A Travellerspoint blog

my last day in Haiti 2011

Well here it is! Almost 5 months have passed since I got off the plane with Emily and Garret and we worked our way through the maze of people at the Port au Prince Arrivals terminal. So much has happened, so many friendships and days of work and play and some sorrows.
I have loved my time here. I smile as I realize the purpose of why God sent me here. It is not always for us to know...but it is for us to listen to Him speak (through the Bible, through others, through the thoughts He places in our heads) and to obey.
I have been working with some amazing people, both "blan" and "Haitian".....when the Haitian kids call at me "hey blan", I call back to them "wi, mwen blan. Ou nwa". There's always lots of laughter at that!
Immediately upon arrival, Joel and Karlyn and Emily and Garret and I started working with a surgical team from Nebraska. Now that I sit in the cool of the Haitian "winter", it is hard to really remember how very hot we were in August. Just breathing made us sweat! It was almost useless to take a shower. It was a great educational experience for Joel and Garret...one I'm sure they won't ever forget in their nursing careers. I loved to have time to spend with Emily and work alongside her and share the time. And I loved meeting Karlyn, my dear friend Rachel's daughter, who is a very knowledgable nurse and amazing person! (just like her mom)
My time at OSAPO Clinic was very special...because of the people I met and worked with and got to know. It is an amazing organization...well run, efficient and very caring in its' health care of the people. As was talked about yesterday when we celebrated our time together, it was spoken of as a family that cares for each other. I enjoyed my teaching time with 5 of the nurses, passing on knowledge of working in an operating room. I am very thankful to Shirley and Annette and Fiona for passing on their teaching materials/courses to me.
OSAPO has been asked to take over the administration of the nearby Pierre Payen Hospital. This is where I worked with the surgical teams in August, October and November. I also worked there last year and so know many of the people well and what is needed to happen there. It has been poorly run for the past few years and basically has become a shell of a building, erratically staffed and has a record of very poor service. OSAPO will make a difference. I've been asked to sit on a Board overseeing the transition of the hospital becoming a "place of good service" again and I'm very happy to do so. To this end, I have said I will return next year. Right now, renovations have started, meetings have been held with the existing staff, recommendations are being considered. It will all take time...but the community will greatly benefit in the long run!
I also was very blessed with the friendship of Ann Hume. If you haven't gone to her website, go now www.bonsamaritan.org Hers is an amazing story and I am so very thankful to have gotten to know her and work with her and share her wonderful home with her and the children. God is soooo good to me. Thank you Ann for being who you are and what you do.
I've had many tap-tap rides back and forth to work at Pierre Payen. I share them with many Haitians and chickens and even a goat once. It's the main method of transportation during the daylight. After dark, there aren't many on the road as they don't often have lights! I ride motos to OSAPO as it's up a road/path into the mountains. Cars can drive up there but it's like 4-wheeling at home! I have been in beautiful homes and in thatched roofs huts. I have always been welcomed whereever I am. I have never felt threatened or afraid. I've learned to drive on Haitian roads and that is an experience everyone should try. The large buses and trucks drive over the center line, as fast as their vehicles will go, and blow their horns for all to get out of their way. It's a very nerve-racking experience at times. I've learned to drive with my eyes on the rear view mirror and if I see one of them coming, I give them lots of room to pass me. Everywhere there are people walking and they're thankful if we stop so they can climb into the back of the truck. There are donkeys carrying produce to market, there are women with huge loads of their heads going down the hillside to sell what they can, only to have to return home later in the day on foot.
Most evenings I have heard people singing...there are many small churches around and people gather as it is dark here by 6 and not many have electricity. Often the churches have a generator and one light bulb. Faith in God and belief in His help is strong here....no one walks around angry at their fate in life. It's just life to be lived in Haiti and as I say "bonjou" to all I meet, I'm always greeted with a beautiful white-toothed smile against their very black faces. A pure joy to have lived here for this short while!

Posted by jdouglas 05:57 Comments (0)

about a Christmas wish

This text is written by a friend of mine here in Haiti. This is the kind of story that we hear about almost daily...so many people need help here and we have the resources to help them. I pray that "someone" will be touched by this story and help will come for him.
Merry Christmas to all of you who have followed my travels. I'm leaving Haiti on Wed Dec 21 but I will be returning next year. Date to be decided but God has shown me that there is work for me to do here for Him. I could only do it with His blessings and I'm excited for the future of health care in Haiti...at least in this region. I would love any of you to join me. Please pray about that.
And now, read James' story........

My Christmas Wish - James Joseph

  • **Disclaimer - The following post has pictures of a medical condition called Bladder Extrophy with complex hypospadias. These pictures are meant to bring awareness and to seek assistance of medical treatment***

James Joseph Chapter 2:

Today in church one of the visiting missionaries talked to us about names. We have a lot of visitors and teams that come in and out to Canaan and for them trying to learn 60 plus kids names, plus another 20 staff names and 11 missionary names (good thing the dogs and pigs don't have names) often you get asked multiple times while they're visiting what your name is. She went on to say that though she may have to ask us more than once what our name is there is someone much more important who knows our name.

Someone who never forgets our name. Someone who has engraved our name on the palms of his hands - Isaiah 49:16. Someone who knows the exact number of hairs on our head - Matthew 10:30. Someone who knows to the second when we arise. Someone who knows all of our thoughts even before they're thought - Psalm 139:2. Someone who knows what will happen in our life. He knows our plans for our future - Jeremiah 29:11.

This is what I shared with Mamma James a couple of weeks ago when she stopped by the clinic one Tuesday afternoon to talk and say hi. God has a plan for James. God knows what He's doing. I assured her that we haven't forgotten about her little one, that there were are still are people praying for James and searching for a way to help. Multiple people have spent the last six months trying to help James get to the states for surgery. Though there have been many doctors and hospitals that have been contacted we have not been able to find both a doctor and a hospital that will accept his case. Concerns that he's not in immediate danger to not knowing how long his case would take were some of the reasons why he wasn't being accepted. It's hard to hear these reasons knowing full well that if this child was born in the States or Canada this problem would have been worked on a long time ago.

It is comforting to know however that old and new friends are still fervently working and helping out with this. After seeing a picture of James I posted on my facebook page a good friend who used to live in Haiti wrote me about wanting to contact doctors in her area about James. She and her husband had been praying about helping patients that needed to come to the states for surgery. Just last week there was a team of surgeons visiting the mission next door and I took James knowing they wouldn't be able to do the surgery but hoping to make a contact. We are waiting to hear what God has in store with these leads.

About a month ago at 5 am for a week straight I awoke with a heaviness on my heart for James. The burden I had to pray for him was over powering. As I laid in bed, I prayed that God would open a door for James, that there would be a doctor and hospital willing to take on his case. That the doctors I did contact would respond whether it was with good news or bad news.

Dear friends, I am still praying for James. I ask that you join in praying for him and for his Mom as well. I don't know who reads my blog (except for my friends and family), but I ask that if you read this you share this post with your friends, post it on your facebook, email it around, share it in hopes that someone connected with a pediatric urologist and hospital will see James and be able to help him.

That conversation I had with Mamma James that Tuesday ended the same way it has with all our other conversations. Bondye konnen...li konnen tou she told me.

God knows...He knows it all.

Posted by jdouglas 17:29 Comments (0)

The Trumpet

Thanks to all who have been faithfully following me in the blog......but I see that I have been far from faithful to you!!! My last entry was Nov 4. Team #2 was arriving the next day....and after that, team #3 arrived on Nov 11......along with Sean as many of you know! I have been so blessed to have Joel and Emily and then Sean join me over here. Sean told someone it was the only way he could see his mom!! : ) Not true but it sounds like a great reason to visit to me! I had an amazing time with each of my dear family...they were all here at the same time as a surgical team so that defined what those 7 days were like. It's hard to explain what happens. 10 to 20 people arrive with 2 suitcases each full of medical supplies, they're all excited about travelling, arriving in a strange country....and ready to work and save the world! A lot does get done, both surgically and medically and emotionally. It's a pretty packed week.
In August when Em and Joel...and Karlyn...were here, we absolutely "swam" through each day. It was soooooo hot and humid. When Sean arrived in November, it had cooled off "a bit" and was more tolerable. Now I actually have a sheet over me each night when I sleep. It's still in the 80's during the day though.
And now, I'm trying to finish up a couple of projects before I head off home! That's going to be strange to be back in Canada after all this time. I've made a life here....new friends, work most every day, different things to do and see, culture to learn, a new language to speak. I'm glad I'm coming back with another week to spare before I start work again. It would have been difficult to transition if I would have landed back home on Dec 28!!!
I've been asked to be part of the new Board for the OSAPO/Pierre Payen Hospital merger and so I will be coming back next year for an extended time again. The hospital has been on a definate downward trend the past few years and the OSAPO administration has been asked to take over and make it a credible and honest institution again. It is a daunting task but I know Drs. Gardy and Toussaint can do it. They have a great team behind them and a great philosophy that if you treat people well, they will work well for each other and for the good of the institution. It certainly is working well at OSAPO and i feel very blessed to have been part of that organization for these few months.
I've been asked to make an inventory of supplies at the hospital which is what I worked on prior to the teams arriving this fall so that job is almost finished. The new autoclave is still not working consistently so I'll be meeting with the OSAPO tech. to see if that problem can be solved. Otherwise, there are 3 people from Pennsylvania that will come out and get it working. It's a beautiful machine from Sweden but it requires a consistent water pressure to work efficiently and that's hard to come by in Haiti. Water pressure originates from the level of water that's in the cistern on the roof..which you can well imagine varies often throughout the day!!! We're hoping installing a water pump from an RV will solve the problem and/or increasing the size of the reservoir. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
I'm also trying to put together a reasonable charting system that will be used by the teams when they come here. Each team comes with their own ideas and then leaves it all for the Haitians to figure out when they leave. So I'm incorporating the OSAPO and the hospital charts with the ideas that I know the North American teams like to use. Hopefully it will be something that everyone may not totally agree with but can work with. Thankfully I have a chart that we developed over the years we went to Nicaragua. I think parts of it will adapt well.
So the next 13 days will continue to be busy. Teaching has pretty well finished on a formal basis. We still have a few changes to make in their routines but it's all coming together well. The Haitian nurses were an absolute delight to get to know and to work with. : )
So that brings me to the title of this blog.....The Trumpet. I've written it already when I couldn't get online and so will paste it here now for you. Hope you enjoy reading it......
The Trumpet

I was brought to tears! Once again, God reminded me how He is working in my life. My days are planned beforehand…I need just to “be still and listen” and be ready to obey.
This story starts back in Vernon, with one of you playing a part! As many of you know, I asked you to drop things off at my house and I would have a garage sale to make money to use in Haiti. One day I came home and one of you had dropped off a trumpet in a case. I was excited to see it…also astounded as I thought it was worth a lot for a garage sale and so I decided not to put it in the sale…not sure what I was going to do with it but I didn’t want to give it away for $2.00 either. So into my spare room it went…and it’s still there.
Later, here in Haiti, I met Pastor Frito. He came to the Pierre Payen hospital where I was working with a team and asked the fellow monitoring the gate if I would talk with him. I was surprised when told there was a pastor wanting to talk with me, but I said “sure, let him in”. Pastor Frito told me his story about 13 children that lived in a side room of his church. Some of their parents were alive but had had to move away to try to find jobs. Pierre Payen is a very small, poor community with high unemployment. He told me that he had no food to feed them that morning and so he came looking for help and believed God asked him to talk with me. Inside my head, an eyeball was rolling….as a white person in Haiti, I get approached by a lot of people wanting help. The perception is that we have lots of resources and money to help the world! Oh no, I thought for a second…another one!! But then I stopped and looked in this man’s eyes and realized how hard it had been for him to approach me, how earnest his love was for these children and he just wanted to feed them that morning. I didn’t have much money with me but I gave what I had and we exchanged phone numbers as I said I would like to come to his church and meet the kids and his family. He also has a son, David (age 22) and a daughter Clairsina (age 26) When they have money for tuition, David attends a school in Montrouis and Clairsina attends nursing school in St. Marc.
Finally I went to see him last Saturday. I couldn’t believe the “road” I was driving on to get into his community. One part of it we drove down into the dry river bed and up the other bank. I don’t know what they do when the river is full! We passed through the Pierre Payen market which thankfully wasn’t that busy at that time. Most markets just take over a street in the town and booths get set up. When traffic gets busy, sometimes the booths and tables have to be moved over to let the vehicle through. Some smart vendors set up their wares in a wheelbarrow…easier to move! : )
Pastor Frito’s church is 4 cinder-block walls with a make-shift small roofed area temporarily built inside. One day he hopes to find more $ to finish the real roof. He showed me the 2 small rooms where the children sleep on the floor on blankets, their clothes piled up along the walls. Boys in one, girls in the other. One of his own family sleeps there with the children each night as their own house is just off the church property a few doors away.
He showed me the existing latrines and a new hole dug beside them. He needs money to build a new latrine, that was his #1 priority. (other than food and clothes for the kids) #2 was to get mattresses for them to sleep on.
We met all the kids, they sang a beautiful song for us, we shared a few bottles of Coke, took pictures, laughed at stories. The children range from age 5 to 13, well behaved and enjoying our time together. I had 2 soccer balls left to give and their eyes lit up when they saw them.
I then asked Pastor Frito and his wife Emilyene what they would like for themselves. He then told me that his son David loves music and is learning to play the trumpet and he would love to have a trumpet to give to him!!!
Thank you God for my tears of joy! Now I know why one of you dropped it off in my carport and why I didn’t put it in the garage sale!!!
David now plays a friend’s trumpet in church and also for funerals. The funeral processions are always led by a brass band!
It turns out that Emilyene plays the saxaphone and Clairsina plays the clarinet. None of them have instruments and so I’m looking forward to getting some from ??? one of you and bringing them with me next year. So please keep your eyes open for donations and/or clean out your closets one more time!!
I pray that this story blesses you as much as it blessed me! Thank you Jesus for all you are doing in my life and I pray that I will remain your obedient servant….along with the help of my wonderful friends! : )

Posted by jdouglas 17:11 Comments (0)

pre-surgical team #2 arriving.....Nov 4

I'm out on the balcony, brought out my Bible and devotional book. Annie just left with the truck full of the kids going to school and I was going to catch a ride part way to Pierre Payen. There is still lots I want to do before the team from Nebraska arrives tomorrow. But I told her to go ahead, cause I really felt like I needed to spend some time with God this morning instead of rushing off.
As I laid out my books, I had an overwhelming feeling that I would want to share my devotion with you today so I grabbed the computer. As it was opening, I looked up today's devotion in my "Jesus Calling" book and it brought me to tears. You see, I am wanting to get so much finished for the team.....and though I don't feel "stressed" about it and I've learned to just be happy with what I can get done, it is often on my mind!!! And it is the job that God sent me to Haiti to do!
Here is what I read.......
"Walk peacefully with me through this day. You are wondering how you will cope with all that is expected of you. You must traverse this day like any other: one step at a time. Instead of mentally rehearsing how you will do this or that, keep your mind on My Presence and on taking the next step. The more demanding your day, the more help you can expect from Me. This is a training opportunity, since I designed you for deep dependence on your Shepherd-King. Challenging times wake you up and amplify your awareness of needing My help.
When you don't know what to do, wait while I open the way before you. Trust that I know what I'm doing, and be ready to follow My lead. I will give strength to you, and I will bless you with Peace."

WOW.....is all I can say!!! How did I ever believe that I was doing "it" all on my own before 1994!!
Psalm 30:2 "O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me." Thank you Jesus.............

My prayer is that you will find Peace in your life today and always.

I see that my last entry was the day before Team #1 arrived. Once the teams get here, it does get busy. New friends to meet, jobs to define, work to be done. It's all fun and exciting and rewarding......and thankfully we are able to help many people. I'm trying to encourage the teams to ask the Haitians to come alongside us, to work with them, to encourage that to happen. We North Americans tend to just bulldoze our way in and take over. It's very intimidating for them, I've found. I knew that Greg Mortensen was absolutely right when I read his book.......when we come to help, we have to build relationships first and then ask how we can help. I've been very blessed to be able to be here for this long as it's allowed me to get to know many of the Haitians that I work with and have met.
So now with joy and peace in my heart, I'm off to Pierre Payen hospital to do what I can today. I know I'll be led to do what's important and what I can do on my own. Tomorrow God is sending 17 workers. My prayer is that we help and not harm any of the people who come to us.
Here is the latest addition to the OSAPO website....Dr. Gardy just sent it to me and I want to share it with you......he is an amazing man!

Balance after one year of Cholera

One year after the discovery of the first cholera cases in Haiti, Oganizasyon Sante Popile/OSAPO would like to express its concern about the response given to the epidemic up to date by both Haitian authorities and some international organizations. OSAPO considers the established treatment capacities as well as implemented preventive measures inadequate and insufficient.
According to latest information provided by the Haitian health authorities more than 465,000 Haitians have been infected with cholera and at least 6,500 people died since the epidemic started to present itself in the country a year ago. Whereas the former Minister of Health, Dr. Alex Larsen, declared in September 2011 that the epidemic is under control, case numbers rise in different parts of the country after every heavy rain. The lack of latrines and access to drinking water represent the two main structural problems for a sustainable control of the epidemic. Both the national authorities and the international humanitarian community have to invest in this area in order to be able to stop the further spread of the epidemic.
In order to respond quickly and efficiently to the crisis OSAPO and its partners such as Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, Bread for the Word, Action Medeor and Lutheran World Federation deployed more than 50 health promoters in the field to educate people about adequate behavior, sensitize them about the risks of contamination and provide them with material. With the help of this program more than 27,000 families have been educated and sensitized since November 2010. 1,875,000 water purification tablets and 968.000 Oral Rehydration Serum have been distributed. Through the establishment of a Cholera Treatment Centre (CTC) with a capacity of 55 beds more than 7,000 people of all age ranges were treated.
In other to maintain the efforts that have been made during the Program, OSAPO decided to build 60 latrines and a distribution point for drinking water has been installed with a capacity of 60,000 liters per day providing to more than 3,000 people every day.
We would like to thank all our partners and friends who contributed to our efforts to support the population during this difficult period. We are very grateful for that. But the road is still long and we count on you and your continuous support in order to be able to achieve substantial long term results that would provide for better living conditions for the vulnerable population.
Mesi anpil !
OSAPO Team

Blessings to you all........Judy

Posted by jdouglas 05:34 Comments (2)

Oct 19...pre-surgical team arriving!

It poured rain this evening and now it's cooler. It'll be a great night for sleeping. I've just been online looking at Jacmel and Port Salut Haiti. They're 2 beautiful towns on the southern arm, both look to have beautiful beaches and historical places. Jacmel boasts of many artists and cultural events. Dr Toussaint and Gardy told me today to pick a weekend and they're taking me to one of these places for a weekend at a resort with their families. I think I may pick the weekend that Sean's here. We'd be able to see so much more of Haiti. Susan really wanted to go to Jacmel last year. Hopefully she and I will go there together next year!! Hey Susan!
Hopefully the new autoclave will be installed tomorrow and then it's time to learn how to run it!! I sure wish some of you with more knowledge than me were here!!! I've got stuff ready to get sterilized and then the team arrives Sat and OR's start Sun or Mon.
Teaching day tomorrow...the 5 nurses have all picked a day next week that they'll each come and work with me at the hospital in the OR. It'll be a great experience for them...and for me.
This is a short one...my brain's numb as not a very good sleep last night. I ate 2 bananas for the first time in 5 years and not sure if that's what caused my restless sleep or not. Today I ate some avocado....bought the hugest one that I've ever seen for 10 goude....25 cents!!!! Smeared it on fresh bread...yummm. That's my first in over a year and no swollen lips! Thank you God! I was finding it real hard to live in this country surrounded by this good food and not eating it!
All for now......God bless........Judy

Posted by jdouglas 19:02 Comments (0)

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