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Cherlie and I spent a few weeks in April in the US, visiting with churches and family in the NY/NJ area and attending an annual fund-raising banquet and board meeting in Milwaukee. We visited lots of people and churches, did multiple presentations and enjoyed the comforts of life in the US! The banquet was very successful and we are grateful for the generosity of all who attended and contributed to our ministry in Haiti. We raised funds to pay our clinic staff, hire more employees, purchase our medications and laboratory supplies, continue with our Water and Sanitation community development project and build houses for hundreds more people whose homes were damaged in the hurricane. Many thanks to all who made the banquet a success, including the Banquet Committee Chairperson, Lin McKenney and her committee members Jeanette Schweitzer and Judith Romelus. It was a small but effective committee. THANKS TO ALL OUR DONORS AND SUPPORTERS!!!

FHH’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Katie Wolf addresses banquet attendees with an inspiring message

Banquet attendees purchasing authentic crafts at the Haitian Artists Colony

Director of Nursing, Cherlie Severe shares heartwarming patient stories

Long time supporter and auctioneer Steve True encourages bidding during the live auction

 

Now that we’re back in Haiti again, Cherlie and I are catching up on business here. One of the things we always like to do is to tell you about the visitors who come down to help us out in our clinic and our ministry.

We had a wonderful visit in late March from a group from my home church in NJ – Kingston Presbyterian Church. This faithful congregation has been sending visitors our way nearly every year since we’ve been in Haiti. Twice they’ve had their visits cancelled or postponed due to political violence, most recently in January 2017. So, this was a smaller group, but they were a huge blessing and encouragement to us and to one of the local churches in our area.

The group consisted of Janet Rubinstein, who has been on every visit to date and who directed the group, Scott Hodge, David Raduzycki, and Steve Parker from Kingston Presbyterian Church. This was Steve’s second visit, the first being in October 2007. Obviously, a lot had changed since that first visit! Scott and David have been here several times. David’s daughter Emily also made her second visit and brought a good friend, Anna Morris. And, making one of many visits was architect Tom Lee, who designed our residence quarters and who has been instrumental in helping us with our construction projects.

NJ team consisted of Janet and Cherlie in front, Steve, David, Katie, Anna, Emily and Scott (L to R) with Tom taking the photo.

 

Steve Parker and Janet Rubinstein on their first visit to us in 2007

The group was busy during the week helping out in the clinic and doing some construction projects for us. Here are some photos of their hard efforts:

Tom and Scott work on putting together screens for the residence.

 

Steve screwing screen frames together

 

David works in the shop with Viel, our Haitian carpenter

 

Scott works on a shelving unit for the Medical Records room

 

David and Scott puts shelves together

 

Janet helps in the construction by varnishing frames

 

Anna painting the iron windows in the residence

A highlight of the visit was a day spent with one of the local churches in a community near the clinic.   One of the ways in which we are expanding our spiritual ministry at Centre de Sante de Gatineau is to partner local Haitian churches with US churches, so that they can share their faith journeys together and help to build up their respective congregations through mutual sharing and encouragement. We partnered Kingston Presbyterian Church and others who come to visit from the New Brunswick, NJ Presbytery with a local Baptist church pastored by Pastor Noel, who is a good friend of ours. Janet, David, Emily and Anna spent a day with Pastor Noel and his church family, who welcomed the visitors with open arms. Their church was destroyed by the hurricane, but that didn’t deter their enthusiasm for celebrating together the joy of being in the Lord!

The roof is off and the walls of the church were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew

 

The NJ Team meets with the adults in the morning under tarps

 

The tin roof is gone but the trusses remain

 

David presented a new Creole Bible to Pastor Noel

 

Emily and Anna direct the children in a game during an afternoon VBS session

We want to thank the team for their dedication to us and to our ministry in Haiti and for their willingness to come visit us so regularly. We loved having them and look forward to the next visit from members of the New Brunswick Presbytery churches.

YOU ARE AWESOME!!!

 

Upon seeing and experiencing the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and being witness to the uncoordinated response of relief and aid organizations, Cherlie and I felt strongly that we needed to do something to help Haitians in communities around the clinic to rebuild their homes.  Over 90% of the houses in the area were severely damaged or destroyed.  Roofs blew off, walls fell down, and during two months of daily rain, people were wet and discouraged.  Most of them lost clothing and personal possessions, livestock and crops.  They were destitute and hungry.  Some of them built small shacks to live in temporarily, built with old tin, bark from coconut trees or coconut leaves.  They knew it was a temporary solution but they didn’t have money or resources to rebuild their houses, until Friends for Health in Haiti came to their door.

Temporary shack made of tin

A temporary home not even as tall as it’s owner

 

Coconut leaves and bark make a shelter for this man

We sent our community coordinator, Gemi Baptiste to visit every home in the communities closest to the clinic site.  He had a proposal for them:  the clinic will supply you with 30 sheets of roofing tin, 10 pounds of nails and 4 sacks of cement on the condition that you rebuild your own house and allow us to photograph the house before and after.  Those who agreed to the conditions received a card with their name on it and the amount of materials they would receive.  At a later date, they would be informed as to when materials would be ready at the clinic for them to pick up.  In the meantime, they could start to clear the debris from their old house and build the frames for walls and roof.  Later, we heard about comments like these from recipients of the cards:  “We knew that if any help would come to us, it would be from Dr. Wolf, Miss Cherlie and the clinic.”  Others said, “We know that if something is given to Dr. Wolf and Miss Cherlie, they will share it with the communities and not keep it for themselves.”  This, to us, is what Christianity is all about – living out your faith and meeting the needs of those you are called to serve.  But, it also means meeting those needs in a manner that empowers the local people, by having them participate in the process, rather than creating dependency by doing everything for them.

Her house is destroyed so why is she smiling???

Roof is intact but the house fell down

Wet clothing and possessions lie where this house used to be

House skeleton remains

From the time of the hurricane until the beginning of December, rain poured down every single day, making our drive up the mountain to our clinic and down again a muddy, slippery trek.  There were days when we couldn’t get up the mountain and afternoons when we couldn’t get down, due to large buses getting stuck in mud in narrow parts of the road.  Our four-wheel-drive jeep with its big, knobby tires kept us going, barely.  Finally, the rains stopped, the road dried up but there were deep ruts and crevices where the rain and the buses had left their mark.  We wanted to start our house-rebuilding project but first we had to do some road repairs.  So, we hired some local young men and we had Miller, our driver, take up gravel and rocks and we repaired the worst portions of the road.  We decided it was better to repair the road than to risk significant damage to our dump truck!

Workers shovel fill dirt and rocks into the dump truck at the river

Dump truck unloading fill dirt and rocks on the road

Young men spreading out the fill dirt on the road

Unloading rocks in an area of the road with deep ruts

We were able to take 5000 sheets of tin, hundreds of pounds of nails and 300 sacks of cement up to the clinic before Christmas.  This past week, the materials were distributed to people who had been visited by Gemi, deemed to be in need of house repair and given a card.  This is just the start of our rebuilding process.  To date, we’ve given cards to 500 families in communities closest to the clinic.  In the ensuing weeks, we hope to visit and help another 1000 to 1500 families further up in the mountains, thanks to the generosity of our donors.  The area in which we work has 7800 households, and over 90% of their homes have been badly damaged.  So, there is still much work to be done.  But, when the people of God put their hearts and hands together, much can be accomplished.  Thank you, donors!  And, thanks to the Haitian homeowners who are rebuilding their own houses with grace, dignity and gratitude.  We’ll have more updates in the weeks to come.

 

 

 

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

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

12-5-2233

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

 

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

 

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

 

12-6-0525

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A LOCAL PARTNER

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, many non-profit organizations mobilized to help provide relief in the face of significant suffering of the Haitian people, especially those in the area where Friends for Health in Haiti is based.  Larger non-profits were able to acquire relief supplies more readily and get them through Haitian customs because they already had processes in place for this.  Smaller organizations like Friends for Health in Haiti did not have ready access to supplies in large quantities nor the logistical mechanisms for getting them into the country and out to Jérémie for distribution.  When we at Friends for Health in Haiti partnered with larger organizations, we were able to accomplish a lot for the communities around our clinic site.  Here are some of the relief supplies we have been able to distribute:

  • 94 sacks of rice (37 large, 57 small)
  • 5 sacks of beans for eating
  • 64 half-gallon bottles of cooking oil
  • 40 sacks of corn meal (30 small and 10 large)
  • 110 boxes of rice meals, each box with 36 meal packages
  • 23 boxes of potato meals, each box with 36 meal packages
  • 148 tarps, small and large
  • 3700 sheets of roofing tin and nails
  • 25 sacks of corn and 50 sacks of beans for planting
  • 60 hygiene kits
  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes and small soaps
  • Used clothing
  • 5 boxes of plastic shoes
  • 7 heavy blankets
  • Thousands of chlorine tablets

Our Community Coordinator Gemi Baptiste (center) measures bean seeds for distribution.

Volunteers tie up sacks of corn and bean seeds for distribution to their communities high up in the mountains.

Measuring corn seeds for two of our Community Promoters to distribute in their communities.

Rice and potato food packs as well as chlorine tablets ready to be given to a patient in our clinic pharmacy.

  Guy-Johns explains to a patient how to cook the packages of food.

A happy patient who has just received food packs and chlorine tablets, as well as his medications in our pharmacy.

Cherlie takes vital signs on a patient after giving him toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap donated by Sarah Bennett and Mission for Haiti.

Patient is happy with clothing received from Cherlie during a clinic visit.

Little patient is warm and cozy in her new knitted cap and flannel blanket, donated by Presbyterian Women in the New Brunswick, NJ Presbytery.

This little girl is the proud owner of a new pillowcase dress.

The pain of this little boy’s burns was eased by a new toy car and Beanie baby, donated by children from Kingston Presbyterian Church, NJ.  Medical supplies for treating his burns were donated by FERHA.

 

We want to thank our wonderful individual and church donors who have given us money, toys, Beanie babies, infant caps, dresses, quilts and medical supplies over the course of many years.  Your gifts have brightened the faces of many, many of our patients.  In addition, we would like to thank the following organizations for their willingness to partner with us at this crucial time by donating hurricane relief supplies and allowing us to distribute them to people in our service area who are most in need of assistance:

Christian Aid Ministries – tarps, planting seeds, chlorine tablets, hygiene kits

Gary Heavin and FERHA – food packs, medical supplies, sacks of rice

Haiti One and Haiti Bible Mission – tarps, food packs, shoes, blankets, rice, corn meal, beans, hygiene kits

Project Aqua – chlorine tablets

Sarah Bennett with Mission for Haiti and Operation Renewed Hope – toiletries, tarps, food packs

Sigora Solar – tin and roofing nails

There are almost 8000 households and over 42,000 people living in the communities that are served by our clinic, Centre de Sante de Gatineau.  That’s a lot of people and a lot of needs.  We appreciate all who have donated to our Hurricane Relief Fund and want you to know that 100% of your donation is being used directly to help meet these incredible needs for food, shelter and agricultural support.  Our house rebuilding project is just beginning.  Stay tuned for further updates on this aspect of our community outreach and relief.  And, please continue to pray for our outpatient clinic, as we strive to help meet the medical needs of hundreds of Haitians each month and share with them the Good News of the Gospel.

 

 

 

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