ADELAIDE—“I want to help,” says teacher Peter Dunn, 61, on why he is returning to Haiti with the Scientology Haiti Disaster Response Team. “As a trained Scientology Volunteer Minster I knew I could help and felt it was something I personally needed to do.”
Troubled by the images of the destruction of Haiti that played non-stop on his TV screen in Adelaide, Dunn contacted the Scientology Volunteer Ministers international headquarters in Los Angeles, confirmed they were deploying a disaster response team to Port-au-Prince, paid for a ticket from Australia to Haiti and told them to count him in.
Arriving in early February, Dunn spent nine weeks in Haiti. He describes the conditions then as “pretty rough.” “After an exhausting day and a shower in a bucket of water, you’d fall asleep and be startled awake by military jets taking off in the middle of night,” he says of his first weeks living in a tent at the Port-au-Prince airport.
Dunn’s days were filled with helping refugees in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps and children at the orphanages. “These people lost everything,” Dunn said. Some of the IDP camps had tents, but at one where he volunteered 1,500 people lived under sheets of plastic draped over sticks and held up by string.
“I went to the camps as part of a medical team and helped triage people to get them whatever medical help we could,” says Dunn. He also provided Scientology assists—procedures developed by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard to relieve the spiritual aspects of trauma and speed healing. “We gave hundreds of assists each day,” he said.
Dunn, who is heading back for another three months in Haiti, was struck by how fast people responded to the assists, despite the language barrier and the losses they suffered. “And people would come up and thank the Volunteer Ministers and ask to learn how they could deliver assists themselves to help the others in the camps,” Dunn says.
Before Haiti, Dunn spent the past several years teaching English as a second language in China and Thailand. But Haitians are unique, he says “Living under the most severe conditions they nevertheless carry themselves with dignity and personal pride.”
Even before returning home to Australia in April, Dunn was planning his next trip to the country. “I was amazed at the resilience of the Haitian people, and I want to help them in any way I can.”