Local man believes he is better after humanitarian trip
© — Submitted photo
David Buckle said he was appreciative of the gratitude shown by the Haitian people during his trip to the country in 2011.
CORNER BROOK David Buckle says he never felt so alive than when he felt closest to death.
Unfortunately, that was still the reality of much of the surroundings for the Corner Brook man who visited Haiti in January 2011. He was there one year after the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country.
Buckle travelled to Haiti to lend a hand to fellow Newfoundlanders at the Hands Across the Sea ministry, founded by Springdale native Karen Huxter. She has an orphanage there that houses 19 children and a school that educates about 300 others.
The paramedic with Western Health joined a work team that went to Haiti more than two years ago. It was a special trip for the team, which was comprised of Karen’s three brothers Bob, Don and Ken.
“You get more out of it than you actually bring in there,” Buckle told members of the Rotary Club of Corner Brook Thursday. “It changes you in a way. We go down there for international development, but it is us that gets changed. I think we do a better job when we get back home.”
The team Buckle was on helped in the reconstruction efforts following the 7.0 earthquake that killed about 220,000 people and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure.
The paramedic also assisted in delivering cholera vaccinations, but used his much-needed carpentry expertise to build cabinets, tables and other household furnishings that renewed the orphanage’s and other surroundings.
That part of the country is still in ruins following the quake. Also, with many criminals that escape prison during the quake still on the loose and crime still really rampant, it is not the safest environment.
“I never felt so close to death, yet I never felt so much alive at the same time,” he said, showing a photograph of a shotgun on a table next to a bible. He said he was previously asked which was needed more the gun or the bible? His response was both.
Buckle was also blown away by the gratitude expressed by the Haitian people.
“Just the basic things you do, stuff we take for granted, they are so appreciative to you for helping them out in that way,” he said.
The Corner Brook man was also very impressed by the work being done by Karen Huxter. He said she is not only doing a great job educating the children in Grades 1-8, but also raising them.
That was something echoed by her brother Bob, who also attended Thursday’s Rotary meeting. He said the orphanage accepts only orphans who truly need the care, but there’s also another special criteria.
“She is very careful and she will not take more than kids than she can ‘mother,’” he said. “She has children mothers living in each compartment with her. It is not just strictly orphans, and they go to school next door. It is all part of a plan to bring them up as full functional children in society.”
Ken Huxter, who was also at the Rotary meeting, agreed with Buckle that the experience is life-altering. He went to Haiti two weeks after the earthquake.
“I spent 25 and a half years in the RCMP, and I ran into some very difficult, heart-rendering situations, but that was the most emotional experience of my life,” he said.
Buckle is going back to Haiti in October and again in April of next year as part of a church group to do a building project.
He said there is much more to be done, a job that may never to done. He believes the improvement since the earthquake has been extremely slow going because of a lack of any local government to fix or address problems.
Ken reiterated the slow progress, saying there is little-to-no heavy equipment in the area.
“Port-au-Prince, it will be 100 years from now and some of the rubble from that earthquake will still be there,” he said.