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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Reporting and Sharing

Thank you to everyone who supported us before and during the trip.  Now that we've settled back into 'regular life' we welcome the chance to catch up, tell stories, answer questions and share about the trip in more detail.  Below are the times we will be sharing with the congregation at Park Street Church, if you can't make any of those times but would like a team member or two to visit your small group, or if you'd like to have coffee with one of us just let us know, email psc.haiti@gmail.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014
-we will be giving a 2 minute report during each service, 8:30am, 11am, 4pm
-there will be an information table and team members to speak to from 9:45a-11a in the Welcome Center
-there will be a luncheon from 1p-2p in the Fellowship Hall.  The other two summer missions will also be sharing about their experiances.

Thanks, hope to see you soon!

Friday, August 8, 2014


It's always interesting to see how we readjust back to the business of life again and see how culture shock hits us. I've been to several third world countries before, and I've been to Haiti before, but never have I experienced a culture shock like what I am experiencing now. I would have thought that the more trips you go on, the less of a culture shock you'd experience. Apparently though, the opposite is true for me now. It has felt weird, almost wrong to go grocery shopping, to be inundated with billboards, lights, paved roads, and sounds and sights of technology. It didn't feel right to be working or even to go out with friends at night. As I'm thinking about it and continually processing the trip, I see that it is not that I feel those things are wrong, but it highlights just how blessed I am.

I have the freedom to be able to leave my home to work, to shop. I have the luxury of having clean water, well paved roads, and a collection of various technology devices. And mostly, I am beyond blessed to have friends who I can share life with and process through relationships, feelings, and vulnerable moments in my life. These children in the orphanage do not have that freedom, the luxury, and the relationships that I am able to have. The more I interact with them, the more I am learning about their life, what they have and what they don't have.

If there are big things that struck me coming back from this trip, here are 2 things:

1. I desire for them to have the relationships and group of friends that I am able to have. Friendships that go beyond just living together, but really being able to be vulnerable with each other and relationships that will help them process through difficult moments, celebrate happy moments, and ultimately grow closer to Christ.

2. While they may not have a lot, they have one big thing that I have yet to fully see happen in America. They are so open, welcoming, and encouraging. Even the teenagers there did not seem to care as much about how talented we are, but openly invited us to play with them, engaging us in friendly competition, and inviting us to just spend time with them. It didn't matter to them that they invited me to join them in activities that I am self-conscious about. They still openly encouraged me to engage with them and when I didn't do so well, was still so encouraging saying that I could do it. This is definitely one thing we can learn from these precious children there.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What next?

(cross-posted from Facebook)

I've been getting a lot of questions regarding the situation at King's in Haiti. There's too much to write here so I'll try to summarize. The work they are doing there is truly amazing in three ways:
1. At the hospital by providing good health care to people who cannot afford it
2. At the school by providing quality education for kids in the community as well as the orphanage
3. At the orphanage by rescuing children at risk of being abandoned, abused and trafficked

They are incredibly frugal with their resources. One example…the hospital's water cistern ran dry while we were there so they were using expired Saline IV bags to flush the toilets!

There is a hospital, school and orphanage on the grounds.

The hospital has paying patients that help towards the hospital's operating costs, but the hospital offers healthcare to those who cannot afford it and also supports the orphanage.

The school has paying students from the community and the 32 kids from the orphanage also attend. The school tuition from the community kids helps to offset some of the costs for the orphanage, but the hospital has to take up the slack.

Needless to say, they need additional sources of revenue. So I'm working on a plan to explore Haitian startup options to supply them with additional revenue streams, but they are in dire need of people or organizations who can sponsor the children in the orphanage so they can keep it operating. It costs only $75 US per month per child. That takes care of a child's food, clothing, healthcare, bed in the dormitory and schooling. Please contact me if you know of an organization or individuals who would be willing to get involved in this way.

There are so many ways to help, some small like sponsoring a child and others large like helping establish a solar power grid at the hospital. Let me know if you want to hear more or get involved.

-Mark Snell
emails can be sent to psc.haiti@gmail.com

Where do we start?

I'm always a little out of sorts the first day back in the US after being in Haiti.  I can't quite remember what to do in the morning and get distracted by the sounds of the subway and the airplanes.  I spent most of today just being quiet, and then started telling friends about the week.

It's always hard to know where to start.  The team did so much - Ina wrote about her work in the pharmacy, Emily wrote about teaching the chaplain and a doctor to administer the cognitive test which they did on all the kids, Heather wrote about the wellness checks we did on all the kids, several others wrote about the murals and the time with the kids but all those parts add up to so much more than just a list of tasks that was accomplished.  And at the same time we know that there is so much more to be done.

I spent a lot of time driving around Port au Prince gathering supplies, watching what life outside the walls of King's Hospital and King's Garden looks like, and absorbing stories from Dr. Morquette.  I often wonder what the life of the children would look like if King's didn't exist - would they still be loving and open and trusting with strangers?  Would they still be content to draw and play jenga and listen to the sang English song on repeat for hours? or would they be exhausted and wary from focusing on survival and avoiding exploitation?

Last year one of the teenage girls told us that she didn't have any close friends in the orphanage, that her friends were the foreigners who took time to visit, and that the ones who came back multiple times were like her family.  I spent a lot of time with her this year and on Thursday as it got late in the afternoon she asked if I would be back the next day.  I told her yes, but that I had to go at the end of Friday, that Saturday we were seeing a different part of Haiti before we went back to the US.  It broke my heart that she was so familiar with the routine of visiting groups - short intense bursts of attention and affection then long periods where she receives no individual attention.  I was so glad that we were staying an extra day this year and wished it was for an extra week, anything to help make her feel loved and special just a little longer.

Top photo 2013, Bottom photo 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

This is my first trip to Haiti, but having been in other medical missions I came with an open mind and somewhat prepared for what I was about to encounter. However, I discovered it was so much more than I had imagined. I was impressed by several things that I will not be able to share at this time but the following ones would describe some of it:

First, the dedication of the Morqettes to King Hospital and Orphanage is a testament to their faith, vision and commitment to help the most needy and vulnerable population against tremendous odds.  It is an overwhelming burden. All of this wrapped up with a tremendous dose of generosity and graciousness towards us as well as anyone around them. It was impressive always with a smile and totally calm.

Second, the tremendous need both at the hospital and the orphanage. All those things we take for granted back home; water, maintenance, meds, supplies and a long list of etc….. made me feel  impotent at times. I thought I was not doing much and wanted to do more. I even contemplated the idea of extending the trip for a few more days, just so that I could help the Pharmacist and Dr. Morquette get the Pharmacy organized. I knew I couldn’t do that but I felt it anyways. There is so much to do and I want to do more. I do realize it will take a long time to make progress and that is frustrating. I have to be patient and trust in our Lord Who brought me here that I can be his instrument even in a small measure.

Third, the positive atmosphere all around us at both places despite what I would consider dire situation. The staff had a smile as they went about doing their work despite the obstacles. There was a sense of camaraderie. The children were just precious. Words cannot describe how my heart sunk when I looked at them and wanted to adopt them all to take them away from their desperate conditions. Yet they also had a smile. The team gave them love and attention and they soaked all of it like a thirsty child. They played, had joy and even tried to include me in their circle (hugging me, introducing themselves), although I did not spend time with them. THEY WERE generous, gracious and loving towards me in the midst of their difficulties. They took love and gave love. What a lesson!! 

Beauty among the ashes.  Richness among the poor.  These two phrases seem like oxymorons, yet it is what strikes me again this second time I have returned to Haiti.  It is what struck me the first time I came to Haiti last year, and it is what strikes me again this time around.  As roads and buildings are still in the process of being reconstructed (looking pretty bland), I see a boldness from the colors they choose to decorate the walls, the tap taps, finished buildings (bright red, blue, green, etc).  Among the bland colored walls, barb wired walls, and dust are beautiful pink flowers and lovely green leaves and trees.  Among all the food that are imported, they have delicious mangoes and coffee (well, per report from my teammates since I don’t drink coffee).
As we are closing this week, I am sure that all of us have so much to process.  Still, we leave with a piece of Haiti written in our hearts as we have grown in appreciation of the Morquettes, the work of the hospital, the children in the orphanage, and a culture that has so much strength and pride in it.  I remember coming into this trip, not sure of what to expect, but knowing that I was excited to return to a group of people and a local Haitian team that I have come to love and respect.
I have learned throughout the week that one can never underestimate the impact that one can have on others around you.  Every little gesture counts, every little touch counts, every smile counts.  I was reminded of this again on our last day with the children yesterday, when some of the children who I did not think I had connected much with told me how much I meant to them, and how much they felt loved.  If there was even one child who felt something that I did not realize had felt that loved and connected, just imagine how many other children might have felt the same way?  If I can share Christ’s love with one person, that one person can now better understand and express Christ’s love to someone else.  These children truly exude a love and innocent beauty that stands in stark contrast to the nature of the conditions that they live in (not having anything).  These children have so much to offer, and so many talents that are still to be tapped into, discovered, and encouraged to use.  I will forever hold these children dear to my heart.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Goodbye to the children

Today we said good-bye to the children after playing with them all day every day this week. We have drawn pictures together, played hundreds of games of tic tac toe, sung many songs together, we have had tickle time with them and just sat and held them and through all of this we have formed real relationships.  We know their personalities, which games are their favorites, who is best friends with who, and who likes to be held all the time ( a cute little guy names Davidson) So when we said good-bye we weren't saying good-bye to "Haitian orphans" we were saying good-bye to Marie Delcey, Davidson, Kervens, Sarali, Noel,Michael,  Emanuel, Manuella... the list goes on and on.  These are real people to us who we care about.  I left today thinking "who is going to hold Davidson all day tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that.  who is going to play dots with Marie Delcey?"  The house Moms love the children and care for them, but with 30 children to care for, they can't hold the little ones all day long and they don't have time to play games one on one with the children.  This is where our faith comes in.  God has asked us to be here and to be His hands for these children and now we are asking God to love them and care for them when we return to our lives in Boston.  We are leaving them in His care with a heart full of their smiles and laughter.

Humble thyself

James 4:10 -  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

When I woke up this morning, this verse, and the accompanying song that I used to sing at youth group when I was younger, was running through my head.  Why, you ask?  Well, it is currently about 20 minutes until we leave the orphanage for the final time this year, and I am in an air conditioned room with my foot elevated because it is in a partial cast.  But, more on that later.  Let's talk about all of the other stuff I planned to talk about, and revisit as to why I have a partial cast on my foot.  :)

It's pretty crazy to say, and I can barely believe it myself, but this trip marks the fifth time that I have been to Haiti.  This week has been filled with a complex array emotions, as you can probably guess.  Every year I feel deep, commanding joy when I am here, and of course that is the same.  But I also feel pride.  Pride in the mission and vision that we are supporting here, pride in these children and how they have survived, and pride in this country that has come so far after the earthquake.  It's a wonderful feeling to see the progress that has been made in the streets, and also with the children.  For example, last year there were twins, named Emmanuel & Emmanuela who were brand new to the orphanage.  They were sad, upset, confused, and probably overwhelmed.  Now?  Happy, healthy, and very smart.  Emmanuela is a little chatter box that was even holding a marker and able to draw on her own, and she is maybe a little over 1 year old.  And Emmanuel, albeit shy, once you get him to break out of his shell he is Mr. talkative as well, and is super engaged in what is going on.  He was playing with bananagrams on the picnic table and dropped a few, so he climbed down, picked them up, and came right back up to play.  It's just so amazing and promising to me to see this kind of progress.

What the doctors Morquette have here is a wonderful, lifesaving organization, and is vital to this community.  I am so honored to be apart of it and contributed at least a tiny bit.
When you walk in, these kids present you with this no frills, no judgement, come as you are kind of love.  A kind of love that I have rarely found from children or adults in my normal life.  This is the kind of love that allows you to show your true self; whether you sing off key, are a little goofy sometimes, can't get the basketball in the hoop, or can't jump rope that well, it doesn't matter.  You are showing them love and attention in return, and that is all that matters.  In the past, when I was younger, I struggled for acceptance.  Even as an adult we all desire to feel wanted and accepted, and struggle with it occasionally.  But I don't feel that here.  Here, there's a constant feeling of love from the kids, and all they ask is that you show the same in return.  Sounds like a plan to me.
So now, the foot.

If any of you know me personally, you know that I have gone through a bit of a transformation recently.  I am now in the best shape I have ever been in my life, and love being active as much as I can.  Having been here many times before and not being able to be as active as the others, you better believe that I had promised myself I would be as active as I wanted to be, and would seek out opportunities to do so.  I have played soccer a bunch of times, basketball, catch, beat 3 of the boys in horse...a bunch of stuff that I have always wanted to do, but never could.  So fast forward to yesterday.  I was playing soccer with 3 of the boys, 2 on 2.  The ball came towards me, I went to kick, and BAM, somehow a rock was where the ball was supposed to be and I kicked it.  Really hard.  So I just grimaced and kept on playing like a trooper, and just thought oh, it will get better, I just stubbed my toe.  Just kidding.  On the van ride home, it wasn't getting better.  In fact, it was getting worse.  So I got to our room, took off my shoes and socks, and asked Leslie to look at it.  The verdict?  Probably broken.  Showed Ina, our nurse.  Verdict?  Probably broken.  Showed Dr Morquette.  The verdict?  Probably broken, but not horribly so.  A lot of ice, elevation, Ibuprofren and rest followed, as well as not being allowed to play anymore basketball or soccer until further notice.  And now, I have a partial cast drying on my foot to ensure that I don't injure it further, and have been encouraged to visit a doctor when I get back to the states.

Now you can see why this verse and song has been playing in my mind today.  I think God has said to me "Slow down & take it in!" by having this happen to me.  I am so used to running around, organizing, making sure things are going good...and nope, can't do it.  I have to sit on the bench and elevate my foot, or sit in the room and elevate my foot, or lay in the bed and elevate my foot.  This is God telling me to just take it all in and process it, and that is what I am doing.

I will remember this trip as a wonderful and eventful one, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I want to thank you all for your prayers and support of this team.  It has meant a lot to us, and your prayers have shown!  We can't wait to share with you all!


Amongst the shacks made of US AID tents, building foundation ruins, and wood, lays a fortress called King’s Hospital. Next to the hospital is home to 32 children, who do not see outside the grounds and walls of the orphanage until they leave for secondary school (12 years of age): Imagine if you were 2-years-old when brought here, and now 8-years-old, you have no memories outside of these four walls. The hospital uses expired hand sanitizer, has no alcohol wipes, and donates expired IV fluid to state hospitals, because “when you are about to die, it does not matter if it is expired if that is all you have.” When you leave work at the hospital and return to your home, you come to find your neighbors have killed and eaten your cats, and the local gang has poisoned your dogs and killed six of your neighbors. To send your child to kindergarten, it will cost you 10,000 Haitian dollars, which calculates to approximately $220; considering some families make anywhere from $100-$350 per year, sending their child to school  is not an option. (Per 2013 World Bank report GNI per capita is $850, but 58.7% of capita are in poverty, and some reports estimate the gross annual income of the average family can range anywhere from $100-$350).
As part of the medical team, my hope is that the tools I brought can be used to help sustain the fortress that is here. I have been working primarily with the Chaplain, who has his Bachelor’s in Theological Studies. He has had classes in psychology, education, development, administration, in addition to religious studies. He serves as the counselor for patients when mental health issues arise; there is no psychologist. After exchanging knowledge about the various cases and treatment he might see and use in Haiti in comparison to the U.S., we discussed ethics and I trained him on administering a nonverbal measure of cognitive abilities intended for use with diverse cultures outside of the U.S. Many of the children in the orphanage do not know their birthdate, and some do not know their age. It was interesting to see the cultural differences in interaction: the Chaplain’s interactions with the children were initially stern and authoritative; however, it is important in psychology to be soft, gentle, and to provide reassurance, and so after observing my modeling of eliciting participation, he softened and changed his technique, which helped in rapport building and effort. A physician, two residents, and two nurses have also shown interest in learning about the measure, and some of them also observed, or attended a separate training. The measure will be left here, so that the Chaplain can continue to train the others who have an interest, and so that the measure can be used for anyone who is interested in obtaining a general measure of cognitive ability so long as the person is trained (the ages the measure can assess ranges from 6-89).
Heather, Ruthie, Marie, Jonathan and I have completed annual exams for the children, and I taught a few how to take a pulse. Their thirst for knowledge is beautiful. I inquired with whom they speak about their problems, and they had no answer. Sometimes each other. Sometimes the house mothers. Sometimes the chaplain. But usually no one. The need for mental health care here is great.

I am pleased to say that I think there is a renewed recognition for the need to provide psychological services here at King’s Hospital and the orphanage, and that they have the tools to offer such services. Matthew 6:2 reminds us not to 'sound trumpets' for what we do for others, and respect that it is the Father who shall offer rewards; however, I do believe it is important to share with others about the needs that are present throughout the world. Perhaps it will inspire others, put our own tribulations into perspective, or elicit prolonged change for the betterment of society.