A Travellerspoint blog

November 2010

Nov 24.......

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father Son and Holy ghost!!!!!

My heart and head was full of this song and praises for our Lord this morning. I've been back at Pierre Payen Hospital since Sunday. The state of the "cholera ward"was still in bad shape and I'm seeing why God has me in Haiti.......and also why I've had the experiences already that I've had. My working time in the cholera ward in St Marc Hospital a few weeks ago was training ground for me so that I could see and know what needed to be done.
Contact was made yesterday with the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) group in St Marc and this morning they arrived with a crew to take over the ward. PRAISE GOD!!! The American team had come here to do surgery but that was not in God's plan. They've done 4 cases......amazing ones that I'll tell you about......but most of the time they've been working in the cholera ward....cleaning up, making "Oral Rehydration Solution", starting IVS on collapsed patients, maintaining IVs, picking up garbage, whatever was needed!!!! The Haitian nurses are worn out.....5 of them have been working daily on rotating shifts since the outbreak started....about 4 weeks ago.
It's now noon and the MSF team has been here since 9am. We had a meeting with the hospital Director and then the assessment and organization was fine tuned!!! MSF has been doing this kind of thing for years and I'm so very thankful to God for sending them here. The 3 sickest patients are being sent to St Marc and criteria will be in place so that this will only become a center for mild to moderate cases. They just don't have the facility or the capability to maintain a cholera center.
I had to leave for a break as I was in tears as I finally made it into a second ward and saw a little 8 year old girl sitting up drinking the ORS. She was very sick yesterday and I had feared that she might die overnight. I had spent the morning in another room with 3 others that are also very sick but will be going to St. Marc. I was so overwhelmed with thankfulness to see her so much better. Her mama and I hugged each other and shouted "Alleluyah"........and the whole room echoed our praise!!!! What a joyful moment!!
I can't help but say to anyone reading this that this is not by chance, all this is not a coincidence, all this is not luck.........this is the hand of God using those of us who believe in Him and listen and obey His commands. God nudges us all to love Him, believe in Him, to live as one like Jesus who was our greatest teacher. When we are filled with the love of God and faith, we will want to do his bidding. It doesn't mean that everyone needs to travel the world.....or even go downtown to the homeless.....but it does mean we are called to know God and learn about Him and believe that He wants to be in each of our lives......He wants to love us and have us love Him......and then everyone's hearts will be filled with a passion to do His will. And what a joy that is to experience!!!! We're all given gifts.......and so I encourage you all to discover what your gifts and passions are........and go for it!!!!!!
Two days ago a very pregnant lady walked into the clinic, we got her up on the examining table, Dr. Joe had a "look".....saw a foot and within a very short time, she had a caesarian section and had a beautiful baby girl. All are well and went home yesterday afternoon!!! It was a second child for the mom and she was quite happy going home!!!! Dad was absolutely bouncing with joy!!!! That babe would have surely died ....and maybe the mom..... if this team hadn't been here!!! Thank you God for sending them here at this time!
Annie is back in Haiti....I'll see her tonight....and will be going to stay with her after the team leaves on Sat. She tells me that she's got us another job........this time with "pay"....working at a cholera center somewhere out in the boonies!!! I have no idea where....but I'll soon find out. She and I worked together at St Marc's Hospital. She's having her huge American Thanksgiving feast on Sat........and I'm so looking forward to cranberry sauce!!!
Before I know it, Dec 10 will be here and I'll be flying home. I don't know what that's going to feel like. I expect I'll be coming back here soon! Time and God will tell.
I love you all........I'm thankful for everyone of you in my life! Joel and Sean and Emily....you are my force d'accompli!! I love you like life itself and I hope one day to share all this with you. Mom, I am so thankful that you are praying for me each day. I love you and miss you and look forward to seeing you soon. Pat....I pray for you and love you for being my sister. Doug...we have to rediscover each other again. I feel like we have time to make up. Hope Bonaire is treating you well!!! : )
Just got called to another meeting........but one of these days we'll be off for a bit of R&R at the resort!!! I love that too.
xoxoxo judy

Posted by jdouglas 08:57 Comments (0)

Nov 17

Today before breakfast we all headed up the beach where about 6 people were pulling a net in. We asked if we could help and so we joined the lines. I found out they were all from the same family....grandma, sons, daughters and spouses.....all pulling in the day's catch! It ended up being about 2 dozen small fish, like sardines. Hard to feed a family or make a living on that. Then we helped them "fold" the huge net into their boat and they anchored it out deep and left the beach with their basket.
Yesterday I was with the team on deliveries. We headed north of here, past St Marc, into the Artibonite Valley......where all the cholera started. We delivered and installed 34 new filters into a school (4) and the rest into individual homes. So we saw lots of new countryside and met lots of Haitians....old, young, men, women and children. Some dirt poor, some had nicer homes. All this was from a flat deck truck with flip-down sides. As the day progressed....we started at 6am.....the load lessened and we had more room to sit. After many years of wearing a seat belt in Canada, I'm becoming quite comfortable riding in the back of trucks!! We passed by donkeys loaded down with baskets full of bananas...we saw beautiful children dressed in their school uniforms heading off to school, we travelled on roads that would be considered bad forestry roads at home, then we were on nice smooth pavement...not very wide ever and always traffic is honking! There are goats and pigs and chickens in every town and community. Laid out in yards on tarps is the latest harvest drying.....millet, corn and rice. The better off homes have a slab of concrete in front of their homes to lay it on. I remember seeing that same thing in Burma and Nicaragua. Every town we went through had a market....teeming with people and motorcycles. There was so much to see that it's hard to think of it all to tell you. I'll try to make a collage of pics to send out when I get home.
Tomorrow is our last day here at Clean Water. Sarah and Peter and their sons Noah and Abe have been delightful hosts and friends. We've learned so much about the water filter business and I'm so very glad to support such an endeavor. They are helping a lot of people in this country to be healthier.
Water and education are the keys to this country and others to become healthier and self sufficient.
More again another day. I pray that all is well with you.
xo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 16:38 Comments (1)

We're at Clean Water for Haiti

Seems like years ago since I wrote the last blog. Just reread it and remember with sadness that evening trip to St Marc. I checked out the PP Hosp the next day and there were 14 people.....we left 5 there!!! Cholera is still spreading and we've gotten word that it's in Port now and Cap Haiten and in the slums in City Soleil. Apparently these are the worst slums in the whole world. Imagine having that distinction!!!!!
I did spend a couple of days helping the NY team do some tiling in the new clinic. My goal with Elsie is to help her move all her medical supplies into there before I leave Dec 10!! Please pray that this will happen as it is going to be a big job and she really would like the help!
The tiling looks great so far but still lots to do. There's another team coming for over Thanksgiving (will I get turkey again??? Please pray for that too!! : ) and we're hoping they'll get more of it finished. Then some more wall painting and shelf building and then moving day. The doctor at the clinic is a gem.....a 30 year old fellow from Cap Haiten who had worked previously for an NGO and is fitting in at Canaan wonderfully. He has a wonderful servant heart and is so very kind and gentle with the patients. His name is Dr. Jean Robert.
The surgeon I worked with last week was also Jean Robert. He lives in St Marc and travels to many clinics to see patients. Does general and gyne surgery. Annie, the nurse from Michigan, works with him when he comes to the clinic. I've really enjoyed getting to know her....we worked together at the cholera hospital in St Marc.....and I miss her now that she's in the States for her son's graduation. She is coming back Nov 23 and will work with me and the next surgical team from Nebraska....headed by Dr. Joe Miller. They know each other as he's been here many times before. Right now he and I are trying to coordinate about supplies for the team. There's not much left at the hospital and I've been trying to get more supplies from a depot here near Port called Mission of Hope. Elsie and I went there on Friday and I was able to speak by phone with the fellow in charge. He will look at our "wish list" and see what he has in storage and hopefully I'll be able to drive back there and pick it all up before the team arrives next Sunday. It's always a "wait and see" climate here. What I can't get, the team is going to have to hustle and try to pack before they come so time is of the essence. However, all I can do is wait for his return phone call!
We're at Clean Water for Haiti and enjoying Sarah and Peter's hospitality. They have 2 beautiful little boys....Noah and Abe, a real delight. It's very relaxing here but I can't seem to forget that just a 10 minute walk down the road is the hospital where the cholera patients are being tended to with meager supplies. We did ask Doctors without Borders to come and check on the conditions there and see if they could help set it up better. The doctor we spoke to hoped to drive down and see it. There are bed frames there without mattresses and so the patients are often lying on benches. Hopefully St Marc will be able to bring down some of their supplies but they are being overwhelmed with numbers of new patients themselves!!!
Tomorrow we're taking the "new" team and the Craigs over to Canaan for church and lunch with the kids. We're going to sing them a new song during "open mike" and I know the children will love that! Then we're off to a "missionary meeting" that is held every 2 weeks. I went to the last one and met some Canadians from Surrey and Vernon!!!! Amazing eh!!! Crystal Beach some of you may know, has been here about a year teaching in a school in St Marc. Barb is from Surrey and has been here for 8 years and helps out in many missions around St. Marc.
4 of the team went on a filter delivery yesterday...a 14 hour day going to 34 homes in a neighboring town.....and I'm going to an area north of St Marc on Tuesday. It'll be great to see more of this countryside. The ocean is calm and a beautiful blue....and sooooooooo warm!! Had a beautiful sunset tonight. Today Trudy and I walked along the beach and met a young fellow who spear fishes off a wind surfer board. He had a couple of small fish is his box that was strapped on the board. He really needs a new pair of flippers...wish I had some in my suitcase. Whatever a person might imagine to bring here could be used by someone.
So all for now.......the gang just got back from a basketball game in Montrouis. Sounds like we're at a resort. CWH is an oasis, believe me. We actually have power 24 hours a day!!! : ) love to all..........xoxo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 14:29 Comments (0)

It's cooler : )

The end of a lovely calm weekend after the "storm". I went for a long walk down the highway towards the town on Sunday. Most days I wouldn't even think of doing that cause it's way too hot! Everyone greets me with "Bonswa" and a smile. A couple of young girls did laugh as I walked by and I heard the word "blan".

Just like in Vernon when it rains mid August, the air temp here has cooled. I'm actually having a light blanket on while I sleep!!!! After many nights of tossing and turning in the heat, this is a welcome reprieve.
We had a marvelous time at Moulin Sur Mer for my birthday. The hurricane was "blowing" but we knew the eye had passed so figured it was "safe". Off 7 of us went in Elsie's truck....it's not far from here. It was lightly raining and beautiful by the ocean with the surf crashing onto the beach. (normally a dead quiet ocean) But we were under cover and enjoying the evening. The meals here take a long time to get ready and after a while of waiting we realized the surf was really crashing much higher and harder against the stone retaining wall on the beach. Then it absolutely began to POUR rain....steady and strong. We began to wonder about our decision to be "out in a hurricane" but Elsie said all was fine. However when we finally left.....in a covered golf cart to our vehicle.......we saw that all the grounds were now under about 6" of water and we had to drive through water to get to the highway!!!! But back at Canaan, which is up the hill from the highway, all was well. It rained hard all that night with big winds but we were all safe and warm and dry!
It's been busy the last 2 days as I've been off to Pierre Payen....that's the nearby town where I worked with the surgical team from Pennsylvania. I need to find out what supplies are available for the next OR team arriving Nov 23 and needed to coordinate the search with Edgar, an interpretor. Even after thinking I'd arranged it, Edgar was off to Port au Prince to pick up a team and take them to Boreal, about 2 hours from here. So instead Susan and I worked with Annie in the clinic with the local doctors....quite an experience! Similar to Nicaragua. Then we spent some time helping the nurse look after a few cholera patients that were there. This local hospital has dismal supplies and we were alarmed at the care! When we talked to Elsie about it, she came and checked it out and we determined that something needed to be done. 2 men had died that day and there was no more IV solution available for the night. So we loaded 3 of the worst patients into the back of Elsie's truck....and their families.....and off we went in the dark to drive to St Marc Hospital where I had worked last week. Nov 4...the last night I worked.....there were 210 cholera patients. Now there are more than 400. There's been a huge increase since the hurricane. The facility had people everywhere!!!!!! They had run out of beds and so the sick were lying on the benches in the triage area.....head to toe! One family carried in their teenage daughter, limp in their arms, and laid her at my feet on the gravel floor. I got a blanket underneath her and started 2 IVs and ran them open!!!! Nick went out to our truck and brought in the thin mattress that we had in the back of the truck for transport and we put her on that! Doctors without Borders is an amazing organization and they were truly doing their best but the numbers are overwhelming. We ended up staying and helping for about 3 hours. One young girl that we had brought was immediately surrounded by about 4 docs and they resuscitated her for about an hour.....miraculously we heard she did make it through the night however the reason she was doing so very poorly is that she has syphylis. She is only about 10!!! She has no family and lives in Montrouis in an orphanage. A cousin of hers did arrive before we left to spend the night with her. Without family, these people would be in a much worse state. There's no way they could get enough staff to tend to them with diarrhea and vomiting!!!
We got back home about 10pm and literally fell into bed as the lights went out. We have power by the generator every evening from 6 til 10 and there's scattered power in different buildings during the day!
Today I again arranged to be in PP to meet Edgar at 9am and again he went off on another errand!!!! This time to St Marc and was very apologetic and promised to be back by noon. Everyone here has a cell phone......yes, even me.......and there is constantly a phone ringing. But it does work to keep in touch. I'm even learning to text!!! To get to PP we didn't have a ride so we flagged down a local "tap-tap" (commuter truck) and paid our 10 goude each (about a quarter) and off we went! When you want to stop, you just "tap-tap" on the back window or on the side of the truck, and they stop and you get out!
We got the supplies checked and helped out in the OR for 4 surgeries.......the first done there since our team had been working! It was fun to work with Emylene again and Dr. Jean-Robert whom we had worked with Monday. First case was supposed to be a hydrocele repair and turned out to be "elephantitis" instead so the 19 year old boy had an orchiectomy instead. No pathology done. Did a couple more hernias and then an abdominal hyster. Most cases are done with ketamine, monitored by an oximeter for heart rate and O2 sat. The hyster was done with spinal and sedation. No back table.....all the instruments on the mayo stand. It was almost more than I could bear!!!
Not sure what tomorrow will bring.....I may stay here at Canaan and work with the school children. They always need someone to read to. A team from New Jersey is here now tiling the new clinic floor and said they may need me there. Lots of floor to do which I hope gets done so I can help Elsie move into there while I'm still here in early Dec. On Thursday the rest of the Vernonites are arriving and we'll all be at Clean Water for Haiti for a week. It's a beautiful spot, right on the ocean so will be able to have a few "dips" while we're there!!! A very tranquil spot!! It'll be fun to see everyone again.
It's 9:30 pm now......I'm the last one in the cafeteria....everyone's gone to bed already!!! Soon lights out and then the dogs start barking and the toads start croaking and the rooster starts crowing about 3am and then the dogs start up again. There are lower (on the hill) dogs
and upper dogs and they fight every night for territory. The upper dogs are pets for Gladys and Henri and get fed and the lower dogs have to scrounge. Puppies get eaten regularly....good thing as there is lots of "puppy making" going on!!!! Then about 5am, they feed the pigs who are penned near our house and their squealing and grunting is a noise not to be missed!! I just can't wear ear plugs....it's enough to have my CPAP helmet on......but I actually do sleep through it all some nights. (Mom wouldn't be surprised to hear that.)
Blessings to all. Say a prayer for all the people in the world who don't have what you have in your lives right now! We are so very blessed in Canada. There has to be ways for each and every one of us to help someone in some way. I encourage you all to find some way to make a difference. It becomes a life changing experience, believe me!
Over and out.......................

Posted by jdouglas 17:48 Comments (3)

in the aftermath of Tomas

Dear all................thank you for your faithful prayers. The eye of the hurricane has passed by us out in the bay on the other side of the big island. Unfortunately the south arm of Haiti has undoubtably suffered....time will tell how bad. We still may get huge winds tonight but they prepared for that by cutting the larger branches off the trees. We feel very blessed. We spent the day talking with Pastor Henri...an amazing man of God and with Pastor Joel and his lovely wife Rosemene, who played the guitar and sang for us. Some we knew and would sing the English along with her in Creole. The children have mainly stayed indoors, snoozing and playing. It has rained most of the day....sometimes hard sometimes lightly. Our house has held up, a few leaks here and there but OK.
In celebration of my birthday, my friends are taking me out for dinner at a resort near by......you see, life just carries on!!! Amazing!!! It's called Moulin sur Mer....google it and you'll see where I soon will be.
Annie and I will probably go back to St Marc Hospital tomorrow and help as we can. This rain will probably spread the cholera more....please pray that it doesn't. Again time will tell.
Pastor Henri knows his people are very resilient but they need our prayers that they will know who to turn to as trouble after trouble hits them. Our Lord loves them all and even through all this, has shown His mercy and grace. We don't know why....may never know....but I have faith that He knows and good will come out of all this.
Keep writing, I love to read your comments and hear from home. I wish you all were here to share the joy that I am surrounded with. God is so very good to me.
xo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 14:33 Comments (4)

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