The massive earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010 resulted in media coverage that brought images and video of death and devastation to the American public. Most people saw a terrible disaster, but some also saw an opportunity to help. David Vanderpool was among those who traveled to Haiti with the initial relief efforts but, along with his family, decided to stay on after seeing “what an incredibly underserved place” Haiti was.
Vanderpool was a trauma surgeon volunteering in disaster-affected areas like Iraq, Ghana and South Africa for more than 20 years. With his wife he founded Mobile Medical Disaster Relief (MMDR) in 2005 to provide emergency medical services after Hurricane Katrina.
“We would always stay on in country and help rebuild infrastructure,” Vanderpool said, describing his family’s volunteer experiences But the area made an impact on them when they saw the country’s dramatic need for aid and for the Gospel. Shortly after, MMDR was rebranded as LiveBeyond, and their work began to serve the needs of the Haitian people.
Today, LiveBeyond partners with more than 1,000 volunteers each year to support its various programs. At its 63-acre complex in Thomazeau, Haiti, near Port-au-Prince, the organization works to “not only benefit people’s lives physically but also spiritually,” said Vanderpool. The organization’s efforts include evangelism; a hospital that treats thousands of patients each year; At Risk, a program that helps Haitians with disabilities; and a demonstration farm where volunteers help teach local farmers improved irrigation and agricultural techniques. Another popular way to help is through the Ke Pou Timoun program, which serves the area’s malnourished children by providing them with meals, education and medical care. Ke Pou Timoun means “heart for children” in Creole.