Chicago women head to Haiti on aid mission

November 9, 2010 5:19:28 PM PST
Ten months after a devastating earthquake, the people of Haiti are now dealing with an outbreak of cholera.

Officials are concerned that floods triggered by Hurricane Tomas on Friday and Saturday could exacerbate the spread of the disease.

As the epidemic spread into Haiti's capital Tuesday, imperiling nearly 3 million people living in Port-au-Prince, a group of Chicago volunteers packed for a humanitarian mission to help orphans in the island nation.

The earthquake left Haiti's orphanages filled up with children who either lost their parents in the natural disaster or who are still trying to find family members. The volunteers are not only offering their help to those children, but also hoping to highlight Haiti's needs.

Suzi Gurry's dining room table is full of supplies she is bringing to the country - dresses made out of old pillow cases, dolls hand made by high school students, toys and toothpaste. The Lincoln Park mother is taking nine women with her to help at a compound that includes an orphanage, school, and a medical clinic.

"I'm bringing down women, great mothers, teachers to lend their talent," Gurry told ABC 7. "The needs are so great, it's hard to figure out a way to wrap your brain around it. This is a way to jump in and start."

The Chicago women are doing just that. They will be providing aid to an orphanage that partners with Adoption-Link, a Chicago-based adoption agency.

"The orphanage we work with, they have had a number of children come since the earthquake that can't seem to make sense," said Heather Breems, Adoption-Link.

As the orphanage continues to identify who truly is an orphan, Breems predicts by the beginning of next year there will be many kids available for adoption.

Another Chicago woman, Lisa Gregg, says adopting 3-year-old Nelson after the earthquake has changed her family for the better.

"He's lucky. But we always saw we are lucky, too. He's changed a lot of how we see the world," said Gregg.

But there are thousands of children like Nelson still in Haiti. Gurry's mission is to make sure they are not forgotten.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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