Area residents rush to aid earthquake victims

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Online Article – The Scranton Times, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Published: January 15, 2010

John Conaboy has seen the pains of Haiti – the poverty, the hunger, the disease.

He had hoped life for Haitians would improve – that children would receive education and that the country would be developed.

His priorities have changed.

“The most basic needs need to be met, and that is survival,” Mr. Conaboy, of Clarks Summit, said.

Along with Josh Getts of Jessup and Patricia Rowland of Clarks Summit, Mr. Conaboy, 22, will begin his trip to Haiti today, where they’ll help the earthquake-ravaged citizens any way they can.

Mr. Conaboy, Mr. Getts and Ms. Rowland will fly to the Dominican Republic, pick up medical supplies and travel across the border to help.

Once the group gets to Haiti, they’ll meet up with Mr. Conaboy’s father, Conan Conaboy, who left for the country on Wednesday.

The group is part of the Compassion Weavers, a mission organization led by the Rev. Rick Frechette of Miami, a Passionist priest who spoke at the Solemn Novena to St. Ann in Scranton last year.

Others in Northeast Pennsylvania are also hurrying to help victims.

When Tuesday’s earthquake shook Haiti, Matthew Marek found himself so wrapped up in the relief efforts it took him about five hours, and several missed calls, to find a minute to speak to his parents in Plains Twp., Luzerne County.

Using the Internet voice-call program Skype, Raymond and Mary Jo Marek had about a minute and 15 seconds Tuesday night to talk to their son. The conversation lasted just long enough for their son to tell his parents he was alive and uninjured before he had to get back to work, Raymond Marek said.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated the capital city Tuesday destroyed the American Red Cross building where Matthew Marek, the director of programs, worked. From about 10 miles away at his home in Petionville, Matthew Marek told his father later that it looked like a bomb had been dropped on Port-Au-Prince.

“So much dust and rubble from the concrete – the dust actually covered the city like a cloud. You could not see the city, make out buildings – it was just destroyed,” he told his father.

A hospital operated by Compassion Weavers suffered extensive damage, according to the group’s Web site.

John Conaboy, co-head coach of the Abington Heights swim team, has traveled to Haiti several times, working with the mission group.

“Haiti has been a disaster for years and years,” he said. “I’m just upset it’s taken this long for the community to realize Haiti is a disaster.”

People can help the group by visiting

KRISTEN GAYDOS, staff writer, also contributed to this report.

Contact the writers:
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