Volunteer endeavors to build hospital in Haiti

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More than 500,000 Haitians were made homeless by the earthquake on January 12.

SALT LAKE CITY -- The need in Haiti since January's devastating earthquake is still great. Many volunteers from Utah have returned home -- but they say their work is far from over.

Every picture from the Utah Hospital Task Force's time in Haiti has a story. Stephen Studdert knows each one.

"I think about them every day, and I can't sit here and do nothing," Studdert said.

His group of 125 volunteers from Utah has been home about a month, but he says their thoughts are still in Haiti.

"I think maybe one of the hardest parts of the trip for us was leaving, knowing that we were leaving and coming back to all the comforts of life, all the abundance we see in America," he said.


That feeling of leaving behind those desperately in need is what prompted Studdert to launch an ambitious project: the construction of a hospital in Port-au-Prince.

"We hope to be able to treat patients as early as January 12, 2011, which is the one-year anniversary of the horrendous earthquake," he said.

Studdert says they will ship construction supplies to Haiti from the states and build the hospital up to U.S. building codes. American doctors and staff will run the hospital on a volunteer basis and will train Haitian employees. It will be funded wholly by donations.

The U.S. has provided nearly $1 billion in humanitarian aid and pledged more than $1 billion in additional aid to Haiti.

Most of the international and governmental aide going into the country is for food, water and shelter, Studdert says. With no attention going toward medical and dental care, he feels a responsibility to help.

"We're Americans, we're blessed with an abundance, we have a duty," he said. "We simply can't see anyone so suffering and not do something about it. I cannot see another's ache and I not care."

Studdert has formed a registered non-profit organization called Gift Haiti. For more information on how to get involved, CLICK HERE.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com


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Jennifer Stagg


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