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September 28, 2014

Last evening the living room at Cherlie and my house turned into an Emergency Room. Around 5pm, just as the skies opened with a heavy rainfall, we heard a voice calling to us from the driveway. It was the head masonry foreman at our clinic site, a young man named Mackenson. He had just driven into the driveway on his motorcycle and was half carrying, half dragging one of the other masons named Peterson down the driveway towards the house. Peter’s face was covered in blood and around his right hand was a bloody towel. Before I even had time to come out of my room, where I had been working, Cherlie had Peterson lying in the living room on a chaise lounge chair that she brought in from the back porch. In a few minutes another “patient” arrived, also a mason from our clinic site named Ralphie.

As I assessed their wounds and injuries, we heard their story. Peterson and Ralphie had left the site in Gatineau first, on their way into Jérémie for the rest of the weekend (they live at the site during the week). Mackenson stayed behind to close up the doors and was a few minutes behind them on his motorcycle. When he got down the mountain to the intersection with the main paved road, he saw a big crowd of people. He recognized Peterson’s motorcycle lying by the side of the road and asked what had happened. Apparently three motorcycles all arrived at the uncontrolled intersection at the same time and two of them collided, knocking the two drivers and two passengers down onto the pavement. Peterson passed out initially, but came to enough to be driven by another motorcycle to the general hospital in Jérémie, along with Ralphie. It was at the hospital that Mackenson caught up with them. They waited in the Emergency Room of the government hospital for over an hour without being attended to, so Mackenson lost his patience and left, along with his two injured friends. They knew where to get medical help when they needed it!

Thus, the living room because an Emergency Department for the next three hours, as Cherlie and I cleansed and sutured all their wounds. Peterson had a cut on the forehead, several on his upper lip and several on the fingers of his right hand. Ralphie had a deep laceration over the left eyebrow, which required a multiple-layer closure. Cherlie held a flashlight to give me better light than what the ceiling lights provided and we prayed that their injuries weren’t more severe than what we could manage without CT scans and xrays!

We gave them medications to take at home, head injury instructions and advice regarding their activities for the next couple of days. We’ll see them again on Monday to check on their progress. As they left, we said a prayer of thanks that the injuries weren’t worse and that we were here to help them out. I’m sure they would appreciate your prayers for them in the next few days and weeks, especially since they won’t be able to work and earn money. We’ll be following them closely until they are healed and back to work again. Thanks for your part in helping us to be here in Haiti.

Primary school teacher Jean Flobert Marcellus

Primary school teacher Jean Flobert Marcellus

Jean Flobert Marcellus is a patient of ours. He’s also a Haitian government-certified school teacher, assigned to teach in a school that is about a six hour walk into the mountains after you reach the end of the road! The locality where the school is located is called Lopino and it is one of the most isolated communities in our part of the country. Jean Flobert is 30 years old, with no wife or children yet and he’s a dedicated Christian. He’s been teaching in the school for a couple of years and spent most of our consultation time talking about the severe poverty, lack of development and challenges he faces in the community. He teaches in the government primary school in Lopino and is supposed to be making a fairly good salary. But, the government doesn’t pay teachers’ salaries regularly and he went all of last year without getting paid. I asked him why he continues to teach if he doesn’t get paid. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s what I’ve been trained to do – teach. And, the children really need it.” He went on to tell me that he and several other teachers live in rooms they rent in local people’s houses, but they have no beds and no means of transporting them up into the mountains. So, he sleeps on a mat on the floor. His students’ parents often yell at him and the other teachers, claiming that they’re brainwashing the children, stealing the parents’ money and taking the children away from working in the fields.

As I listened to Jean Flobert’s story, I thought about the fact that his work is like that of a missionary – sharing the truth, living out one’s faith, making sacrifices for something that is for the good of others, only they often don’t see it or appreciate it. As we’re reminded in Luke 9:23 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Cherlie and I feel privileged to bear the cross of Christ in this country and we are blessed to be joined in our sacrifice by Haitians like Jean Flobert, a young man who is trying to make a difference in the lives of the young people he teaches.