This mission of mercy was no vacation

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Steve Howard is a man on a mission, in fact, several of them.  Howard recently returned from the African country of Benin.  During this latest mission trip, Howard helped to possibly save the lives of thousands of children.

"On this sub immunization day, we inoculated 3,300 children," Howard said. "My partner, myself and a local volunteer did 300 of those children."

The inoculations will prevent the children from contracting polio.  There are no active cases in Benin, but that is not the case in neighboring Nigeria. Such help is badly needed in any African country, according to Howard.

"Their economy relative to us, yes, it's very poor."

Howard was welcomed with open arms by a country needing the assistance. He was especially moved by the children they were able to help.

"They're fascinated with all the electronics," Howard remembered. "You take a picture, the kids want to see the back of the picture, the actual picture itself. Yes, kids are kids, but the privileges that we have as Americans, they can't even begin to touch."

Thirty-eight Rotarians made the trip, but Howard felt he was on cloud nine all by himself when it was time to come home.

"It's one of the most incredible experiences that I've ever had." Howard said.

Howard is no stranger when it comes to helping others, but children will always hold a special place in this heart.

"I love kids to death, all kinds of kids. And I've put a lot of heart and soul into working in this community, since Katrina particularly. But you're always focused on what you can do for the children."

And Howard has no plans to stop being a man on a mission for years to come.

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