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Faculty member lends helping hand in Haiti

August 01, 2013 12:00AM

For Jacob Lehman, a recent trip to Haiti was primarily centered around a visit to his wife’s parents.

“But you can’t go to the third world and just vacation,” said Lehman, Pittsburg State University assistant professor of engineering technology. “It may have started as a trip to see the in-laws, but it wasn’t just about that.”

For two weeks in June, Lehman used his technical skills and volunteer spirit to help weld trusses for the roof of a new Haiti Health Ministries medical center being constructed in Gressier, Haiti, an area ravaged by the 2010 earthquake.

Haiti Health Ministries, a non-profit organization based in Girard, was started nearly 15 years ago by Dr. Jim Wilkins and his wife Sandy. They are the parents of Jacob Lehman’s wife, Amanda. The organization’s goal is to provide healthcare services to Haitians in need.

After the 2010 earthquake destroyed their medical clinic, services were provided under tents.

“You can imagine how that must have been with how hot it is down there,” Jacob Lehman said. “That’s why getting the new medical center built is so important, and it’s why I don’t mind working in the heat to help get it done.”

Lehman said it was hard work, but it was also some of the most rewarding labor of his life.

“It’s neat to look around and see where you are, to see so many people who need help, and to know that you are helping in some way,” he said. “It’s a good feeling, and it’s easy to stay motivated despite the heat.”

How hot was it?

“One day, I got a sunburn through my shirt,” Lehman said. “I had to start wearing sunscreen and two shirts to protect myself. That’s a healthy amount of sun down there.”

©2013 Pittsburg State University