On Sunday, February 14, CBS 4 in Miami interviewed Austin Eastlee on his way to Haiti as part of the Scientology Disaster Response Team. The 20-year-old Pasadena City College graphic design student from Glendale, California, said he sees this as a critical point in the Haiti relief effort and this is the reason he is volunteering now. It is the one-month anniversary of the earthquake and many aid workers and medical professionals have had to return home, but so much more help is needed.
Speaking about volunteer disaster relief, Eastlee told CBS 4 News in Miami, in an interview prior to takeoff to Haiti, "After everybody forgets about helping, we're still going to be there and they're still going to need us. This is what people should be doing-helping people."
"My friends said they were going and I thought about it and I decided this is what I should be doing. Why not go to Haiti. People are going there to help other people. I want to do that."
Austin's father, David, is proud of his son's decision. "He's always been a guy who participates and helps and there's nothing but love in his heart," he said. Austin trained to be a Scientology Volunteer Minister when he was 14 years old, although this is the first time he will use his training at a disaster site. "It's great that he can be there and contribute to others, help people and make a difference. To be part of his dreams and support his dreams means everything to me."
Isabelle Eastlee, Austin's mother, was surprised when he said he was going to Haiti. Once he decided, there was a lot to get done in very little time to go on the flight-- passport, shots, rearranging personal commitments. "He instantly did what he had to do to make it happen," said his mother. "I was very impressed."
Austin doesn't know what he will be doing in Haiti, but he knows he can put his Volunteer Minister training to good use and make a difference. "I want to do anything that really helps," he said.
Some of his Scientology Volunteer Minister friends are working in Port-au-Prince hospitals as surgical techs, others are responsible for the organization, inventorying, dispensing and maintenance of hospital medical and food supplies, and still others are helping medical professionals establish clinics in refugee camps. Whatever the task, Austin is ready to learn and work hard. "I just want to be there and help. With my Volunteer Minister training, I can make a difference."
The Church of Scientology has transported 430 medical professionals and 202 Scientology Volunteer Ministers to Haiti since the earthquake struck on January 12. Miami-based Prudential Aviation donated the use of the aircraft for Sunday's charter flight and earlier flights that left from New York Kennedy Airport on January 16 and 23 and Los Angeles on January 21, with fuel and all other operating costs donated by the International Association of Scientologists.