Locals part of mission to Haiti

Despite countless man-hours and supplies already invested in recovery efforts, there is still a lot of work to be done in Haiti, according to local volunteers who recently returned from a mission trip to the capital of the earthquake-ravaged nation.

George Tockmakis and Dean Rueckert were among a team of volunteers who spent May 8-16 in Port-au-Prince helping rebuild structures and supplying medical assistance.

Tockmakis, director of IAMBuilders, a service organization specializing in rebuilding damaged structures, said this was his fourth service trip and his second to Haiti since January. He said that despite the efforts to rebuild the country, the progress is, unfortunately, not yet obvious.

If everybody did a little bit, we can make a big difference, he said.

Tockmakis said the destruction is "overwhelming," with collapsed buildings still everywhere and so many people in need of medical care.

The recently retired Tockmakis brought his years of experience in reviving structures and organizing service trips to the effort.

"I do this full-time now," he said.

His wife, Kathleen, who is a fourth-grade classroom monitor at Saddlewood Elementary School, made a trip with him in February to assess the need for a mission, he said. After the trip in February, he decided he would take a team down to help with the damage.

The team did double duty, dedicating time to fixing structural damage at an orphanage and providing care at health clinic. It also supplied much-needed water filtration systems, as a lot of the drinking water has become contaminated.

With him were a number of volunteers who ranged in skill and expertise, including a doctor, and Rueckert, a former firefighter with first-response medical training.

Rueckert said the ailments he ran into ranged from colds and ear infections to more serious cases of skin diseases, anemia and a number of urinary and sexually transmitted ailments.

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