* Photo supplied. Sandys Secondary Middle School teacher Leyde St. Leger
* Photo supplied. Sandys Secondary Middle School teacher Leyde St. Leger
A teacher is carrying a gun for protection as he helps with relief efforts in the "ghost towns" of Haiti.

Leyde St. Leger, who works at Sandys Secondary Middle School, fears for his safety as he buys and hands out food and water in his earthquake-ravaged home country.

The 33-year-old describes things as "crazy", saying he is carrying a gun "purely for protection" from potential looting, theft and armed robbery.

Mr. St. Leger is armed with a Glock (a semi-automatic pistol) and stresses that he knows about handling weapons, having undergone extensive training in the U.S. Army.

Mr. St. Leger, an M2 team leader and math teacher, said arriving in Haiti for the week-long relief trip had brought tears to his eyes as it felt like he was "going into hell".

Even though he speaks Creole and has friends and family in the country, he picked up the gun as soon as he arrived saying he was being "extra cautious".

Mr. St. Leger landed in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic on Saturday. He crossed the border alone, travelling by bus carrying four bags of supplies.

He emailed friends telling them: "It is what it is... I'll pick up the Glock tonight and I'll be ready to rock and rolla."

He explained: "For the first time in a long time I am scared. Scared to what all this means.

"What do you say to someone who says, 'I lived so I could watch others die. If this is living when I already have nothing then I'd rather be dead too'."

Mr. St. Leger, who was born in America to Haitian parents, lost his aunt and cousin in last month's earthquake.

Many more members of his family have been left homeless. He was keen to visit Haiti as soon as he could to get supplies to his "fellow countrymen" who needed them most.

With the help of relatives and childhood friends, Mr. St. Leger is exchanging money and visiting markets to buy supplies such as rice, beans and cooking oil in bulk. He will then hand them out.

Earlier this week, Mr. St. Leger had to change $3,000 at a money exchange and "had to go into the back room for that amount".

He said: "9mm and Uzi on the table, felt like I was in a movie. They tried to short-change us but my uncle said we were not leaving without the correct amount. We had to recount the money and they gave us the difference."

Mr. St. Leger said Haiti "smelt like death" and was full of neighbourhoods that could have been from western movies. He told how hospitals had collapsed and there were mountainsides full of rubble.

The teacher is staying at his family's home in Santo, which "has a couple of cracks in the wall, nothing major".

But he added: "The house next to ours looks like a bomb hit it.

"Never in my life could I even dream what I have seen. Watching it on TV cannot even begin. I can barely breathe, the air is thick with dust."

Mr. St. Leger said most Haitians are too scared to sleep and refuse to go into buildings in case they collapse.

There are "lines for everything", with thousands waiting for food and water and queuing outside clinics, banks and the Western Union.

Mr. St. Leger said: "So many are sleeping in tent cities. They eat in the same place they urinate and defecate. The smell is unGodly. It brings tears to your eyes and nauseousness like tear gas."

Mr. St. Leger is impressed by the resilience of locals, who continue to "praise God, smile and laugh".

He added it is touching how they continue to "address people by their nicknames".

Mr. St. Leger dad's nickname is 'Argonom' because he is an agriculturalist. His own nickname is 'Doctor' as "supposedly I'm brilliant if I can teach math".

Mr. St. Leger insisted "there is hope" as he continues to be greeted over and over again by locals saying "Grace de Dieu", which means the grace of God.

Mr. St. Leger has visited Petion-Ville, Port-au-Prince, and hopes to visit Leogane and Jacmel.

Yesterday, he and his uncle travelled 60 kilometres from Port-au-Prince to cross the border at Malpasse to try to find cheaper supplies in the Dominican.

In the four hours he waited at the border point, Mr. St. Leger saw protests, riots and gunshots. They filled up their 20ft bed truck with 20 bags of rice, each weighing 52lbs, 50 gallons of cooking oil, 1,000 cubes of Maggi and water for about 1,000 people.

As they drove back to the capital, they picked up people who wanted a ride. The hitchhikers were thankful they did not have to pay them, saying that nothing in life is normally free.

The truck's timing belt broke so the last 30 minutes of the journey was made in "pitch darkness with no lights and the radiator overheating".

Mr. St. Leger's Facebook wall is covered with messages from friends praising him for "making a powerful difference". They also urge him to be careful and "stay safe".

Mr. St. Leger responded that he is fine as "the Lord is my Shepherd".

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