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Haiti Welcomes Comfort

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070902-04
Release Date: 9/2/2007 12:21:00 PM


By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelly E. Barnes, USNS Comfort Public Affairs

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- A welcoming ceremony commemorating the arrival of hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) was celebrated in Port-au-Prince, Sept. 1.

The ceremony, held at the estate of the U.S. Embassy, began with U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Janet A. Sanderson, who welcomed the Comfort team to the country, followed by a speech by Capt. Bob Kapcio, Comfort’s mission commander.

“President Bush sent the Comfort to the Caribbean and Latin America to strengthen the close ties between our neighbors to provide assistance to the United States friends and neighbors of the region,” Kapcio said.

Capt. Claire Pagliara, Comfort’s medical operations officer, was part of a medical staff team who went to Haiti in April before the Comfort deployment to select treatment sites. She recounts a change for the better in the country since her visit in April.

“Haiti really is one of the most impoverished countries we’ve been to so far,” Pagliara said. “Seeing the progress over time has really been rewarding. This country has leaned forward and wanted to know how we can help them. The host nation is very eager to have us here – they’ve welcomed us with open arms.”

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Eighty percent of the population lives below the poverty line, 54 percent lives in abject poverty.

Comfort will remain in Haiti for about a week, conducting humanitarian medical operations and community projects in downtown Port-au-Prince, Delmas, Pétion-Ville and Croix de Bouquets.

Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical assistance to patients in a dozen countries.

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