Dear friends and family....
Here it is a month after the last blog! And I am again at OSAPO...the remote clinic/hospital up in the mountains....and felt inspired to write as day is breaking and people are starting to stir outside. I'm sitting in the "conference room", a big room at the front of the building and it has a big porch leading off from it overlooking the road below. That is where I took the pictures/video of the passing-by funeral procession that I posted on FB. It is a great place for people watching and today will be a good day for that as it is market day in Montrouis, where this road ends when it joins National #1 Highway. Today the road will be full of laden-down donkeys and women with huge bags of goods for sale perched on their heads. I can't help but think how those vertebrae of theirs are being crunched downward!!! Most everyone walks down to the market. A few have enough "kob" to hire a taxi....a motorcycle. These bikes are constantly going back and forth with passengers....the record for me to see is 8 on one bike!!! Usually there are 3-4. When I take a "moto", I pay a bit extra (10 gourde...about 25 cents) to be a single. They've all gotten to know that and so don't stop along the way to pick anyone else up unless I ask them too. I learned that from my friend Annie. As she drives along with her Kia truck, she will constantly stop and ask people if they want a ride and if they do, into the back they jump, quite happy to have that bit of "luxury". : )
I just finished reading in my devotional book called "Jesus Calling"....a great little inspiration book that is written as if He himself were talking to me. This morning it starts out by saying "Let thankfulness temper all your thoughts. A thankful mind-set keeps you in touch with Me. I hate it when My children grumble." : )
What a good reminder as I can recall myself grumbling these past few days....it's getting hotter and stickier here (finally rained a bit last night) and I can't seem to get the last few things done that I want to do in the Maternity/Child building, The building is basically ready to go and yesterday the Japanese Ambassador arrived back in Haiti so we're hoping to hear soon when the Inauguration Date will be!! The beds cannot be filled, the dossiers cannot be written on....until it's officially opened!!!! Dr. Gardy asked me yesterday to remind him what date I'm leaving Haiti as we are all hoping that it will happen before I leave on April 14. Time will tell.......
Since I last wrote, I have been to Borel with some American women who came to lead Haitian women in fellowship and song and to teach them about some health concerns. The focus for the conference started to be education about cancer but the topics broadened a bit from that as the women were led to encompass general healthy habits...be it financial, physical or spiritual. There were 89 Haitian women there and one of them said to me that the time "wasn't long enough for us to be together" so that seems pretty positive feedback!!! Magalia, a Haitian nurse who works in the HIV clinic at Pierre Payen (PPH), was the first speaker and we quickly realized that the whole 3 days could be on that one topic! Even though this country has suffered from AIDS for many years, there are still so many misconceptions and so much lack of knowledge. After a lengthy question period, Magalia finally got on to talking about cervical cancer (they are starting to do screening at both PPH and OSAPO with treatment by LEEP. Thanks to IHA, I brought down one of the 2 machines used!!! : ) and then she talked about breast cancer. Then I presented a short explanation about Self-Examination of one's breasts with a picture handout. Stanley, the translator for the conference, had quite a time translating all my maneuvers!! : ) I set up a private area and opened the door to anyone that wanted to practice with me what was taught.....and I do believe I ended up doing 89 breast exams. Found 3 lumps and these women were referred on to a nearby hospital at Deschapelle (Hospital Albert Schweitzer)
We were at Borel for about 5 days total.....that is the compound built by the Church of God Conference from the USA that has been in Haiti for almost 20 years. All the women slept in the dorms there and we all heard singing and laughter throughout the time they were together. They loved being taught a craft making mats or baskets out of cut up plastic bags. Once they caught on to the blanket stitch used, they were very creative!!
Then we were off to Bayonais....a small, remote village farther north of Borel. One of the women has been going there for a few years and had arranged for us to stay 2 nights and hold a mini conference for the neighboring women. The whole great experience was repeated and new connections were made. They had just opened up a small medical clinic and so I worked with David, a Haitian nurse, for one morning. He was a great teacher of just normal good health habits and was able to give out a few needed medications. One elderly woman came in with a bandage wrapped around her wrist...she had fallen 10 days earlier...and it was pretty obvious as I unrolled it, that her wrist was broken. I gave her 1000 Gde ($25) as David figured that was enough for her to get a moto (they're everywhere) to Gonaive, the nearest city, where she could hopefully see a doctor who could set the bones properly. That should have paid for the consultation and the xray and maybe some food for the road!
Water Project for Haiti, the water filtration site at Borel who is my "parent umbrella", is still thriving and helping so many people get clean water! It was great to see Bim and Tim while I was there. There are now 5 Haitian men who have jobs there! Right now, there is a campaign on to raise money to keep making filters as a supporting couple, Theresa and John Carruthers, have offered to meet every dollar raised over the next 60 days!!! If you would like to support a water project, go online to www.waterprojectforhaiti.com and check it out.
You also could hear about it all if you come to the fundraiser on WEDNESDAY MAY 21 in VERNON at the ELKS HALL. Please note the date change from a previous notice. We're hoping that tickets will be sold for the event at the Bean Scene. I am sure looking forward to a BEAN SCENE latte when I get home!!! : )
OSAPO desperately needs a workspace to de-contaminate instruments and materials used in the "SOP" (salle de operation"), the Urgence (emergency) and the clinic rooms. Right now, all that activity happens in basins in a hallway that also houses some supplies. Not ideal but better than before when instruments were carried into the kitchen area and placed into the pressure-cooker style autoclave on the burner there. Thanks to the latest container full of equipment for the Maternity/Ped ward, OSAPO now has a MidMark11 autoclave which greatly simplifies sterilizing!
This hospital is growing busier every day. It services an area of about 52,000 people and most of them walk down from the nearby hills for 4-5 hours for health care. Dr Gardy and his adminstration team have got so many projects going on besides the medical.....agricultural, nutritional, midwife training, a community garden where new things are grown and then shown to the people to try to grow themselves. I love that about the seed program....people are given new seeds to plant and then come to OSAPO for a cooking class where a big meal is prepared of all the new foods so they can see how to best utilize them in a nutritious way!!! 132 new latrines were just built. The next team that arrives here will be going out and helping the locals to paint them.
So I hope to see you on MAY 21 at the fundraiser. There'll be a picture show and video, some entertainment while you eat a wonderful Haitian-style meal and a silent auction. We have set the goal high at $30,000 and have already raised 1/3 of that so please come and help raise the rest. I know everyone is always being asked to give to so many projects and this is another one!! It is really making a difference and is well run by Haitians....that's the part I like. Every dollar will go directly into the building of the addition that is so desperately needed and will be fully accountable to me.
HIV lurks everywhere!
And just now, the sound of women singing has reached me. There are benches outside where people have come to sit in the order they'll be soon be seen at clinic. From there, they move inside to the chairs where they wait their turn to first pay for the consultation and then be seen by the nurse and the chart will be started with VS, height and weight, etc. Then they go and sit on benches that are by the 3 consultation rooms and will see the doctor when their name is called! I often see many moms with malnourished babies. They get registered in a feeding program called Medika Mamba and are followed until their weight improves. Another great program! : )
But now it is almost 8am and I have got to get started on my day! Again, if anyone reading this is inspired to come and help, please contact me. I have good connections for safe food and lodging, you would meet wonderful caring people who are trying to make a difference in a country that has struggled for so long.
firstname.lastname@example.org or in Vernon, phone 250-545-8877 and I'm on Facebook....