When the 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, hundreds of thousands of people donated their time and money to various relief efforts. Now, almost two months later, the drive to help those affected by the quake as not slowed down.

An initiative of friends, churches and organizations in Dane County have joined together to continue relief efforts, organizing the Haiti Relief Train. The Haiti Relief Train’s mission is to send general and medical supplies to Youth With A Mission in Haiti (YWAM-Haiti), outside of Port-au-Prince in the town of Saint Marc.

St. Marc did not receive a lot of damage from the quake, but since then has seen a steady stream of refugees. National director of YWAM-Haiti Terry Snow has been working with local pastors and the Haitian government to handle the 6,000-8,000 refugees. YWAM-Madison and the Haiti Relief Train are assisting in any way they can to provide materials and volunteers to assist YWAM-Haiti.

Sun Prairie residents Rick and Karen Klemp, known for the work in Guatemala and Tanzania with their non-profit organization Hope 2 Others, have taken a leadership role in this new project.

“Actually when the crisis in Haiti happened, Rick and I were wanting to somehow help, but we weren’t sure what we could,” Karen Klemp said. “We have the Tanzania project going, so we didn’t know where to go, and just prayed about it and a friend of ours came up and said you guys know a lot about sending containers and shipping, and there’s a group of us that has been wanting to get together and we thought you guys could help us. So it was a real answer to where we could serve and help the people of Haiti.”

The churches and ministries currently involved include Youth With A Mission – Madison, New Crossing Church  in Sun Prairie, Living Water Church in Sun Prairie, Mad City Church in Madison, Damascus Road Church in Madison, Lake City Church in Madison, High Point Church in Madison, Faith Community Bible Church in Madison, Hope 2 Others Ministry in Sun Prairie, River Hills Church in Sauk City, New Life Assembly of God in Janesville, and Metro Believers Church in Madison.
On Feb. 27, the Haiti Relief Train sent their first container packed with medical and general supplies to Haiti. The container is a 20-foot container, and will be used to assist a refugee camp and orphanage in St. Marc.

The Klemps collected all the donated items – which included food, general hygiene, and medical supplies – and stored them in a warehouse at The Lighthouse in Sun Prairie and their own home until Feb. 27 when the container arrived.
Students from Sun Prairie High School assisted the Klemps and other members of Haiti Relief Train with the packing of the container.
The Lighthouse donated a warehouse for storage and organization—staging the container out of it.
Rick and Karen are hoping to go to Haiti at the end of March with YWAM – Madison to help where they can.

“They need a lot of help with the construction of the hospital and the orphanage,” Karen said. With their experiences setting up clinics in Guatemala and Tanzania, Rick would be able to assist in the construction project, and Karen would use her background as a nurse to assist at the clinic, providing care.

Those interested in going to Haiti to help hands-on should e-mail relief@ywamhaiti.org. Michael Leeson of YWAM-Madison and New Crossing Church are planning a trip during late March. For more information, visit www.relieftrain.org.

“It’s a really neat thing because it’s so inclusive of many people in Dane County, and it’s open to anyone outside of the county too. If people want to donate or do something, collectively we have a lot and the more people the better,” Karen said. “A lot of people want to help but don’t know how they can help – like we were before this all came about – so we want to be able to put it out there.”

Haiti Relief Train is now collecting more items for a second container to be shipped to St. Marc.

The first container held 2,074 lbs. of food, including 796 lbs. of rice, 247 lbs. of beans, and 36 lbs. of oatmeal; 250 lbs. of baby formula, the result of a two-day “Baby Formula Blitz”; 99 lbs. of personal care items, such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.; 151 lbs. of cleaning soap, laundry soap, bleach and hand sanitizer; 1,949 lbs. of clothing and 172 lbs. of shoes; 844 lbs of bedding donated from Best Western West Towne Suites; 585 lbs. of medical supplies, including two examination tables, a heart rate monitor, a baby incubator and numerous exam lights and IV poles; a generator; over 100 lbs. of tarps and tents; and 114 lbs. of work lights, cords, duct tape and nails.

Overall, there were 20 pallets with 18 (4x4x4) cubes with a total weight of over 6,840 lbs. of relief supplies.
For donation information, visit www.relieftrain.org. There is are lists of items needed, and contact information for how and where to send the donations.

“It’s just been really exciting to work with so many organizations, especially when you’re looking at having to do this in a short amount of time,” Karen said. “Normally mission work takes months of planning. The more people you have to do something, the more energy, the more resources, the more help you can get to accomplish what’s needed, especially in emergency situations.”

Originiall posted on the SunPrarieStar.com
Gina Covelli
Associate Editor