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We have been blessed to have visits several times each year from our friends from the Avera Health system in South Dakota. This group of hospitals and clinics has a tremendous commitment to mission work in the world and we are blessed that they have chosen to partner with Friends for Health in Haiti as a global mission outreach. They brought a group of 11 to Jérémie two weeks ago and most of them were return visitors. Six members of the group worked with us at the clinic and five of them stayed in Jérémie where they performed breast cancer screening at the government hospital. The breast team did come up to our clinic on Wednesday to offer breast cancer screening for our patients. It was a great chance for them to see our clinic and for us to offer another service to our patients.

The director of the Avera mission teams is nurse Kathy English. She has been to Haiti dozens of times and handles all the logistics for the participants. We were thrilled that on this visit she was accompanied by her husband, Dr. Gil English, an OB-gyne specialist. We announced ahead of time that there would be a specialist at the clinic during the week and we were inundated by patients wanting to take advantage of his skills and the opportunity to get Pap smears for cervical cancer screening. This is one of the wonderful services that Avera offers to our patients and, on this visit record numbers of Pap smears were performed by Dr. English and the nurses on the team. He also saw lots of general medical patients and became quite adept at prescribing medications for hypertension and acid reflux. One day he and I (Dr. Wolf) saw 111 patients! That was definitely a record for our clinic.

Dr. English and Dr. Wolf made a great team for the week

Most days there were over 100 patients waiting for consultation. 50-60 of them spent the night on the benches outside the clinic in order to be seen the following day.

Nurses Kathy English and Cherlie Severe confer in the nurses’ triage room

Gerri Malsom does dental teaching with patients waiting for consultation

Nurse Barbara Pratt assists a patient getting a Pap Smear

In addition to the medical personnel, we were blessed to have as part of the group biomedical technician Steve Kruger and mechanic/rancher Jerome Malsom. Steve and Jerome fixed several pieces of equipment that were broken, put up blood pressure cuffs and wall otoscopes and stained and varnished numerous shelving units that had already been assembled. It was the second visit for both of them and they benefitted from their familiarity with our workshop and staff.

Jerome puts a blood pressure cuff on the wall of one of the examination rooms.

Steve confers with Cherlie about the placement of a wall otoscope unit

On Wednesday, May 24th, we were privileged to have the rest of the Avera team come up to our clinic to provide breast cancer screening for our patients, as they were doing the rest of the week down at the government hospital in Jérémie. The team, led by Dr. Andrew Soye, did a great job of screening those women who came for evaluation of breast masses. They obtained ultrasound exams on those with definite masses and did biopsies on those with suspicious findings.

Dr. Wolf confers with Dr. Andrew Soye in the Emergency Room of the clinic which turned into a breast cancer screening site.

One of the most exciting things about the Avera visit was that they brought us a wonderful used gastroscope (endoscope), complete with light source and video equipment so that we can do our own endoscopy for patients with complaints of acid reflux. This enables us to look directly into the esophagus and stomach of these patients to see if they have peptic ulcer disease or not. It helps not only with diagnosis but with treatment decisions for these patients as well. We see hundreds of patients with acid reflux symptoms each month in our clinic, so the need for such a procedure is great.

The equipment is used but has a trade-in value of $20 – 30,000, making it an incredibly generous gift to us. We want to give huge thanks to the CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital, Dr. Dave Kapaska, who made this gift possible, as well as Chad Bare, Director of the Avera McKennan Endoscopy Center, and Kathy English who initiated the request on our behalf. This is an exciting new development for us and for our patients and we appreciate it very much.

Dr. Dave Kapaska stands with the endoscopy equipment in his office prior to sending it to us in Haiti.

Chad Bare packing the endoscopy equipment for shipping in the Avera team’s luggage.

Biomedical technician Steve Kruger got the endoscope and video system all set up and he and Jerome Malsom stained and varnished the wooden cart that a group from NJ had built for us last year specifically to hold the endoscopy equipment.

Steve checks out the endoscopy equipment to be sure it is in good working order prior to setting it up on the endoscopy cart.

Dr. Wolf and Cherlie stand in front of the new endoscopy equipment with Steve and Jerome who set it up forus. The wooden cart was made specifically to hold this special equipment.

THANKS TO ALL WHO MADE THIS GIFT POSSIBLE!!!

 

 

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Greetings from Jérémie.  As some of you know, Cherlie and I were supposed to be in the US right now, travelling to NY/NJ to visit with family and churches, Milwaukee for a board meeting, Louisville for a medical missions conference and back home before Thanksgiving.  Then, Hurricane Matthew came along and changed our lives forever and our plans immediately.  We decided to stay here in Haiti in order to keep our clinic open and to serve as a bit of hope in the midst of despair.

Cherlie and I re- opened the clinic on Monday, October 17th and our patients have been grateful to see us.  Many of them are coming for medication refills, some have fevers and some are recovering from injuries sustained during the hurricane.  All of them have lost their houses and many of their possessions.  But, most of them somehow held onto their clinic receipt so we can look up their clinic record!  Amazing with all the water around that their receipts are intact (many of them were kept in a plastic medication bag, so they were protected from the water).

Nurse Vetelie Charles does some patient teaching at the start of our first day back in clinic.

Nurse Vetelie Charles does some patient teaching at the start of our first day back in clinic.

 

As we go up and down the mountain, we see signs of re-building, albeit not always polished.  Some people have collected tin that came off of other roofs and have put it on their house.  Others have built both walls and roof out of tin scraps.  In fact, people frequently recount how many people with thatched roof houses now have tin roofs!  Others have repaired part of their roof with tin scraps and used a tarp to cover the rest.  And, others have used the bark of fallen coconut trees to construct a new, little house until they can repair their old one.

Tin scraps cover a house that lost its roof

Tin scraps cover a house that lost its roof

 

Trees are starting to get new leaves, corn stalks are standing up, banana trees have sprouted new growth and the hills are greening up.  No longer is there that “scorched earth” look to the hills and valleys.  The worst is over, better days are to come.

CATCHING UP

We always like to acknowledge our visitors and didn’t have time to write a blog about our last visitors before the hurricane.  I wrote and told them that they were the last ones to see Jérémie as it was, not as it is now!  In September we had a wonderful team from Avera in South Dakota spend a week with us.  The team consisted of team leader and nurse Kathy English, nurse practitioners Theresa Hansen and Greta Martin, respiratory therapist Sharon Haverty, ultrasound technicians Paige Paquette and Aimee Hardy, ER nurse Karen Heideman, ER tech and pre-med student Dylan Goehner and technician Nicholas Romereim.  They helped with patient consultations, brought us an oxygen concentrator and taught us how to use it, taught Cherlie and me to do ultrasounds, painted, sanded and packed lots of medications.  We appreciated their help and their service to us and to our patients.  Thanks Avera Team!

Cherlie helps visiting RN Karen start an IV on a dehydrated patient

Cherlie helps visiting RN Karen start an IV on a dehydrated patient

 

Sharon and Kathy stand beside the oxygen concentrator the team brought down in their luggage!

Sharon and Kathy stand beside the oxygen concentrator the team brought down in their luggage!

 

Nicholas (L) and Dylan (R) paint a door for the pharmacy building

Nicholas (L) and Dylan (R) paint a door for the pharmacy building

 

Nurse Practitioner Theresa in her consultation room

Nurse Practitioner Theresa in her consultation room

 

Cherlie with her ultrasound teachers Paige (L) and Aimee (R)

Cherlie with her ultrasound teachers Paige (L) and Aimee (R)

 

Nurse practitioner Greta Martin helping out with Pap smear exams

Nurse practitioner Greta Martin helping out with Pap smear exams

 

The whole Avera team outside the clinic

The whole Avera team outside the clinic

 

For many years, Avera has been providing funds to build houses for rural Haitians such as those who live near our clinic.  While the team was here, we took them to see the home of a woman who has helped us out with light yard work since we first started our clinic ten years ago.  Marie has raised three sons on her own and they live a short distance down the hill from the clinic.  While they were visiting in September, the team went to see Marie and her home:

Avera team going to visit Marie’s home in September

Avera team going to visit Marie’s home in September

Unfortunately, Marie’s house was one of the thousands that were destroyed by the recent hurricane.  We think Marie and her family need some of those rebuilding funds soon!

Marie stands in front of what’s left of her home after Hurricane Matthew

Marie stands in front of what’s left of her home after Hurricane Matthew

 

THE VALUE OF POSSESSIONS

A few months ago an elderly man came to the clinic for consultation.  When he came into my consultation room, he carefully placed his satchel on the floor beside his chair.  Then, he covered it with an object that caught my attention because I couldn’t, in a brief glance, figure out what it was.  I took a history from him, trying to concentrate when my attention was really on the “object”.  I didn’t want to stare at it and make him feel uncomfortable but I had to figure out what it was!  I found my chance as I got up to listen to his heart and lungs.  He dutifully took deep breaths in and out and I was able to look straight down onto the object of my curiosity and, thus, solve my puzzle.  Here, draped across his old fabric satchel was a threadbare worn out towel.  The fabric had become so thin from use that it was difficult to tell that one day it had been made of terrycloth.  My patient now obviously carried it to wipe his sweaty brow as he walked along the mountain paths from his home.

One’s natural inclination would be to replace the old towel with a brand new one, presented to the patient in a grand manner, as evidence of our wonderful generosity.  But, looking at the towel carefully draped over the satchel, I began to think.  “How many brows has that towel wiped,” I thought.  “How many tears have been shed into its worn fabric?  How many gallons of bathing water has it absorbed for its owner and how many visitors has it served in his small, simple rural house.

I didn’t say anything about the towel that day.  Some time, when the time is right, I’ll offer him a replacement.

The object of my curiosity

The object of my curiosity

 

As you may know, we began a wonderful partnership a year ago with Avera, Health, a hospital corporation that is based in Sioux Falls, SD and serves rural communities throughout SD and neighboring states.  For many years they have had an Avera Health Haiti Mission that has sent volunteers, supplies, equipment and medication to organizations in the Jérémie area of Haiti.  For the past year, we have had the privilege of being partners with Avera Health and have benefitted from their dedicated volunteer groups coming to help out in our clinic in Gatineau.  A group of 6 visited us in late May and we were delighted to have them.  We love their commitment to the Lord and their desire to have an impact in Haiti by working through a long-term, stable, on-site organization such as ours.  It is so much more effective than bringing down a team of volunteers to work for a week and then leave without anyone on the ground to continue the work.  In our opinion, this is an ideal partnership because they help us do our job of service better and we give them a place to use their skills and expertise in a global health setting where the medical needs are tremendous.

The timing of the group’s visit was perfect, since our pharmacy technician, Guy-Johns Chevalier was scheduled to be in PAP at a seminar that week.  So, nurses Pat Erpenbach and Rosemary Murphy filled in for Guy-Johns, assisted at times by Adrien, Cherlie and myself.  They did a great job filling prescriptions, taking money and giving receipts and packing medications.

Nurse Pat fills out patient receipt for purchase of medications

Nurse Pat fills out patient receipt for purchase of medications

Nurse Rosemary helps in the pharmacy by counting pills and putting them in small plastic bags to sell to patients

Nurse Rosemary helps in the pharmacy by counting pills and putting them in small plastic bags to sell to patients

Geri and Jerome Malsom came as a dynamic team – Geri as a nurse and Jerome as mechanic and overall fix-it man.  Geri helped with patient vital signs and patient education and Jerome fixed broken generators and batteries, helped build and stock shelving units in the residence, put up shower curtain rods in the residence bathrooms and inspected all the tools in our workshop.

Geri and Jerome Malsom made a terrific team!

Geri and Jerome Malsom made a terrific team!

Nurse Geri helps Dr. Wolf perform a Pap smear on a patient. The group takes the Pap smear slides back to SD where they are read and reports are sent back to the clinic for follow up.

Nurse Geri helps Dr. Wolf perform a Pap smear on a patient. The group takes the Pap smear slides back to SD where they are read and reports are sent back to the clinic for follow up.

Jerome stands next to shelving unit he and Christian built. He then organized all the linens and supplies in the residence store room.

Jerome stands next to shelving unit he and Christian built. He then organized all the linens and supplies in the residence store room.

Kathy English was the group’s team leader and did another magnificent job in keeping everyone fed and organized.  She assisted with Pap smears and helped Cherlie distribute gifts of clothing and sacks to our patients that week.  She also helped organize our storeroom full of gifts to be given in the future.  Wherever she goes, there are smiles of gratitude!

Nurse Kathy sits with a patient who has just received gifts.

Nurse Kathy sits with a patient who has just received gifts.

Cherlie and Kathy engage in an intense conversation in the clinic

Cherlie and Kathy engage in an intense conversation in the clinic

Christian Swenson, the youngest member of the Avera team proved to be a very adept carpenter, finishing construction of a large table and several shelving units in the laboratory room and a large cart to hold gastroscopes for future use doing GI endoscopy.

Christian working in the clinic workshop to create some beautiful shelving units

Christian working in the clinic workshop to create some beautiful shelving units

Not only was Christian a good carpenter, he was a good cook. He got up early and fixed coffee and oatmeal for the rest of the team. Here he’s cutting up a fresh watermelon – a treat in Jeremie.

Not only was Christian a good carpenter, he was a good cook. He got up early and fixed coffee and oatmeal for the rest of the team. Here he’s cutting up a fresh watermelon – a treat in Jeremie.

In addition to all of their hard work, the Avera team also transported medications and medical supplies for use in our clinic.  We are grateful for their generous support of FHH and our ministry in Haiti and look forward to the next Avera team in a few months.  Thanks for all of your efforts on our behalf!

Pat walking in the clinic hallway with her hands full of medications to pack for the pharmacy

Pat walking in the clinic hallway with her hands full of medications to pack for the pharmacy

Rosemary takes some time out to love on a little baby

Rosemary takes some time out to love on a little baby

This little boy’s tears soon turned to joy when he received a toy car, thanks to our Avera friends

This little boy’s tears soon turned to joy when he received a toy car, thanks to our Avera friends

Here is the whole team together on their last day at the clinic:

Avera team (Top row left to right: Pat, Jerome, Christian, bottom row left to right: Geri, Rosemary, Kathy)

Avera team (Top row left to right: Pat, Jerome, Christian, bottom row left to right: Geri, Rosemary, Kathy)

 

For several years we have been blessed to be an overseas clinical site for nursing students at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing taking their Public Health Nursing course as undergraduate BSN students.  Twice each year we have had a group of 9 students and one faculty member come down to Haiti to work with us in our Water and Sanitation Program as well as assist with patient consultations in our outpatient clinic in Gatineau.  Over the years, these students and their incredibly dedicated faculty have helped us train our Community Promoters, train our census workers, evaluate our water and sanitation program, provide community education in communities far from the clinic and work beside us in giving medical and nursing care in our clinic.  They have had a huge role to play in the success of our community development efforts and we are grateful for the ongoing relationship we have had with the School of Nursing.

As with most things in life, things change and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing has decided to make their nursing program a masters level program now, doing away with the Public Health Nursing course.  But, thanks to faculty member Diana Baptiste and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health faculty member Pablo Yori, we have now entered into a new relationship with both the School of Nursing and the School of Public Health (which is where I obtained my MPH degree).  Diana and Pablo and graduate student Sabianca Delva joined Dr. Nicole Warren and her last group of undergraduate nursing students on a visit to us in early May.  Nicole and her students led a training session for 12 new Community Promoters, helped us out in the clinic with patient care and education and visited a far away community to conduct a community education session with the community members.

New community promoters work together on an assignment during their training session

New community promoters work together on an assignment during their training session

Promoters learn how to construct a tippy-tap as a means of washing hands

Promoters learn how to construct a tippy-tap as a means of washing hands

Promoters take a test on the last day of class.

Promoters take a test on the last day of class.

12 new community promoters with Gemi, Dr. Wolf and instructors

12 new community promoters with Gemi, Dr. Wolf and instructors

JHSON team on the residence porch.  Standing:  Michelle, Melissa, Ellie, Leah, Colleen.  Squatting:  Julia, Suzie, Augusta, Abi and faculty member Dr. Nicole Warren.

JHSON team on the residence porch. Standing: Michelle, Melissa, Ellie, Leah, Colleen. Squatting: Julia, Suzie, Augusta, Abi and faculty member Dr. Nicole Warren.

Diana, Pablo and Sabi visited several water sources in the area and observed how the local people obtain, transport and store their water.  In addition, they saw some of the new latrines that have just been constructed in our Promoter communities and assisted the students in their community education activities.  Pablo has been working in the field of water and sanitation for many years in Peru and we were thrilled to be able to have him observe and give feedback on our own community development efforts.  Both Diana and Sabi are Haitian-Americans and speak Creole fluently, so they were a huge help during the community visits.  We all spent some time discussing together the future of our partnership with Johns Hopkins and possible areas of collaboration.  Some of those areas may involve doing clinical research, providing opportunities for graduate students to get some field experience and multi-disciplinary assistance with our water and sanitation program.  We look forward to what lies in store for all of us!

 The team, including Pablo, hike to a far away community of Milfort to visit two new promoters and conduct a community education session.

The team, including Pablo, hike to a far away community of Milfort to visit two new promoters and conduct a community education session.

Faculty member Diana Baptiste, showing off her new FHH t-shirt (available through the FHH store on our website!)

Faculty member Diana Baptiste, showing off her new FHH t-shirt (available through the FHH store on our website!)

The entire team on their last day in Jeremie (Top from left:  Diana, Pablo, Julia, Melissa, Nicole, Sabi, Abi, Leah, Augusta)  (Sitting from left:  Suzie, Coleen, Michelle, Ellie)

The entire team on their last day in Jeremie (Top from left: Diana, Pablo, Julia, Melissa, Nicole, Sabi, Abi, Leah, Augusta) (Sitting from left: Suzie, Coleen, Michelle, Ellie)

In our blogs, we like to highlight the visitors and groups that come to work with us in Haiti.  They are an important part of our ministry here, since they help us to offer additional services to our patients and the communities around the clinic.  We are appreciative of the supplies and medications that they bring to us as well, since it helps to reduce our cost of operations here at the clinic.  Kudos to our visitors!

Nurse and team leader Kathy English brought down another group from Avera in South Dakota in March.  The group included Dr. Scott Peterson, a family physician who was on his second visit, and nurses Miranda Doss, Nicole Goodroad and Joy Gebhard.  They saw lots of patients, did a lot of Pap smears that they took back to the US for analysis, did patient teaching and helped give out gifts to our patients.  Here they are in action:

Here is Joy giving a dress and Beanie baby to a young girl who came to the clinic with her Grandpa

Here is Joy giving a dress and Beanie baby to a young girl who came to the clinic with her Grandpa

Nicole found a friend in one of our young patients. They played Frisbee together in the clinic yard!

Nicole found a friend in one of our young patients. They played Frisbee together in the clinic yard!

Kathy English shows off another donated dress with its proud new owner

Kathy English shows off another donated dress with its proud new owner

Scott, Miranda, Nicole and Joy taking a break outside the clinic.

Scott, Miranda, Nicole and Joy taking a break outside the clinic.

The Avera team leaves their mark on the beach near our home in Jérémie

The Avera team leaves their mark on the beach near our home in Jérémie

REMEMBER THOSE KNEE INJECTIONS?

Once again, we were blessed by having a visit from former FHH Board President Dr. Greg VonRoenn and fellow internist Dr. Dan Tanty.  One of the highlights of their visits to us is the opportunity for us to offer our patients steroid knee injections for arthritis pain.  The doctors bring with them the expensive injectable steroid and we have patients come in to the clinic specifically to get the injections.  It is a huge service to the patients and provides them with some short-term relief of what is sometimes very debilitating pain.  When rural Haitians can’t walk and climb hills, they can’t fetch water or harvest food to cook for themselves.  So, arthritis is a significant illness down here and one with limited treatment options.  If acetaminophen and Muscle Rub can’t help the pain, sometimes knee injections will!

Greg injects a patient’s knees while Dan assists. They made quite the team!

Greg injects a patient’s knees while Dan assists. They made quite the team!

Greg VonRoenn checks the pulse on one of the clinic patients

Greg VonRoenn checks the pulse on one of the clinic patients

Dan Tanty writes up the chart of the man whose knees were injected with steroid medication.

Dan Tanty writes up the chart of the man whose knees were injected with steroid medication.

Greg Dan Cherlie

Greg, Dan and Cherlie at the end of a hard week of work in the clinic

 

REMEMBER THE ANNUAL FHH FUND-RAISING BANQUET!!!

We want to remind everyone of our annual fund-raising banquet that is being held at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee on Saturday evening, April 23, 2016.  Complete details here!  This year we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Friends for Health in Haiti, so if you are in the area, please do come help us celebrate this important milestone in our development.  And if you can’t be with us in person, you can share with us in spirit and in prayer!  The Lord has accomplished much in these past ten years and we look forward to what is to come in the future!

 

 

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.

Whenever we have visitors here in Haiti, Cherlie and I try to be creative in designing activities for them that use their skills and gifts and also enhance our ministry here. Since we are in a development stage as an organization, we sometimes use our visitors to “test the waters” for us, asking them to plan and implement activities in the local communities and churches around us in order to see how they are received and whether they meet their stated goals and objectives. January 2 – 9 we were blessed to have a wonderful multigenerational group from Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee here to test some waters with us!

The group consisted of the Riebe family – Katherine and Alan and their teenage son Joshua and daughter Charis, Geri Koterman and her grandson Josiah, Michael Borst and his daughter Natalie, college student Betsy Boggs and Leona Bush. Everyone in the group spent some time observing and helping in the clinic, packing medications and helping to distribute toys and clothing to our pediatric patients. On Monday and Tuesday the group worked with various age groups in a young Protestant church that is being pastored by our clinic chaplain Adrien Jean Jacques. The church is located a short walk up the mountain from the clinic and many of the church members are our patients.

In the morning, the young people and Mike and Alan held a soccer clinic with the church youth, leading them in a devotional and then doing soccer drills and playing games in such a way as to foster team work. They also played a game of “ultimate Frisbee” with the Haitian children and discovered that they were quick learners.

Natalie, Charis and Mike sitting with some of the soccer participants

Natalie, Charis and Mike sitting with some of the soccer participants

At the same time, Geri and Leona were leading the adult members of the church in a Bible Study lesson on Ruth and Naomi, having the Haitian church members share their interpretation of the Bible lesson with everyone. It was a great time of interaction and learning from both sides.

Geri and Leona acting out the story of Ruth and Naomi for the church members

Geri and Leona acting out the story of Ruth and Naomi for the church members

Then, in the afternoon, the group held a Vacation Bible School (VBS) session with the children from the church, sharing a Bible story with them, doing crafts and playing games. The children were enthusiastic participants and loved the attention they got from the American youth.

Natalie, Charis, Josiah and Joshua enjoying their new Haitian friends

Natalie, Charis, Josiah and Joshua enjoying their new Haitian friends

The Eastbrook team leads the VBSers in an animated song

The Eastbrook team leads the VBSers in an animated song

Children attending one of the VBS sessions

Children attending one of the VBS sessions

Two of the boys comparing one another’s artwork during craft time

Two of the boys comparing one another’s artwork during craft time

Charis, Betsy and Natalie take a selfie with some of the VBS attendees

Charis, Betsy and Natalie take a selfie with some of the VBS attendees

On Wednesday and Thursday, the group did similar activities at a small Baptist church down the mountain from the clinic. This is Gemi’s (our Community Coordinator) home church and is led by a Haitian lay pastor. He and the church members were thrilled to have the visitors participate with them and they also had very lively discussions.

 highlight of Leona’s afternoon was “babysitting” for this little boy who attended the VBS session with his older brother.

highlight of Leona’s afternoon was “babysitting” for this little boy who attended the VBS session with his older brother.

Geri stands with the lay pastor of the Duchene church and his wife

Geri stands with the lay pastor of the Duchene church and his wife

The little Baptist church in Duchene – one of many churches in need of our encouragement and support

The little Baptist church in Duchene – one of many churches in need of our encouragement and support

We’re grateful for teams like the Eastbrook Church team who are able to minister to community members and support local churches on our behalf. They brought their skills and the warmth of their personalities to bear witness to the Spirit of Christ within them and their fellowship with Haitian believers was very much appreciated. We thank them for their encouragement and support and pray for them to return again in the future.

NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION

I’ve always heard it said that “necessity is the mother of invention” but I didn’t realize how true it is until this past week. We have been having a severe water shortage at our house in Jeremie and each time we have visitors, we wonder if we’ll have enough water for us to wash all the sheets and towels after their visits. Last week we were feeling a little stressed when we realized we had ten sets of sheets from our visitors from Eastbrook and five sets from the Avera group in December that needed washing and we had no water in our cistern under Cherlie’s closet. How were we to prepare beds for the seven visitors coming in over the weekend? We didn’t have enough spare sheets and now we had no water to wash the dirty ones. A dilemma! Typical of life in Haiti.

Well, we just happened to have an automatic washing machine that we had sent down to Haiti a few months ago with the intention of using it up at the residence quarters once we started living up there. It was sitting on our porch and hadn’t yet been used. So, we decided to take it up to the site and with the use of a generator that was already up there, we got water out of the cistern under the sidewalk of the pharmacy building using buckets and filled the washer with it. The water is rain water collected off the roof of the clinic. So, once we got everything set up, Cherlie proceeded to wash five sets of sheets while clinic was going on. She put up a clothesline under the trees in front of the clinic and by the time I had finished seeing all the patients, our sheets were washed and dried and ready to be folded up and taken home! Water is plentiful up at the clinic and we discovered a new use for it to help us deal with a difficult problem at home. We’re grateful that we have options to consider in dealing with the necessities of life here!

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!

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.

 

 

 


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!

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