Four years ago a Pitt Meadows-trained pilot moved to Haiti as part of the international aid organization, the Mission Aviation Fellowship.
Capt. Jason Krul has been on leave for nearly six months and will return “home” to Port-au-Prince in a couple of weeks with his family, including with a new addition to the family.
He attended the Pitt Meadows Airshow on the weekend and shared his experiences about while he was in Haiti.
In 2008 Krul relocated his family, wife Wilhelmina and then one-year-old son Jayden, from Chilliwack to Pignon, a village of about 1,000 people and about an hour-and-15-minute walk to any civilization.
“That really was emergence. We lived in a hut with no running water, no electricity. But, the good part is that without learning the language we wouldn’t have survived,” Krul recalled.
The former firefighter and his young family stayed there for three months, adjusting to the culture shock.
“Three months seems like a long time, but it’s not,” Krul said.
After that they moved to Port-au-Prince, a city with four-million people, and began work with the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).
Since the 1940s MAF has operated in developing countries, bringing essential aid to many of the world’s most inaccessible and inhospitable locations.
“We felt most drawn to Haiti. It’s the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,” he explained.
MAF has been in Haiti for 25 years. They use single-engine airplanes to transport mission and development workers, medical supplies, food and water, and doctor and dental teams. Also, they are the only air ambulance in the country.
A lot changed on Jan. 12, 2010 when a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean nation.
The quake, which struck about 15 kilometres south-west of Port-au-Prince, was quickly followed by two strong aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 magnitude.
“It was almost 5 p.m. and I was laying on the couch drowsing off when I was thrown five feet across the room,” remembered Krul. “I tried to stand up but I couldn’t. It sounded like a freight train.”
“I got the family together and went outside. You could hear millions of people screaming.”
Krul saw two neighbours’ houses collapse and more down the street. He was drawn to a four-storey 60-unit apartment that was nothing more than a pile of rubble and could hear people yelling for help.
He managed to pull one person out alive before aftershocks forced him to retreat.
It was Haiti’s worst quake in 200 years.
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