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As you may know from our website and previous correspondence, we purchased a new Toyota Landcruiser 4-wheel drive jeep back last fall, with the help of numerous generous donors.  These vehicles are used by many major NGO’s in Haiti and the Toyota dealership cannot keep them in stock.  For this reason, they have to be specially ordered by the dealership directly from Japan.  Ours was ordered in September 2009 and was just coming into the port in Port-au-Prince in January 2010 when the earthquake occurred.  The ship was diverted to Santo Domingo, DR and the jeep was unloaded there.  Arrangements had to be made to get it and the other vehicles that were ordered at the same time, to Port-au-Prince for processing through the Haitian Customs Department.  This took until the end of February 2010.  Then began the long process of having it cleared through customs – a process that has required the assistance of many friends and acquaintances, numerous trips to and through Port-au-Prince and much more time than anticipated.  We think we are in the final stage of the process and expect to be able to get it from the dealer in 2-3 weeks.  We’ll keep you posted!

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As you may have noted in the previous blog (April/May update), we sent 44 plastic and fiber drums to Haiti that contained backpacks collected by HOSA students in Wisconsin, patient gowns that had been stored in Milwaukee, shoes and clothing donated by churches in NJ and individuals in Milwaukee, and various medical supplies and equipment.  The drums were taken to a shipping company in NY and shipped down to Haiti.  We are happy to report that they safely made it to Port-au-Prince and were brought out here to Jérémie in a large box truck.  They are now sitting in the back of the truck in our back yard!  We have already contacted several school directors in the area around our clinic site and intend to give the backpacks to the children who are enrolled in their schools for the upcoming school year.  Many of these families don’t have the financial resources to pay the children’s tuition, much less pay for a uniform, shoes, books and supplies.  The backpacks are filled with school supplies, hygiene items, socks, tennis shoes and underwear, all of which are very much needed by these rural Haitian school children.  We’ll keep you updated as the distribution unfolds.

The woman sitting across the desk from me in my clinic examination room looked familiar and I could see from her chart that she had been to the clinic in the past.  I couldn’t remember what I had seen her for without looking at my notes, though, and I saw that her last visit was over a year ago.  “Why didn’t you come back after your last visit?” I asked.  “Here,” she said as she handed me an official looking card.  “I finished my treatment and now I’m back to see you,” she said.  “What treatment,” I thought.  Then, as I looked at the card, I realized that she had been on treatment for tuberculosis.  I quickly scanned through my previous visit notes.  She had seen me three times within about a month, each time stating that she was losing weight, had fevers and large lymph nodes under her left arm.  She had no cough, though, and no pain anywhere.  I did some laboratory tests and found out she was anemic and that her HIV test was negative.  I gave her some antibiotics, but the large lymph nodes persisted.  “You need to get a biopsy,” I had told her at the time.  In the rural area in which we work, that’s like telling someone they need to fly to the moon.  Well, she was very motivated to get to the bottom of her illness, so she went all the way to the town of Cayes, a seven hour drive away.  At the government hospital there, she didn’t get the biopsy, but she did get a TB skin test that was positive and she was put on an intensive course of treatment lasting for 6 months.  She had just completed it and had been officially discharged from the TB program.

“From the time I first started taking the medication, I felt better,” she said.  “I went to every clinic and hospital around Jerémie and they never found out what I had until I came here,” she said.  “I’m going to keep coming here all the time now.”  Positive feedback like that is just what we like to hear!

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