always finds a way to locate us!

Damaged gas station in Jacmel

Damaged gas station in Jacmel

At the orphanage Jeanna and I visited the nursery. Outside I found this lady using a mechanical sewing machine, making clothes for the children. With such talent, it would be great to utilize her expertise in a sewing business, perhaps one that would help generate income for the orphanage.

Sewing at Jacmel orphanage

Sewing at Jacmel orphanage

Inside the nursery were over 20 children in the small nursery, many of them seriously malnourished with some close to death. A number of the children in the cribs were 7-9 years old, yet their bodies were the size of a normal 3-year old. I picked up several, some two at a time, to hold them. We had brought a number of toys donated by my SDSU staff, and others, and it was wonderful to see their faces when we distributed them. For virtually all of them, it was their first toy. One boy was grabbing at my bag, and I didn’t understand why until I noticed he was blind. I gently moved his hands from the bag and placed a small toy in his hand.

Jeanna with seven year old orphanLittle girl with donated toy

(L) Jeanna with seven year-old orphan | (R) Little girl with new toy tiger

On our way back to the airport, we stopped by a local wood carver and purchased more sculptures, some depicting Haitian women carrying the 5 gallon water bucket on their head , the only method of transporting water to their homes for many families.

We were flying to Santiago in the Dominican Republic and at the Jacmel airport we learned that two people needed a lift. With Jarrod and John on board, we took off for Santiago where we would be based for some of the supply runs this trip. Jerrod was returning to Alberta after helping Sarah with her midwifery practice, and John is the director of G.O Ministries who was helping with providing some of the supplies.

While the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, it is a different world. One of development, prosperity, and vegetation compared to the stripped lands of Haiti.

Jerod Rich Brandon and John in Santiago DR

1 Comment

Filed under College Community, Greater Good

One response to “airlift to Haiti II – Return to Jacmel

  1. Philip A. Sherwood

    Thanks for your valuable service. So, you landed at Jacmel. How did you like that nice little dip in the runway? Did you see the plane which skidded off the runway?
    My folks were missionaries in Jacmel over 60 years ago. Their church is Hosannah Baptist, only a few blocks from the airport. The church he built in the late ’50’, their school, and our old house which we have rebuilt in the last 2 years all were undamaged and the site became a refuge and a distribution center.
    I Pastor a small church in LaMesa (11 years) which is very involved with this church in Haiti which is under very capable leadership. It has preschool – college, a camp on the way to Les Cayes and is affiliated with several sister churches and the clinic in Les Cayes. I took a trip there in Feb. and learned to admire those “cowboy” pilots.
    Our annual trip will be in Jan. My son and our wives will take a few teens and teach them what life is all about. We plan to build some houses with work crews from Mission For Haiti. This mission is well run by another second generation missionary family who were friends with my folks. Very rarely will you find a mission so trustworthy and well run with great quality national leadership. Our main mission this year is to start a radio station. It sounds like you have a well qualified and concerned group. Possibly you could advise us on starting a radio ministry.
    The camp property is a beautiful location on the ocean, but we are losing about 15′ of frontage since 2004. We want to ship a tractor to help in excavation and in building a sea-wall. Also, we have a bus that they could really use if we can just ship it reasonably without getting robbed at customs.
    I know it is a great expense, but would you be planning another trip in Jan. or anytime? Maybe I could hitch a ride and help pay expenses. I always take tools, clothing, meds, etc.
    Thanks much for your sacrificial care for these needy people. I hope to teach the preacher boys in the college some trades. I can already see an attitude creeping into them. They love to carry a book around all day, lean back on a chair against the wall, dose off, while they watch us gringos work. They will never be able to successfully start churches if they have to rely upon American dollars. I believe they also need to learn a trade. I am trying to help this overworked Pastor to teach them a vocation such as mechanic, pharmacy, building, etc. We plan to distrubute some bio-filter water purifiers as soon as possible. (By the way, have you noticed how the hurricanes have been few and have “peeled” away to the right or left of Haiti this year. This is God’s mercy. A real hurricane could ravage the tent cities and the many living in the streets for fear of their homes). I expect the malaria season to be worse than usual. There are ongoing, insurmountable problems, but we can make an impact.
    What the governments should do is build a huge dam to save the fresh water from filling their harbor with mud and turn it into a fishing, recreation, hydro-electric plant. It would revolutionize that area into a tourist resort and manufacturing center. You probably noticed the huge lake as you flew over the Dominican.
    Well, I have lots of ideas that keep me awake, but don’t seem to actually accomplish much. Thank you for your help, God Bless.
    In The Service of The King, (ITS OK)
    Philip A. Sherwood, Pastor

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