It's been almost exactly four years since a massive earthquake killed hundreds of thousands in Haiti. WDBJ7 New River Valley reporter Orlando Salinas tells us about a local church group that just returned from that island nation.
"Remember when we were talking to them about taking care of the garden?" Donna and John Travis are looking at photographs taken while on an eight day mission trip to Haiti earlier this month.
It was Jan 12th, four years ago, a seven-point magnitude killer earthquake destroyed the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Within 24 hours, I was there on the ground reporting and saw hundreds of bodies being stacked in the streets.
Nearly $10 billion in foreign aid was pledged to rebuild the already struggling nation. Experts say since then, barely one tenth of those pledges ever made it to Haiti. Scott Obenchain is the pastor at Blue Ridge Church, where Donna and John are members. I asked Obenchain if the Haiti tragedy is just another example of "out of sight, out of mind."
"I think that's very fair. I think that's anything in life." Missions trips matter, says Obenchain sporting a silver-tipped goatee, and people of faith he says, must do more. "I think in the past when you look at some of the mission work that's been done, we have gone in and given a handout. Now we're trying to go in and give a hand up." Donna said.
Haiti was the first foreign missions trip for Blue Ridge Church. Yes, they went to spread the gospel.
"But second was that we wanted those people to get self sufficient. If we're not going to teach them how to grow their own food and how to clean that rainwater so they can drink it, and how to wash their hands."
The Blue Ridge Church group worked at Camp Abraham. 150 dirt-poor families living in shacks and tents. Four years with no running water. No sewers. No schools.
I'm a reporter and a cynic by nature, but Donna Travis has hope.
"I think if we can start with the children and we told them how important it is to pick up that trash, I'm hoping, I'm hoping it will work."