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By Dr. Katie Wolf

Young children who attended Vacation Bible School at my home church in NJ (Kingston Presbyterian Church) have collected toys over the past two years to give to our pediatric patients in the clinic.  Last year’s toys were shipped to us in a shipping container and this year’s gifts are waiting to be shipped from NY to Haiti in the next few months.  The young children who come to the clinic for care have been thrilled to receive these gifts, since most of them don’t have any toys or balls to play with at home.  Even the adults in the clinic smile with delight as they see the children playing with their new toys as they wait their turn for consultation.  The gifts help them to forget about their illness and the long wait in the hot waiting room!  Thanks to all the young children in NJ who contributed so generously to these little ones!

Thrilled with his gift!

Thrilled with his gift!

 

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As some of you may know, last spring we sent out an appeal to the churches in the New Brunswick, NJ Presbytery for used clothes and shoes to be sent to Haiti.  We were packing up some drums with backpacks that had been donated by high school students in Wisconsin and wanted some clothes to pack along with the backpacks.  Well, the response was overwhelming and Kingston Presbyterian Church (my home church) was filled with so many wonderful items that we had to buy extra drums to accommodate them all.  They were shipped from NY to Port-au-Prince and were brought out to Jérémie during the summer.  We have been gradually sorting through them and giving some to needy patients and members of the communities around the clinic.  Many of these people still have Port-au-Prince earthquake survivors with them and their resources have been stretched to the limit.  So, this is a small way that we can help ease their burdens.

We recently decided to borrow an idea from churches and Emergency Departments in which I’ve previously worked and that is to create a CLOTHING BOX for the clinic.  It’s filled with clothing of all sizes, infant caps, afghans and quilts made by the Presbyterian Women in New Jersey, shoes, socks and underwear.  We’ll be using the items to give to those patients we feel are most in need, especially the newborn infants and malnourished children whose parents are the poorest of the poor.  Below is a photo of the box filled with wonderful treasures, as well as a photo of a premature newborn who we saw three days after her birth.  Her mother is 16 years old and we’ve been seeing the baby, mother and grandmother each week for several weeks, giving them infant caps, blankets and clothes for the little one.  Many, many thanks to those who contributed clothing and shoes in our efforts to relieve some of the physical needs of the Haitian people.

The Clothing Box

Tiny Recipient of NJ Gifts

 

 

I recently returned to Jérémie, Haiti after spending several weeks in the US.  Here are some highlights of my visit there:

1.  The second annual Hope for Haiti fund-raising banquet was held at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee on April 17, 2010.  Over 250 people attended and it was an enjoyable evening for all, with silent and oral auctions, Haitian market, wonderful food and great company.  Much thanks to all the volunteers, banquet sponsors and participants.  Our fantastic volunteer planning committee, headed by Barbara Tyler and Carla VonRoenn, is already planning next year’s banquet!

2.  Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) has chapters in 41 high schools throughout Wisconsin and they chose Friends for Health in Haiti as their state-wide service project this past year.  They held a final recognition dinner in the Wisconsin Dells on Monday, April 26, 2010 which was attended by myself, Dr. Gregory VonRoenn (FHH Vice President) and college student Becca Mahn.  We were presented with 299 backpacks for school children in Haiti, replete with school supplies, hygiene supplies, tennis shoes, socks and underwear.  In addition, the HOSA students raised money for shipping the backpacks to Haiti and for conducting school exams for the participating school students (checking for anemia, giving vitamins and treating for parasites).  The backpacks were packed in 55-gallon plastic drums and taken in a truck to New York, where they will be put on a shipping container.  It will take a couple of months for them to get to Port-au-Prince and be cleared from customs, after which they will be taken on a truck out to Jérémie and distributed to schools around our clinic site in Gatineau.  There will soon be 299 very happy Haitian students and their parents!

3.  In order to fill in the spaces between the backpacks in the drums, I asked for donations of used clothing and shoes from people in my home church in NJ (Kingston Presbyterian Church).  Well, it is definitely true that you have to be careful what you ask for, because the outpouring of donations was incredible, so much so that we had to buy another 12 fiber drums in which to pack everything.  Members of the congregation stayed after church on May 2nd to help pack the additional drums and they also were taken to NY for shipping.  The clothing will be donated mostly to earthquake victims in Port-au-Prince. The backpack project and NJ clothing donation was featured in an article in the New Brunswick News on April 28, 2010.

4.  While in the US, I was able to share some updates about our work in Haiti with several groups from Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee, Elmbrook Church in Waukesha, the Center for International Health (affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin), Kingston Presbyterian Church and other churches in the New Brunswick Presbytery in NJ.  It’s always good to share with others what we’re doing here and encourage their continued participation with us.  In addition, I met with several individuals who are interested in our ministry.  Important contacts were made and we’ll see where the Lord will lead us all in the future.

5.  While I was in Port-au-Prince, I found out that the final paperwork was submitted for release of our new jeep from customs.  Hopefully, we will soon be able to bring it home!  Thanks for your prayers

Did you know that you can claim donations made for Haiti earthquake relief on your 2009 taxes?  Donations made after Jan. 11 and before March 1, 2010 can be claimed.  See this link for more information.  Twelve days left to make your donation and claim it on your 2009 taxes!

Dear Friends,

Shortly before 5pm on January 12, 2010 a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, it’s epicenter 10 miles southwest of the capital city of Port-au-Prince.  Since then, there have been reports of widespread death and destruction, with the collapse of houses, buildings, and walls all over the city and surrounding areas.  The effects were felt in towns over a hundred miles away like Les Cayes and Jacmel, where large buildings collapsed.  There were even shocks felt in Jérémie, which is 120 miles from the quake’s epicenter, with destruction of many houses there.

Friends for Health in Haiti’s staff is all accounted for, and there has been no damage to our home base in Jérémie.  We do not yet have word as to the condition of our house-clinic up in Gatineau and whether there has been damage to any homes in that area.  Cherlie Severe and I are presently in the US, where we have been actively seeking information regarding friends and family members in Port-au-Prince, some of whom we have still not heard from.

The devastation to the country of Haiti is massive and the impact of this disaster will be felt for years to come.  The major emphasis in these early days is on search and rescue, as well as the provision of food, water and shelter to those who are homeless and we are grateful to see the international response to this need.  It is anticipated that there will be significant medical needs in the near future for those who are in areas affected by the earthquake and we are in the process of determining where we can be of greatest assistance in this regard.

We are very concerned about the long-term impact of this earthquake on our clinic in the Jérémie area, since Port-au-Prince is the source of our medications and supplies.  We keep a 3-4 month supply of medications at our home in Jérémie, but we expect that we will not be able to replenish our stock once these medications are used up.  For this reason, we are asking for help with the following:

  • Donations of medications that we use on an ongoing basis to be shipped down to us in Haiti to replenish our stock, which will run out in a few months (see list)
  • Donations of medical supplies (see list)
  • Financial assistance to cover shipping charges, as well as to purchase medications, medical supplies, construction supplies, etc.

We will be posting further details regarding shipping of these supplies once we have confirmed this information.  If you have specific questions, please email us at friendsforhealth@gmail.com.

With gratitude,

Catherine E. Wolf, MD MPH

Friends for Health in Haiti can now accept your credit/debit card donations.  You can call us at 262-227-9581, download our Credit Card Authorization or you may make credit/debit card donations through PayPal.   You may also set up monthly or quarterly donations using the Credit Card Authorization form.

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