Preston resident heads to Haiti
February 2, 2010
By Chantelle Lusebrink
The call came a day before the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake — Mark Bowers was going to Haiti Jan. 30 for a medical mission.“That is the funny part. It was the day prior to the earthquake when we got the call,” said Bowers, a 54-year-old Preston resident and a physician’s assistant with Proliance Surgeons. “Our initial goal was to go there to care for children in orphanages and people in surrounding villages. When the earthquake hit, it really shifted our orientation.”
Call it divine intervention or a call to arms to help others, but Bowers and his team are needed in Haiti now more than ever.
Once there, they will visit up to nine clinics per day throughout areas most affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks.
The epicenter of the Jan. 12 earthquake was only 12 miles from Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
Rescue and relief efforts have been sent from around the world amid recurring aftershocks, which have registered upward of 5.0-magnitude.
Haitian government officials have estimated the death toll from the quake could rise to more than 200,000. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.
Because of the earthquake, the response of Bowers and his group has had to change, he said.
“Our plan is to hit the ground running and do clinics every day that we are there,” he said. “In this case, it will be a little different than our original plan in that the earthquake will have us focus on people that are affected more in terms of trauma or in terms of affected by illnesses of poverty.
“In addition, though, we’ll continue to do routine medical care and treatments that we would have been doing, like deworming children, providing eyeglasses, and providing medication and formal treatment.”
Despite the devastation, Bowers said he is no stranger to medical aid in foreign lands.
“My family and I have done medical missions to Africa and we have an affinity for helping others,” he said. “When the earthquake occurred in Haiti, we felt we could do something there, too. But in this case, it is just myself and a group of other people, a mission group called Global Vision, who is sending a team there with 14 nurses and support people, including myself.”
Bowers said he found a calling to medical missions through Issaquah Christian Church, where he’s been a parishioner for 20 years.
“There are two branches of mechanics that got me involved. One, through the relationship with the people at Issaquah Christian Church, who have been many times on missions, up to 25 times, and have always asked me to go,” he said. “The other is, I just feel, we as Americans have so much to give that we should give it internationally as well as locally.”
The supplies he and the team will take to Haiti have largely been donated from companies within the Puget Sound.
“We had to adjust our supplies from more orthopedic-type equipment to more splinting and casting, but what was remarkable was that the equipment, almost overnight, was all donated,” he said.
Their transportation and ground support funding has come predominately from Issaquah and Preston residents.
“It doesn’t surprise us that all this comes from the Issaquah community,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we can represent the community well and care for the Haitian people.”
There’s still more you can do, he said.
Donations are being accepted worldwide through a variety of organizations, like the American Red Cross.
If you want to donate to his specific trip, there is still time to do that by sending a check to Issaquah Christian Church.
Since all of their airfare and ground support has been paid for, every penny will go directly to patients in Haiti, he said.
How to help
Send donations to Bowers Haiti Medical Fund, Issaquah Christian Church, P.O. Box 1028, Issaquah, WA 98027. Or go to www.redcross.org.
Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.