Family with Byemoor roots heads to Haiti to help poor

After a trip to Haiti two years ago to volunteer much-needed humanitarian aid, Loretta James is compelled to return.

After a trip to Haiti two years ago to volunteer much-needed humanitarian aid, Loretta James is compelled to return. This time, however, she’s taking her family with her.

James, an Edmonton nurse, was raised at Byemoor, where her parents Joe and Beth Knowles still reside.

Almost a year after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, James was among those who responded to the call from Samaritan’s Purse for assistance with the cholera epidemic that followed the devastation.

James volunteered her nursing skills at a tent-shelter clinic.

More than three million people were affected by the earthquake and it was estimated more than 300,000 died.

She said so little had been done to repair the damage from the earthquake, mainly because of the destruction of the vital infrastructure necessary to respond to the disaster.

“They have such a long way to go yet,” James said.

Through friends who adopted two children from Haiti, James and her husband, Trevor, learned of an orphanage, the Haiti Children’s Home, which was in need of support. It cares for 73 children, ranging in age from two to 16.

Two years after her original visit, Loretta and Trevor James, along with their daughters Taycla, 10, Ethne, 9, and son Jack, 7, plan to return to Haiti.

They leave Dec. 28 and return Jan. 8.

The purpose of the visit is twofold — the couple wants to help at the orphanage and bring the kids supplies, but they also want their children to see what poverty is really like.

“You can experience some things through the media, but there is no comparison to seeing it first-hand,” Loretta said.

She said there are kids at the orphanage the same age as her children, and she wanted them to meet those kids and understand how fortunate we are to live in Canada.

“It is easier to give when you realize how much we have,” Loretta said.

Because the cost of shipping to Haiti “is so high,” the family has a plan to combat those costs, she said.

The airline allows two pieces of luggage per person, and the James family plans to fill 10 pieces of luggage with supplies for the orphanage.

The family members plan to travel light and take only a few things for themselves in their carry-on luggage.

Loretta said they have collected 500 pounds of supplies from friends, co-workers and themselves to take to Haiti.

Some of the items include batteries, baby formula, diapers, breast pumps, crib sheets, clothing and dry erase boards for the orphanage school.