Members of a local relief effort returned from earthquake-ravaged Haiti Tuesday evening happy for the supplies they dropped off but disappointed for what they failed to bring back.
The mission, headed by God's Plumbline Ministries of Acworth, was set up to deliver medical supplies and personneli and return with about a half dozen orphans. But given how the Haitian government has clamped down on international adoptions, all aboard plane that left Briscoe Field in Lawrenceville Tuesday morning understood the transport was a long shot.
The increased restrictions have not extinguished the drive of Dan Lynch, co-founder of God's Plumbline Ministry, who was aboard the flight.
"We didn't hear anything about the children," Lynch said upon his return. "It's still up the air and it's one of those things we're praying gets lifted so we can work to get [orphaned children] out of there."
The flight carried close to $6,000-worth of medical supplies to help doctors continue to care for those injured in the Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed more than 150,000, according to Haitian officials.
But Lynch has now made two trips into Port-au-Prince in five days to evacuate orphans and has twice been turned away.
"We're kind of at the mercy of the Haitian government," he said. "I think it comes down to they are trying to protect against human trafficking, which I completely and fully understand."
Dr. Jan Johnston, an obstetrician/gynecologist from Piedmont Hospital, was on the windswept tarmac Tuesday morning helping load supplies she had helped collect from the staff at the hospital.
"I have a lot of supplies," she said. "The doctors are so generous."
Johnston, who has made several trips to Haiti in recent years, said church groups and staff rounded up the supplies, which included bandages, surgical supplies, crutches, antibiotics and morphine. She said doctors have told her the biggest problem now is treating broken bones and preventing infection.
"I have a sense that these small groups bringing in supplies are really having an impact," she said.
She was right, according to Charlene Taylor, communications director for Kids ‘R' Kids, the Duluth-based company who supplied the jet.
"I stayed mostly on the airport grounds, but it was frustrating because I saw a lot of supplies that were not being distributed," she said. "They were basically just sitting there on pallets."
"We found out there's a lot of stuff sitting on the tarmac," Lynch agreed. But, he added, the smaller operations that work with ministries already on the ground are getting their supplies distributed right away. God's Plumbline is working with Heartline Ministries in Haiti to get supplies distributed.
Lynch, whose wife Sheila flew the same mission Friday, said he hopes Heartline can help clear a path for the orphaned children. He said his organization has 15 children with adoptions in play right now. Many of the adoptive parents are from the Atlanta area. Another trip to deliver supplies is loosely set for next week, but plans to bring back children appear to be on hold.
Sheila Lynch said the group will also continue working to convert portions of its day care facilities into rehabilitation centers for those recovering from their injuries. Plans also include reviving a sewing group to get survivors involved in helping others less fortunate.
The couple plan to keep their ears open for any signs the adoption restrictions are eased.
"Whenever there's an opening," Dan Lynch said, "we'll be ready."
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