The group has arrived back in Port au Prince and will be flying home tomorrow. Here are some blog posts:
Amy Veltkamp: Hello to everyone back in America! We are having a great experience in Haiti. Yesterday we started the medical clinic and we have seen about 800 patients so far. Many of the people walked for hours to get to us. Most of them have had very little access to any kind of healthcare before. I think what has surprised me the most is the number of infections we have seen. In America infections are rare, here it is the norm. Almost every one of the patients we have seen has had either a bacterial, fungal, or worm infection. Things that we don’t even think twice about in the States, like having clean water to drink from and bathe in, are very hard to come by here. It feels good to know we are helping, but at the same time it is frustrating because you know that once they run out of medications, there is a good chance they will get infected again because they just don’t have the access they need to clean water and food. There is a lot of work that will still need to be done here at St. Jacques after this mission. Our water filter project planned for the fall will be such a blessing for these people! (Sidenote: Who knew a bucket shower by flashlight could be so refreshing?)
At dinner tonight, we were having a discussion with the Haitian doctor that is working with us. His words of wisdom for tonight: “Love is bigger than religion, politics, or skin color.” He couldn’t be more right. That is exactly why we are all here. We are all having an amazing time spreading the love in Haiti!!
Andrea Face: The Haitian sun is just beginning to set on the horizon. Soon, the western sky will be painted with a beautiful landscape of rich color. Sounds of the church choir practicing for tomorrow’s Mass is our background music as we relax and enjoy each other’s company after another full day of clinic.
Day two of clinic had our group seeing almost 400 patients, mostly children, with everything from common colds and stomach pains to fungal infections and malnutrition. The need of this rural community is so great. The people, here, have so little, yet are so thankful for everything that we can do for them. It is truly a blessing to be able to serve the people of St. Jacques. The drive to this place from Port-Au-Prince was also quite an adventure that consisted of rocky, dirt roads through the mountains and rivers with more rough roads past Jacmel. Thankfully, we made it all seven hours without a flat tire and in one piece. Yesterday we woke up at 5:30 to set up clinic and didn’t finish seeing patients until sunset. It was a busy day to say the least. Tomorrow should be quiet with church in the morning and not much else planned. The next few days promise to bring challenges and hard work, but also great fellowship and continued community in this beautiful place.
Alysse Tefft: After two days of clinic, we’ve all become excellent diagnosticians. We’ve treated patients with a variety of conditions and complaints including, “I have walking things in my head”, “Bone fever”, “brain infection”, “something walking in left arm”, and the best of all…“A doctor told me that my hernia moves around… its now in my bicep” 🙂
In addition to our clinic duties, we’ve also learned how to flush a toilet with a bucket of water, shower out of a five gallon bucket, and how to collect water from the cistern, and how NOT to change a Haitian light bulb (sparks included!). We actually gave our water filter a test this evening. Lisa was brave enough to take the first drink! And it looks like our water project in the fall could really improve the health of St. Jacques.
When we are not busy seeing patients or laughing together, I think we’ve all had the chance to find some quiet moments of contemplation. It’s hard not to notice how “small” we are in the grand scheme of life, among such beautiful surroundings. The poverty and hunger that we are witnessing here is unimaginable.
Mass is tomorrow at 8:30 and we are looking forward to visiting with the people and having a day of rest from the clicic. Father Maxis and his “staff” (women and a few children) have been great hosts. We are greeted every morning with smiles, warm coffee, and a hot breakfast (complete with pizza flavored Pringles!)
PS… Love you mom and dad! I’m healthy and happy. No worries 🙂
Lisa Ringler: Our clinic was running like a well oiled gear today and was much easier on us. Fr. Maxis had handed out tickets to everyone and told them what day to come and if they should come in the afternoon or the morning. This has helped to facilitate the people from waiting for too long. Even though they do wait and they appear to be patient hoping that they will get some relief after days, weeks or months of just putting up with whatever ailment they have. We expect to see 400 on each Monday and Tuesday as well.
As usual, Fr. Maxis’ crew has been very welcoming (although seven women in one room is a little crowded). We are managing well. Tim has found the biting ants again.
We pulled out the new water filter tonight, set it up and put untreated water into the bucket and drank it as it came out of the filter. Hopefully, it is the first of many filters that will be put into place to bring cleaner water to the people here. There are many who have worms from poor water (even though they may have some some filtration) and we have sent people home with medication for days even though normally one pill will take care of the current worms.
It has been a blessing to have a Haitian doctor with us. He has been invaluable offering advice and instruction on things that we normally would not see in the United States. He also has a passion to help the Haitian country population get the same medical care that city folk might have. It is difficult to find a doctor that wishes to live and work in the countryside when they could have a more comfortable life. He may be a long time friend for our sistering parish here at St. Jacques. At least, we hope so.
Our medical group has a passion to help out, has offered their knowledge and shown compassion to every person that they have seen. It has been refreshing to see a young group of nurses not only want to give of themselves but give of themselves wholeheartedly. Talitha and I have become the local pharmacists (Watch out Lori and Rick) as we are learning how to fill hundreds of scripts daily.
Blessings to everyone reading this. Please keep these people in your prayers.