Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Kelseyville man arrives in Haiti to assist relief effort

LAKE COUNTY – A local man has arrived in Haiti on a mission of mercy to the shattered country.

Glenn Bridges of Kelseyville flew into the airport in Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince on Wednesday evening with his colleague, Art Berry, who runs a ministry in Haiti.

Bridges is working with Washington-based Starfish Ministries' earthquake relief effort in Haiti. The country was hit by a 7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12 and has been hit by dozens of large aftershocks since then.

Media reports from Haiti and international news services estimate that as many as 1.5 million people in the country of 9 million have been left homeless by the disaster, with the death count possibly as high as 200,000.

“Right now, I’m on my way to the Dominican Republic to pick up nearly 40,000 pounds of dried soup mix which will be delivered to a compound in Port-au-Prince and distributed by a local church that is partnered with Starfish Ministries,” Bridges said Thursday.

Bridges is the director of building operations for Starfish Ministries. The group began in 1998 when Bernie and Sheryl Bovenkamp decided to take over a project to build an orphanage that was being dropped by Childcare International, a Christian relief organization.

Since then, one orphanage has turned into many; they've also established many schools that provide education and four meals per week for more than 7,000 Haitian children, Bridges said.

None of the children served in those orphanages or schools were harmed during the quakes, he added.

“Life is beginning to move forward,” said Bridges. “There are piles of supplies sitting at the airport and I've seen big truckloads of pure cement for the rebuilding process.”

Bernie Bovenkamp and Bridges are very good friends and have traveled to Haiti together nearly 50 times.

“This is my 52nd trip,” said Bridges. “I plan to be here for several weeks; my wife doesn’t like me to be gone very long.”

“She’s used to it,” Glenn’s son, Boone, said about his mother Thursday morning. “I was going to go with my dad but the plane we were going to take fell through. Plus my wife wasn’t too keen on the idea of me taking a one-way trip to Haiti either.”

Bridges and Berry were able to snag two free seats on Wednesday on a private jet that was filled with about 500 pounds of medical supplies.

“We actually met with five surgeons who were literally waiting for the plane to land so they could get the supplies they needed,” said Bridges.

When he arrived, he was happy to see Doug Jarvie, president of the Starfish Ministries in Canada, on the tarmac awaiting their arrival. Bridges went to Haiti now to allow Jarvie to go home to his family.

Jarvie arrived in Cap Haitien, a city on Haiti's north coast, on Jan. 15, just three days after the first big earthquake hit. He is attending meetings with the United Nations and World Food Program to apply for food to distribute to Haitians while Bridges drives to the Dominican Republic to pick up more food.

The ministry’s distribution effort has gone smoothly so far. On Jan. 19, the group purchased 10,000 pounds of food which was distributed.

The food Starfish is delivering has come from numerous generous organizations and people, the group reported.

A lot of the food was bought using money from the Starfish Ministries members' and supporters' own pockets.

The Feed My Starving Children organization is one group which donated some food, according to the updated blog for Starfish Ministries at http://starfishministries.org . Churches in the Dominican Republic also have donated bottled water.

Bridges said he had a hard time getting on the road to deliver that food because his delivery truck broke down.

On Thursday morning, Boone Bridges reported that the last he heard, his dad was on a “tap-tap,” a rented Haitian motorcycle, riding around looking for parts to fix the brakes on the truck, which has a 10,000-pound capacity.

Later in the day, Glenn Bridges had fixed the truck and was on the road again.

The food Bridges was on his way to pick up will be distributed to a “tent town” of nearly 5,000 people who were living in Port-au-Prince and are now homeless as a result of the earthquakes.

After the deliveries, he said he planned to head about 80 miles north of Port-au-Prince to where most of Starfish Ministries' schools are located. Bridges wants to visit every school to see the people and assess any damage that has been done.

Boone Bridges said the ministry plans to send a team from Lake County to Haiti in the next three to six months. The last group went in 2000.

Another group is a local connection, Seaplanes Operations LLC, is getting involved by sending a seaplane to Haiti to help with the disaster relief efforts as well, according to their Web site, http://haiti.seaplaneops.com/Haiti/Welcome.html .

With roads impassable, seaplane are offering an important alternative because they can land on the water all around the country to reach the people that haven’t gotten much help due to the closures, the group reported.

E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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