Red Cross volunteer from Haiti heading home

Alex Alexis will work as a translator aboard a hospital ship in Port-au-Prince for the next month.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The first Red Cross volunteer from the Triangle to be dispatched to Haiti in the wake of the massive earthquake will be heading there Tuesday.

A native of Port-au-Prince, Alex Alexis began volunteering with the Red Cross in Haiti as a teenager.

He plans to return to his homeland, where he will spend a month aboard the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort working as a translator. As a youth, he spoke the patois indigenous to Haiti.

"I'll be able to be the mouthpiece to convey the message, the hurt, the pain (and) the suffering they're going through," he said.

Alexis said he doesn't know whether he will be able to go ashore, but he also acknowledged that it would be difficult to see his hometown in ruins.

"It's going to be hard to disengage myself," he said. "At the same time, I need to get focused."

The earthquake killed three of his cousins, and two more are missing, he said.

"There is sadness in my heart, but also joy because I can go back and help my fellow citizens," he said.

The Red Cross headquarters in Haiti was destroyed by the earthquake, so officials said the organization is temporarily basing its operations in someone's back yard.