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Alum Called to Service in Haiti

Larry Pena, February 4, 2010
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When a massive earthquake devastated Haiti this January, one PUC alumnus was especially touched. Nicole Wilson, class of 2006, had just returned from the impoverished island nation, where she and a group of Christian missionaries had been ministering to the medical, social, and spiritual needs of the people there in the wake of several hurricanes last year.

This most recent disaster has served as a call to this missionary, who is now in the process of developing an international organization devoted to providing care to people living in underdeveloped countries. Wilson plans to open the organization’s first center—which will contain a clinic, orphanage, and learning center—in Haiti, a place that has grown very close to her heart.

“Unfortunately it took a natural disaster, but I think it shed light on Haiti,” says Wilson. “I’m hoping God’s plan is for it to be rebuilt, and maybe we’ll obtain the resources they need to be able to do so.”

Wilson got her start in missions at PUC when she joined a group ministering in Thailand in 2003. That trip, along with opportunities like PUC’s Homeless Ministries, ignited her passion for service. “PUC is very service-oriented, and the encouragement of missions I received really inspired me to do the same,” she says. “I don’t think I would have had that opportunity anywhere else.”

After graduating from PUC and earning a MS in health science and education, Wilson started training to become a physician’s assistant at the University of California, Davis. The training served her well last year during her first trip to Haiti with a non-denominational Christian mission group called God’s Chosen Ones Ministry (GCOM) International.

“We were able to see over 500 patients in those ten days,” she says. “We had a ton of complaints.” Those complaints ran from sun damage from exposure to more serious wounds. And in the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes, infection was everywhere. “They only have dirty water to wash with, so they get perpetual infections. You’d get complaints from kids as young as four all the way up through the elderly.” Add to this the scarcity of medical resources—wounds are being bandaged with trash bags, and ibuprofen there costs two dollars a pill—and it’s a recipe for a medical crisis.

Tristan Hensel, another PUC alum who joined the group on Wilson’s suggestion, was shocked by the enormity of the devastation. “I felt like we were just scratching the surface,” he says. “We would drive 30 minutes away and help 200 people, but on the way there would be thousands of people needing assistance.”

Just two weeks after the group returned stateside, last month’s earthquake struck the already-reeling island. Sadly, many of the very people that Wilson had just served were lost. An orphanage they had visited sustained major structural damage. Wilson contacted GCOM and signed up to return to Haiti in March.

She’s bracing herself for the worst. “It’s gonna be a whole different ballgame now,” she says. “I don’t know what we’ll see—probably a lot of infections. I hear they’re doing 70 amputations a day in Haiti as a result of the disaster.” Besides the medical care the group anticipates providing, they will be collecting and distributing supplies like food, tents, and clean water—as well as something less tangible.

“My objective is to bring them hope. A lot of people have lost their friends and family members, and to some of them I’m a familiar face,” she says. “So if that provides comfort then my goal’s been accomplished.”

But this upcoming trip is just a start. Wilson is laying the foundations for Kasavita International, along with Tristan who is providing business and infrastructure support. With this organization, they intend to eventually establish a chain of ministry centers in countries of need around the world, beginning in Haiti. “They can’t have too many clinics there, because there’s such a need right now,” says Tristan. “Even the 20 or so organizations that I saw while we were there are barely meeting the needs of the people.”

The initial planning stages of the project are complete and they plan to have a fundraising campaign and website operational next month. “It’s exciting, because I’ve always wanted to do it and now it’s actually going to happen,” Wilson says.

In the meantime, Wilson is preparing for her upcoming return to Haiti, and that means soliciting donations for funds, food, temporary shelters, medical supplies, and more. “Basically, if you have it and you think it would be beneficial, it would help Haiti,” Wilson says. “And it doesn’t matter who you give it to. You can donate anywhere—the biggest goal is to get it there.”

To find out how you can help support Kasavita International, email Wilson at info@kasavita.org. For information on contributing to the Haiti relief effort in general, visit the following sites:

God’s Chose Ones Ministry International

www.gcomintl.org/earthquake.php

Adventist Development and Relief Agency

www.adra.org