Earthquake devastation heartbreaking for former missionary

By on January 22, 2010

by Martha Quetsch
SUGAR GROVE—When the severe earthquake hit Haiti last week and TV stations ran footage of the devastation there, Sugar Grove resident Kaelynn Wilson said her heart was broken.

“My initial thought was … they don’t need any more problems in Haiti,” Wilson said.

She said it was emotional for her to see on screen the earthquake-torn places that she is so familiar with, having gone to Haiti five years ago on a mission with her church, Sugar Grove United Methodist.

“I saw those buildings, I went to those markets, I walked those streets, and the conditions were bad before,” Wilson said.

In 2005, Wilson, a teenager at the time, went to Haiti to help at the Grace Children’s Hospital in Port Au Prince with her church pastor, the Rev. Steve Good, and other members of their congregation. While there, she befriended a child and wrote to him regularly after returning to the U.S. until the child, who had AIDS and a cleft palate, died.

She believes awareness is crucial before people will offer their help and support to the Haitian people, particularly the country’s youngest and most vulnerable.

“Small children should not have to suffer,” Wilson said.

Wilson said if people from Northern Illinois form a mission to go to Haiti to help, she hopes to join them. Meantime, she wants to boost awareness among the American public about the Haitians’ plight, not only now, but historically. She said that the earthquake is just one more trauma on top of others that came before in Haiti, from poverty and political upheaval, to health issues including AIDS and tuberculosis.

“I am spreading the word, that if you are able to help, please do,” Wilson said. “There is so much that needs to be done.”

Photo: Sugar Grove residents, from left, Stephanie Claesson, Kaelynn Wilson-Bennett, Amanda Mendoza and Kristin Heckert, participated in one of Sugar Grove United Methodist Church’s past mission trips to Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Courtesy Photo