As you know if you’ve been reading our previous blogs, we began an ambitious home rebuilding project after the hurricane, to help people in the area around our clinic rebuild their destroyed or badly damaged houses.  In the first stage of this project, we had our Community Coordinator, Gemi Baptiste, visit over 700 homes in communities closest to the clinic site to see how many of them were in need of repair and rebuilding.  The criteria for choosing homes to rebuild were simple:  the house needed to be severely damaged or destroyed, the land needed to be owned by the homeowner, not rented, and they needed to be willing to build their own house if they were given tin, nails and cement.  Furthermore, they needed to be willing to be photographed in front of their house, both before and after the building process.  500 homes were chosen for rebuilding and, over the past two weeks, 10,000 sheets of tin, over 3000 pounds of nails and 300 sacks of cement have been distributed to the homeowners.  Here are photos of the distribution process:

The tin sheets were carries from the storage depot out into the yard, counted and put in piles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several piles of tin ready for distribution

 

Crowd of people waiting for tin and nails

 

The tin is wrapped in packs of 10 or 15 and secured with wire for support

 

Each recipient had their photo taken as they stood by the supplies they received.  Some only took tin and nails and will wait until they are further along in the building process to get their cement.  Others took all three – tin, nails and cement.

 

Woman poses with tin and nails she received

 

This man received tin, nails and cement

 

There were various methods of transporting the tin and cement back to their homes.  Some carried it on their heads, others paid motorcycle drivers to transport it and others used mules and donkeys to get the precious cargo home.

Transporting on his head

 

Loading cement sacks onto a motorcycle

 

Two packs of tin loaded onto a donkey

 

We were discussing the progress of the project with Gemi and he said that people are very motivated to get the frames of their houses built so they can receive the tin for the roof.  In fact, they are actually helping one another with the framing and with nailing the tin in place.  He says groups of men are going from one house to another to help one another rebuild.  For those of you who know Haiti, you know that collaboration is not a strong part of the Haitian culture.  In this small project that grew out of a huge need we saw in the communities we serve, we are finding two aspects of true community development.  First, the Haitians are building their homes themselves.  They’re using the design of their choosing, the size of their choosing and the materials they have available.  We’re coming alongside them to help them, but they have taken responsibility for their own homes, effectively rebuilding not only their houses but also their lives.  Since they’re doing the building themselves, they have complete ownership of it and the house is their home, their dwelling, their possession.  We are assistants in the process, not directors.  It’s a Haitian project, not an American one and they are proud of it.

Secondly, and this came as a total surprise to me, they are helping one another in the rebuilding process.  This is an amazing, empowering, positive unintended consequence of what we started.  Neighbors helping neighbors, young helping old, skilled helping unskilled, in a true spirit of progress.  That’s unusual in Haiti and we are thrilled to see it.  We’re praying that this spirit of cooperation and collaboration will permeate their communities and become a new way of living for them.  Cherlie preaches this message of service to the patients in our clinic every day, but now we’re seeing it in action and it is truly gratifying.

We give thanks to our very generous donors who have allowed us the privilege of serving these communities in their time of need after the hurricane.  Once we’ve distributed all of the materials for this first stage of rebuilding, we will move on to communities further up in the mountains and give them the opportunity to participate in the rebuilding project.

Grateful receipient with his home-building supplies

 

POLITICAL UPDATE

We are back in Jérémie now and our clinic is open and busy.  We’re staying up at the clinic site during the week, so as to avoid any demonstrations that might occur in town.  There are no new developments with regard to the situation with Guy-Philippe, but there is a great deal of discussion about possible disqualifying information that is being disseminated about the newly elected presidential candidate Jovenel Moise.  It remains to be seen as to whether he will be inaugurated as planned on February 7th.  Until then, there is always the possibility of unrest as his supporters react to the negative news that is being spread about him.  Political uncertainty is difficult for us, but it’s a common theme here, so we need to stay flexible, as do our potential visitors!  As always, we appreciate your prayers for us and for our ministry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JANUARY 17, 2017

I think the number of gray hairs on my head has doubled in the past two weeks and yesterday certainly contributed. Cherlie and I had been in Port-au-Prince since January 6th, due to unrest and violence, not only in Jérémie, but on the road to Jérémie from Cayes. On Friday, the 13th of January, Guy-Philippe appeared in court and the charges were read to him, to which he replied, “Not guilty”. So, another court date was set. We were waiting to see the reaction of his supporters after this court appearance in order to decide our further steps. While there were still daily demonstrations in Jérémie, there was not widespread unrest as there had been last week. So, we decided to try to make the trip by vehicle from Port-au-Prince to Jérémie. We were going to “make a run for it”, so to speak. But, because of potential violence, we felt it would be best for me to “hide” in the jeep as we traveled, so that no one would see my white face and be tempted to kidnap me. I certainly didn’t want to end up as a hostage or something worse.

Yes, I realize it’s quite comical to think of someone my size “hiding” in the jeep! But, that’s exactly what I did. We put our duffel bags in the jeep behind the front seats and then packed the rest of the jeep with boxes of meds, groceries and supplies to take with us. We then covered the whole back of the jeep with a huge tarp. We left Port-au-Prince at 4am. After passing Cayes at 7am, with two and a half hours left to travel, I climbed into the back of the jeep and curled up with my knees bent, lying down on the duffel bags. A laundry bag full of dirty clothes was my pillow and my bare feet were pushed up against the side of the vehicle. Off we went with Miller, our driver, driving!

All weekend, I had been mentally preparing for this ordeal, thinking that my greatest problem would be pain from arthritis in my hips and knees. I was sure I could endure the pain because my desire to get home and back to our clinic was tremendous motivation. I really felt very much at peace with the decision to travel. I had taken some acetaminophen before we left Port-au-Prince and as I lay on the duffel bags, I felt quite comfortable. But, after only a few miles of driving, I suddenly began to feel claustrophobic. My face was up against the front seats, my head was pushed against one side of the jeep and my feet were pressed against the other side. The tarp covered my whole body with a thin slit of light coming through from the front of the vehicle. I felt like I was trapped in a cave and needed to get out immediately! So, I sat bolt upright, moved the tarp away from my face and said, “I don’t think I can do this!” Cherlie and Miller looked over at me with looks that said “What’s your problem?” So, after I sat up and gulped in some breaths of fresh air, I felt considerably better. We realized that I could prop up on my elbow and peer through the opening of the tarp except when we went through areas that were heavily populated or areas of expected problems. Then, I would lie down flat and stay out of sight. And, that’s what I did. In fact, in the two and a half hours that we drove, I propped myself up on my elbow so often that I got an abrasion on it! But, with the air conditioning blowing in my direction and a little light coming in and periodic views of where we were going, not only was I not claustrophobic any more, I didn’t even get car-sick. As it turned out, we got stopped at a couple of police stations but passed no road blocks or other gangs of demonstrators. At many, many places, rocks were piled along the road where roadblocks had been previously placed. And, there were a few areas where young men were sitting near piles of rocks, looking like they would throw some at likely targets. Fortunately, we weren’t targeted. As we drove through the town of Jérémie itself, Cherlie saw evidence of burned tires (I wasn’t looking at that point), but no active demonstrations were taking place. In talking with a friend later, we found out that very early in the morning, a group started to burn tires in town and the police came up and said to them, “No tires are to be burned today. You can demonstrate any other day of the week, but today, you can’t.” When I heard that, I thought, “Yes, Lord, you wanted us to get home safely, indeed.”

Our plans now are to go up to Gatineau tomorrow and re-open our clinic. The people up there have been asking about us and have pledged that we will be safe among them! So, we’ll stay up there through the week and only come down to Jérémie periodically (like to watch the Packers’ game). We are still concerned about the political situation here, as Guy-Philippe’s next day in court is January 27th and local elections are being held on January 29th. Until the next president is sworn in on February 7th, things are still unstable. As things develop, we will let you know. In the meantime, thanks for all the prayers and support from you, our Home Team!!

According to our staff in Jérémie, there continue to be daily protests on the streets and these will continue through the week. There is less violence, however, and businesses are open, but no Americans are visible on the streets, since the threat to them is still very severe.

Today there were very high winds and rain and many people lost the tarps that were covering their houses. This is devastating to people who have not yet recovered from the hurricane. They fear another storm is on its way.

Please continue your prayers for their recovery. Please pray also that the political unrest will be resolved soon and that we can return to Jérémie and resume our clinic activities as well as our rebuilding efforts. We plan to remain in PAP until at least Friday, which is the day that Guy-Philippe is scheduled to be in court. The result of that court appearance will most likely determine future activities and unrest among his supporters here in Haiti.

Not much new in terms of news today. The road to Jérémie is still blocked by gangs of protestors and there is unrest in the town of Jérémie itself. Extra Haitian police forces are out in number, according to our sources and there is less violence than there was yesterday. But, the situation is still volatile and we are staying in Port-au-Prince for the time being. Electricity is limited here but, otherwise, we are quite comfortable.

We appreciate all the prayers and emails that have been coming our way. We will continue to try to give frequent updates. There have been several articles about the arrest of Guy-Philippe on the internet. This has been a severe blow to the stability we all hoped would come with completion of the long drawn out Haitian election process. It is very disappointing

Cherlie and I were in the US for two weeks to visit family and take care of FHH business during the holidays. We were in Florida yesterday, getting ready to fly back to PAP, when we received news that there was unrest in Haiti. It was related to the fact that a politician named Guy-Philippe was arrested and taken to the US, supposedly on drug charges.

He is from Pestel, which isn’t far from Jérémie, and is a very popular politician in our area, having won election to the Haitian Senate in a landslide during the recent elections. We’ve met him and he’s visited our clinic and he is beloved by most of the people in the Grand’Anse where we live and work. Since his arrest there has been widespread violence along the road from PAP to Jérémie and in Jérémie itself, with tires burning in the streets and gangs roaming around town.

We were not fully aware of the situation yesterday and flew to PAP this morning, narrowly escaping being in Fort Lauderdale Airport during the shooting that occurred there. Since arriving in PAP, though, we have been informed by our friends in Jérémie that the violence is widespread and is especially directed to Americans.

It is a very dangerous situation and one that requires much prayer and wisdom. For now, we will remain in PAP, but if things deteriorate, it may be necessary to go back to the US. We are putting everything on hold until we see how things play out. In all my years in Haiti, this is the first time that the unrest has been so specifically anti-American, so we need to be very cautious, not only in terms of our own safety but also the safety of visitors. I will update this blog as I am able in the days ahead. With the Lord’s help and with your prayers, we will “be strong and of good courage”.

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.

 

 

 

Over the years of driving up and down the mountain to our clinic, Cherlie and I have acquired many new friends, most of whom are the “under three foot tall” variety! One of the Haitian men who worked with us in our early years fondly called them “little mice” because they would scurry out from the trees or their houses to wave and tell us “bye-bye” as we passed by in our jeep. One of them was given the nickname “pant-less wonder” by a group of teenage visitors because he never wore underwear as he ran down by the creek to greet us morning and afternoon. He’s actually one of our patients and we have been keeping him supplied with underwear and shorts to protect his newfound modesty.

A recent group of visitors (see previous blog) kindly assisted us in this year’s version of Santa’s workshop, putting clothing and toys from drums we had in storage into plastic gift bags. They included toothbrushes and toothpaste, Beanie babies, coloring books and crayons, little toy cars and small dolls, hair ribbons, bows and barrettes, soap, pencils and, of course, underwear, socks, shorts, t-shirts and pillowcase dresses. Supplies that had been sent down to us by other organizations quickly found their way into the gift bags. Plastic totes with underwear, dresses, toothbrushes and toothpaste were emptied. Toy cars that I had put away in my office to give to my favorite patients were surreptitiously commandeered. Nothing was safe except needles in the Emergency Room. Toys, clothes and hygiene supplies. What an awesome combination!

Socks and underwear are organized on the floor of the residence, which quickly became transformed into the Packing Center

 

Toys, crayons and coloring books are organized in Santa’s workshop

 

Filled gift bags sit on the floor of the residence, waiting for distribution

 

Unfortunately for our visitors, but nice for our own egos came the time for gift bag distribution. Santa’s time had come. Christmas was less than a week away, these children had suffered through a devastating hurricane and their parents had no means to make their Christmas a merry one. It was time to step up and fill Santa’s large shoes. In a more serious vein, it was also time to put our faith in action. It’s not always enough to give health; sometimes it’s necessary to give hope. And, we figured there was nothing better to restore hope than these pretty white gift bags.

But, we had a problem. “How could we do this fairly and in good order?” we wondered. Well, it turned out to be easier than we expected. Our staff let the children in the area know what day we were coming and we also spoke with several parents and told them to come down to the road with their children for a big surprise! Over the course of three days, we distributed over 100 Christmas gift bags to our little friends.

First group to receive their gifts live down by the creek below the clinic. They are our most ardent “wavers”, rarely missing a chance to say “bye-bye”

 

“Pant-less wonder” in the blue shirt is now clothed most days. When he’s not, he hides behind a tree to wave hello.

 

Shy little boy on his way home with his gift bag

 

A large group of children were waiting down the mountain. Were we ever glad we had a lot of bags! Santa’s helpers were awesome!

 

The following day was a late one for us, since we had a Staff Meeting after we finished with our patient care. It was nearly dark when we arrived at the distribution sites, but our friends were patiently and hopefully waiting for us.

Even in the dark, there were some pretty wide smiles.

 

The gift bags are bulging and the children’s patience was rewarded.

 

Our final day of gift distribution was organized to be sure we covered the children who had not yet received gifts. The little boy in the green shirt in the photo below giggled as he looked in his bag. He was delighted and couldn’t wait to dig in.

Smiles abound as these boys pose for a photo. There were lots of giggles that day!

 

A little boy with a big smile

 

We want to thank everyone who contributed clothing, toys, Beanie babies, dental supplies, plastic bags, labels and other supplies that went into making this holiday gift distribution a tremendous success. I think there will be some very happy little souls putting their heads down to sleep this Christmas night. Thank you and God bless!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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

 

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