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La Ville Des Cayes

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To Haiti and back

décembre 01
01:36 2009

Our trip went smoothly, and we have all arrived safely. All of the baggage arrived and we were not hassled too much by customs, although they did want to know why I had a sewing machine in my footlocker, and I did not know the French word for sewing machine. All of the medications were safely hidden. Our container of medications from the Netherlands has been released from customs in Port-au-Prince and is to arrive Monday.

The bus ride from Port-au-Prince to Les Cayes was as always interesting, especially for those who have not been here before. The bus was air conditioned, but was a little small for all of us and our baggage, but they tied it all down on top and it rode well.

There are nine of us staying at Hope for Haiti and 10 at Espwa. Last night we had a social gathering of our group, the hope for Haiti staff, Espwa staff and our Haitian doctors. This morning we will attend church at Espwa, then will plan to do screening exams on as many of the children at Espwa as we can for screening exams, and we will unpack and organize medications and supplies and prepare for the outlying clinics with Hope for Haiti.

The Creole bibles donated by Liberty Chapel have also arrived. Things are coming together well and we are looking forward to getting to work today.

Day 2:

Monday, Nov. 9

Bienvenue from Haiti! Today we attended church at Espwa, and Father Marc had Pastor Allen Sparks present 20 Creole bibles which were donated by Liberty Chapel to a group of young men at the orphanage who have expressed a desire to further their religious education and serve their fellow Haitians. We then performed medical screenings of the children of Espwa and examined and treated over 150 children from the orphanage. We also spent hours unpacking and organizing the supplies which we brought to Haiti and preparing footlockers with medical and surgical supplies and medications for our outlying clinics with Hope for Haiti this week.

Tomorrow the Hope for Hait group along with five Haitian doctors will drive about one hour to an outlying rural community to see over 200 poor Haitians who would otherwise not receive medical care. Dr. Venis and his group at Espwa will continue to treat the children who need medical care and begin to treat the staff and local people who need care.

We presented Espwa with a new router, which was donated by Harvest Fellowship, and with two sets of soccer nets which we purchased for their soccer fields. This evening we had a social time with our Haitian medical friends at Hope for Haiti. My Rosetta Stone French is actually going pretty well.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we proceed with the work this week of education and medical treatment. Your support and encouragement has made all of this possible.

Day 3:

Tuesday, Nov. 10

Our group visited Ravine Sable today, a very rural mountain community one hour down a very bad road. Our team examined and treated over 200 patients today at a cement block school. June and Teresa manned the pharmacy, and we ran out of Tylenol and acid reduction medications. We treated a wide variety of conditions, ranging from a pregnant woman with a urinary tract infection to a 4 year old with an infected knee. There were many children, and the people of the area were « very beautiful and amazing people » according to Dr. Tom O’Connor. Patrick Eucalitto from Hope for Haiti demonstrated proper flossing technique to the patients, who all received a gift pack with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and chap-stick.

As we left, we had to push start the truck, with Jay at the wheel, as we left. It was a long and tiresome day, but very productive. Tom and Mike did a lot of teaching with the Haitian doctors; Tomorrow we are going out to another outlying community for another clinic session. The team at Espwa continued seeing the children at the orphanage today. More about them tomorrow.

The attached photo shows Haitian doctors, Fritz, Duvall, Rikar, and Vladimyr with Mike Blood during an impromptu teaching session.

Day 4:

Wednesday, Nov. 11

Greetings from sunny Haiti, we are all healthy and tired from hard work, but we are accomplishing our mission. The group at Espwa saw 120 patients today, including a young woman with tuberculosis of the lymph nodes and another who probably has lymphoma. The group with Hope for Haiti went to Foca, a town on top of the mountain. The roads required four wheel drive and reminded me of off road slickrock mountain bike trails in Moab, Utah. We saw about 200 patients, mostly children. Teresa was surprised by a bat in the church building where we did intake and pharmacy. Drs. Tom and Duvall examined patients in the principal’s office, and avoided leaning on the walls, as they looked like they could fall down at any time. We gave out canes to several older patients, and treated everything from malaria to stroke and from hypertension to severe dermatitis. Things went smoothly and more quickly as we learned the system that Hope for Haiti uses. We handed out toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss to everyone, and the chap-sticks were very popular with the girls.

This evening we all got together at Espwa, and we presented the Haitian doctors with certificates recognizing their work with us over the past four years. Pastor Milien, father of Drs. Francise and Merline, was there to greet us also. We also got to see Pierre, the son of Dr. Jacob and Gerlade Baptiste, who is now 13 months old and growing quickly.

Tomorrow the group at Espwa plans to visit several medical facilities in Les Cayes, and the group at Hope for Haiti will be seeing patients at their dispensary in Les Cayes. Pastor Allen Sparks will be meeting with a group of Haitian pastors who are doing advanced pastoral training in Les Cayes. Ellen Ball plans to distribute several of the sewing machines she has repaired which we brought to Haiti to the Sisters of Charity, Mother Theresa’s order, which runs a hospice and a home for disabled children in Les Cayes.

Attached is a photo of June Blood and Teresa Hall working in the pharmacy today, and of Dr. Francise Milien seeing patients.

Day 5:

Thursday, Nov. 12

Yesterday, the team with Hope for Haiti worked at their dispensary in Les Cayes, seeing a « paltry » 150 patients. Our Haitian doctors are doing great work, and Mike and Tom are teaching all the time. We met Dr. Steven Victor, a Haitian who attended medical school in Cuba and who works for Hope for Haiti (H4H). We saw some interesting patients, including a man who had a gunshot wound in his arm which he sustained in Port-au-Prince during a kidnapping attempt, the first case of lymphogranuloma venereum I have seen, and an infant with club feet with a very sad story. The mother was married for nine years, and had eight miscarriages. When her baby was born with a deformity, the father declared that such things did not occur in his family and then he abandoned them. She was unable to breast feed, and we gave her formula. She started crying, and told us that formula costs 90 Haitian dollars for one container, about $12, which is a fortune for families that may make $1 per day.

Tom O’Connor saw the sisters in the attached photo. One was very malnourished and developmentally delayed, and both had scabies and parasites. We gave them formula also as a nutritional supplement, and treated their scabies and the worms. The younger child was 18 months old and weighed only 15 pounds and was not yet walking. After we finished, we toured the outdoor market in Les Cayes. Jon was almost chased by a woman who took offense at having her photo taken, claiming he was stealing her soul with his camera. The meat hanging unrefrigerated in the market covered with flies was most appetizing.

The team at Espwa toured some locations in Les Cayes, including the Sisters of Charity who run a hospice and a facility for disabled children, a nursing home, the market, and saw some sights in town. Allen Sparks met with the teachers of the Baptist Bible Institute, an advanced course for pastors, and today he taught a class there today in Spiritual Formation. Last night we presented Pastor Milien, the father of two of our Haitian doctors, with a new laptop which we brought for him, and with 48 Creole Bibles which were purchased by Liberty Chapel.

The medication order from the Netherlands finally cleared customs and arrived at Espwa yesterday, so we now have a good supply of medications. Today we all went to the beach at Port Salut, and had a good dinner at a French restaurant there named L’Auberge. Tomorrow the team at H4H plus Bradford and Jerri will be going to another outlying community, and Ryan and the Espwa team will be doing minor surgeries at Espwa. Tomorrow night we will be providing ice cream for all 600 of the children at Espwa, and we assume that many of them be eating it for the first time.

Day 6:

Friday, Nov. 13

Jay says to tell you that it is really, really hot here. The team at Hope for Haiti (H4H) was joined by Jerri Sills and Bradford Moulton today and visited the community of Morency, which was located on the beach. In fact, the vehicles had to drive across the beach to reach the church and school where we held clinic. It is a small world, because Pastor Milien, Francise and Merline’s father, used to pastor a church there. We saw over 150 people there in about 4 hours. On the way we got some small bananas from a farmer that were incredibly sweet. There was a lot of pathology today, including a breast cyst that was aspirated, heart murmurs, a man with a large thigh hematoma from being beaten with a club, some sickle cell anemia patients, and an 18 month infant who weighed only 13 pounds and could not bear weight on her legs.

Dr. Ryan Venis and the Espwa team did several surgical procedures today. At 4 p.m. we were treated to a « Spectac » at Espwa, which is a dance and music show put on by the young people there. We then served all of the children over 600 ice creams, courtesy of Dr. Tom O’Connor. Tomorrow, nine of the team are flying home, and the rest of us are taking the boat to Ile La Vache to visit the orphanage run by Sister Flora. She cares for a large number of disabled children. Jay has been working at Espwa, including taking apart the broken transmission on their tractor. The rest of us will head for the « land of the big PX » on Sunday.

We have given all of our remaining medications and medical supplies to Hope for Haiti for their use or for distribution to places where it can be used effectively. We are giving some medications to Drs. Merline and Francise for use at their home in Cotes de Fer where they are going on Sunday to hold some clinics. We provided stethoscopes, otoscopes, and blood pressure cuffs to the Haitian doctors who needed them. Mike traded a new soccer ball for the rag ball some boys were using near the beach today. We have provided school supplies to Pwoje Espwa and to Hope for Haiti, and we have provided dental supplies to Espwa and at all of the outlying clinics we have done, although one man without teeth today was offended and upset when given a toothbrush.

The two attached photos are of our team giving a group cheer today and of the children after the ice cream distribution at Espwa this evening.

Day 7:

Saturday, Nov. 14

Dear Friends,

It is our last night in Haiti, and tomorrow we head home to the land of Diet Coke. Today those of us who remain visited Isle la Vache, about 3.5 miles offshore from Cayes. We traveled by open boat with an outboard motor- Sister Flora has a new boat which is much nicer, and we even had life preservers, but somehow I suspect that the Coast Guard would not approve of the craft. Sister Flora was her usual amazing self. There was a large team of Irish men working on building her a new building and a playground. Sister Flora was able to remember people we had treated there and how they had progressed. We had seen a fisherman with a puffer fish spine injury who had been seen at the General Hospital and they had recommended that he have the hand amputated. We treated him with IV antibiotics and arranged with the Cuban doctor at the local government clinic to give him further doses of antibiotics. He apparently has done well and is back fishing again, which he could not have done if his right hand were amputated. We gave Sister Flora a large box of medications for use with the children and the local people. Her photo is attached, along with a photo of Bradford Moulton with a child from her orphanage. Bradford is a paramedic in Indianapolis on his second trip with us.

The team walked to the high point of the island and had a light lunch of granola bars and peabut butter and jelly sandwiches. It was a magnificent view, and a great setting for some discussion and debriefing on the trip. On the return trip we saw our old friend Jacques Rivette, who works as an interpreter for the UN. The pier had several UN soldiers with their automatic weapons on our return, apparently to provide security for some VIPs who were visiting.

It was interesting to see how a shipload of cement was unloaded- the ship anchored half a mile offshore, and the bags of cement were unloaded by hand onto large rowboats, then taken to the pier and unloaded by hand onto the pier and then onto trucks. It seemed a very laborious and inefficient process.

We also provided several boxes of medications and supplies for Drs. Merline, Francise, and Vladimyr. They are traveling by car to Cotes de Fer tomorrow and will hold a clinic there for several days, seeing patients in follow-up whom we saw last March. It is a proud moment for all of us to see them use their talents and training for the good of the people of Haiti.

The first half of the team is back in the US, and we fly Tortug’Air from Cayes to Port-au-Prince tomorrow morning at 7. It has been an excellent trip with two great teams, and we have accomplished our mission, providing significant teaching for the Haitian doctors, and treating poor Haitians who would otherwise not have access to care. The team as a whole has treated roughly 1,200 patients. We thank all of you for your support and encouragement.

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