A Travellerspoint blog

March 23 2014...."do not grumble"

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.
xoxo Judy
judydouglas@telus.net or in Vernon, phone 250-545-8877 and I'm on Facebook....

Posted by jdouglas 03:41 Comments (1)

In Haiti......

Dear friends........I have been told never to start a statement with "I'm sorry" but that's how I feel now....I have been in Haiti since mid-Jan and it is now mid-Feb!!! So much has gone on!
I was sitting outside the OSAPO hospital tonite and a motorcycle went by with 2 fellows and 2 mattesses on board!!!. They had to stop right before us to readjust their load as they carried up the mountain road and I thought....."I must write this on my blog"....so here I am!
Since I arrived Jan. 15, I have been at Pierre Payen Hospital, the orphanage and the OSAPO hospital. There have been 2 teams here in that time and that is always busy, getting ready for them and then working with them while they are here. Both teams were new to me but I have been communicating by email with them for a long time.
Roc Bonnell leads a long-time team from Texas and Sandra has a team here right now at OSAPO from New York. I certainly am getting to know lots of Americans and hope in the future to bring some of you Canadians here!!!! Let me know if you are interested! (judydouglas@telus.net)
Right now, the need is for some experienced OR nurses to come and help me/take over the OR nursing training here at OSAPO and at Pierre Payen Hospital. This is a desperate need and I plead with you to consider coming to help.
Some friends, who came last November 2013 and saw the need, are planning a fundraiser on May 22 2014 in Vernon to help raise funds for an OR workroom for OSAPO. This will also include some much needed storage space. I will let you know more about it as time progresses.
The children at Annie's orphanage are growing...and a few new ones have joined the group. It is always action in progress when I go there. I have been spending most of my time at OSAPO and Pierre Payen Hospital but am blessed this weekend to be spending the weekend at the orphanage, helping as I can, while Annie takes her staff for a much-needed break to a local resort! Pray for me as I tend to 18 children and get them ready for church on Sunday morning!!!!
I love the fact that I have so many friends back home who are interested in what is happening here in Haiti. I feel very positive that the Haitians I am working with are making a difference and that hopefully soon, we outsiders, won't be needed. But for right now, I am coming alongside the Haitian nurses, helping as I can, teaching as I know, and praying that it is making a difference.
I am thankful that Iris is back in my home taking care of it....she is looking for a place to live when I return. If you know of anything, please let me know.
Life continues on in Haiti....so many stories that I would love to tell but not now! I am blessed that you are reading this. Please comment....it encourages me! : )
xoxoxo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 19:56 Comments (0)

Back to Haiti.....sitting in LA airport.....

Hi again....I just reread my last entry. Where does the time go? I had a wonderful Christmas with my mom...and family Shay, Brandon and Steven in Edmonton. Yep, it felt cold as I walked out the door of the Edmonton airport in my capris and sandals but my dear Uncle Bill and Aunt Nomy met me with my winter coat in hand and blankets in the back seat of the car! : ) Then a quick stop-over in Vernon to pick up the LEEP cautery machine donated by IHA 2 years ago and now needed at Pierre Payen Hospital. They now have another 24/7 OB/GYN and will be able to get a cervical cancer screening program going!! Praises to God for always having what is needed at the right time!
It was with full joy that I got to spend time with both Sean, Emily and Hayden and then Joel and his newly "official" family. Joel and Alice got engaged before Christmas and so Alice and her 6 year old son Sebastian are joining the Douglas clan! More praises!!! Wedding date to be announced!
I feel pretty disjointed right now....the trip was a rush but I was so very glad to see Mom again! She is such a trooper and takes one day at a time. She does fuss a bit but at 89, she is allowed to do that! I wish I had 1/2 the discipline that she has.
So now I'm on the road again. Time to get back to OSAPO and finish what we started there in Nov and early Dec. The new Maternity wing needs to get rolling and I'm praying that Olga from Vernon will be arriving back in Haiti soon too. Please pray that she can get all her family and work responsibilities covered so she can join me in the work.
Just yesterday, I finished writing out a "newsletter" of all the things I'm involved with in my time in Haiti and I've just clicked and dragged the document to here. I wonder if you'll be able to read it. Hope you can... cause it's time to board my plane. On to Miami overnighter and then into Port au Prince by 9am EST.
/Users/judydouglas/Desktop/JUDY’S JOURNEY IN HAITI 2013 - 1.docx
Blessings to all and thank you for keeping track of me and keeping me in your prayers.
xo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 19:31 Comments (0)

Heading home to Canada on Tuesday Dec 17

Hard to believe that it's time to head home! Just wrote the following to some colleagues at UBCO and decided to copy info to here:

"Just a a quick catchup on Haiti....there is such an opportunity here for nurses with clinical and teaching experience to come and share their knowledge at both OSAPO and Pierre Payen Hospital sites. OSAPO has been running a "lay-midwive" program now for 2 years and so there have been a major increase in the # of babies born here instead of at home. Maternal and infant mortality was so high that it was necessary to make changes. Before, almost 90% of babies were born at home in this area (of about 52000 people) and now that number is under 50%!!! With grant money from Japan, they have just finished building a new "Maternity Wing" here and the container of supplies arrived about 2 weeks ago and that's what I've been up to.....unloading boxes, deciding what equipment should go where, how best to have a good flow of patients, etc etc. It's been quite fun!
OSAPO also has a nutrition center and seeds and chickens are handed out with the plan that a certain percentage is given back to the program. They are also introducing new kinds of food that will grow here and then holding cooking classes to show how to cook and eat it!! So there's even a job for someone with an interest in cooking!!!
Accessibility to clean water and education re: same is still going on as are building of latrines and teaching good waste management.
I feel very blessed to have met these Haitian innovators and to work with them all these years.
Well that's just a quick peek at Haiti....still waiting to see some of you here! 4 nurses from Vernon maternity came for 2 weeks in November. It was great sharing all this with colleagues from home."

My latest emails yesterday were to friends in Vernon who have had experience organizing containers to go to different parts of the world. It all started when I asked the gang at GLEANERS if there was one going to Haiti soon. In their latest newsletter, they said that 10 containers full of material stored at Gleaners have gone around the world!!! I know it's expensive but now both hospitals that I help at....Pierre Payen and OSAPO...are in the midst of plans to expand and are in need of specific equipment, most too heavy to bring on the plane as check-in. In January, I want to bring a MIDMARK11 back with me for OSAPO. The pressure cooker style that they have is awkward and dangerous to use over the open flame. I've used the MIDMARK a lot at Pierre Payen Hospital and it is easy to use and maintain.
A brand new autoclave costs about $5000 so Linda and I are hoping to get some fundraising started for that and also a designated workroom for de-contaminating the instruments from OSAPO's OR. If anyone would like to help us with that, please contact me at judydouglas@telus.net or Linda at ldfrandsen10@gmail.com.....or if you know anything about containers or hear of one coming to Haiti, please contact me. These all can seem like insurmountable requests, but I have seen way too many miracles happen here and I know God will help us with this one.
So soon I will be knee-deep in snow in Edmonton. Mom tells me it has been very cold there....I'm not sure how I will survive. Thankfully I sent a suitcase of winter clothes there before I left in October. My house has been lovingly looked after by Iris, for which I am very thankful. I truly feel I have a blessed life. I'm looking forward to seeing family and friends soon and celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus and then to see in the next New Year that He will give us. It is all with great expectation as I love anticipating what will await me as I carry on in this journey called "life".
Thank you for your prayers and support and encouragement. xoxo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 09:25 Comments (0)

Almost time to fly home!

Where has the time gone? It seems that I write that a lot in this blog....when I do write! To any of you who are interested to read of my adventures, I do apologize that I am such a poor journalist.
Since I arrived here in October, I have worked with 2 American surgical teams for 2 weeks each time. John Judson's team from Pennsylvania and parts around there was small but we accomplished good things and were able to develop wonderful relationships. Everyone became a "jack of all trades" as there was lots of work for few. Surgeons picked their own instrument sets and I would wrap and autoclave. Lab techs washed them post surgery. A med student learned to draw blood and wash floors in the OR. I was so very thankful when God sent my buddy Linda Frandsen from Kelowna here for the 2nd week as she has had experience on a similar team in Nicaragua. She and I have had lots of adventures together and we call it "getting each other into trouble". I always can count on Linda to initiate all sorts of things and then to help me get thru them! : )
Haitian women have HUGE fibroids...at all ages. We operated on one 24 year old who was thin and her fibroids were very obvious pre-op. "It" weighed 13 pounds and so she was one happy camper when she was discharged a few days later! We did a mastectomy on another woman who had fungating/ulcerating breast cancer....totally unheard of in countries such as Canada. Another case seen here that no one had ever seen in their practices back home due to the good effect of vaccinations was a young boy with epiglottitis. He had been in respiratory distress for about 36 hours and the family finally got him to hospital. We set up for a possible trach but the anesthetist was able to slip in a 4.5 ET tube. He was maintained on a propyfol drip for 24 hours along with steroids and antibiotics and then, after checking his airway, the tube was removed and he did well. One 17 year old girl arrived moribund post-knife wound but her resuscitation efforts weren't enough....apparently attacked by another young girl! A 24 year old fellow is doing well post 2nd/some 3rd degree burns after his girlfriend threw boiling water at him.
Linda thought she was coming to Haiti to hand out "Days for Girls" hygiene kits and to hold workshops for young girls.....and she did do that, but had to wait til the team left! We ended up handing out 250 kits all together and bought a sewing machine and started teaching 3 women and 2 girls how to use it. The machine will stay at Annie's orphanage where it is put to good use each day. It was a thrill when one 13 year old girl....Rose Carmen...came to me and asked me for a kit and then brought me the cleanly washed "liner and shield" the next day. RC has a deformed arm and so this was no easy task for her to accomplish but she was all smiles as we hung it on the line.
We've made contact with an existing sewing school in Montrouis and Marion is going to show one group how to make them and we will see if they want to be set up in a micro business or just make them for their own use. Slow but sure is how we'll approach that as we want women to succeed. We knew we had to "test the market" here first and are happy to report that all the kits have been very welcomed and I am now referred to as the "Kotex" lady when I arrive at OSAPO. Even men are approaching me for their wives! : ) There is already a Youth Education Seminar set up for every Saturday morning at OSAPO and the plan is to leave as many kits as possible with the nurses here to distribute to the girls when they come for the sessions. We decided to charge 10 gourde for each kit (25 cents) as this will give them ownership and not just be another "freebe" that everyone wants just for the sake of getting. The Haitian nurses decided this.
I have spent a bit of time at the orphanage. All the children are going to school now and doing well. Annie has her hands full with the usual "growing up" stuff and is kept busy with day to day running of the place and MANY other things. She is a blessing to Haiti.
Now I am up in the clear sweet air in the "mountains" at OSAPO. I actually have to have a sheet over me at night to sleep. They have constructed a new Maternity wing with grant money from Japan and ALL the equipment arrived here in the dark last night about 8pm. If you saw the road to get here, you would know that that was a feat in itself! Very difficult in the daylight, let alone at night!
You should have seen the next 2 hours.....long electric cord from somewhere supplying a bit of light to see. The huge truck almost hitting trees and buildings as it turned around in the small road space....YIKES!!! Then the unpacking as 20 men swarmed the truck for the opportunity to make some $$$$. Of course they just wanted to dump whatever they had where ever they found the first empty floor space and so I was at the main entrance directing traffic. They thought I was nuts but I stood my ground!!! Lots of laughs.........
But I continue to be amazed that God believes I have the patience to keep sifting thru PILES of stuff and sorting and organizing!!!! Here we go again!
And that is all for now......Miss Andre just called me that she is ready to start work on the piles.....pray for us that we find what is needed here and also to thank God for the container of materials to finally have been released from customs. It's been there for over a month......
xo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 04:34 Comments (0)

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