Port au Prince

Port au Prince
"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." Psalm 40:2

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Never say never

I never thought I’d treat a single patient for typhoid, malaria, and parasites.

I never thought I’d be giving report about the patients in French to a Haitian Creole doctor or to serve as a translator for my colleagues.

I never thought I would see my pastor on his hands and knees plumbing a sink.

I never thought I’d get to pray individually with 30 patients.

I never thought I’d eat so much Ramen and drink so little milk.

I never thought I’d deprive one patient of oxygen to give it to another.

I never thought I’d walk around showing off the worm that wiggled out of my patient’s nose to escape from the heat of her fever.

I never thought I’d let someone die without giving him anything but a prayer.

I never thought I’d come to love a country of people that I have only just met.

-- Grace

Controlled Chaos

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tent clinic

Scarce necessity, abundant waste

Timely and generous disaster relief provided by the global community to Haiti has given millions of Haitians hope and life. Reflecting on these past few months of the earthquake response, it is necessary for Haiti and for donor countries to examine and learn from their policies around receiving and providing disaster relief.

Despite the fact that so much time, money and resources have been donated to Haiti, some necessities of human life and dignity remain unexpectedly lacking. We participated in today's one-meal-a-day food distribution during lunch time at the Adventist Hospital. The kitchen staff here are not used to cooking more than 50 meals/day; there are approximately 1,500 patients, family members, volunteers and medical staff on campus during the day. CURE staff have done an excellent job of doubling the kitchen output to 100 meals/day, but this is still not even close to the amount of food required to feed patients and families who have been waiting in the hospital for many hours on end. The Adventist hospital has capacity for about 70 beds, but there are over 140 occupied cots in the hospital at any given time. This number does not include the patients living in tents on the hospital grounds. The hospital kitchen was able to provide only about 90 meals to feed all the patients on campus. Almost half of the patients did not receive a lunch.

The scenario in the hospital pharmacy and stockroom provided an interesting contrast. I spent one morning helping to organize the pharmacy with all the drugs that the hospital received as donations since the earthquake. Boxes upon boxes of drugs were crammed in the tiny stockroom that was previously in disuse. The donated drugs included life-saving medications as well as an excessive number of crates of less commonly used drugs that would be impossible for the hospital to use up in the next ten years. Donor countries also sent random samplings of pharmaceutical samples that would not be enough to fill the prescription of even one patient. Archaic drugs that were phased out by most Western countries years ago were included in the boxes, along with an overwhelming number of broken crutches, virtually useless athletic muscle bands and collections of completely unidentifiable foreign-made medications. Just before we arrived, a group donated hundreds of brand-new wheelchairs to the hospital, but this equipment was given freely to a random selection of patients, rather than strategically provided to those who needed them the most.

Through these mistakes on the part of the Haitians as well as the global community, much can be learned and applied towards dealing more efficiently with future disasters. The global response to Haiti was heartfelt and timely. Billions of dollars of aid, and countless hours from volunteers has saved so many Haitian lives. In the event of such a tragic disaster, sometimes a response needs to lean more towards speed and less towards slow planning. A 'band-aid' response is not always a bad thing; speedy intervention is often needed to prevent someone from bleeding to death.

However the long-term effects must always be considered. How can donors ensure that their assistance empowers rather than cripples? How can victims grow to participate (and ultimately spearhead) the rebuilding of their new lives?

~Rashmi Dayalu

Thursday, April 22, 2010

jobs, jobs, and more jobs

The medical personnel have clear job titles although they are all working way above their pay grades with a variety of tasks they have not done in a long time and new tasks which they would never be asked to do in America.

For non medical personnel the jobs and the tasks have varied. Talking with the Health Director for World Relief about assessment surveys, conversations with Government officials about rebuilding and the design for reconstructing Haiti. And in the hospital where it is all hands on deck there have been a plethora of roles. Our Creole speaking member has definitely been the most compassionate medical translator out there as he has to be constantly reminded we have to move on to the next patient. The worst job requiring the most commitment is organizing the stock room that is filled with donated medical "junk" in some cases and medicines that will not ever be used. The scariest job is serving the limited lunches we have to various places in the hospital and realizing whether you are a homeless Haitian or an American medical volunteer when it comes to scarcity we all hoard. We serve as pharmacists dispensing medicines and instructions minus the 4 years of school and required licenses. Today the men were promoted to plumbers as we put in new pipes for a whole new plumbing system. Serving God is always the adventure.

-- John The Plumber.

handing off the baton

I am very excited that tomorrow I will speak to the hospital coordinator about getting approval to train 2 Haitian translators (who have been with Anna and I during our PT work) to take over a job that has been alloted to visiting international PT's here. Having a national do this task will provide better continuity of care for patients, and enable the Haitian staff to learn a new skill and gain confidence and significance. Praying that this will be possible, this was a major goal of mine in coming, help nationals to learn therapy skills.

I won't get into what the task is as it is too technical as well as hard to explain. Knobs twisting et al.... ask me later if you really want to know.

Mary Ann

Crazy Meetings and Wide Open Doors

So after the earthquake couple months ago we received an email from a former Park Street Church International Student who works for the government of Haiti inviting us to come and help in the recovery of Haiti.

He set us up with a meeting yesterday that was way over our pay grade. Aby Brun is a member of the reconstruction commission that will recommend the plans for how to rebuild Haiti and how to spend the $5.3 billion that has been pledged by the international community. We expected a brief meeting with this busy man but ended up having a two hour conversation, with him briefing us on all that has been discussed and planned as well as the steps that are taking place in taking care of the internally displaced refugees. He is a visionary designer and city planner and this conversation gave us real hope for the future of Haiti.

We felt a little overwhelmed after he spent an hour sharing the grand master plan of rebuilding Haiti and then finally turned to us and asked us "How would you like to participate?" Well our architect Jason, answered with much more bravado than any of us were feeling at that point. The funny part was when in our conversation he had to take a call from the Ambassador from Israel, and when he told the Ambassador he would talk about his offer with the president of Haiti who he was meeting the next morning.

While the scale of what we want to do long term is much smaller it was helpful to really see the big picture and it was incredibly helpful to have this man, offer friendship in this process for us. He has been inundated with requests from people wanting a piece of him for business reasons and I think he spent time with us because right from the get go, we were simply a church wanting to help.

He has offered to set up a meeting with the Haitian envoy to the UN. We have no idea what that will mean.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Group picture: first day

Hit the ground running: Mary Ann

First impressions: Anna

Arriving in Haiti

Departing at 3:00 am to drive down to New York we flew out of of JFK and arrived in Port au Prince at noon. The airport was bit of a madhouse but we have all made it to the hospital and are coming at a time when the hospital is going through transitions.

The most popular people were our two Physical Therapists who are immediately being oriented. The rest of us are trying to rustle up cots, and tents, and mats and decide whether we want to sleep on the roof or in a room that has just opened up.

Have no clue what to expect from this week. There is an eclectic crew of volunteers from all over but somehow in all the madness I think people are being served and healed.

We have wireless internet signal... what more do we need.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We are a multitalented team leaving for Haiti tomorrow, full of anticipation but not really knowing what to expect. I personally have been desiring to use my professional skills (PT) internationally for some time, ever since visiting a Mercy Ship docked in Boston several years ago. I have heard that there is a need for rehab skills there, but also have heard from colleagues who have gone that it is easy to feel overwhelmed when there is such need in front of you. My hopes are summed up in the prayer of St Francis that was sung this morning at PSC:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

where there is hatred let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

-St. Francis of Assisi

Thank you to all who are sending us

Anna Schroepfer

Friday, April 16, 2010

To God be the glory

Never did I imagine returning so promptly to the land where I was born after such devastating tremors. With no medical, rescue, disaster relief, or reconstruction training or experience and not even any immediate family members to check on, I did not see myself being useful during this very dark period in the history of the nation.
However, when Park Street Church initiated a short-term mission trip there, I knew it was the Lord giving me the opportunity to go and help make a difference; for that I am grateful to the church.
To the other members of the team, I want to remind you that your rewards for allocating your time, resources and expertise to this cause will come straight from the King, for Jesus Himself declares in Matthew 25:40 that the King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Please pray for us and for the work in Haiti.

Pierre D Raymond

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In January after the earthquake I had a reaction similar, I am sure, to many - what can I do to help. As a nurse and public health student I was drawn to the stories of health professionals who responded initially. I was inspired by their efforts and am excited about the opportunity I have now to go with this team. At the same time I am constantly questioning whether I have the right skills, whether I can do anything. Yet as I have seen the doors open for me and for the team, I see God's hand at work. I am encouraged by the fact that we are only the vessels that the Lord uses and I pray that His power and glory will come through the work that we are able to do. - Elizabeth

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Power through pain

In the past week of my mental preparation for our service in Haiti, I’ve been faced with the unexpected reminder of how power emerges from pain. I do not have the medical training or the ability to directly alleviate the pain of our brothers and sisters suffering in Haiti, but I am encouraged against feelings of helplessness; direct medical intervention is not my job.

As a public health student, I listened to professor upon professor speak about ‘community empowerment’ and ‘long-term sustainable interventions’ for the underserved. One public health degree and one devastating earthquake later, I am finally beginning to understand what all this means. Much as I want to, I often cannot prevent pain in the world, nor can I completely erase it. I can only walk alongside a suffering human being, hoping to channel the light, word and action that empowers and sustains.

As a believer in Jesus, this calling goes deeper than vocational. Firstly, I recognize that any sustainable empowerment can only come from the one who is greater than all humanity. Only if God acts through our team, can we provide Haiti with more than a symptomatic solution to suffering. Secondly, my inability to prevent or cure pain is an age-old problem. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now,” Romans 8:22. Thankfully it doesn’t stop here. Jesus suffered through death and pain in order to emerge victorious in full life and power on the other side; it is this hope that allows us to lift our hands towards those in Haiti, offering the promise of life after death.

~Rashmi Dayalu

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Responses to Earthquakes in Haiti

230,000 people dead.

A country that was already poorest in the western hemisphere completely paralyzed.

Eye witnesses saying "Devastation beyond imagination."

So what can a doctor, two therapists, a nurse , a public health specialist, a mechanical engineer, an architect, and of course the least useful of this lot, a pastor really do in Haiti?

In terms of reshaping what is going on there, probably not a whole lot. But regardless we volunteer hoping that in some small way, in whatever way God chooses, he might use us.

April 19-26 we will be serving at the Adventist Hospital in Port au Prince. We also will be working with Tourism Minister and Infrastructure Recovery Commission President, Mr. Patrick Delatours office. One of our former international students, Yves Benoit, is back in Haiti and was serving at the Tourism Ministry (which you can see now has also been renamed to add on the responsibilities of infrastructure rebuilding.) He invited us to come and consult with them.

We are also hoping to connect with our great partners World Relief that has been doing a tremendous work in recovery and feeding through the local churches. I just saw this great video their partners put together on the long term work of recovery after disaster.

Our desire is to explore ways that we as a church can have a long term engagement in Haiti as they recover and rebuild.

Please pray for us and for Haiti.

John E. Chung