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Over the years of driving up and down the mountain to our clinic, Cherlie and I have acquired many new friends, most of whom are the “under three foot tall” variety! One of the Haitian men who worked with us in our early years fondly called them “little mice” because they would scurry out from the trees or their houses to wave and tell us “bye-bye” as we passed by in our jeep. One of them was given the nickname “pant-less wonder” by a group of teenage visitors because he never wore underwear as he ran down by the creek to greet us morning and afternoon. He’s actually one of our patients and we have been keeping him supplied with underwear and shorts to protect his newfound modesty.

A recent group of visitors (see previous blog) kindly assisted us in this year’s version of Santa’s workshop, putting clothing and toys from drums we had in storage into plastic gift bags. They included toothbrushes and toothpaste, Beanie babies, coloring books and crayons, little toy cars and small dolls, hair ribbons, bows and barrettes, soap, pencils and, of course, underwear, socks, shorts, t-shirts and pillowcase dresses. Supplies that had been sent down to us by other organizations quickly found their way into the gift bags. Plastic totes with underwear, dresses, toothbrushes and toothpaste were emptied. Toy cars that I had put away in my office to give to my favorite patients were surreptitiously commandeered. Nothing was safe except needles in the Emergency Room. Toys, clothes and hygiene supplies. What an awesome combination!

Socks and underwear are organized on the floor of the residence, which quickly became transformed into the Packing Center

 

Toys, crayons and coloring books are organized in Santa’s workshop

 

Filled gift bags sit on the floor of the residence, waiting for distribution

 

Unfortunately for our visitors, but nice for our own egos came the time for gift bag distribution. Santa’s time had come. Christmas was less than a week away, these children had suffered through a devastating hurricane and their parents had no means to make their Christmas a merry one. It was time to step up and fill Santa’s large shoes. In a more serious vein, it was also time to put our faith in action. It’s not always enough to give health; sometimes it’s necessary to give hope. And, we figured there was nothing better to restore hope than these pretty white gift bags.

But, we had a problem. “How could we do this fairly and in good order?” we wondered. Well, it turned out to be easier than we expected. Our staff let the children in the area know what day we were coming and we also spoke with several parents and told them to come down to the road with their children for a big surprise! Over the course of three days, we distributed over 100 Christmas gift bags to our little friends.

First group to receive their gifts live down by the creek below the clinic. They are our most ardent “wavers”, rarely missing a chance to say “bye-bye”

 

“Pant-less wonder” in the blue shirt is now clothed most days. When he’s not, he hides behind a tree to wave hello.

 

Shy little boy on his way home with his gift bag

 

A large group of children were waiting down the mountain. Were we ever glad we had a lot of bags! Santa’s helpers were awesome!

 

The following day was a late one for us, since we had a Staff Meeting after we finished with our patient care. It was nearly dark when we arrived at the distribution sites, but our friends were patiently and hopefully waiting for us.

Even in the dark, there were some pretty wide smiles.

 

The gift bags are bulging and the children’s patience was rewarded.

 

Our final day of gift distribution was organized to be sure we covered the children who had not yet received gifts. The little boy in the green shirt in the photo below giggled as he looked in his bag. He was delighted and couldn’t wait to dig in.

Smiles abound as these boys pose for a photo. There were lots of giggles that day!

 

A little boy with a big smile

 

We want to thank everyone who contributed clothing, toys, Beanie babies, dental supplies, plastic bags, labels and other supplies that went into making this holiday gift distribution a tremendous success. I think there will be some very happy little souls putting their heads down to sleep this Christmas night. Thank you and God bless!

 

 

Ray and Donna Moon, a retired couple from Hales Corners, WI are among our most dedicated supporters.  They have been bringing groups of hard-working visitors down to Haiti to help us out for several years, doing a variety of tasks including construction work, organizing supplies and helping out in the clinic.  Earlier this month they came for a week’s visit with our newest board member Bill Schweitzer, his wife Jeanette, who is an active member of our Banquet Committee, medical technologist Yvonne Ducharme, who has been here many times and Rotarian, retired veterinarian and amateur photographer Pat Mahoney.

It was an active, enjoyable and productive week as they helped organize supplies at the clinic, made up gift bags of toys and clothes for us to give out to local children at Christmas, packed used clothing and hygiene supplies in sacks for distribution to families high up in the mountains, labeled shelves and bins in the pharmacy and went out into the local communities to survey hurricane damage and meet with our Community Promoters.  Pat was able to visit several families who had received latrines from us in our Water and Sanitation program that was largely funded by his local Fox Cities Morning Rotary Club.  He could see the significant impact of the Rotary Club financial contributions and the community development that resulted from the efforts of our volunteer Community Promoters.


12-3-9553Suitcases filled with medications brought by Ray and Donna Moon and their group

Bill, Jeanette and Dr. Katie standing in front of the government hospital in Jérémie with second floor blown off in the hurricane.  An office desk sits in place on the roof.

 

12-6-0346Jeanette laughing with some new-found friends.

12-7-0599Yvonne with an innovative young man who made his own wheelbarrow to carry water cans.

12-5-0051Community Promoters in the community of Fraise stand next to a latrine that lost its roof and door.

12-5-2233

Rotarian Pat Mahoney visiting communities that were part of FHH’s Water and Sanitation Program and latrine building project.

 

12-9-1723Gift bags of clothing and toys to give out to local children for Christmas, the result of hard work by the visiting team.

 

12-8-0518Jeanette, Yvonne and Donna enjoy a laugh with pharmacy technician Guy-Johns

 

12-6-0525

Ray Moon and Bill Schweitzer helping out at the clinic for the day

 

On Friday, we all went to a nearby community for a large community meeting and teaching session with the local people.  They were anxious to learn about ways to protect their health and were happy to welcome visitors in their midst!

 

12-9-1314Dr. Katie talking with the community members as the visiting team looks on

 

12-9-1466People huddle under and around the shelter where community education is being conducted.

 

12-9-1516It’s standing room only as community members stand along the edges of the shelter during a community meeting.

 

12-9-1283School next to the community meeting site.  The roof has been blown off by the hurricane but students and teachers continue on with their education.

 

 

We were thrilled to have a photographer in the group to take photos of us and our staff as we saw patients in the clinic.  Pat’s antics behind the camera and his warm heart brought out a lot of smiles from our patients.  Wearing his hat backwards might have helped out as well!

 

12-8-0904Dr. Katie and Cherlie attending to a young patient who came into the Emergency Room.

 

12-8-0943Toys make all illness get better!

 

 

12-8-0913Registration clerk and chaplain Adrien Jean Jacques registers a new patient

12-8-974Nurse Vetelie Charles looks on as patients wait for consultation in the hallway of the clinic.

12-8-1237Cherlie gives medication instructions in the pharmacy as pharmacy technician Guy-Johns Chevalier looks on.

 

 

Ray and Donna work very hard during the year acquiring medications and supplies that they bring down with them when they come to visit us.  These supplies are invaluable in helping us provide medical care to our patients.  In addition, Ray and Jeanette Schweitzer are responsible for the “FHH Store”, where we sell items with the FHH logo as a means of making our ministry known to others.  We want to say a special thank you to Dunn’s Sporting Goods for making the t-shirts and caps that are sold in the FHH store.  They donated dozens of t-shirts for us to give to our faithful staff and Community Promoters and everyone was thrilled with their gifts!  Thanks to our friends at Dunn’s!

 

12-6-0320 Bill and Jeanette Schweitzer stand with Community Promoter Dominique showing off FHH logo products made by Dunn’s Sporting Goods.

12-7-0716Community Promoter Jude St. Louis poses with her new FHH bag.

 

 

dunns-1Staff workers Lubin and Viel show off their new Dunns t-shirts and FHH water bottles.  Thank you Dunn’s!

 

We’re grateful for all of our visitors and appreciate all the supplies they bring to us and the hard work they do while they’re here.  Most importantly, though, we appreciate THEM as people who are here to share our lives and our work and then go back home and communicate those experiences with others.  This sharing of experiences helps to expand our circle of friends and enables Haiti’s needs to be made known to others who may be motivated to help out here and to pray for us and our ministry.  We were thrilled when Pat Mahoney expressed a desire to post to our Facebook page some of his photos and impressions of his visit with us.  You can share his experience firsthand by visiting Friends for Health in Haiti’s Facebook page.

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