Physicians for Peace Offer Hand for Haiti

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Physicians for Peace has worked for years to build international friendships by providing medical training oversees.

Two doctors who volunteer with the group were in Haiti when the recent earthquake struck. Now, they're in place to fulfill the organization's mission by assisting victims of the tragedy.

"It's been one of just sheer panic and fright," explained Physicians for Peace CEO Ron Sconyers. "When you're in an environment where everything is just shaking around you, your confidence and your physical space, it causes just tremendous panic."

Sconyers said it's heartbreaking to know a country already devastated by poverty is now decimated by an earthquake.

"They struggle just day to day with the basic creature comforts, no access to health care, struggle for food, water and those kinds of things," he said. "And then you compound it with such an incredible, dramatic event such as this earthquake it really shocks you and rocks you to your very soul."

Physicians for Peace Doctors Lisbet Hanson and Alfred Abuhamad are in Haiti helping to meet immediate needs.

"They're trying to work their way into the system and help where they can, whether it's working in the hospital as a scrub nurse or whatever," Sconyers said.

He added that it's reassuring to know there are other agencies and volunteers on the ground reaching out to survivors and more on the way.

"I've been on the phone back and forth today with literally dozens of agencies providing volunteers that want to go," he said.

The group is also looking at the big picture.

"Physicians for Peace is really focused on long-term sustainability of health care programs," he said. "And we know that a system that is pretty shaky like Haiti had before now is shaken to its very core [and] is going to need long-term help in building that health care system back up."

Sconyers' said prayer is also vital to bring life back to the devastated nation.

"It's going to be a long, long recovery process," he said.

*Originally published January 15, 2010.

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