* Photo supplied. Pastor Gary Simons is bound for Haiti next week.
* Photo supplied. Pastor Gary Simons is bound for Haiti next week.
A team of Bermuda doctors and vital medical equipment will leave the island for earthquake-ravaged Haiti on Wednesday.

The relief effort is being led by local charity the Cornerstone Foundation in conjunction with U.S. medical aid organization Angel Wings International.

Gary Simons, president of the Cornerstone Foundation and senior pastor at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, said: "Cornerstone Foundation is mounting a team of various local volunteers.

"Most will sleep outside and bring their own ration packs.

"This is an opportunity that we must seize to make a substantial impact at this vital time to prevent unnecessary deaths. Unless many more obtain the necessary treatment, surgery and medicine immediately, we will see an increase in loss of life."

Cornerstone and Angel Wings will send a team of Bermudians and Americans to Port au Prince, Jacmel and Leongane. Angel Wings is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and led by medical professionals such as general practitioners, surgeons, paediatricians, gynecologists and registered nurses.

Director Myrlande Affriany is a native of Haiti. His daughter Bonite Affriany is a Cornerstone-supported missionary based in Jacmel who runs a daily feeding programme for 300 children.

Mary Samuels, vice president of the Cornerstone Foundation, said: "This past year when Cornerstone visited Haiti we raised funds to increase meals from five to seven days a week."

Angel Wings has led several trips to Haiti, offering basic first aid, surgery and treating illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.

Joining Pastor Simons on the Bermuda team - which will work and evaluate the need for future trips - is Dr. Gregory Bernius, structural engineer Bruce Perinchief of Entech and Dr. Ken-Garfield Douglas of the Cornerstone Foundation board.

He is an expert in programme development and assessment for social interventions.

Also helping is Stephen Lowe, a Salvation Army director of operations during Hurricane Katrina, Pastor Eversley Lewis and Ms Samuels.

Pastor Eversley said: "All communities in the world should be moved to action. The task to rebuild Haiti is monumental."

The Bermuda team will join a U.S. group of doctors, surgeons and nurses who speak French-Creole, the main language in Haiti.

They will board a chartered flight Cornerstone is currently raising funds for.

Pastor Eversley said: "Only a chartered flight will enable us to take more than 25,000 pounds of medical supplies into the Dominican Republic, where we will be met by security to guide them into Haiti.

"One medical station will set up upon arrival in Jacmel, while the other goes to Leongane. Both these locations have received little attention."

A third team will travel more than three hours by road to Port au Prince to set up outside what was the home of Elsie Lherrison, a Cornerstone-supported missionary who survived her house caving in around her.

Overseeing security for the aid team is Jean Robert Casonaire, the former head of security for the Haiti chief of police.

Pastor Simons said: "We are thankful for Better Covenant, Calvary Gospel Chapel, Paget Gospel Chapel, Evangelical Church, Wesley Methodist, Cornerstone Bible Fellowship and many others in the community who have come alongside to make this a reality.

"We are seeing Bermuda unite before our eyes."

The group needs $60,000 to make this emergency relief possible and help Angel Wings buy medical supplies.

Cornerstone and community members have raised $32,000 so far. Angel Wings' Mr. Affriany said: "We are speechless and rejoicing over the partnership with Cornerstone Foundation to get our first team of 20 doctors, surgeons, and nurses to Haiti.

"Words cannot express our gratitude to them and the wonderful people of Bermuda."

The Foundation assessment team will be in Haiti for at least a week but the team of medical professionals will stay for at least six months, with doctors and surgeons being rotated every 10 days.