North Texans return to Haiti 4 years after the earthquake - Dallas News |

North Texans return to Haiti 4 years after the earthquake

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Memories of death and destruction from the 2010 Haiti earthquake still haunt members of Highland Park United Methodist Church.

But a medical team decided to return anyway and reopen an eye clinic four years after it was destroyed in the quake that leveled towns and killed more than 100,000 people.

Karen Gardner – an ophthalmic assistant -- recalls that day.

"I felt a vibration under my feet and then I looked out the window and the road was whipping and then everything shook like we were in a box," she said.

Gardner was trapped under rubble near dear friend and fellow missionary, Jean Arwine.

"I woke up underground, spitting dirt out of my mouth to breathe. It was chaotic, there was a lot of noise and Jean asked me "what happened, what happened," said Gardner.

The team worked feverishly to the sound of screaming all around. The women were eventually freed, but Arwine died from internal injuries.

"I don't think a day goes by that we don't think about Jean," said Lila Foree, a clinic leader with her husband Dr. Kenneth Foree since 1976.

They started going to Haiti in the 70s feeling the need was too great to ignore.

"Do you do anything useful in the world? Well, fit a guy with a pair of glass, they're useful to him," said Dr. Foree.

"For them it can mean being able to work or not work, go to school or not go to school. It's big," said Gardner.

So when it came time to decide if they'd go back and rebuild, the moment of hesitation was as fleeting as the earthquake itself. Exactly four years later, the clinic opened its doors once again.

"We had the time, we had the abilities, and it would be criminal if we didn't go," said Dr. Foree.

During the five day mission trip, the team served 600 people.

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