In Haiti, zombies are real. Their stiff-limbed walk is the result of poisoning with a neurotoxin by voodoo priests. The victims may be buried alive with only a tube for air. If they survive, the priests will claim to have brought them back to life. The victims will likely suffer permanently diminished mental function. The priests can control those whom they claim to have resurrected.
NEW PHILADELPHIA Zombies are real in Haiti.
Their stiff-limbed walk is the result of poisoning with a neurotoxin by voodoo priests. The victims may be buried alive with only a tube for air.
If they survive, the priests will claim to have brought them back to life, although the victims lose 30 to 70 percent of their mental function, according to Greg Kimble. The priests can control those they claim to have resurrected.
“They’ll do their killing,” said Deb Wilson, of Dover.
She and Kimble were among nine members of First Christian Church who spent a January week in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Traveling with them were her husband Adam Wilson, daughter Bailey Wilson, Jason and Renee McClelland, Heather Thomas, Mark Marcoaldi and MaKayla Janson.
They went to Thomazeau, Haiti, and helped the nonprofit Christian organization LiveBeyond. During their week there, the group helped to measure the body-mass index of children at four local schools to analyze the effectiveness of LiveBeyond’s food distribution program. They gave worming pills to children and checked them for skin diseases. They also assisted with the nonprofit’s program that provides children with two meals a day, leadership training and education.
They helped LiveBeyond’s Johnny’s Kids, which provides care and help for special needs children. Johnny’s Kids is named for the brother of LiveBeyond co-founder Laurie Stallings Vanderpool, whose late brother John Stallings had Down Syndrome. Their father is longtime Alabama and NFL football coach Gene Stallings, who has helped to raise money for LiveBeyond. The organization’s other celebrity benefactors include singer Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly-Williams Paisley, who gave the settlement a clean water supply.
Adam Wilson said children with special needs are often considered a curse in Haiti. He recounted the story of a woman named Annette, who is mostly blind and lives in a room the size of four conference tables. Her limbs are contorted, and local people torture her for entertainment. LiveBeyond’s representatives visit her to provide food and comfort, Wilson said, although they are not permitted to remove her from her hovel.
Additionally, the men of First Christian helped LiveBeyond with some electrical work.
Kimble fixed a light switch that used to shock its users. The line hadn’t been grounded. Someone previously “fixed” the problem by taping a message saying “caution” next to it.
Renee McClelland didn’t need further explanation about the caution sign. She used a flashlight at night.
Mission trip participants said traveling to Haiti to help was more beneficial than sending money.
“If you just, in general, send money to Haiti, my perception is 1 percent of what you send will get where you want it to go,” said Kimble. He described a country with a dysfunctional government, suffering still from the predation of French colonists, who harvested mahogany trees and left the mountains to erode without reforestation.
Adam Wilson said Haitians believe the increasingly exposed rocks on hillsides are getting bigger; they want to wait until the rocks stop growing before planting new vegetation.
Kimble worked on a solar energy system, a valuable addition to the LiveBeyond operation in a place where diesel fuel costs $4 a gallon to buy and $4 a gallon to transport to the site.
In addition to staggering poverty, Haiti’s citizens suffer from a pervasive voodoo culture, according to Adam Wilson. He said voodoo chants and drumming are heard day and night. He described villages and people under its influence to have a “dark” aspect that is apparent immediately.
“At night, voodoo takes over,” he said.
Haitians also believe strongly in the importance of dreams, he said.
One morning a voodoo priest ran to the LiveBeyond compound to get baptized. His urgency followed a dream in which he heard Jesus tell him that he would be killed if he did not become a Christian.
The local contingent had daily church services with the Haitians. Compared to a service here, Adam Wilson said, “It’s a lot more active. Sometimes it’s more heartfelt.”
More information about LiveBeyond is available on its website.
Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 o.
On Twitter: @nmolnarTR
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