Haiti, November 2013


Canaan, 40 minutes by Tap Tap outside of Port au Prince

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  1. The week before Thanksgiving was spent with 15 of us heading to Port au Prince. Part of our team was made up of two medical students, Joe Fields Johnson, 4th year at VCOM and Laura Parente, 3rd year at UVa. Lauren McRavenwas our fearless leader. Her Kreyole continues to grow as mine continues to flounder. Lindy Dimeo made her umteenth trip and provided French and wisdom. Patty Pribus ran the pharmacy brilliantly and her daughter Sarah, RN triaged and made sure medicine was practiced the way it should be. Steve Campbell provided overall wisdom on establishing programs in Haiti, he has done similar in Tanzania. We worked on several ideas which came to us as we traveled. Steve visited Soil Haiti, a composting toilet which sells for $75 and once in place can serve a large family for $1 a month. That family or others can then buy compost for $5 a batch which can be used on gardens. The soil in Haiti as you know is pretty poor and needs good fertilizer to provide good food!!

    We traveled to Canaan and Jerusalem, the areas where our church there Baptiste Siloe’ have planted new churches, overseen by Celem who is our overall wise person on the ground there. These areas need gardens and need wells and need toilets. In fact these areas, whose land can be leased for long periods (300,000 + people live in these areas now) have little except the sun above and horrific roads to take people there. Little electrical power has made it thus far and there are few wells and no real toilets. We also found the area outside of Port au Prince called La Rousse (I may not be spelling this correctly) to be in similar straights, with a well without a pump and a walled area that would be a perfect garden spot now has four banana trees and scattered trash.

    We are working now to vet people in these areas to take hold of these ideas and make them their own so that we can come along side them and assist them in developing their ideas. It’s a tricky process which Steve Campbell knows all too well from his on going work in Africa and Central America.

    This trip also involved three clinics run over four days in the above mentioned areas. We saw more than 300 people, mostly children, in which we checked 150 hemoglobins, finding many of the children very anemic (hemoglobins of 7-8 gms which is 30-40% lower than what is healthy – children learn far less in school when their hemoglobins are less than 9). We provided 50 pounds of vitamins with iron (more than 6,000 chewable tablets) and many liquid vitamins for infants. We found a gastroenteritis outbreak in Canaan and treated four dehydrated infants with rehydration formula. They all improved enough to go home and the church there, run by Celem, will house a stock of rehydration packets for future outbreaks. As most of you know, this is the number one killer in third world countries like Haiti.

    We kept our medical records electronically as always. We gave out cash to families who were literally starving, prayed with many people and continued to counsel people on PTSD, post traumatic stress syndrome, brought on by the earthquake four years ago. We taught these people a breathing technique in which to call upon their Lord while slowly breathing, an exercise to slow their racing minds and bring calm to their lives. So many people lost loved ones, some witnessed these deaths first hand. One child, Mirlanda, 12, lost her entire right leg and has a poorly usable left hand, having been buried in the rubble for two days before being rescued. She attends the school at Siloe, where we provide lunches daily. She told us she is picked on by the children for the crutch she uses. With the three of us weeping we told her how much God loves her, how beautiful she is and gave her money for a new crutch. Her story is tragic and yet there is hope for her future.

    The projects mentioned above will only find their way to fruition if we raise the necessary money. The wells are maybe $15,000 each and will require some money to maintain. All these projects will someday be self sustainable. The water from the wells can be sold (for small amounts of Goudes per gallon) and the gardens can generate food for the neighborhoods, most will be worked by those who eat the vegetables. Finding Haitians to start these projects is the next step for Vwazen Nou. Your prayers and financial support are appreciated. These people will never be able to thank you personally unless you travel with us, which we hope will happen.

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