Red Cross Workers Aboard Comfort Vital To Mission Success
(February 12, 2010)
USNS COMFORT, At Anchor (2/8/2010 - NNS) -- When a Red Cross
volunteer noticed a young boy in the pediatric ward aboard
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) crying for his father who was still
in Port-au-Prince, a passion to help moved him to action
resulting in a Feb. 5 reunion between father and son.|
Simpson St. Fort, from Fort Meyers, Fla., is one of two
dozen Red Cross workers on board Comfort performing acts of
quiet heroism every day in support of Operation Unified
Response. Though originally brought on board to provide
Creole and French translation between English speaking
doctors and their Haitian patients, these volunteers have
taken it upon themselves to do more than the terms of their
George McNally, who moved to Miami from Port-au-Prince two
years ago, said he felt honored to support relief efforts.
"Assisting the doctors and nurses makes a huge impact. The
Red Cross [shows] the essence of volunteering," McNally
said. "All of us are here to assist, and we don't expect
anything in return. They are accomplishing their mission by
responding so quickly to people in need, and I wanted to
help them out."
Since 1881, the Red Cross has distinguished themselves by
delivering humanitarian aid whenever tragedy strikes,
whether in a war zone or a natural disaster. A
nongovernmental agency, their primary focus is to prevent
and relieve suffering of the unfortunate.
"The Haitian people are very excited for the volunteers to
be [on Comfort]," McNally said. "Even though their homes are
devastated, they have smiles on their face."
These exceptional people have taken the Red Cross mission
into their hearts and projected this compassion onto the
Haitians. At the core of this philosophy is providing
selfless service and support. Medical care is provided
around the clock on Comfort, and the volunteers never depart
from their drive to lend their energies and spirits to give
hope to those injured.
"These volunteers are vital to this mission's success," said
Lt. Andrea Hernandez, a nurse in the pediatric ward aboard
Comfort. "They are invaluable, going beyond what was asked
of them, touching the hearts of everyone they help."
Red Cross workers are directly supporting Operation Unified
Response, a multinational effort to bring emergency aid and
reconstruction support in the wake of the worst earthquake
the region has experienced in a century. On a daily basis,
the volunteers face unimaginable challenges when witnessing
the destruction firsthand in the mangled bodies of the
Haitians they have vowed to help.
Of these volunteers Hernandez added, "The amazing wonders
these people provide deserves a medal."
Elvire Simonvil, from Philadelphia, felt there was no option
for her other than to pack immediately and travel to her
ancestral home. In addition to her language skills, she
helps feed and bathe the patients, sometimes tearfully
listening to their stories of pain and anguish.
"Some of the children have no parents, so we talk to them
when they are crying," Simonvil said. "Many Red Cross
volunteers were personally affected by the earthquake, and
we still came here to help in any way possible."
While some have been separated by destruction, others have
the hope of reuniting with family and returning to some
semblance of what their lives were before the disaster
St. Fort saw that hope in a patient whose right arm and leg
were amputated. The day of the earthquake, David Louizar's
12-story apartment building collapsed atop him. His brother
perished immediately, and he was trapped under rubble for
two days. His father, Louifanord, unearthed his unconscious
son and carried him to a medical screening point for help.
The boy was one of the first patients admitted to Comfort.
Unfortunately, his father who had left his son's side
momentarily got lost in the confusion of the day and did not
join his son. When David awoke, the realities of his
situation set in, and sorrow wracked his small broken body
for days. While those aboard tried to console David in
between the long hours of treating patients, it wasn't until
St. Fort arrived that his emotional relief came.
St. Fort took on the task of locating Louifanord Louizar
amid thousands of other Haitians looking for their lost
loved ones. He succeeded, working with Sailors aboard
Comfort to bring the man from Port-au-Prince to the bed
where his son laid waiting.
Simonvil said that David did not believe it when told his
father was on board. She offered soft affirmations to
assuage his doubts until at last father and son embraced
while Comfort crew members stood cheering with reaffirmed
hope in their hearts.
Praying for his father's return, David had been saving
candy, hoping to share it with his father. As the mood in
the room settled and hugs and kisses were exchanged, the two
sat together, sharing the candy with arms wrapped around
"It was a desire from my heart to help them," St. Fort said.
"It could have been me. And if it was, I would hope someone
would come for me."
By MCS 3rd Class Timothy Wilson|
USNS Comfort Public Affairs
Reprinted from Navy
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