Louisville men return from 18-day relief work in Haiti

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Nearly two months after a 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti, U.S. troops have started pulling out of the country's ravaged capital. It is estimated at least a billion dollars has been donated for relief efforts already as well as plenty of physical help.

On Sunday afternoon, two Louisville men arrived from Haiti and shared their stories about the work they did in Haiti. Helicopter Pilot Tom Eifler Junior and Pediatric Dentist Patrick Keesee began the journey weeks ago, determined to make a difference. They spent 18 days in Haiti, but both men believe the need for help there is far from over.

Eifler says he was inspired to help Haitians after seeing the destruction from the Jan. 12th earthquake. They flew into the country by helicopter. Their mission was to fly supplies, doctors, nurses, and food from Port Au Prince to other villages.

"We'd come into these places and you would see lines of probably a thousand people in line -just coming to get food," Eifler said. "There were times, you know, we'd be out in the field and landed [and] there would be these little kids that would come up. I'd hand them a couple of granola bars and they'd be so appreciative. But they've got nothing."

Keesee worked many days, out of an orphanage, giving kids free dental work. The work included anything from cleaning teeth to fixing broken ones.

"I made a small dent. I mean, there's just such a need," Keesee said. "I feel like I did what I wanted to do. I took the equipment. I used the equipment. I used the supplies I had," he said.

Keesee would like to see a long-term program established in the country.

"I could foresee people visiting every six months and these kids could get some regular dental care just like our kids here,' Keesee said.

Both men said they were inspired by the people of Haiti.

"The thing that amazed me is in the tragedy and everything going on down there is the resilience of the people. They're all out still working, still trying to basically get up everyday and find a way to feed themselves," Eifler said.

While it was hard for Eifler and Keesee to be far from home during their journey, they said they would return to Haiti to offer more help.

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