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Our website has been quiet for several weeks, but it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot happening! Cherlie and I were in the US for most of November, visiting family and churches in New Jersey and attending a board meeting and other activities in Milwaukee. It was a productive time and provided a nice change of pace for us.

The clinic has been very busy lately and we were blessed earlier this month with having a team from Avera Health System in South Dakota here to help us out. Joining their group was Dr. Bruce McIntosh, a pediatrician from Jacksonville, Florida. The team had a very busy week helping in the clinic, putting up doors in the pharmacy building, getting a sterilizer working and giving out lots of clothing, diapers and sanitary kits to our patients. In addition, they brought us some much needed medications and supplies as well as patient numbers with the clinic logo on them. It was a fun week and we appreciated their help.

Team leader and nurse Kathy English holding an infant with a new handmade knitted cap on her head

Team leader and nurse Kathy English holding an infant with a new handmade knitted cap on her head

Dr. Bruce McIntosh helping with patient consultations in our Gatineau clinic.

Dr. Bruce McIntosh helping with patient consultations in our Gatineau clinic.

Dan Irvine and Steve Kruger busy putting up doors inside the pharmacy building.

Dan Irvine and Steve Kruger busy putting up doors inside the pharmacy building.

Nurse Jan McGrath with one of the clinic patients

Nurse Jan McGrath with one of the clinic patients

Mary Fargeness shows patients how to brush their teeth with the help of a translator, a huge toothbrush and a large stuffed crocodile “Croc”.

Mary Fargeness shows patients how to brush their teeth with the help of a translator, a huge toothbrush and a large stuffed crocodile “Croc”.

We have been having record numbers of patients lately in our clinic and have had to occasionally turn people away. All the school children are on vacation and many of them are home with their families out in the country. So, when they get sick, they’re coming in to see us! We’re glad to be of service to them, we just hope the overwhelming patient volume will let up soon!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

It’s always a little hard to feel much in the Christmas spirit here in Haiti due to the tropical climate and lack of visual evidence of celebration around us. This holiday season has been an especially difficult one for the Haitian people because of uncertainty and unrest related to the recent Presidential and parliamentary elections. A date for the final runoff election hasn’t yet been decided and many people are restless and upset with the unfair practices they perceive have taken place. It is in the midst of uncertainty in the world that the Gospel of Jesus Christ becomes most comforting – the Rock of Ages, the One on whom we can throw all our burdens and cares. We rejoice in celebration of the birth of the Christ child – sent to earth by the Father to redeem us from our sins and give us New Life in Him. All of us with Friends for Health in Haiti wish for you a very blessed and peaceful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Merry Christmas!

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Many visitors from the US come down to help us out here in Haiti and we are very grateful for their service to us and to the communities and people we are trying to impact. They sacrifice a lot for us – time, energy, expertise, financial and other resources – and we appreciate it very much. We always hope that our visitors have a fulfilling time here and that they will continue to support us in prayer and, maybe, come back to serve with us again!

We had two visitors in September from North Carolina – attorney Elizabeth Brown and medical student/RN Liza Kessling. Elizabeth helped us write up an employee contract, as well as several policies and procedures for our administrative and financial systems in the clinic. We’re trying to set up rigorous systems that will provide good accountability no matter who sits behind the desk!

Elizabeth (right) and Liza (left) enjoy a light moment at the breakfast table.

Elizabeth (right) and Liza (left) enjoy a light moment at the breakfast table.

Liza is trained as an RN and is now a third year medical student at Campbell University Osteopathic School of Medicine. This is a brand new, Christian-based school and hers is the first class of students. The school encourages its students to have global health experience and allows them to have a month-long overseas rotation in their third year of training. Liza has a heart for long-term missions and we’re hoping her heart leads her back here to Haiti! She studied some Creole before she came down and only needed to use a translator for the first week. After that, she was on her own with the patients and I had only to confirm the history and her findings and help decide on a plan for their care.

Liza interviews a patient, after which she will examine her and decide on a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Liza interviews a patient, after which she will examine her and decide on a diagnosis and treatment plan.

 Liza removes sutures from one of our iron workers

Liza removes sutures from one of our iron workers

While Liza was here, we had a visit from another group of Johns Hopkins nursing students along with faculty member Dr. Nicole Warren. The students are helping us with our Census Project (see upcoming newsletter for more information) as well as our ongoing Water and Sanitation Project. During the week they were here, they helped us with a feedback session with the 20 census workers who conducted the house-to-house census for us this summer. The session included small group discussions that gave feedback on certain aspects of the project. Each census worker had a chance to speak and express their thoughts on the positive and negative aspects of the census-taking. Their insights were quite enlightening to us!

Census workers giving feedback in small group sessions

Census workers giving feedback in small group sessions

The Hopkins students also walked out to two distant communities where they held teaching sessions in the local schools. They were received warmly and the students greatly enjoyed learning the things they taught. Topics they covered included hypertension, diabetes and hygiene.

Nursing students do health teaching in a local Haitian school

Nursing students do health teaching in a local Haitian school

While they were teaching the students, this little girl sat in the doorway looking on:

Little girl listens in to hear health teaching

Little girl listens in to hear health teaching

The JH students also visited the two communities where we are starting to build latrines and they held educational sessions for the latrine recipients. These sessions emphasized proper use of a latrine, maintenance of the latrine and requirements of the homeowner in building it. Construction of the latrines has been delayed this summer by the need for repairs to the dump truck that took longer than expected. We’re in the middle of the rainy season right now but hope to begin the latrine building in December.

Hole dug by a latrine recipient in anticipation of building the latrine in his yard.

Hole dug by a latrine recipient in anticipation of building the latrine in his yard.

OUR CLINIC IS BUSY!

These past couple of months have been very busy in our clinic in Gatineau, as record numbers of patients have been coming to us for care. We are seeing between 45 and 55 patients daily and sometimes have to turn patients away. If you are a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant and would like to come work with us for a few months or years, please let us know!

There is standing room only as patients listen to Cherlie speaking to them before beginning patient consultations in our outpatient clinic in Gatineau.

There is standing room only as patients listen to Cherlie speaking to them before beginning patient consultations in our outpatient clinic in Gatineau.

An exciting event that is occurring right now is the installation of iron doors and windows in our second floor residence quarters. There were several thefts in the building this past spring which will now be prevented by these sturdy iron doors and windows. Thanks to the iron workers who built them and the masons who are installing them.

Masons installing one of the iron doors in the residence quarters

Masons installing one of the iron doors in the residence quarters

 

Cherlie stands with the iron workers who built the residence doors and windows. We trust they’ll make the building more secure.

Cherlie stands with the iron workers who built the residence doors and windows. We trust they’ll make the building more secure.

 

 

 

Did you know that a printer can make an artificial hand? Well, a 3D printer can, thanks to some very innovative technology. I had the pleasure of connecting with some New Jersey-based members of a group called e-NABLE (www.enablingthefuture.org) who have a sub-group of their membership who are working on providing prosthetic arms and hands to amputees in Haiti. I met them through a friend of a friend of a friend who asked me if I could help a young man here in Jérémie who had suffered an arm amputation as a result of an electrocution accident last year. His name is Jethro and he goes to the Baptist church that we attend in downtown Jérémie. He is a firm believer and always gives witness to the Lord’s work in his life.

Our friend Jethro who lost his left arm and badly damaged his right hand in an electrocution accident last year.

Our friend Jethro who lost his left arm and badly damaged his right hand in an electrocution accident last year.

Last week we had a visit from Elinor Meeks and Dante Varotsis from the e-NABLE Haiti group and we met at the Baptist church in Jérémie with 5 young men who were arm amputees in need of prosthetic arms.

 Gemi Baptiste, our Community Coordinator registers two of the patients

Gemi Baptiste, our Community Coordinator registers two of the patients

Cherlie helps with registration as we meet with patients in the Baptist church in Jérémie

Cherlie helps with registration as we meet with patients in the Baptist church in Jérémie

Dante measures a patient and checks his shoulder motion in order to help design a prosthetic arm for him

Dante measures a patient and checks his shoulder motion in order to help design a prosthetic arm for him

The E-NABLE group had some hands and arms to show the group and discussed the technology, which is basically using a 3D printer to build plastic parts that are put together to form a prosthetic hand or arm. It was a fascinating meeting and the potential recipients were thrilled with the idea that they might someday receive a prosthesis.

Table filled with various 3D printed artificial hands

Table filled with various 3D printed artificial hands

We are grateful for this visit from Dante and Elinor and look forward to future visits from them and others on the e-NABLE Haiti team. In the meantime, we are putting out the word to find other patients who can benefit from this innovative technology.

 


We have been blessed in having groups of faculty and students from Johns Hopkins School of Nursing come down to visit and work with us twice a year. They have been helping us with our ongoing Water and Sanitation Community Development Project and, most recently, with a new Census Project (see our upcoming newsletter for more details!). On their last visit at the end of May, they led some educational programs at local primary schools in the area. One of the schools was in a community called Campagne, located about a 2 hour walk from the end of the road! The women were troopers and did a great job of navigating the rocky terrain, led by our Community Coordinator Gemi Baptiste. Here some of them are coming down a steep mountain path:

Many of the children in the school had never seen white people before, so they spent a lot of time staring at the teachers rather than listening to the translator. Here are some little ones who were thrilled to show off their coloring skills:

In addition to their teaching responsibilities, the students did find some time to go the the beach located not far from our home in Jérémie. Here is the happy group in the warm Caribbean water:

Their hands show the diversity of their backgrounds:

Each student had a unique story to tell regarding their journey to nursing school. We’re hoping their future journey may lead them back to us some day!

AVERA HAITI MISSION

We had a group from Avera Health in South Dakota with us in early June (see the upcoming newsletter for more details of their visit). The group helped us out in a number of areas, including teaching breast self exams to our female patients. They used a breast model to demonstrate the examination technique and many of the patients, including the men, were fascinated by the teaching. Here is Tammy using the model to teach a patient:

The team also did Pap smears, with equipment and supplies that they brought with them. Here are Tammy and Devyn in the Pap Room:

Dr. Scott Peterson, family physician, saw a range of patients for us, in addition to doing lots and lots of Pap smears. Here he is with a little patient who received a beanie baby in addition to a great consultation:

Not to be left out, several of the little girls received dresses brought by the group:

Here is Scott with Lisa (RN), Devyn (pre-dental student) and Louise (RN):

You can read more about their visit in our upcoming newsletter. Stay tuned!

“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!

 

We recently had a visit from ten members of churches in the New Brunswick, NJ Presbytery, including several from my (Dr. Wolf’s) home church in Kingston, NJ. It was a delight having them here and we experienced many great activities together. Some of the team members have been down here multiple times in the past and several were first-timers. But, they all worked hard and we hope everyone had a fulfilling and enjoyable time with us and our staff in Gatineau.

 NJ team and our staff in front of the clinic. Bottom left to right: Scott Hodge, Ninfa Mueller, Juanita Ashby, Cherlie, Whitney Charbonneau, Janet Rubinstein, Sharon McAnuff. Top row: Katie, Guy-Johns, Adrien, Gemi, David Raduzycki, Emily Raduzycki, Tom Lee, Miller, Pastor Sharyl Dixon

NJ team and our staff in front of the clinic. Bottom left to right: Scott Hodge, Ninfa Mueller, Juanita Ashby, Cherlie, Whitney Charbonneau, Janet Rubinstein, Sharon McAnuff. Top row: Katie, Guy-Johns, Adrien, Gemi, David Raduzycki, Emily Raduzycki, Tom Lee, Miller, Pastor Sharyl Dixon

Everyone on the team spent some time with us in the clinic. Sharon McAnuff, a retired nurse, put her skills to good use with Cherlie in the triage room, doing patient vital signs and weights.

Sharon helping Cherlie with patient assessments

Sharon helping Cherlie with patient assessments

Architect Tom Lee was here with us for two weeks and he and the two other men in the group – David Raduzycki and Scott Hodge – completely set up and organized a brand new workshop for us. We just completed an addition out the back of the storage depot, and there is now ample space for all those lovely power tools and carpentry materials. We’re hoping this dedicated workshop will be used not only by visiting carpenters, but as a venue for doing some vocational teaching with Haitian carpenters, who are less skilled with power tools.

David building a counter in the new workshop

David building a counter in the new workshop

Several members of the team went with our Community Coordinator, Gemi Baptiste, to a community about 30 minutes from the clinic. There, they did some health teaching, gave a Bible lesson and spent time interviewing and learning from the local community members. They asked questions of our Water and Sanitation Promoters and this allowed the Promoters to show off their knowledge to the community. At the end of the week, Cherlie and I went with the team to another community where we did some health teaching, answered lots of questions and had Pastor Sharyl bring greetings from the churches in NJ.   The team was thrilled to be treated to a taste of fresh coconut water!

Ninfa and Juanita eating the inside of the coconut after drinking the coconut water

Ninfa and Juanita eating the inside of the coconut after drinking the coconut water

Sharon receives instructions from Jules, one of our Promoters, on how to eat the inside of the coconut with a “spoon” made from the outside of the coconut shell.

Sharon receives instructions from Jules, one of our Promoters, on how to eat the inside of the coconut with a “spoon” made from the outside of the coconut shell.

One of the very important events of the NJ Team’s week was a meeting that we held with 40 pastors and lay pastors from the Protestant churches in the area around the clinic. We wanted to meet with them to let them know that we will be referring some of our patients to them for discipleship and Christian fellowship, especially those who pray with us and accept Christ as their Savior. Pastor Sharyl Dixon and members from Kingston Presbyterian Church greeted them and Pastor Sharyl fielded some questions from the pastors regarding church activities, theology and practices in the US. It was a good beginning for us and we hope to have more meetings and seminars with the pastors in the future.

Pastor Sharyl in the midst of the pastors in our meeting with them at the clinic

Pastor Sharyl in the midst of the pastors in our meeting with them at the clinic

Dr. Wolf addresses the pastors in our meeting together

Dr. Wolf addresses the pastors in our meeting together

A few months ago, we made history when we held two Vacation Bible School (VBS) sessions for young children in the area around the clinic, with the help of the Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver. They did such a great job and the children had such a great time that we were almost afraid to try it again for fear of not meeting up to our own expectations! But, try it we did with the NJ Presbyterian group. We had about 30 youngsters come to the clinic for Bible stories, crafts, games and fun two afternoons during the week. Here are some photos from the exciting event:

Painting a welcome sign for the VBS sessions

Painting a welcome sign for the VBS sessions

Juanita helps some of the boys with a game during VBS

Juanita helps some of the boys with a game during VBS

Pastor Sharyl shares a Bible story with the VBS children, with the assistance of Daniel, the translator

Pastor Sharyl shares a Bible story with the VBS children, with the assistance of Daniel, the translator

 Children sitting in a circle at the start of VBS

Children sitting in a circle at the start of VBS

VBS children holding up their crafts at the end of the last day

VBS children holding up their crafts at the end of the last day

 

Here are some happy faces from the two-day VBS event:

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While the NJ team was there, we were also blessed by a visit from several members of a hospital group from Sioux Falls, South Dakota called Avera. One of the group members was a family physician named Dr. Patty Peters, who did patient consultations with us in the clinic all week. We were grateful for her help and expertise.

Dr. Patty Peters relaxing at the end of patient consultations

Dr. Patty Peters relaxing at the end of patient consultations

Avera Team members (left to right): Sherry Gorman (computer expert), Shari Platek (RN), Kathy English (RN, mission team coordinator), Dr. Peters (family physician) and Bill Bradfeldt (pharmacist). Missing in the photo was Bob Voglewede, retired, former VP of Missions for Avera.

Avera Team members (left to right): Sherry Gorman (computer expert), Shari Platek (RN), Kathy English (RN, mission team coordinator), Dr. Peters (family physician) and Bill Bradfeldt (pharmacist). Missing in the photo was Bob Voglewede, retired, former VP of Missions for Avera.

We’re excited about the expertise and resources that Avera brings to our ministry and are anxious to see what the Lord has in store for all of us in the future!

Cherlie and I want to take this occasion to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We hope that as you enjoy the blessings of your wonderful country you will pray for the people of Haiti who feel blessed as well, but make do with much less. For those in all walks of life and all places on the globe, this is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord and we are grateful.

We’re also grateful for you, our donors, supporters and friends and the encouragement you give to us with your gifts, letters and prayers. We appreciate your partnership with us and pledge to be faithful to the mission to which we have been called – the mission of providing health care to those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

The Moon Group came to Haiti

Early December brought us a visit from Ray and Donna Moon accompanied by Yvonne DuCharme, Lin McKinney, Jeanette Schweitzer and Jodi Hundt. All but Jodi had been down here before and we were delighted to have the group work with us for a week. They came loaded down with medications for our pharmacy, toys for our children and suitcases in which they packed craft items that they transported back to Milwaukee for our annual fund-raising banquet to be held on April 25, 2015.

Our dining room table loaded with medications brought down for the clinic pharmacy

Our dining room table loaded with medications brought down for the clinic pharmacy

Young girl with sickle cell anemia holds her new beanie baby during a visit to the clinic

Young girl with sickle cell anemia holds her new beanie baby during a visit to the clinic

One of the delights of their week was a visit to two churches near the clinic site, where they did some health teaching, gave out hygiene kits and participated in singing and joyful dancing.

Welcome sign in the front of the Baptist church in Duchene where the group did health teaching

Welcome sign in the front of the Baptist church in Duchene where the group did health teaching

With the help of a translator, Yvonne and Jodi do health teaching in the Duchene church

With the help of a translator, Yvonne and Jodi do health teaching in the Duchene church

Jodi, Jeanette, Yvonne and Donna hand out hygiene kits to those participating in the teaching sessions

Jodi, Jeanette, Yvonne and Donna hand out hygiene kits to those participating in the teaching sessions

 Local Haitians leave the church with their hygiene kits and newly acquired knowledge

Local Haitians leave the church with their hygiene kits and newly acquired knowledge

Adrien Jean Jacques and church members sing and play instruments for the visitors in their church after a teaching session

Adrien Jean Jacques and church members sing and play instruments for the visitors in their church after a teaching session

The group also helped us out in the clinic itself. Donna and Yvonne jumped right in and helped Cherlie stabilize a young woman who came in as an emergency with a high fever probably due to malaria.

Young woman brought in to the clinic on a stretcher because she was too ill to walk by herself

Young woman brought in to the clinic on a stretcher because she was too ill to walk by herself

Donna taking the blood pressure of the ill young woman in clinic

Donna taking the blood pressure of the ill young woman in clinic

Yvonne draws blood for malaria testing on our emergency patient

Yvonne draws blood for malaria testing on our emergency patient

In addition to helping provide medical care, the group assisted with several other projects, including putting facings on shelves that had been built by a group from my home church in NJ earlier in the year, organizing the Emergency Room and storage area and packing medications in bags for our patients.

Ray and Yvonne cut wood strips for facings for pharmacy shelves

Ray and Yvonne cut wood strips for facings for pharmacy shelves

Jeanette and Lin work hard sanding the shelf facings before staining them

Jeanette and Lin work hard sanding the shelf facings before staining them

Lin and Jeanette organizing supplies in the clinic Emergency Room

Lin and Jeanette organizing supplies in the clinic Emergency Room

Ray, Jodi and Yvonne have fun packing medications on the porch of our house in Jeremie

Ray, Jodi and Yvonne have fun packing medications on the porch of our house in Jeremie

Ray and Jeanette brought down some baseball caps with the FHH logo to show us in hopes of starting a promotional program selling FHH products. Would you buy one of these beautiful caps????!

Ray and Katie show off their new FHH logo caps

Ray and Katie show off their new FHH logo caps

Much thanks to the Moon group for their camaraderie and hard work on our behalf. We and our patients are grateful!

by Dr. Katie Wolf

For several years now, I’ve been trying to get the FHH Board of Directors to hold a board meeting in Haiti, rather than in Milwaukee. We finally were able to set it up for November 2nd this year and all the appropriate plans were made for the board members to come down for the meeting and a brief stay in Jérémie.   Well, as you know, when plans are made that involve Haiti, they are often subject to change and these plans were no exception! The excitement began a few days before the board’s arrival, when I discovered that Tortug’Air flights were still on hold due to problems with the airplane. So, the first test of the board’s resilience was the 7 hour drive from Port-au-Prince to Jérémie in our jeep and another vehicle. They crossed that hurdle in flying colors when we arrived in Jérémie around 8pm Saturday evening, November 1st. The discomfort of the rough roads was more than offset by the meaningful conversations that took place in the vehicles. And, when we got to Jeremie, we were treated to a wonderful spaghetti dinner, thanks to the efforts of Cherlie, Tim and Ralph (they were with the Montview group and stayed on for the board meeting, helping Cherlie with laundry, bed-making and cleaning in preparation for the board members’ visit).

We woke up on Sunday morning, the day of the board meeting, to the sound of rain outside. It wasn’t just a drizzle, it was pouring rain. Having been through many months of drought, we were glad to have rain, just not on this day! But, rain it did. Our plans had called for going up to the clinic site so the board members could have a grand tour of all the construction, seeing first hand the buildings we have worked so hard to complete in the past few months. Then, we were going to hold the board meeting in the living room of the newly completed residence quarters, looking out on the beautiful valley below. Well, it seemed that the Lord and Mother Nature had other plans.

We slipped and slid our way up the mountain in the pouring rain, determined that everyone would at least be able to see the clinic site and buildings, even if we couldn’t do the “grand tour of the grounds” that I had envisioned. As we went further up into the mountains, we came to several areas where flooding had occurred, covering the road with water and threatening to overflow the banks of the creek running along the road. As we made it through each flooded, muddy section, we breathed a prayer of thanks for a sturdy vehicle and knobby tires! About half a mile from the clinic, though, we encountered an obstacle that required some contemplation – the creek we had to cross had become a raging river and the rain was continuing to fall. We piled out of the two vehicles and stood by the banks of the creek looking at the water swirling in front of us. The general conclusion of the group was that it wasn’t worth risking the jeep and our safety in order to get up to the clinic site. But, if we didn’t go up, the five members of the board who had flown in for the board meeting (other than Tim and Ralph who had been there the previous week) would have made the trip to Haiti somewhat in vain. So, we stood and watched, thinking through alternatives, weighing risks and benefits, counting the cost, etc.

The creek turned raging river

The creek turned raging river

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Weighing our options at the creek crossing

And, then something happened that made us stop in our thoughts. A local Haitian man, in barefeet and shorts, began walking across the raging creek. The water came up to his thighs, but he was able to cross without losing his balance or being washed downstream.  Mmm. Food for thought. If he was able to cross and didn’t get washed away, maybe we could indeed cross in the jeep. Still, there was hesitation. Maybe if the jeep went with a few people and proved that it was safe, the rest would follow. Well, that didn’t make sense, since we need all the weight we can get in the jeep in order to keep the tires on the stone creek bed and not have it whisked downstream. Okay, so it’s everyone or no one. Still there was indecision. What should we do? And then the same Haitian man crossed the creek again. And, again he kept his footing and didn’t get swept away. Finally, everyone was agreeable to take a chance and cross the creek. I turned the wheel over to our Haitian driver, Miller, and we all piled into the back of the jeep. As we held our breaths and prayed a few prayers for safety, we went down the bank on one side, across the creek and slid a bit down stream as we made it up the other side. As we drove up the other bank, we all clapped and saluted Miller for getting us across safely. He, of course, took it all in stride, wondering why these people were so worried about a little water in the first place!

We made it up to the site, walked around all the buildings, took a tour of the clinic, lab/xray/pharmacy building and the beautiful, but very wet residence quarters (without doors and windows, the rain was blowing into the residence living room).

View of the clinic, storage depot and pouring rain from the second floor residence

View of the clinic, storage depot and pouring rain from the second floor residence

As the rain continued to come down, we decided that the better part of valor would be to get back down the mountain and have the board meeting at home, rather than risk not being able to get back across the creek and on home later. So, we went home, regrouped, had a four-hour board meeting and thanked the Lord for all the small miracles of the day. Life and work in Haiti is not usually easy, but it is often exciting!

By Dr. Katie Wolf

Late October brought to us a work group from Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. Included in the group were board members Dr. Tim Bedient and Ralph Minor. Tim is a critical care and pulmonary specialist and is my nephew (Katie’s) and Ralph is an engineer who is our information technology consultant, among other things. A few months ago, Tim and Ralph had a meeting with Youth Pastor Sheri Fry from Montview and plans for a visit began to develop. The plans culminated in a wonderful team of 12 who spent a week with us in Jérémie and Gatineau. Their visit required more than the usual degree of tolerance and flexibility, as Tortug’Air, the local airline, was grounded due to a faulty engine on the one plane that is able to fly to Jérémie. As a result, they had to drive both ways between Port-au-Prince and Jérémie, not an easy task on a road that is improved, but still rough and under construction.

The team helped us out in several areas. Physicians Tim Bedient and Stephanie Knudson and nurse practitioner Eldonna Sylvia saw all the patients while I helped out in the pharmacy and did lab tests. It was great to have Tim’s expertise with my asthma patients and Stephanie and Eldonna gave me a break from patient consultations. All the other members of the team spent some time in the clinic as well, some observing what Cherlie and our staff were doing and others spending time interviewing our patients, in order to learn more about their lives and the things that affect them. When not busy in the clinic, we had some painting for them to do in the pharmacy building and residence quarters on the second floor.

Tim Bedient, Gene Rose and Phoebe Bawmann busy painting the outside of the pharmacy building

Tim Bedient, Gene Rose and Phoebe Bawmann busy painting the outside of the pharmacy building

Pastor Sheri Fry doing some painting with the team

Pastor Sheri Fry doing some painting with the team

 

There were two new activities that we were able to do with this unique group. First, we were able to offer animal vaccines to livestock that belong to people in the communities around the clinic site. Under the expert direction of veterinarian Nancy Willerton and her husband Craig Mills, the team vaccinated 395 animals (cattle, horses, mules, donkeys, pigs, goats and sheep) in 8 different communities in 4 days. It was definitely a team effort, involving the Montview visitors, who helped draw up the vaccines, change needles and syringes, two translators who registered the livestock owners and collected a small fee from them, Haitian veterinarian techs who helped restrain the animals and our own community coordinator Gemi Baptiste. The communities were extremely grateful for the service to their livestock and we were thrilled to be able to offer a new service to our patients and their families. Assisting with livelihood development goes a long way in terms of improving health in our communities. Kudos for the great teamwork demonstrated by our visitors and Haitian staff during this busy, productive week.

 

Several animals waiting for vaccines at one of the vaccination posts

Several animals waiting for vaccines at one of the vaccination posts

Veterinarian Nancy Willerton vaccinates a pig

Veterinarian Nancy Willerton vaccinates a pig

Nancy giving oral anti-parasitic medication to a steer while Vet tech Bruny Chevalier restrains him

Nancy giving oral anti-parasitic medication to a steer while Vet tech Bruny Chevalier restrains him

Another activity that the Montview group did as a “first” for us was to hold two Vacation Bible School (VBS) sessions with local children in the area on two days after school. We invited about 25 children and had more than 35 attend! Word got around and the children came marching up the road to the clinic, freshly bathed and clothed in neatly pressed, clean clothes. Little did they know what was in store for them, but come they did! Pastor Sheri and her team led them in craft activities, Bible stories, songs and games. During the two hours they were with us, I think the children smiled and laughed more than they probably had in the past few months of their lives. It was great work on the part of our visitors, the translators and the children.

 

Children sitting in the waiting area in front of the clinic during VBS

Children sitting in the waiting area in front of the clinic during VBS

Children laying out paper “people” on benches so they can decorate them

Children laying out paper “people” on benches so they can decorate them

Two young girls looking over their beautiful craft items

Two young girls looking over their beautiful craft items

All the children showing off their crafts

All the children showing off their crafts

Children learn how to play the game of “duck duck goose”

Children learn how to play the game of “duck duck goose”

Getting ready to “go” during game of “red light, green light”

Getting ready to “go” during game of “red light, green light”

 

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