Westsider making ‘Indiana Jones’ rescue run to Haiti
On the Westside, T.J. McGinty is known as an easy-going guy who's willing to stand up for a cause - as in 2005, when he convinced City Council to reverse a
prohibition of horses (including one his daughter rode) in the nearby Promontory Open Space.
Now the family man/marketing consultant/musician is standing up again… although the cause this time is a bit riskier than arguing with City Council.
He's on his way to Haiti.
In the wreckage of the island country's devastating earthquake Jan. 12, McGinty and his 19-year-old son Ryan plan to fly in to the main city of Port-au-Prince with money, food and medical supplies for a Christian orphanage that has reportedly been left stranded.
Before leaving, McGinty jokingly described the trip as an “Indiana Jones flight,” but there's also some truth in that. Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands are estimated to have died in the quake, with many others injured. The ruin has been so widespread that for days rescuers and aid could not get in, leaving the already-poverty- stricken country at the mercy of looters, marauding gangs, disease and other dangers. At the orphanage itself, one nanny was dead and two others had been injured, McGinty said.
He held no illusions about his trip going easily. From his experiences on three previous supply trips, he calmly explained that it's not safe for Americans to go most places in Haiti without an armed guard. “I've never been anyplace like this,” he said. “It's like going to another planet. It's not because of the poverty. It's the lack of culture. There are no rules except the jungle. The whole country is a garbage dump.”
And yet Haiti was the place where McGinty's son Ryan, interested in Christian service, last year found a need he could help fulfill. Several years ago, a woman named Linda Kohn had started an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, and during Ryan's last year at Colorado Springs Christian School he started getting involved in that.
The orphanage has about 100 youngsters. But with the earthquake, it's a matter of keeping them alive. In a FoxNews dispatch Jan. 17, reporter Jonathan Hunt found orphan contingents and their nannies with only a truck and tarpaulin for shelter. “They have no food, no water and no medical supplies,” Hunt said. “They're at the mercy of looters.”
One big problem McGinty faced as he headed out Jan. 18 was how he, his son and his son's friend, Chelsi Maxwell, would get into the country. Journalists and medical people are OK, but in Haiti's current emergency ordinary citizens are not allowed. So McGinty worked up a cloak-and-dagger sort of solution. They would fly to Miami, meeting up with a private pilot he knows who could fly them to Port-au-Prince. “When we can get through the airport wall, the plan is to be met there by a couple of the guys from the orphanage and a truck,” McGinty summarized in an e-mail just before his departure. “They will be armed. Ryan and I will be hidden under tarpaulins for the trip to the orphanage. We will drop the first load of supplies there, go to a small village-behind-a-wall of about 100 people around the corner from the orphanage (we've been supporting them too for a year and a half or so), then the balance of the supplies to a second kind of “sister” orphanage which is in just as dire a shape. (Sounds like a movie, doesn't it?)”
By the time this is printed, McGinty conceivably could have already returned. One scenario had him being done in Haiti by Wednesday, Jan 20.
But he said he did not expect that to happen. In an update from Miami at 2:06 a.m. Jan. 20, McGinty said there was a delay due to a malfunctioning plane engine. “Sleep?” he said. “What sleep?” He has scheduled a flight home Friday, Jan. 22.
Westside Pioneer article