Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Erika, USA - "A motto to the VM Camp was 'Do anything and everything needed to get help to the people of Haiti'."

I went to Haiti with one of the Church of Scientology’s charter flights that came from Los Angeles via Miami and arrived in Haiti on 21 January 2010. Cindy was with us who just has recently done the VM courses recently and did a terrific job out there, mainly in the Future Orphanage. Paris drove us on his car, so when we got to Miami, Olaguer and I helped him to get all the communications equipment tested and wrapped up some set ups that had to be done before we could take the equipment with us.

So when I was in Haiti I helped with some aspects of communications and doing some things for Paris, typing and relaying communication. Computers were spare in the beginning so we had people hand write their messages when there was no computer available and I was typing it up later. I also helped to make ID badges for the VMs as we were required by the US Army as they were controlling the traffic in and out the Airport were our camp was.

The day after we got there I had the idea of making a internal phone book - I had noticed that Paris had several random notes of people’s phones, local numbers and in the US, VMs and other contacts outside the camp. So I made a handwritten Phone Book on a notepad. Days later at the Camp we had some Army guys visit us on trying to find help for a food drop with their chopper and one of our guys told him "let me find our Phone Book to get you the number of this team." The Army guys said: "A Phone Book! That's why we like you guys, we are so well organized". Well, they got their contact and their food drop lined up and happily left the camp (and I was proud).

The first three days outside of camp I was working in the General Hospital. It was very good that we got out there then because there were no visible groups of foreign doctors or other Disaster Relief Units there yet. Help was really desperately needed. The first day was a bit of a shock to me, it was so extremely hot, and seeing so many maimed people was not easy. I worked mainly in the park of the hospital, outside the buildings were there was a lot of people left lying around while the doctors were working mainly inside de buildings. I went around and saw what these patients needed, cleaning, sanitizing and covering wounds. I have no nurse training but I could do what anyone with some basic First Aid training can do to help injured people.

There were a lot of people in the park, I would say 60 people in beds, 20 more on the ground and their families or some family members with them. Someone I remember in particular was a woman who had an open wound on her breast she was in strong pain. I was giving her a touch assist so until the pain blew and she looked much more relaxed. Then I went onto help her 8 year old daughter to clean, disinfect and cover her wounds and taught her how to do it herself - I had just run in Haitian translator by then. She understood the importance of it.

I tried to keep log for the first 3 or 4 days but afterward all the days started to mush together, We just kept working, kept trying to help as many people as we could. Sometimes I lost track if it was day or night. And the days just after the catastrophe are vital and this is when you have the most confusion.

Then I moved on to the Miami Tent Hospital at the Port-au-Prince airport as they were requesting some more people to help over there. The first day they needed someone to route the visitors and keep security and control in who is coming in the three tents (housing hundreds of patients). Later I moved on to the storage tent and I was helping organize the medical supplies. Once the shelves were built and on their way to us we organized a fork lift to move around the big boxes of supplies and other goods to make space. A group of VMs then could put all the supplies in the shelves and finish organizing up the place in very short time. During the next days at the Miami University Hospital I was receiving new supplies and helped re-stocking the pharmacies at the Wound Care, OR and Pediatrics tent.

One thing that became kind of a motto to the VM Camp was "Do anything and everything needed to get help to the people of Haiti". I remember Elena from the Italian team mention this earlier but I really felt so in my heart and I could see for the actions I saw each VM take, everybody carried that out.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Michigan Scientology Volunteer Minister opts to help in Haiti instead of vacation

”I was on vacation, and thought to myself, ‘Doing this is so worthless when so many need help,’” said 18-year-old Echo Brabenec, of Suttons Bay. “I felt like I could do better by doing something to help the people in Haiti.”

The mostly home-schooled teen (she studied at Suttons Bay High School for a year, and graduated a year early from Traverse City West), went to Port-au-Prince, Haiti as one of the volunteer ministers of the Church of Scientology on Feb. 14, and will be there until mid-April.

She and her fiancĂ©, Shane Fasel, a TC West graduate from the Interlochen area, and the church group flew out of Miami on a church-chartered plane packed with donated medical supplies. They are working in tandem with other relief organizations, churches, and military units, operating under the overriding viewpoint of their church that “something can be done about it.”

Echo explained why she felt so compelled to help the people of Haiti, whose country was devastated by a massive earthquake on Jan. 12.

“I’ve been raised with the idea that you take responsibility for the things you see in your life,” she said. “And what I saw was that so many needed help.”

Her parents, Randy Gilmore and Elisa Brabenec of Suttons Bay, said, “Echo has wanted to do this type of work since she was a young child; she was one of the youngest members of the church to complete her volunteer minister training. With each opportunity presented to her, we said, ‘But Echo, you’re only 12′… we always thought she was too young to handle what she was trying to do at the time.”

NBC’s “Today” show reporter Kerry Sanders was in Port-au-Prince, and gave a report on the work of the volunteer ministers.

Sanders stated that groups from the Church of Scientology have helped at the sites of many of the world’s worst disasters, saying, “They were at 9/11, and at Katrina, and now they are here, doing the work that no one else wants to do.”

Welcome reception

Sanders’ report included interviews with members of the group, and with a doctor working in a crowded, makeshift hospital, who said, “I am totally impressed with these young adults from the Scientology Church. They have just been so effective for us.”

A young volunteer named Nicole, who wore the bright yellow T-shirt that identifies the group, said that the Scientologists are not in Haiti to spread their beliefs. “We don’t even mention religion,” she said, adding that the menial work they were doing was unlikely to make people want to join the church.

Sanders reported on the value of a particular type of gentle touch therapy called an “assist,” saying, “In 20 minutes, we watched as Nicole took a pained little girl from frowns to giggles.”

Echo spent a week in a Christian school giving assists for physical pain and emotional stress, and has helped deliver seminars to aid people in refocusing their attention from the trauma of their situation to productive plans and activities. Her group has recently been cleaning a hospital to prepare it for reopening.

“Their work with the Haitians focuses on bringing each individual with whom they work to an improved state of mind, one in which they will be able to look at their situation with hope and certainty of their own individual ability to effect the changes that are needed,” said Echo’s mother, Elisa.

On a typical day in Haiti, Echo and the team get up at 7:30 in the morning and gather for a meeting at 8. The 50 to 60 people, including medical teams, decide where they are most needed that day, and then go out to help and deliver the simple and effective assists; the technique is also easy to teach, and those who learn it can then help others. The team has gone to orphanages and refugee camps, and has also given assists to members of the military and medical teams.

“We’ve been received with open arms here,” she said. “All the people are warm and friendly, and often give us big hugs and kisses. The Haitians are the craziest drivers I’ve has ever seen! But it feels really good when little kids give a huge ‘thumbs up’ when we drive by. The kids we’ve met are smart, and very fast learners.”

Echo described her experience saying, “This is one of the greatest experiences of my life; it’s wonderful to be able to deliver an assist and see the smiles come back on people’s faces!”

In spite of the devastation that surrounds her in Haiti, Echo said, “The people of Haiti really need help to get their homes rebuilt, but people are doing what they can to get back up on their feet and clean up … I feel a sense of hopefulness.”

Echo’s parents reflect the belief of many of those who have gone to Haiti to help in the aftermath of the tragedy: “We believe in people’s inherent ability to create beauty, do good work, and solve the problems that face them. If you relieve the immediate stress and focus them on that ability, they will respond to the challenges of life with renewed vigor.”

This article by contributing writer Kristine Morris appeared Monday, March 8, in the Grand Traverse Insider and is reprinted with its permission.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Scientology Church in Milan and Human Rights Association of Italy Help Build Schools in Ghana

On January 6, 2010, Annalisa Tissoni, President of the Church of Scientology of Milan, and Fiorella and Gaetano Cerchiara, President and Director respectively of the Association for Human Rights and Tolerance of Italy, presented a special gift to the village of Twewaa—a new school. With the opening of this school, the second sponsored by Italian Scientologists, the children of the village gained an important human right, as stated in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—”the right to education.”

The Twewaa school opening ceremony included speeches by village Chief Nana Somua Nyampong II, Assembly Member Paul Adarkwah, and Chief Executive of Kwahu South District Assembly, Samuel Asomani.

“We involved the community in every aspect of the planning and construction of the school because it belongs to them,” said Ms. Tissoni. They also hired local companies and artisans and purchased all raw materials for the construction from local merchants, as well as school supplies, clothes and shoes for the children and classroom furniture.

The project began three years ago when an educator in the Ghana capital city of Accra needed additional funds to complete the construction of a school. He invited Ms. Tissoni and Ms. Cerchiara to Ghana, and when they saw the need, they immediately decided to help. With funds raised by the Milan Church of Scientology and the Association for Human Rights and Tolerance, the construction of the Untoma Oxford International School was completed, opening in August 2008 with some 300 children enrolled.

When the Untoma Oxford School was completed, Tissoni and Cerchiara visited outlying villages and chose Twewaa as their next project. With the Twewaa school now opened, they are focusing on their third project, a school in a nearby village in Eastern Ghana, scheduled to open before the end of 2010.

“We have taken on this project because education is a basic human right and a vital component to creating a better world,” said Ms. Tissoni. “Our Church is very much involved in promoting human rights awareness. Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard said ‘Human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream.’ By helping to build these schools, we are enabling the children to create a better future for themselves and their communities.”

To learn more about the human rights initiatives of the Church of Scientology, visit the Scientology website at www.scientology.org.