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We were blessed recently to have a visit from a group of friends from Milwaukee that included Ray and Donna Moon, Bob Chase, Yvonne DuCharme, Lawrence DuCharme, Brittany DuCharme and Dr. Ron Schroeder. They served with us for two weeks and did they work hard! We had asked that they come down to build cabinets for our laboratory and pharmacy and they accomplished this in splendid fashion under the expert eye of Bob Chase and with the assistance of Lawrence DuCharme and the rest of the team. Even Dr. Ron was put to work helping out after seeing patients with Dr. Wolf in the clinic.

Master cabinetmaker Bob Chase (left) and Lawrence DuCharme directed the team

Master cabinetmaker Bob Chase (left) and Lawrence DuCharme directed the team

Brittany (Lawrence and Yvonne’s niece) and Donna staining the cabinets on the pharmacy sidewalk

Brittany (Lawrence and Yvonne’s niece) and Donna staining the cabinets on the pharmacy sidewalk

Beginning of the installation of cabinets in the laboratory

Beginning of the installation of cabinets in the laboratory

Lab cabinets installed

Lab cabinets installed

In addition to making and installing the cabinets in the laboratory and pharmacy, the team painted and organized the electrical and plumbing rooms.

The women did most of the painting of the electrical and plumbing rooms, cleaning and organizing them as well.

The women did most of the painting of the electrical and plumbing rooms, cleaning and organizing them as well.

They also emptied out drums of clinic and laboratory supplies and organized them in the clinic and laboratory storerooms.

Boxes of laboratory and clinic supplies organized in the laboratory storeroom

Boxes of laboratory and clinic supplies organized in the laboratory storeroom

This team was the first of our visiting groups to stay overnight in our new second floor residence quarters. Once the iron doors and windows were installed in the residence to secure the building, we felt that it was safe enough for our visitors to stay up there during the week. This enabled them to start work earlier, finish later and avoid the fatigue of the drive up and down the mountain each day. We had two full beds and several cots up there with extra mattresses, linens and towels, canned foods, juice, milk and other staples, dishes, silverware, pots and pans and kitchen utensils. The team fixed their own food each day and seemed to enjoy their independence and the cool mountain breezes! Cherlie and I went back to our house in Jérémie each day to re-stock our clinic meds and check on the house and our dogs!

Dining room and kitchen of the residence

Dining room and kitchen of the residence

Donna, Ray, Bob, Brittany and Lawrence enjoying lunch up at the residence

Donna, Ray, Bob, Brittany and Lawrence enjoying lunch up at the residence

Engineers Lawrence and Brittany rigged up frames over their cots for mosquito nets.

Engineers Lawrence and Brittany rigged up frames over their cots for mosquito nets.

In addition to all of their other work, Bob decided that they should construct bunk beds for the residence bedrooms. So, after working several days on the design, the group set to work cutting and varnishing the pieces, after which they installed 4 bunk bed sets. Of course, they made sure they slept in them before they left the site!

All the plywood bunk bed parts lined up and ready to be installed

All the plywood bunk bed parts lined up and ready to be installed

It took a team to install the beds (Ray, Ron and Yvonne)

It took a team to install the beds (Ray, Ron and Yvonne)

Bunkbeds after installation in the bedrooms of the residence

Bunkbeds after installation in the bedrooms of the residence

While the construction team was working hard, Dr. Ron Schroeder was helping us see patients in our clinic. As a gynecologist, he offered specialty services to our patients that were very much appreciated and he performed almost 90 Pap smears during the two weeks he was here. He was a huge help to us and to our patients.

Dr. Ron consulting with a patient in our clinic

Dr. Ron consulting with a patient in our clinic

During the time the team was here, there were two situations that clearly showed us that people were praying for them in their service with us here in Haiti.

The first situation occurred late one afternoon after Cherlie and I had left to go back to Jérémie. As Ray was finishing work in the work shop, he accidentally cut his arm on the miter saw. Fortunately, the whole team mobilized and found instruments, suture material, gauze and gloves for Dr. Ron to use to suture the laceration. Ray was a good patient and was quickly patched up and ready to work again the next day!

Dr. Ron putting sutures in Ray’s arm laceration outside the clinic. Natural light is a wonderful thing!

Dr. Ron putting sutures in Ray’s arm laceration outside the clinic. Natural light is a wonderful thing!

Ray and Donna Moon, team organizers, take a little break from their work

Ray and Donna Moon, team organizers, take a little break from their work

The second situation that showed us God’s wonderful grace happened on Friday, January 29th, when the group was returning to Port au Prince (PAP) to fly out the following day to the US. During that week, there had been a lot of violence in PAP and the rural areas as a result of the cancelled Presidential runoff elections on January 24th. We were apprehensive about the political instability and considered several options in trying to get our visitors to PAP safely and on to their families in the US. We decided that we would have them go to PAP in our large jeep with Miller, our driver and Cherlie to accompany them in case of any demonstrations or problems on the road. They left Jérémie at 3am and were making wonderful progress when, an hour outside of PAP, a vehicle pulled out suddenly in front of the jeep and the vehicles collided in a noisy crash. Due to the grace of God, no one was seriously injured in either vehicle, although our jeep sustained major damage to the front end. If it wasn’t for a large iron bumper that we had installed when we first purchased the jeep, the damage and injuries could have been more significant. We are dismayed by the damaged jeep but praise the Lord for his protection of the passengers and driver. They were picked up by the guesthouse driver and made it back to the US without further problems and Cherlie came back to Jérémie on a bus. The jeep will stay in PAP until it gets repaired.

POLITICAL INSTABILITY

We appreciate your prayers for the political situation here in Haiti which is very unstable at this time. President Martelly is due to step down from power on February 7th and there is no duly elected president to take over from him. There is talk about a transitional government being set up but this has not yet been done. Every day there have been demonstrations in PAP and sometimes they have spread into the rural towns outside the capital. We have had to cancel visitors for February due to the instability and hope that the situation calms down so we can continue on with our normal activities and trips back and forth to Port au Prince in the near future.

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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

I am thrilled to report that for the first time in its seven years of existence, Centre de Sante de Gatineau now has electricity and pure, drinkable, running water! We praise the Lord for His blessing and provision for us in this huge accomplishment. And, we thank the many people who made this possible:

  • Chuck Smith in Milwaukee who helped order all the electrical equipment and supplies.
  • Karl Ralian in Waukesha, WI and Food For The Poor who shipped the equipment down to Haiti in a shipping container.
  • David Farquharson, from Port-au-Prince, who is a missionary with an incredible amount of knowledge and practical experience in setting up systems like ours. He came out from PAP two consecutive weekends to conduct the actual installation of the entire system. Without his practical knowledge of the constraints and issues unique to Haiti (e.g., the huge problem of solar panel theft), this installation would not have been possible.
  • Junior Telisma, our Haitian electrical foreman who came up with his entire crew to do all the wiring and help with the installation.
  • Gardy Pamphile, our Haitian plumber who put in the water system and installed the UV filters that filter our water.
  • Jacob Pierre and his crew of iron workers from Jérémie who built the iron racks that secure the panels to the roof so they don’t “walk off”.
  • Our own staff members including Gemi Baptiste, Guy-Johns Chevalier and Adrien Jean Jacques.
  • And, of course, Cherlie who provided supervision and QA on the roof as the process unfolded.

Below are some photos from this past weekend’s events.

In our previous blog, I described the electrical system that we set up, with solar panels connected to an inverter and a battery system. This is necessary because there is no source of electrical power up in the mountains where the clinic is located. So, we need to create all of our electricity. On sunny days, the solar panels gather the solar energy and the electricity they generate is passed through wires to a control box and supplies electricity to the buildings. Excess electricity is passed into the batteries (we installed 32 12Volt batteries) that store the energy. Then, in the evening or during cloudy periods, the electrical energy is taken from the batteries, goes through the inverter that changes it from DC (direct current) to common household AC (alternating current) power that goes into the buildings. It’s not a complicated system, but it requires a lot of wiring and understanding of where the current needs to go. The solar panels generate a lot of electrical energy, so things need to be handled and connected correctly. This is where David was such a huge help to us, in order to get everything connected in a way that will avoid problems in the future.

Last weekend, the iron workers made heavy iron racks on which to place the solar panels. This was necessary to secure the panels from theft up on the roof. The racks were bolted into the concrete roof. Then, the 24 solar panels (each of them was 300 watts) were taken up to the roof. As is typical in Haiti, the workers chose the shortest route (i.e. ladders) and established a “brigade” to get them quickly and safely up to the roof (similar to the bucket brigade they use when concrete roofs are being poured). Here are photos of the process:

Iron racks bolted to the roof, on which the solar panels will be placed

Iron racks bolted to the roof, on which the solar panels will be placed

Workers welding the security bar at the bottom of the iron rack on the roof prior to installing the panels. The iron bar covers the edge of the panel, preventing it from being lifted out of the iron rack

Workers welding the security bar at the bottom of the iron rack on the roof prior to installing the panels. The iron bar covers the edge of the panel, preventing it from being lifted out of the iron rack

Solar panel being brought from the clinic to the ladders and waiting “brigade”

Solar panel being brought from the clinic to the ladders and waiting “brigade”

Panel going up the first ladder

Panel going up the first ladder

Panel at base of the second ladder

Panel at base of the second ladder

Panel going up second ladder

Panel going up second ladder

As each panel was put into place on the iron rack, David and the electricians connected wires underneath the panel. These wires connected all the panels together on each side (12 panels on the bottom and 12 on the top). Each set of 12 panels feeds into the control boxes and inverters in the main electrical room. This wiring system was a critical step in the process, since, once the panels were in place, they were welded across the top and there is no way to get under the panels to access the wires without cutting apart the entire rack system (obviously a deterrent to thieves, which is why the panels are secured so well).

Sliding the panels into place on the iron rack

Sliding the panels into place on the iron rack

After the panel is in place, wires are connected underneath it as David looks on

After the panel is in place, wires are connected underneath it as David looks on

The crew get the next panel ready to place on the rack

The crew get the next panel ready to place on the rack

David created a plywood support to go on top of the panels, on which Jacob could sit to weld iron across the bottom edge of the rack.

David created a plywood support to go on top of the panels, on which Jacob could sit to weld iron across the bottom edge of the rack.

Jacob sitting on the plywood support that protected the panels from damage and kept him from sliding off the roof!

Jacob sitting on the plywood support that protected the panels from damage and kept him from sliding off the roof!

Of course, no job is done at the site without the supervision of Cherlie

Of course, no job is done at the site without the supervision of Cherlie

Solar panels installed on the roof of the residence. They were placed at an angle and in a direction to capture the most sunlight during the day.

Solar panels installed on the roof of the residence. They were placed at an angle and in a direction to capture the most sunlight during the day.

Electrical room with inverters, charge controller, control panels and wiring that runs the entire electrical system.

Electrical room with inverters, charge controller, control panels and wiring that runs the entire electrical system.

The batteries were set up on an iron rack along the wall in the storage depot that is directly behind the electrical equipment. The batteries were connected to each other with heavy cables and cables were put through the wall to connect to the electrical equipment.

Electricians hooking up the batteries with cables

Electricians hooking up the batteries with cables

While the electricians were hard at work, the plumber was installing our UV filtration system to filter and purify the water that goes into the buildings. Water is pumped from our well up to the 10,000 gallon reservoir on the hillside and fed by gravity down to the storage depot, where it goes through the UV filters and into the clinic and other buildings.

 10,000 gallon reservoir on the hillside above the clinic

10,000 gallon reservoir on the hillside above the clinic

UV filters installed in a room in the storage depot adjacent to the electrical room

UV filters installed in a room in the storage depot adjacent to the electrical room

Our patients were very excited to see the activity that was going on as the electrical and water systems were being finalized and the whole atmosphere up at the site the past few weeks has been extremely positive. The workmen have shown an amazing spirit of cooperation and dedication as they put their hands together to help us accomplish this amazing task. Thank you all for your faithful prayers for us and for our ministry here in Haiti. The Lord is working and we stand together and say “AMEN”!

 

 

I wanted to give a quick update of our weekend with missionary David Farquharson from PAP, who came out to help install our solar electrical system. We spent three very busy and somewhat exhausting days up at the site (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) with David and about 25 workers and had a very productive time. We had iron frames already made for the solar panels and decided that the best position for them (to avoid theft and vandalism) was on the roof of the second floor residence. So, one of the first orders of business was to get the racks up to the roof and then weld them all together. Each rack will hold two solar panels and there are 12 racks that had to get up there. The racks are heavy, but the Haitian workers carried and turned them around to get them into the right position as though they were light as a feather!

Arranging the solar panel racks on the second story roof

Arranging the solar panel racks on the second story roof

The iron workers put iron feet on the frames and started to drill through them to bolt them to the concrete roof. Unfortunately, the 5-6 steel drill bits that we had were quickly worn out, so the job wasn’t able to be completed. Just getting the frames welded together and up on the roof was an accomplishment, though.

Iron racks up on the roof of the residence with David and the iron workers trying to drill through the iron feet

Iron racks up on the roof of the residence with David and the iron workers trying to drill through the iron feet

The iron workers also had built an iron rack on which we want to put the 32 batteries that we’re installing. David helped decide on the final design of the rack and the ideal position in our storage depot.

 Iron rack ready to hold the 32 batteries that will store electrical energy for use at night and on cloudy days

Iron rack ready to hold the 32 batteries that will store electrical energy for use at night and on cloudy days

As many of you may know, the solar panels and batteries work with an inverter that converts the 12 volt power from the batteries to 110 volt household current. We have two large inverters that are connected together and had to be mounted in the electrical room of the storage depot. They will later be connected to the batteries and to the main electrical panels where the wires from the solar panels come in. All of the connections and wiring systems were worked on by David and Junior Thelisma, our Haitian electrician.

Junior and David putting the inverter system up on the wall in the electrical room of the storage depot

Junior and David putting the inverter system up on the wall in the electrical room of the storage depot

In order to connect all the wiring from the solar panels, David needed a special soldering gun that wasn’t available here in Jeremie. So, he’s planning to come back again next weekend to complete the wiring, place all the panels in position and connect up the batteries. Stay tuned for further updates! Thanks for all of your prayers on our behalf. We have been very blessed with David’s expertise (he’s installed many of these solar systems in Haiti and elsewhere) and his presence with us.

OTHER PROGRESS

We’ve continued to make progress on the residence quarters, where the kitchen counters were recently poured out of concrete. Holes were made for the sink and we’ll put ceramic tile on the counter tops.

Poured concrete counters in the residence kitchen

Poured concrete counters in the residence kitchen

This week brought the arrival of Mehil Jean Charles and his team of 4 who are here to install the ceramic tile in the residence area and in the entire pharmacy/lab/xray building. Boss Mehil helped install the tile at our house and also at the clinic, so we are well acquainted with one another. We appreciate his crew’s expertise and are very happy to have them with us again. They’ll be staying up at the site in our old clinic building! Thanks for good friends and hard workers!

Ceramic tile installation in the living room of the residence quarters

Ceramic tile installation in the living room of the residence quarters

 

It is not uncommon in Haiti to have children being raised by grandparents or other relatives. Sometimes their parents are living, but are unable to provide for the child. Sometimes, the parents are no longer living together and one of the grandparents assumes care of the child so the parents can be free to work and make a life for themselves. And, sometimes, the parents have died, leaving the child in the care of extended family members. In most situations, it is only when an extended family member or grandparent is unable to care for the child that they may be put into an orphanage.

In our medical clinic in Gatineau, we see many little children who are basically orphans, in situations such as the ones described above. I’d like to have you meet a few of them. They are some of our most precious patients and we make sure to give them extra love and affection when we see them. We often take money from our Poor Fund to pay for their medications so they won’t be a burden to their grandparents and caregivers.

You’ve already met Lucson and his brother Elie. When they first came to us, we didn’t know their names. Their mother had died and their father was in Port-au-Prince and unable to care for them, so their grandmother brought them home with her after her daughter’s (their mother’s) funeral. Lucson and Elie are full of life and energy and they keep their elderly grandmother busy.

Brothers Lucson and Elie after a recent consultation in the clinic

Brothers Lucson and Elie after a recent consultation in the clinic

Then, there’s Nouislene, the little girl who lost both of her parents and is being cared for by her great aunt. She had come to us with a facial laceration a few months ago after she fell off her porch and we sutured the laceration for her. Here’s a photo of her from last month. Her face has healed well and we love her smile (in spite of her bad teeth)!

Nouislene showing her healed facial laceration

Nouislene showing her healed facial laceration

Nouislene’s big smile and rotten teeth

Nouislene’s big smile and rotten teeth

Tamara Cejour is four years old and always has a sad face when she comes to the clinic. Her mother died recently and she is being cared for by her grandmother. We’ve given her a beanie baby to brighten her day and are praying that in time, her grief will lessen.

Tamara recently lost her mother and is still very sad

Tamara recently lost her mother and is still very sad

Little Charlesive Daniel is a two and a half year old bundle of energy, almost more than his grandmother can handle. His long hair is as wild as his personality, but he sat quietly during my examination and listened intently to what I had to say. He got a toy car as he left the clinic – a gift from children in my home church in New Jersey. He’s been in the care of his grandmother since he was an infant, abandoned by his young mother. One has to wonder what his future will hold?

Charlesive sits quietly on his grandmother’s lap in clinic during his consultation

Charlesive sits quietly on his grandmother’s lap in clinic during his consultation

 

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A HAIRCUT AND A FEW MONTHS MAKE!

One of our favorite patients is this little boy name Roodjumy (how’s that for a mouthful?), who came to the clinic with his mother in February of this year. He was all smiles and full of mischief.

 

Long hair and toothy smile

Long hair and toothy smile

Here is Roodjumy at the end of May with a new haircut and a more mature look (at the age of 14 months). We love these little boys and girls who brighten our days and soften our hearts.

Don’t we look handsome?!

Don’t we look handsome?!

 

CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS

Steady progress continues on the second floor residence quarters, which is now nearly finished. The masons have now finished up the cupolas on the roof of the building – putting up blocks and doing the stucco work. As they finish work on the second floor, we’ve been painting it, taking advantage of the scaffolding that’s in place. Once the scaffold is taken down, there’s no good way to access the high walls and ceilings! We’re being helped in the painting process by the three young men who work with us – Gemi, Adrien and Guy-Johns.

 

Stucco work being done on the cupolas on the roof of the pharmacy and residence building

Stucco work being done on the cupolas on the roof of the pharmacy and residence building

Our three helpers using the scaffold to paint the outside ceilings

Our three helpers using the scaffold to paint the outside ceilings

We’ve also started building a small workshop area attached to the back of the storage depot. A door will be cut into the wall of the depot leading out to the workshop, which will have a half wall with the rest of the wall being iron grille work. This will give security for the tools and equipment, but allow for good ventilation for carpenters to work on our wood projects.

Foundation for the outside workshop area behind the storage depot

Foundation for the outside workshop area behind the storage depot

Also behind the depot will be a concrete slab and small building to house the backup generator. It will also have a half wall and iron grille work to allow for ventilation for the generator.

Foundation being dug for the generator enclosure behind the storage depot

Foundation being dug for the generator enclosure behind the storage depot

Inside the residence area and the “charcoal” outside kitchen, counters are being poured out of concrete, after which ceramic tile will be placed. Here is a photo of the kitchen counter in the outside kitchen, which is just outside the entrance to the residence, next to the stairwell leading downstairs to the pharmacy.

Frame work in place for kitchen counters

Frame work in place for kitchen counters

We are getting ready for two major events this weekend and would appreciate your prayers for us. First, we anticipate installing our solar panels, inverters and batteries for our electrical system, thanks to the help of a missionary from Port-au-Prince named David Farquharson. David will be working with our Haitian electrician and his crew in getting the whole system up and running. This is a huge step for us, since it means we will have not only electricity, but also running, filtered water in the clinic. Please pray!

In addition, we anticipate the arrival of the workmen who will be putting down the ceramic tile in the residence quarters and pharmacy/xray/lab building. They’ll be living up at the site and will be here for several weeks doing the ceramic installation. This represents tremendous progress for us in our construction and we thank you for your faithful prayers.

 

 

Cherlie and I had a short break at the beginning of April when we went up to Milwaukee for our 6th annual Hope for Haiti fund-raising banquet. It was a wonderful event and we were able to see a lot of former acquaintances, medical colleagues, Haiti visitors and meet some wonderful new friends. Now, we’re back at work again in the clinic and we certainly are enjoying being in the new clinic building. Our patients really enjoy it too and every day we hear expressions of their appreciation for providing them with such a beautiful place in which to receive care.

As we all know, it’s not the beauty of the surroundings that determines whether someone will get better or not when they’re ill, it’s the quality of care they receive. But, the cleanliness, organization and physical appeal are a reflection of the respect we have for our patients, and that is also reflected in the care we give them. We feel that as followers of Jesus Christ we are called to a higher level of excellence in all that we do in life and our careers and professions are certainly the most obvious places to witness that excellence.

Patients waiting on the porch of our new clinic as Cherlie talks with them

Patients waiting on the porch of our new clinic as Cherlie talks with them

Dr. Wolf examining a patient in the new clinic

Dr. Wolf examining a patient in the new clinic

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

The workmen have been hard at work the past month doing the final stucco work inside and outside the second floor residence quarters that is on top of the pharmacy and lab building. They have made very rapid progress and the building feels like it is in the final stages of construction. We are extremely grateful for all of the financial donations that have made this construction possible. Thank you!

Masons putting on final stucco layer on second floor residence on top of the pharmacy and lab building

Masons putting on final stucco layer on second floor residence on top of the pharmacy and lab building

ANOTHER VISIT FROM JOHNS HOPKINS NURSING STUDENTS AND FACULTY

We were happy to host another group of nursing students and faculty member Grace Murphy this past week from Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON). We are involved in an ongoing water and sanitation community development project with them and we made good progress during the week. Three of the days were spent holding community education sessions in communities near our clinic that are not directly involved in the water and sanitation project.

JHSON students and their translator provide community education in a local church near the clinic

JHSON students and their translator provide community education in a local church near the clinic

JHSON students and faculty demonstrate hand washing technique to local community members

JHSON students and faculty demonstrate hand washing technique to local community members

While part of the group of students was out in the local communities, the rest were assisting Cherlie and myself in our clinic. One of the highlights for our patients was that they received education from the students while waiting for their consultations.

 JHSON students teach patients as they wait for consultations in the clinic

JHSON students teach patients as they wait for consultations in the clinic

Two days were spent holding a continuing education session for the 12 promoters who were trained in September 2013 to do community education. These promoters have been very active in their communities teaching people about how diseases can be spread by contaminated water, the importance of treating drinking water, personal hygiene and hand-washing and proper storage of treated water.

JHSON students teaching water and sanitation promoters in a continuing education session

JHSON students teaching water and sanitation promoters in a continuing education session

Promoters (note the t-shirts they were given after their training last September) listen to the lessons and follow in their notebooks

Promoters (note the t-shirts they were given after their training last September) listen to the lessons and follow in their notebooks

Of course, teaching wouldn’t be complete without having the promoters teach new material to one another. This helps reinforce the teaching points and allows them to give feedback to one another regarding the effectiveness of their teaching.

One of the promoters teaches new material to the other promoters under the watchful eyes of the JHSON students

One of the promoters teaches new material to the other promoters under the watchful eyes of the JHSON students

A new twist to the educational sessions was having the promoters participate in playing “comparison” games with pictures demonstrating good and bad hygiene practices. They loved the games and feel that they will help them in their community education activities.

Promoters learning to play the “comparison” game with hygiene pictures

Promoters learning to play the “comparison” game with hygiene pictures

At the end of the week, promoters and students posed in front of the clinic, giving the “clean hands” sign.

Promoters and JHSON students giving the “clean hands” sign

Promoters and JHSON students giving the “clean hands” sign

When visitors stay with us at our home in Jérémie, we like to show them the town and have them experience some of the activities. This group of students was able to participate in Haitian Flag Day celebrations in Jérémie on May 18th.

Haitian school students in colorful uniforms celebrating Flag Day in Jérémie on May 18th

Haitian school students in colorful uniforms celebrating Flag Day in Jérémie on May 18th

JHSON students and faculty at the Jérémie soccer stadium observing Flag Day festivities

JHSON students and faculty at the Jérémie soccer stadium observing Flag Day festivities

Another highlight of the students’ visit was that they brought several duffel bags full of used tennis shoes to us. We’ve had a wonderful time distributing them to needy patients in the clinic. They are thrilled with the gifts and we feel blessed by the givers! Thanks to all who contributed to this effort!

Cherlie helping a patient try on his new tennis shoes in clinic

Cherlie helping a patient try on his new tennis shoes in clinic

New tennis shoes bring a smile to the face of this little patient and his mother

New tennis shoes bring a smile to the face of this little patient and his mother

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve had a number of significant events in the history of Friends for Health in Haiti since Cherlie and I started our ministry here in 2007.  One of the most significant occurred on Monday, March 17th when we moved all of our patient operations into the new clinic building.  We had been delayed in doing this due to ongoing construction at the site, including some finishing touches being put on the clinic porch and doors.  But with the second story roof poured on the pharmacy/lab/xray building, the site is less “active” now in terms of dump trucks bringing up materials, so we decided it was a good time to make the big move.

Thursday, March 13th we moved all the charts, medications and supplies from our little tin-roofed house clinic over to the new clinic building.  Saturday found us at the site doing some touch-up painting on the porch and inside waiting area.  We took the benches that had been under the previous tin-roofed waiting area inside the house and brought out our new benches onto the new clinic porch.  Monday morning when we got up to the site, the patients were there and waiting, uncertain as to the change that was afoot.  We told them that they were about to make history as the first patients to be treated in the new Centre de Sante de Gatineau!  Those who had been praying for this day were rejoicing along with us, because they knew the obstacles that we had faced in getting these buildings up, painted and furnished.  It didn’t matter that the electricity and water weren’t yet connected.  The natural light coming into the clinic rooms was astounding as was the cool breeze coming across the valley and into the windows.  The walls were smooth and painted, a nice contrast to the falling-apart stucco walls we left behind.  Instead of plastic garbage bags tied to the window or the back of a chair, we now have plastic wastebaskets, conveniently located in each room.  There are drawers and cabinets for our supplies and a storage room for all the extras.  We feel like we are truly in heaven!

Front of the clinic on our beautiful opening day

Front of the clinic on our beautiful opening day

Patients sit on benches on the new clinic porch waiting for consultations to start

Patients sit on benches on the new clinic porch waiting for consultations to start

Cherlie addressing the patients at the start of the new clinic opening day

Cherlie addressing the patients at the start of the new clinic opening day

Dr. Wolf speaking with patients on opening day in the new clinic

Dr. Wolf speaking with patients on opening day in the new clinic

Praying with patients and dedicating the new clinic to the Lord

Praying with patients and dedicating the new clinic to the Lord

Cherlie leading a patient into her fresh, new triage room

Cherlie leading a patient into her fresh, new triage room

Dr. Wolf interviewing a patient in one of the new consultation rooms

Dr. Wolf interviewing a patient in one of the new consultation rooms

Dr. Katie and Cherlie removing sutures from a young patient

Dr. Katie and Cherlie removing sutures from a young patient

Guy-Johns Chevalier works in the temporary pharmacy area set up in the Medical Records room in the new clinic

Guy-Johns Chevalier works in the temporary pharmacy area set up in the Medical Records room in the new clinic

Adrien Jean Jacques registers patients in the Medical Records area of the new clinic.  He also is our clinic chaplain.

Adrien Jean Jacques registers patients in the Medical Records area of the new clinic. He also is our clinic chaplain.

 A patient registers outside at the registration window

A patient registers outside at the registration window

Thanks to all of you who have donated your time, money and energy in making this wonderful clinic possible.  We are rejoicing in the way the Lord has blessed us through you!

THE DENTISTS WERE HERE AGAIN!

For the second year in a row, we’ve had the privilege of hosting a team of dental students and faculty from Temple University in Philadelphia, under the direction of Dr. Jason Bresler.  Six students and faculty set up their portable dental chairs on the front porch of the clinic and pulled teeth for 52 of our patients!  The patients were thrilled with the service and we felt blessed to be able to help provide it to them, due to the generosity of the Temple University team.  Much thanks to all!

Patients waiting to have their teeth pulled by the Temple University dental team

Patients waiting to have their teeth pulled by the Temple University dental team

Temple University dental team sets up on the clinic porch

Temple University dental team sets up on the clinic porch

 Patients getting their teeth pulled and others awaiting their fate!

Patients getting their teeth pulled and others awaiting their fate!

Working on a patient with dental instruments spread out on a table behind

Working on a patient with dental instruments spread out on a table behind

 Dr. Jason Bresler, faculty member and one of the team leaders from Temple University Dental School

Dr. Jason Bresler, faculty member and one of the team leaders from Temple University Dental School

 

CONSTRUCTION NOTES

We recently poured a new surface on the bridge leading up to the clinic site, replete with drainage canals and a sloped surface to prevent mud and water from accumulating on the bridge.  This had been a major problem in the past, so the new surface will successfully resolve it.  Below are photos of the old and new bridge.  The design is thanks to Thomas Lee, architect from NJ.

Bridge prior to its facelift!

Bridge prior to its facelift!

 

New bridge surface.  The rocks near the bridge will be used to fill gabion cages along the sides of the creek above and below the bridge.

New bridge surface. The rocks near the bridge will be used to fill gabion cages along the sides of the creek above and below the bridge.

 New bridge from the side, looking over the creek to the new clinic buildings

New bridge from the side, looking over the creek to the new clinic buildings

We also recently had a Haitian carpenter build doors for the patient latrines.  Most all of our construction work has been done by Haitian workmen.  It’s a great way to provide employment for them and helps them support their families.

Haitian carpenters working on the latrine doors

Haitian carpenters working on the latrine doors

Completed latrine doors

Completed latrine doors

 

As promised, here are some photos from the exciting day last week when we poured the second story roof on the pharmacy/lab/xray building up at our clinic site.  As I show you the photos, I’ll describe some of the processes involved in getting the concrete up to the roof!

The day before the event, the carpenters were busy checking all the framing to be sure it was secure and that all the spaces between the plywood and planks were filled with cardboard or paper to seal them.  In addition, they built 4 ladders that were used for the “bucket brigade” to get the concrete from down on the ground where it was mixed, up to the roof.  When we arrived at the site early Wednesday morning, the crew was already in place and busily working.

There were four ladders set up in place with 2 ladders on each side of the building.  We had two cement mixers in use, one on each side, with each workman assigned to a specific task.  Some filled buckets with sand, some with gravel, some with water and some with cement powder that they put from bags into buckets.  Others carried the bags of cement from the storage building over to the mixing site.  Each batch of concrete has a specific ratio of ingredients and it’s the mixer operator’s job to keep track of what’s going into the mixer.  Here is one of the mixers that was donated to us by Wayne and Joanne Siesennop from Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee.  It was a wonderful thing to be able to have two mixers in use for such a huge job.

Filling the cement mixer with material

Filling the cement mixer with material

Pile of cement bags waiting to be used

Pile of cement bags waiting to be used

There were 6 plastic drums, 3 by each mixer, to hold water for mixing the concrete.  The drums hold 55 gallons each and water was carried in 5 gallon buckets from the creek up a steep hill to the clinic site by two sisters and their two sons.  They filled up 106 drums with water during the day!

Sisters Eveline and Marie carrying buckets of water on their heads from the creek up to the building site.

Sisters Eveline and Marie carrying buckets of water on their heads from the creek up to the building site.

Eveline, her son and nephew taking a break to watch the action

Eveline, her son and nephew taking a break to watch the action

Once mixed, the concrete is scooped into buckets and passed along the ladders up to the top roof.  The workmen who were hired for this task came prepared for the work, with long gloves made out of rubber or denim and various head wear to protect them from the sun:

One of the bucket brigades passing buckets of concrete up to the roof.  Several of them had long gloves that they brought with them for the job.

One of the bucket brigades passing buckets of concrete up to the roof. Several of them had long gloves that they brought with them for the job.

This young man made a hat out of a cement bag.  It served its purpose well and held up all day!  Another has a hoodie on without the shirt to go with it!

This young man made a hat out of a cement bag. It served its purpose well and held up all day! Another has a hoodie on without the shirt to go with it!

Once the buckets get up on the roof, they are emptied into wheelbarrows that are then wheeled across the roof to the area being worked on.

Wheelbarrows carrying the concrete over to the side of the roof where work is being done.

Wheelbarrows carrying the concrete over to the side of the roof where work is being done.

Once the concrete is poured out, another crew of masons are there to smooth it out, make it level and then put a sealing coat of cement on the top.  There were 2-3 sets of masons working on both sides of the roof at the same time.

First the concrete was smoothed out with a rake

First the concrete was smoothed out with a rake

Then, it was made level by the masons

Then, it was made level by the masons

The final sealing coat being spread over the area that is already packed down and level

The final sealing coat being spread over the area that is already packed down and level

Early in the day, both bucket brigades were kept busy and the concrete was poured along the edges and moved toward the middle.

Lots of iron rebar is visible on the roof and not much concrete early in the day.

Lots of iron rebar is visible on the roof and not much concrete early in the day.

Later in the day when the roof is almost all concrete.

Later in the day when the roof is almost all concrete.

There were a few interesting side issues involved in the roof pour as well.  For one thing, while most of the workmen were involved with the concrete, one of them was tending to the issue of cooking for the whole group that numbered over 100:

3 pots of rice and beans already cooked.  Next up was the goat!

3 pots of rice and beans already cooked. Next up was the goat!

The carpenters kept a watchful eye on the roof the entire day, since any disruption in the wood framing could result in a disastrous collapse!

Carpenter Jacob Pierre watches carefully as the masons do their work

Carpenter Jacob Pierre watches carefully as the masons do their work

Periodically throughout the day, some ominous looking clouds appeared.  Fortunately, none of them brought any rain.

Ominous looking clouds during the day

Ominous looking clouds during the day

In order to get the buckets up to the roof at the far end, the carpenters built a scaffold for the upper ladder to sit on.  It was evident that one couldn’t be afraid of heights and work on that scaffold!

Scaffold appears to be suspended in the sky

Scaffold appears to be suspended in the sky

While they were working, the head contractor, Boss Jean Lenor, wrote down the names of all the workers, ensuring that they would get paid at the end of the day:

Boss Jean Lenor in the straw hat writing down worker’s names as they work

Boss Jean Lenor in the straw hat writing down worker’s names as they work

Everyone periodically needs a break, right?

Two of the shovel workers taking a break to watch the others work

Two of the shovel workers taking a break to watch the others work

One of the fun things during the day was watching the buckets come down from the top roof.  When the workers poured the concrete into the wheelbarrows, they threw the buckets onto the floor of the roof.  Then, when the wheelbarrow was full, they took each bucket and threw it down to a worker on the lower roof, who then threw it down onto the sand on the ground by the mixer.  Here are a couple of airborne buckets:

Bucket in the air as it goes from the roof down one story

Bucket in the air as it goes from the roof down one story

Here’s the bucket as it’s being caught

Here’s the bucket as it’s being caught

Bucket thrown off the scaffold onto the ground by the cement mixer

Bucket thrown off the scaffold onto the ground by the cement mixer

As the finishing touches were put on the back side of the roof, everyone congregated at the front, leading to the question “How many people can a roof hold?”

Masons finish the final coat on the back side of the roof

Masons finish the final coat on the back side of the roof

Everyone congregates at the front of the roof toward the end of the day.

Everyone congregates at the front of the roof toward the end of the day.

Masons appear to be hanging in the valley as they finish the back corner of the roof.

Masons appear to be hanging in the valley as they finish the back corner of the roof.

And, then there were only a few as the sun started to go down and the work was nearly finished.

Final touches are put on the roof by the masons as the sun goes down.

Final touches are put on the roof by the masons as the sun goes down.

A wonderful, successful day of work that started so early was finally coming to a close.  Praise be to the Lord for his blessings!

I woke up this morning at 5am and my heart sank as I looked out the window and found the sky filled with thick clouds.  “Our roof”, I thought, as I contemplated the disaster that would befall us if it rained hard while the roof was being poured.  A few hours later, we were up at the site and the sun was starting to peek through the clouds.  My spirits lifted and my heart was warmed by the sounds and sights of activity by the workmen who had started pouring the concrete at 6am.  By 9am they had already made good progress.  I was impressed by the organization of the workers – one group on ladders taking cement up to one half of the building and another group taking it up to the other half.  Everyone had his position and responsibility and the site was bustling with activity.

The next 9 hours were spent watching, talking, taking photos, saying numerous prayers of thanksgiving, reflecting, reminiscing and watching some more.  It was a wonderful day, full of excitement, gratitude and admiration for the workers who worked so diligently throughout the day.  Of course, the sight and smell of 2 cooking fires with three pots of rice and beans and another with meat from a freshly slaughtered goat helped the workers’ attitudes!  But, it was, without a doubt, the Lord’s day.  And the mood was festive and fun.  And, at the end of the day, much earlier than we had anticipated, we had a new roof, fresh and beautiful, and no rain to spoil it.

The prayers of the faithful were definitely heard today.  Thank you for praying and thank you for your faithfulness.  I’ll post photos in another day or two.

THANK YOU!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 26th is going to be an exciting day for us here in Haiti as this is the day the construction workers are planning to pour the main roof of the second floor of the pharmacy building.  It is a day that has been long in coming and we are grateful to the Lord that it has finally arrived.  Constructing a building to the point where the roof is ready to be poured is no easy task.  First comes the foundation, then the floor, then the walls and columns, then the beams, doors and windows and finally the roof.  Preparing the roof for concrete involves nailing 2X4’s longwise on top of which are placed sheets of plywood, all of which are held up by tall bamboo poles.  Iron rebar is then placed on top of the plywood in a lattice pattern to give strength and stability to the concrete.  Between the iron bars go the electrical pipes that will carry wiring down into the ceilings and walls below.  The last thing to be placed are planks along the edges of the roof, holding in the rebar and, eventually, the concrete.

In mid-September, 2013 we began laying out the blocks on the roof of the pharmacy/lab/xray building that marked the walls of the second floor residence quarters.  Here is a photo from September 14th:

Laying out blocks where the residence area walls will go on the second floor of the pharmacy/lab/xray building

Laying out blocks where the residence area walls will go on the second floor of the pharmacy/lab/xray building

Here, only five months later, the walls are up and the roof is ready to be poured!  The roof pour will involve over 60 workmen and will begin around 5am and continue until dark.  The concrete will be mixed using two cement mixers, sand, gravel, cement powder and water and will be taken up to the roof on ladders using a bucket brigade.  Here are the four ladders in place as of Monday:

4 ladders in place for carrying concrete in buckets up to the roof

4 ladders in place for carrying concrete in buckets up to the roof

Buckets and wheelbarrows are standing ready as well!

Some of the wheelbarrows that will carry concrete across the roof as it is poured

Some of the wheelbarrows that will carry concrete across the roof as it is poured

The day workers who are being hired are from Jérémie and they all have considerable experience pouring concrete roofs.  They will be brought up to the site in our dump truck, along with dozens of masons, the electricians, iron workers and carpenters.  It will be a festive day with food being cooked for all and plenty of excitement and enthusiasm.

Cherlie and I and our staff will be there to watch and encourage and we may get a little touch up painting done in the clinic as well.

Sand, gravel, drums for water and one of our cement mixers stand ready for the big day!

Sand, gravel, drums for water and one of our cement mixers stand ready for the big day!

Please pray for us during the day on Wednesday as we and the construction crew take on this huge task.  We would appreciate your prayers for the safety of the workers, excellence and conscientiousness in the foremen and masons and patience and strength for all.  Having a dry day with no rain would be nice as well!

Stay in touch and we’ll bring photos of the roof pour itself!

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