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A remarkable volunteer effort is unfolding among LDS doctors, humanitarians, retired public servants and returned missionaries with links to Haiti.

Organized under the name of Utah Hospital Task Force, an initial relief mission of 150 persons is preparing to depart on January 27.  Applications were being sought from qualified translators, medical personnel and construction workers who are willing to volunteer three weeks of their time.

Response within the LDS community has been strong.  By Saturday, more than 500 applications had been received, and the organization’s web site reported their email capabilities had been overwhelmed.

Initially limiting the mission to male applicants, UHTF announced on Friday it would accept applications from former sister missionaries and other women, especially those with medical or language skills.  Workers with the ability to speak French or Haitian Creole are desperately needed, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is leading the US Government assistance effort.

In a web post on January 20, UHTF indicated that all applicants must be in good health, capable of functioning in extremely harsh conditions, and able to work in settings where surrounded by death, sickness, disease, and physical danger.   At departure, the group will be equipped with a three-week supply of food, water, tents, and equipment, and is expected to be entirely self-sufficient while in Haiti.  The team will include six security officers, a USAID liaison person, and one or more military liaison persons.   The group expects to camp within a fenced, secure compound at the Healing Hands medical campus.

Following their arrival, the group will divide into three 50-person teams.  A first priority will be to restore to operation the Healing Hands for Haiti medical campus (pictured above), which was severely damaged in the earthquake.  Healing Hands for Haiti is a physical medicine and rehabilitation institution founded in 1999 by a Utah physician following his LDS missionary service in Haiti.  UHTF has also committed to provide assistance to the U.S. Agency for International Development in their relief efforts.

For further details about the Utah Hospital Task Force and its relief mission to Haiti, visit their web site at http://utahhospitaltaskforce.blogspot.com/.

To learn more about the Healing Hands for Haiti, visit their web site at http://www.healinghandsforhaiti.org/.

And, to read more about the founding of the UHTF in response to the disaster in Haiti, read Stephen M. Studdert’s article, Come to Haiti and Help, in Meridian Magazine.