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Quake hits home for local family
Bakers have made a number of trips to Haiti in recent years
The Baker family (from left - Beau, Brian and Sara) during a 2006 mission trip to Haiti. the Bakers are urging Bryan County residents to donate money toward relief efforts in Haiti. (File photo)

The catastrophic 7.0 earthquake that devastated much of Haiti on Jan. 12 seems to have hit home for a lot of Americans.

But it may have hit one Richmond Hill family harder than many. The Baker family, including father Brian and children Sara and Beau, has visited Haiti nearly a dozen times over the last few years on goodwill missions. They have many friends currently living in Haiti.

Brian Baker, who plans to return to Haiti in June, said he could feel his heart break upon seeing the news flash on Jan. 12. According to media reports, three million Haitians are affected and the death toll could be as high as 200,000.

"These people don’t need something like this," Baker said. "They have it rough to begin with. My first reaction was ‘when could I go; what can I do?’ I could only compare it my reaction to 9/11."

Baker said the quake’s epicenter, near the highly populated capital city of Port-au-Prince, could not have been at a worse place.

"In Port-au-Prince (before the quake), there are buildings jammed on top of each other," he said. "The construction is certainly not what we could consider up to standard."

Sara Baker, currently a student at Georgia Southern, said she was out having dinner Jan. 12 when a friend text messaged her from Haiti, informing her of the earthquake.

"It took me a while to figure out how bad it was, but I’ve been glued to my TV ever since," she said. "I can’t begin to tell you the pain I’ve felt over this."

She said the mission that her family frequents is located in Northwest Haiti. Fortunately, the Bakers did not lose any Haitian friends during the tragedy. The Northwest Haiti Christian Mission did not go unaffected, however. Buildings inside the compound were cracked and the church was damaged.

"A lot of people working in the mission have family in Port-au-Prince and they rely on money coming from there. That’s also where all the food and water came into the country," she said. "The entire country will feel the effects of this disaster for a very long time."

Baker said, according to her contacts at the mission, people have migrated north from the capital city and have come to the mission looking for food, water and medical treatment.

She said numbers are anticipated to increase, and the Bakers will likely deal with this when they return to Haiti.

Ironically for an impoverished nation, she said has been a huge source for her to keep up with the well-being and progress of all her Haitian friends. Although most Haitians do not have personal computers, she said internet cafes are everywhere in Haiti.

The Bakers urge Bryan County residents to dig deep and donate whatever money they can spare toward relief efforts in Haiti. They recommend contributing via the following websites: or Brian Baker said his church, Savannah Christian, has been working through these sources for 30 years now.

"I ask that number one, you pray for the people of Haiti and number two, to take a look at your resources and give what you can," he said. "I think we have an obligation to give based on the fact that we are a blessed country and we should use the blessings we have to do good. This is certainly an in-your-face opportunity to use it for good."

Sara Baker said there will come a time when supplies and volunteers will be needed, but the best way to help now is cash.

"Our mission is currently trying to work out the logistics of people donating things to get to those in need, and that will come in time," she said. "As for me, I’m just waiting for the word that volunteers are needed so I can go out there and help."

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