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We had a rather eventful day in clinic on Thursday, the kind of day that warms your heart and lifts your spirits. As we’ve mentioned before, the foundation of our medical work in Gatineau involves a community-based model, where the communities around us participate in all aspects of our program and, as such, develop a sense of ownership in the health care ministry. This not only helps to empower them, but leads to long-term sustainability. As you can imagine, it’s not always easy to develop ownership. But, the development of relationships is a good place to start. When we first started seeing patients in the clinic, we were warmly greeted by those people who lived the furthest away. But, those right in Gatineau sometimes acted like they didn’t care if we were there or not. They grazed their animals on our land, cut down our trees, stole our fruit and moved our boundary vegetation. We discussed our frustration with such activities during our greeting time with the patients every morning. And, gradually, we’ve seen the situation improve. But, we still weren’t sure if we were becoming accepted by the community, or even liked, for that matter.

On Tuesday, our first day back at the clinic after a month away, we were greeted very warmly by the patients, who said that with us gone, they had to go a lot further for their medical care. So, they really did seem to miss us! And, as I mentioned last week, many people called out energetic greetings to us as we drove up the mountain. Well, on Thursday, during the course of the day, we were flooded with gifts from our neighbors, many of whom came specifically to the clinic with food and goodies for us. One woman lives down the road and sells bread and produce from a little roadside stand. In May, before we went to the US, we were seeing record numbers of patients and passed her stand near dusk each day. She shook her head in dismay as she realized that we worked each day without eating any food. So, on Thursday, she brought us a pitcher of fresh milk with cups to drink it, bread and sugar to sustain us through the day. Other people brought cooking bananas, eating bananas, oranges, grenadia (a local fruit), key limes and fresh eggs. By the end of the day, we were nearly in tears, as we realized that we truly had made friends there – friends who care about our well being and are there beside us as we minister to those in need.

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We flew back to Haiti on Sunday, June 22nd, leaving behind most of our own clothes and personal belongings, so that we could bring back medications and supplies for the clinic, clothes and shoes for Madam Gerard and her family, who live with us, personal gifts for other Haitian friends and co-workers here, and construction materials for our house in Jeremie. We flew out to Jeremie on Monday morning and spent the day cleaning the house, unpacking our suitcases and packing up medications and supplies for clinic on Tuesday. We woke up that morning to bright sunny skies and were pleasantly surprised to see that the government road crews had been working on the rocky road up to our clinic. They had passed through with a road grader and had improved some of the worst areas. We’re hoping they’ll eventually cement over some of these areas, but consider even this amount of progress to be nothing short of a miracle!

As we made our way higher into the mountains, we began to hear personal greetings from our friends along the way, instead of the phrase, “Give me a ride”, that we heard so frequently down below. As we crossed a small stream, I heard a man say, “Oh, we’re saved! The doctor and nurse are back!” And back we were, with thirty patients waiting on the benches outside the clinic doors. We had a lively discussion with them, as we brought greetings from our families, friends and churches in the US and shared with them some of the highlights of our time away. And, as the day wore on and the rain came down in buckets outside, our tiny little “house clinic” seemed very cozy – just like home!

Greetings once again from Jeremie, Haiti! As I mentioned in a previous blog, Cherlie Severe and I recently spent a few weeks in the US, attending conferences, visiting family and taking care of business related to our Haiti ministry. The first conference we attended was the annual conference for Christian Connections for International Health. This is a wonderful organization which seeks to provide resources and networking information for faith-based organizations working in global health. There were about 125 attendees at the conference, which was held at a retreat center near Fredrick, Maryland. The conference sessions and small group activities allowed us to learn some valuable information and develop relationships with others involved in community-based work like ours. If you’re interested in more information on CCIH, I encourage you to visit their website (www.ccih.org).

The second conference, which was held in Washington, DC was the annual conference for the Global Health Council and had around 2200 attendees from over a hundred different countries! It was a whirlwind week of panel discussions, lectures and small group sessions, but allowed us to hear first hand about the most up-to-date activities in the field of global health all around the world. And, it provided us with many valuable contacts for the future. Their website is www.globalhealth.org if you’re interested.

Friends for Health in Haiti can now accept your credit/debit card donations.  You can call us at 262-227-9581, download our Credit Card Authorization or you may make credit/debit card donations through PayPal.   You may also set up monthly or quarterly donations using the Credit Card Authorization form.

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