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“One of the guys here got cut on some bamboo and needs stitches,” said the voice on the other end of the telephone. It was Gemi Baptiste, our Community Coordinator, who was up at the clinic site directing a large group of volunteers from surrounding communities put up fencing along our property lines. The day was Friday, now the only day of the week that we don’t hold clinic. Apparently this volunteer farmer was carrying a bamboo pole across the yard at the clinic when his too-big rubber boots caught on a root and he tripped and fell. The bamboo had a sharp edge that cut him across the left wrist and it was bleeding significantly when Gemi called. We advised him to wrap it tightly and come down the mountain to our house on his motorcycle. We were concerned that if the wound was too deep to suture ourselves, we would have to take him to the general hospital here in Jérémie.

They arrived about an hour later and the front porch of our house became a mini-Emergency Room as I cleansed the wound and put in 6 sutures to hold it together. The tough farmer didn’t wince once throughout the ordeal, just thanked me profusely when it was all over. We gave him and Gemi a peanut butter sandwich and some juice and they were soon on their way back up the mountain.

The farmer, who’s name I don’t even know, is one of a large group of men from a community near the clinic, who came to offer their services in fencing off our land with vegetation, in order to control the people and animal traffic going through the site. This fencing project has been years in the making. When Cherlie and I did our initial need and resource assessment, walking into the communities around the clinic site, several of the communities offered to help us build our clinic, which was then only a vision. Instead of helping us with construction, we suggested that they help us with fencing of the property once we bought up all the land and had it surveyed and recorded. And, that process took until now! We recently had a “refreshment” of the original survey and put iron bars in cement in the ground to mark the boundaries. So, finally, we’re ready to put up small vegetation and barbed wire fencing to secure the property. It’s taken a long time but the community participation has been tremendous (last week there were over 130 volunteers from one community) and we’re grateful for their commitment to our clinic and our ministry among them.

Cleared land behind the clinic where barbed wire and vegetation fencing is being done by Community Coordinator Gemi and volunteer farmers

Cleared land behind the clinic where barbed wire and vegetation fencing is being done by Community Coordinator Gemi and volunteer farmers

Last week we were privileged to have a visit from Milwaukee internists Dr. Greg VonRoenn and Dr. Dan Tanty. Both have been down to Haiti several times in the past and Dr. VonRoenn is the past President of the Board of Directors of Friends for Health in Haiti. Greg and Dan had the opportunity of being able to work in our beautiful new clinic, replete with running water and electricity! I think they would agree that it was a huge improvement from our previous tin-roofed “house clinic”.

Dr. Greg VonRoenn doing a patient consultation in the clinic with his translator Reginald

Dr. Greg VonRoenn doing a patient consultation in the clinic with his translator Reginald

Dr. Dan Tanty examining a patient with a facial abscess. Translator James looks on

Dr. Dan Tanty examining a patient with a facial abscess. Translator James looks on

Dr. VonRoenn and Dr. Tanty stand in one of the examination rooms with their translators Reginald and James

Dr. VonRoenn and Dr. Tanty stand in one of the examination rooms with their translators Reginald and James

Dr. Greg VonRoenn and Dr. Dan Tanty stand outside the general hospital in Jérémie, looking out over the town

Dr. Greg VonRoenn and Dr. Dan Tanty stand outside the general hospital in Jérémie, looking out over the town

One of the services that Dr. VonRoenn and Dr. Tanty offered to our patients with severe arthritis was steroid injection of their painful knees! Many rural Haitians believe in the power of injections and they were thrilled to have another means of alleviating some of their chronic joint pain. Greg and Dan’s reputations preceded them because some patients heard they were in town and came specifically to get their “shots”.

Dr. Dan Tanty giving a steroid injection to a patient with arthritis and knee pain

Dr. Dan Tanty giving a steroid injection to a patient with arthritis and knee pain

Dr. VonRoenn with Cherlie and Katie in the hallway of the clinic

Dr. VonRoenn with Cherlie and Katie in the hallway of the clinic

Thanks to Greg and Dan for a productive week of service with us!

 

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