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The Rev. Mansour Bey of Toledo's First Church of God is heading to Haiti bearing duffel bags laden with food, clothing, and medicine for survivors of Tropical Storm Jeanne, which killed nearly 2,000 people, with hundreds more still missing.
An associate pastor for outreach and missions at First Church of God, Pastor Bey has been helping impoverished Haitians for more than 14 years and lived in the city of Gonaives, the center of the devastation, from 1990-91.
In addition to the medical supplies, baby formula, clothing, shoes, and other essential items, Pastor Bey plans to buy two to three tons of beans and rice to distribute to the people in Gonaives, which is still reeling from the Sept. 18 storm that swept away buildings and people.
The supplies are "a drop in the bucket ... but we hope it will be helpful to the people," Pastor Bey said at a news conference yesterday morning at the Collingwood Boulevard church.
The pastor-missionary flew out of Toledo Express Airport yesterday afternoon and plans to rendezvous in Miami today with seven other missionaries from California and Maryland before making the trip to Haiti.
In addition to the supplies for the Haitian people, Pastor Bey is carrying enough food for himself for his one-week trip.
"When you go to Haiti, you have to take everything. You even have to take your own food," he said.
The supplies were donated by local Toledo businesses and churches, assisted by the Bureau for Community Relations.
American Airlines waived its normal luggage restrictions, allowing the pastor to take "unlimited baggage."
The minister initially scheduled a trip to Haiti for Sept. 27 but it was delayed because Gonaives was still flooded and its roads were impassable.
"When it floods in Haiti, there is no place for the water to go," Pastor Bey said. "There are no sewer systems like we have here."
The eight-person relief team is part of an international organization called People Concerned for Missions, founded 25 years ago by Vera Boudreaux, now 82, of San Francisco, Pastor Bey said.
That organization owns and operates a series of churches, schools, and feeding centers in Haiti that provide daily meals to approximately 500 children, the minister said.
"We have been providing for the spiritual and the physical needs of the Haitian people for 25 years," he said.
The missionary team plans to fly to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, rent a truck, and drive more than 100 miles to Gonaives to personally deliver the supplies.
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