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An Alexandria man returns from a volunteer mission in Haiti.
After five emotionally-wrenching days volunteering in Haiti, Virginia lawyer Ramcess Jean-Louis stood at Port-au-Prince airport awaiting his flight back to the U.S. That plane carried the final surprise of his trip: Actor John Travolta was piloting the aircraft Jean-Louis was about to board.
Before the plane turned for home, Jean-Louis helped Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, unload cargo.
"He was very hands on," Jean-Louis said of Travolta. "He was unpacking the airplane, really in command of the situation. When he came down with additional supplies and another team of doctors, he made sure the doctors got everything they needed."
Jean-Louis' decision to jump into the relief effort came shortly after the earthquake hit.
Though he was born in Brooklyn, his parents came from Haiti and he has many relatives still living there.
"You just have to deal with a sense of helplessness, and I didn't enjoy that feeling during Katrina and I didn't enjoy it during 9/11," he said.
So Jean-Louis immediately began volunteering at the Haitian Embassy. Professionally, he's the general counsel for a building maintenance company in Alexandria called TK Services. Every night after work, he'd head to the embassy.
A week ago, he received an urgent call.
"They said, 'You have to get on a plane if you want to get down there,'" he said. "It took me by surprise. Actually having the opportunity standing in front of me made me a little apprehensive."
But Jean-Louis raced to Philadelphia, caught a flight to Miami and then joined other volunteers on a flight to Haiti. He spent five days there, starting his work at the hospital, assisting patients and distributing medical supplies and food.
Jean-Louis also was able to locate his relatives. One cousin died, but the rest survived.
Jean-Louis hopes to return to Haiti soon, possibly by next month.
"I'm of the thought that Haitians have to lead the recovery and we have to be in control of our story and how this redevelopment is going to take place," he said. "I'm confident that's going to happen with the help of the international community."