Sunday, December 28, 2008

Photos of Cite Soleil, Haiti

I came upon these photos today and wanted to pass them along.  Anyone who has been to Haiti will 'recognize' many of these images because you see them frequently.  The thing I appreciate about these photos is that someone was able to capture these day-to-day activities that you see as you drive along the streets.

Cite Soleil is a part of Port-au-Prince that is extremely poor

My Blog

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Goodness and mercy

Hi everyone,

I know this is a busy time of the year so perhaps you'll get a chance to breeze through this email later. I wanted to end the year's emails with a few really wonderful updates regarding Haiti and the work that I've seen God doing lately.

You know about the $15,000 grant that the development group (KPA) in Pestel received to help build a clinic in the village of Abriko...and perhaps you know about the way my church is collecting donations for Pestel for Christmas Giving this year....and you may also know that we were able to send a $3000 donation (from folks like yourself!!!!) to be used for specific needs in Pestel (such as building 40 school benches in one village, putting up two new cisterns, helping to provide education for one family whose father is now disabled after a fuel-fire earlier this year...

There is more good news I want to share!

Odelin Francois recently held his annual gala in NYC to raise money to support an entire school of children in Pestel!

Some of you will recall reading emails about a little Haitian boy with special medical needs who was in need of an adoptive family--God has provided that family through a rather remarkable series of events! In short, I went to school in NH with the woman whose family will be adopting this boy! I hadn't had any contact until she 'happened' upon my blog when she was searching for Haiti-related news. She and her husband were already interested in adopting a child from Haiti....Now THAT'S awesome.

Wings of Hope, one of the orphanages I help with in PAP, recently received a large shipment of free meds from a generous organization in Canada. This includes a year's supply of anti-seizure meds so that the orphanage can use their funds for other essential purposes!

2008 has been a mind-blowing year for me. It was barely over 1 year ago when I took my first trip to Haiti. This past week alone I received two offers at my work to provide financial support to help me build the Global Health activities at my medical school.

The connection between my work at Hershey and that which is beginning in Haiti is remarkable, exciting, and gives me plenty of reason to write about how I see God doing amazing things today.


My Blog

Saturday, December 20, 2008

UNICEF photos of the year

This photo of a young girl in PAP Haiti is featured in a slide-show of Year in Photos by Unicef. The caption for this photo is:

The winning photo for 2008 comes from 21-year-old Belgian photographer Alice Smeets, the youngest person ever to win the competition. The picture comes from a slum in Port au Prince called the "Cité Soleil," or "City of the Sun."

It is well worth viewing this photo as large as possible. To view all the top photos (all of which are challenging) you can click HERE.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Good news for Pestel!

Hi everyone,
I just got this great email from Sister Fidelis!! The local development group (KPA--you can read some more info about them here ) put together a grant application that got accepted. KPA is comprised of 2 or so members from each of 12 nearby villages. The villages are of varying sizes (200-3000+).

I am happy to announce that with the efforts of our development group, Christians Progress Together, we have procured a $17,500 grant to construct a modest clinic in Abriko to replace the smaller one that we are currently renting.
The money is being awarded through the Haitian government from the World Bank under the supervision of the Pan American Development Foundation. Our project was one of 14 chosen on Wednesday, the 10th, from a field of 42.
Our project received 50 of the 66 votes cast for 3 projects in our area. This, I believe, shows the confidence that people have in our work and capability, and also speaks to the need that we address.
I am very proud of our Service Team (executive committee) who did this entirely on their own. It also shows that the Haitians we work with are taking more and more leadership, and in this case initiative, in addressing the needs of their own people.

Please spread the good news. The best to you each always, Fidelis


What a wonderful Christmas gift for the people of Pestel (and Sister Fidelis)!!
Ben Fredrick

My Blog

Looking to give this season?

If you're wondering who to give to this season let me make a few suggestions for the benefit of those in Haiti:

Pestel, Haiti (via Sisters of Saint Francis)
This is where we are working and putting the bulk of our efforts. Your funds will help to support Sister Fidelis' tireless work to bring joy and health to these very poor villages in the mountains of Pestel. As with all of these places, your donations will go a long way!

HIS Home for Children
Truly, a stellar example of a well-run and deeply loving orphanage in PAP. Chris and Hal, the directors, are wonderful people with big big hearts. Their newsletters (which I'd suggest you sign up for!) are filled with hope but also some very moving and difficult-to-read stories of abandoned infants and children. Despite hardships these folks know how to rejoice in God's provision, and they are filled with confidence/faith. You should meet them sometime!

Hearts with Haiti
Among my favorite places to visit in PAP are the two orphanages--St. Joseph's Home for Boys and Wings of Hope--part of Hearts with Haiti. There is another school/orphanage further south in Haiti (Trinity House) I have yet to visit. This group of orphanages is smartly run with the goal of redeeming and restoring these children and youth in God's love. The results to date have been phenomenal.

Angel Missions Haiti
Your gifts to Angel Missions Haiti help support Haitian kids who need life-saving surgeries. These kids need transportation paid for as well as the nitty-gritty paperwork required to obtain a medical visa from Haiti. It's a great way to make a difference in the life of a child while also showing support to the US medical centers that provide these surgeries at no cost!

For more information you can visit this site that I put together.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Lot of Lattés

Here's a review by Ronald Sider of a new book that just came out. I'll let Dr. Sider's comments (excerpts on speak for themselves. You can read Dr. Sider's full review here:

"Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money is a powerful study about the pitifully small charitable donations of the richest Christians in history.

Chapter 1 hits the reader like a ton of bricks, spelling out in detail what American Christians could accomplish if they would tithe. If just the "committed Christians" (defined as those who attend church at least a few times a month or profess to be "strong" or "very strong" Christians) would tithe, there would be an extra 46 billion dollars a year available for kingdom work. To make that figure more concrete, the authors suggest dozens of different things that $46 billion would fund each year: for example, 150,000 new indigenous missionaries; 50,000 additional theological students in the developing world; 5 million more micro loans to poor entrepreneurs; the food, clothing and shelter for all 6,500,000 current refugees in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; all the money for a global campaign to prevent and treat malaria; resources to sponsor 20 million needy children worldwide. Their conclusion is surely right: "Reasonably generous financial giving of ordinary American Christians would generate staggering amounts of money that could literally change the world."

In their concluding chapter, the authors summarize their findings. They think there are five primary reasons for the fact that "the wealthiest national body of Christian believers at any time in all of church history end up spending most of their money on themselves." The most important is our society's "institutionalized mass consumerism." The second is the failure of pastors to deal with the issue. The third is that many Christians seem to be confused about the meanings, expectations, and purposes of faithful Christian giving. Fourth, some have distrust about whether their donations will be used wisely. Finally, the near total privatization of the topic means that almost no American Christians discuss their giving with anyone else."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Hi everyone,

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!!

I want to pass along this really challenging video. It points out how relatively easy it would be to provide clean water across the globe. But beyond that it does a really great job of highlighting the meaning of Christmas in, I think, a really new way.

Enjoy! Be challenged! And be thankful always!!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

School in Petionville update

Here are a few headlines and updates on the collapsed school in Haiti. You can click on the title to go to the articles:

Death toll passes 90 in Haiti school collapse

Police detain owner of collapsed Haiti school

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hunger isn't History

The world produces more food than ever. So why do nearly a billion people still not have enough to eat?
I just finished reading this article from Christianity Today on issues related to world hunger. It reveals some of the underlying challenges that exist. Haiti of course is mentioned, but the article is really a good overview for anyone interested in a quick primer on the issue.

For the article you can click HERE

Friday, November 7, 2008

School collapse in PAP, Haiti

A sad thing occurred today: a two story school building collapsed with about 700 students and teachers inside. There are a number of places you can find more information, but here is one:

The school is located in Petionville which is where I stay when I go down to PAP. St Joseph's School for Boys is in Petionville.

Also, very sadly and maddeningly, two of the hospitals in PAP (including the General Hospital) are currently closed due to strikes.


Here is a video from CNN on the event. Some really hard-to-see scenes:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nelson's meds

We have a donor for Nelson's meds!! 

As you look over the "Special Giving" section of the website you'll see that a number of the needs have been covered, and these needs have ONLY been made known since July 2008!!!

These include
1.  Funds to allow Alfred's four children to continue to attend school since he is now disabled after suffering severe burns to his arms and legs.
2.  Enough money to help the village of Toma Elli build 40 school benches.  No more sitting on the ground!!!
3.  The cost of Nelson's daily antibiotics has been covered.
4.  Funds to build about 3 cisterns in Pestel using Dr. John Leininger's system (see previous blogs).

This is wonderful and remarkable. 

We also recently received word that our church will be collecting certain donations for Haiti this Christmas.  What a blessing and an encouragement, both to us and to those who will receive all of these gifts. 

I wish you could be there when they hear how God is answering their prayers through "the good people back in the United States."  I remember specifically telling one of the villages that I was certain that God would move in people's hearts in the US.  This statement, I recall, came from a conviction that God is very active in working out His good plan for the people of Pestel.  I believe it will become a beacon of hope built on faith, not by Man's hands and efforts. 

Men can do some impressive things (as they have done and will continue to do in Haiti).  But God can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine.  I'll invest in God's kingdom!


PS You can go to Pestel, btw....just let us know if you are interested  :)  Next trip is going to be late Feb or early March.  At this point I envision that the trip will probably include some of the following (though nothing has been firmed up):
Help construct and set-up the plastic cisterns
Data collection (video, photo, GPS data, health data such as malnutrition)
Health eduction (on basics such as hygiene, recognizing dehydration in a child)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Medication news for Haiti

Hi All,

As many of you know I have been working with an orphanage in PAP, Haiti called Wings of Hope.
You can find more information about the orphanage (which is part of Hearts with Haiti orphanages).

Through a really neat collaboration with folks in Canada, we have been able to obtain a year's supply of free meds for the residents of Wings of Hope!!  This includes a number of anti-seizure medications as well as antibiotics.  In short, two guys who work for a pharmaceutical company in Canada proposed to their board that a donation of meds be made to Wings of Hope.  We then drafted a list of meds with quantities, and the request went through!!  
Perhaps God will continue to use this relationship to further benefit the kids and people of Haiti.  It would be great if their hearts would be moved to extend this opportunity to the people of Pestel, for example.

Second point is a special giving option:   you will recall that Nelson stayed at our house last year (March 2007) and had a valve replaced.  He lives in Pestel.  He will continue to take amoxicillin for the rest of his life.  As such, there is an opportunity for someone (or a group, for example) to purchase the medications he needs.  I would plan to purchase the meds (or try to get the meds purchased in Haiti--preferable) for him on an annual basis.  
If this is something you would be interested in participating in please let me know.  You can participate in part or in full (and just let me know whether you would anticipate this being a one-time gift or an annual recurring gift).  The cost?  Probably something like $120-$150 or so per year.  Might be able to get this cheaper in Haiti, though.

I'll plan to post further information on the "Special Giving" section of my website. 


Saturday, October 25, 2008

October note

Quick note here:

First, there were several generous donors who contributed to the school bench project for the town of Toma Elli (click on the name to go to the site). We have raised the entire amount ($800)!!! This will be a huge gift for this town. We're truly thrilled. I'm not sure if all the benches will be constructed by my next trip, but I'll try to take some photos of the village on my next trip.

Second, we've raised a fair amount of money to start installing the plastic cistern system that I featured in an earlier blog. The system is being used farther up in the mountains by Dr. John Leininger, and he has offered to assist us in installing some of these units.
(view of the harbor in can see boats!)
Third, I was honored to give the "Keynote Address" today for Primary Care Day at Hershey. What a kicker. I obviously spoke about Haiti, and afterward two of the faculty from York Hospital (my former teachers!) came up and asked me some questions. One of the questions is whether I would be willing to take residents down with me. I don't need to tell you my response

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Haitian Migrant Workers

View Larger Map
I had the opportunity this weekend to visit 3 Haitian migrant worker camps in the Gettysburg/Chambersburg area. I was accompanied by Mary, a Nurse Practitioner who works with the many different migrant worker camps (most of the workers in this area are either Mexican or Puerto Rican), Dr. George Henning (a family medicine physician in my department at Hershey, and director of Agromedicine Dept), and Landy (one of my 1st year medical student advisees. Her parents are from Haiti and she speaks Creole).

There are about 20 guys at each of the three camps and the way it works is like this:
They live most of the year in Florida (around Orlando) where they work picking oranges, grapefruit during season. When those seasons end (or there is no more work) they come up to PA by van, usually in early July. They work here until late November usually, and then head back down to Florida. Some will find other work in Georgia, Maryland, etc. Some of the guys are new this year, but most that we met have been coming for some time. Many have been coming since the early 1980s.

I would hazard a guess that about 1/2 have their families in Florida and the other 1/2 have their families (i.e. wife, kids) in Haiti. They'll send money down to Haiti via Western Union.

I met one guy from Pestel (!) and apparently there are a couple of others as well. The workers are from all over the country of Haiti.

They are not complainers. That's a consistent feature of Haitians that I've come across. They want a better life for their family, like the guy we met who has 5 kids and a wife in Florida. This was his first trip up, even though he's been in the US legally for about 10 years. He had to come north because there wasn't any work in Florida.

The work is hard. They each pick about 150 bushels of apples a day, six days a week. One guy we saw had fallen out of a tree and broken some ribs. But he wasn't out of work for too long because, well, he doesn't earn money if he doesn't work...

I mentioned Dr. Henning. He is in the process of writing a grant for ongoing funding. He's writing me into the grant to help with education. !!! I told him my idea of taking med students down to the camps during the students' 1st and 2nd years of school, and then down to Haiti in their 4th year. He liked it. So we shall see.



Thursday, September 18, 2008

MCC and Haiti

MCC is Mennonite Central Committee. I am hoping to eventually partner with them for Haiti.

This is a link to an article about the situation in northern Haiti.
And this is a link to some photos. In one of the photos you can see a barren mountain in the background. Just imagine dumping huge amounts of rain onto those mountains. The result is flooding...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

CNN Video of Haiti

Here is a very sad video clip from CNN about the current health conditions in Haiti. Gonaives is one of the hardest struck areas in Haiti.

If you are interested in giving to help the people struck by these three hurricanes, I would recommend the following:

Save the Children
Mennonite Central Committee
World Vision

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Haiti Update

Several have written to ask about the conditions in Haiti right now.  As you may know Haiti was hit hard by the last 3 hurricanes:  Gustav, Hanna, and recently Ike.  The northern parts of Haiti especially took a beating.  One estimate put the number of displaced persons to about 800,000.
To put that in perspective, the total population of Haiti is about 9 million.  So 800,000 is about 10% of the entire population.   That's plain sad.
I just received these photos through Vanessa Carpenter.  They are from a trip that Father Rick took recently to the north parts.  These photos, let me say, are dramatic.  It is well worth taking time to look through them all.   There are surprises all along the way.
This will give you some idea, hopefully, of the challenges faced by these folks.
Here is an email Father Rick sent out with the photos:
hello to all

witth much difficulty and facing raging nature in the form of winds and rains and flash floods
we were able to get to gonnaives to help the sisters of mother teresa
who are friends of ours as of 20 years
they have sent many children to our orphanage over the years
and we have helped them with many medical cases

some of their patients drown in their house
and the sisters were on the roof for 3 days unable to come down

in any case
we made it to gonnaives with 5 truckloads of help

mostly drinking water which is rare
we went with 21,000 servings of water
it is preprared like a glass of water in a small plastic bag

we brought a ton of food
and dry clothes

and a pump, generator and gas to pump the water our of the compound

we left last night but got caught between 2 raging rivers
and spent the night in the trucks wondering what would happen to us and how we would cross
but we fought our way thru mud an waters today and made it to port au prince
where all the bridges around our hospital are destroyed and there is massive flooding in parts of port au prince, and cabaret
it is a very tragic situation

as you know our orphanage had extensive damage but no one was harmed
we will be without exelctricity for a few months i am sure

as you know we had the effects of hirrucane ike last night
so even though we left gonnaives
it is flooded again to 3 meters as i write
and by cell phone we know the sisters are back on the roof

tropical storms fay  gustave and hanna  and hurricane ike
have displaced about 1,000,000 people in haiti due to floods
from a government source i heard today

best regards
your prayers are appreciated

fr rick

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Haiti Articles

Here is an article that just came from Wings of Hope orphanage in Port-au-Prince. It's a really great article by KC.

This is an article published recently in the British medical journal, Lancet. It does an excellent job of presenting the current health care crisis that continues in Haiti. Well worth the read!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Exciting news

Hi Everyone,

We had the great pleasure of meeting with the Kiwanis of Upper Allen again tonight over dinner. We presented information about Pestel and some of the specific needs, including clean water, health, and education.

The Kiwanis group has graciously added Haiti Medical into this upcoming year's budget!!! What a huge encouragement to again see others responding with God's compassion.

("Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.")

ALSO, an individual member has pledged $600 annually!!! These funds will in part be used to cover the educational needs of four children (see Alfred's Story on the website). We are SO thrilled and encouraged and overwhelmed by this generosity. Jen was saying on the way home that this gift changed Alfred's story from one of sadness to one of joy and the promise of God's provision. How awesome to play a small part in that! And what a great gift to Alfred and his family.

A few other notes:

Pray that the hurricane, Hanna, would be moved off of Haiti (click here to read an article on about how it is affecting Haiti). It is lingering there...and as you probably know Gustav recently went through as well. (BTW, in the satellite photo of Hanna to the right Haiti is "buried" underneath and has been for the past 24 hours).
Sister Fidelis was to come to the US last week but her plane has been repeatedly delayed by the storms. I know she has been looking forward to this trip.

The teachers of Toma Elli (see the story on Toma Elli by clicking here and scrolling down) approached Sister Fidelis about the possibility of constructing some benches for school. The cost is $20 per bench. They will need about 20-30 benches. Please let me know if you are interested in helping to building these! By giving $20 you could provide seating for several children. I've been very impressed by the self-sacrificial dedication of the teachers of Toma Elli who work with minimal-to-no pay.

More later :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I mentioned some bit ago that I "happened" upon several Haitian migrant worker camps in the Gettysburg area.  My brain started ticking away, and I came to the conclusion:  if I will go down to Haiti (and spend time and money) why wouldn't I spend a little bit of money/time to help these folks in Gettysburg?

I had run an idea via email past my Chair that goes something like this:
I want to bring several interested 1st year medical students down to Gettysburg with me over the students' first and second years to provide a service-learning opportunity for the students, provide some care for the workers, and give me a chance to practice Creole  :)

Yesterday I had a meeting with my Chair, and the short of it is that I may be receiving funds to start that process.

No kidding.  :)   I may be receiving (existing) grant funds to travel down to Gettysburg to work with this group of very underserved people...that means I can get paid to do it!   This is VERY good news and may be a great step toward helping me get paid to ultimately go to Haiti.   How very good is that?!

God is continuing to move puzzle pieces around.  It's quite an elaborate plan (and better than anything I could EVER have come up with)...and that seems just like Him


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tough situation

Hi Everyone,

A bit ago I emailed about a Haitian infant now in the US named Pierre.  His situation is complex.  In short, he came for cleft lip/palate repair.  But in due course he has now been found to have multiple endocrine problems including
  • "diabetes insipidus"--basically he cannot regulate his sodium level on his own.  So he produces VERY dilute urine which leads to very high levels of sodium in his blood.  Untreated this is fatal.  He is on medications now.
  • hypogonadism--he doesn't produce testosterone.  So he'll eventually need testosterone replacement.
  • secondary adrenal insufficiency--he doesn't appear to be producing cortisol.  This requires medication.
He probably is probably not producing growth hormone which, if untreated, will lead to brain damage among other things.

He has not had surgery yet, and it appears it will not be done right now.  The big question is this:  if he goes back to Haiti will he live?  Given the situation the outlook would be grim to grave, at best.  He would need medications and regular lab testing (to adjust the medications), as well as a physician who could manage his conditions.
I understand that his mother is a single mom living with an aunt/uncle, and that she may not have a job. 

Another option would be to look for an adoptive family in the US.  This boy will require a family with health insurance that would agree to cover all costs (including surgeries, I should think).   The mom may be willing to consider an adoption.

A longer-shot (I've not heard of this happening) would be to have the mom come up here to become a citizen.  This approach probably isn't even close to realistic.

If you have suggestions please let me know.  Please pray about this.  Pray for wisdom and opportunity.  Pray that God's Will would be evident.  Quite seriously, I mean this.  This is a very difficult dilemma.

You can also direct further questions to Vanessa Carpenter (Angel Missions Haiti):


Friday, August 22, 2008

Pestel Overview Video

Here's a 7-8 minute video that hopefully gives a decent overview of Pestel. I'm planning to use this (or something similar to it) when I go to various places to give talks about Pestel. Please give me your thoughts and feedback!!!
The background music is all from live recordings of when I was down in Haiti.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Medical school

I received an email yesterday just before heading out for the day.  The email is from Dean Simmons--he is the dean of the medical school.  He had received my name from the current president of faculty affairs at the medical center (Dr. Chorney).  I had met with Dr. Chorney last year to talk about my interest in global health.

In short, the dean wants to know my thoughts on whether global health is important to our students' medical education (!!!). 

Wowzers.  This seems like a 'golden opportunity', an open-door etc etc.  And not one that I sought out or strove for.  I know this sounds cheesy, but I really see a parallel with how God worked in the hearts of rulers in the biblical times and how He is working in the hearts of the 'rulers' of the medical center (my chair, now the dean of the medical school...and did I mention that the Dean of the Medical Center who is the President/CEO of the medical center will be going down to Ecuador later this year to see what the med center is already doing.  Ecuador is where the Global Health Scholars Program will be working, and I'll be going down there next month).  

I want to make sure that my email response is honoring to God by being truthful and honest.  So please pray for my response, if you would.  And for my heart--that I would turn this over to God and that He would use my email as He sees fit.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Accidents in Haiti

Earlier this year a boat from Pestel sank, killing dozens.
"The boat sank after taking on water about 150 metres from shore late on Saturday, the officials said on Sunday.
The boat was on a two-day journey along Haiti's southern peninsula, transporting passengers, food and charcoal to Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.

It made several stops to take on passengers and cargo and was overcrowded."

A few weeks ago a truck lost its brakes and slammed into a market with the same unfortunate outcome.
"Dozens of people are feared dead and many more injured after a truck ploughed into a busy market in the town of Cavaillon in southern Haiti."

Now this: a truck traveling out near Pestel (near a village called Beaumont) tried to cross a swollen river (from Faye). The truck had about 60 people on it. So far they are estimating that about 30 of them died in the accident.
You can read about it here.

It was probably a truck similar these ones:

Accidents are a major cause of disability (see the story on Alfred) and death in places like Haiti. We take things like car inspections for granted (or we even grumble about them). When you read about these very real tragedies [consider, for example, the toll this one accident will have on families...on communities. Poor communities become poorer, if that is possible] you begin to realize how basic things like double-yellow lines and Departments of Transportation contribute to the health of people.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

CURE International

One of the guys that you often see in my videos/photos related to my recent trip to Pestel is Alix. He's our translator as we go from village to village. He's quite good, and a really neat guy. Anderson and Alix got along so well that it broke up some of the boredom Anderson otherwise would have experienced.

Alix's fiancee, Sherli, is in need of hip surgery. She was born with a bad hip and it's now at the point where she can hardly walk. I was able to put her in touch with CURE International--Dr. Scott Nelson has agreed to do the surgery in the Dominican Republic. He'll wave his fees but she'll need to pay about $3000 for the hospital stay and 'hardware'.

If you know of anyone who would be interested in helping out financially, please let me know. As I find out more information I can share it with you.

BTW--that is not a normal x-ray.


For those of you who have dearly missed my emails  :)   I have been in the habit of posting on my Haiti Medical Blog


Keynote speaker

I was asked yesterday if I would be the keynote speaker at this year's Primary Care Day at the Hershey Medical Center.
I thought it was a joke.
Nope...they were quite serious. This is a one-day event in late October that presents many different faces of primary care. It's sponsored by the medical center with invitations to med students, pre-med students, and interested high school students.
Apparently the planning team (faculty and students) were kicking around names of who they might like to invite, and someone tossed in my name as a speaker on "Global Health".
What a kicker! So of course I quite graciously accepted. Should be fun!

I also have the opportunity to speak again to the Kiwanis group in September. That's always a really neat evening. They've also "been there" from the start. I had spoken to them in July 2007, a couple months before taking my first trip to Haiti...well before I had ANY clue of where God was REALLY taking me. They've been a great encouragement to us.

ALSO, I'll be giving an update to my church in two weeks. I'm working on a video for it, and I'll probably post it online once I finish it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


This is Pierre. He's about 9 months old now, but he came to the US with Angel Missions Haiti at around 4 months of age for repair of his cleft lip and palate.

However, there were complications. In particular Pierre was found to have several other medical problems, including "diabetes insipidus" which requires him to take a medication every day, and to have regular blood checks.

The big prayer request here is for wisdom. He still needs to have the surgery done, and there's been a delay in that. After surgery, though, we are not sure whether or not he will be able to survive in Haiti. This comes down to the very practical problem of finances and lack of resources.

You can see this same photo of Pierre as well as some other kids (including Pharah--the girl with hydrocephalus I took back to Haiti in June) at Angel Missions Blog.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dr. Warf, Neurosurgeon

This is a really good article written about Dr. Ben Warf, a neurosurgeon now working over in Philly/Wilmington. He's been doing free hydrocephalus surgeries for kids from Haiti. The group responsible for organizing this has been Angel Missions Haiti--the same group that has been involved with many of the Hershey heart surgeries.

Dr. Warf worked for a number of years with CURE Intl in Uganda with good friends of ours, Charles and Melissa Howard (who are still working as missionaries in Uganda). An email from Charles provided the open-door for Angel Missions Haiti to begin this wonderful partnership with Dr. Warf.

Haiti Happenings

A few intriguing things on the horizon...

I visited a migrant worker camp down in Gettysburg a couple of weeks ago and 'happened' to hear that there is also a smaller group of migrant Haitian workers that comes up to PA every year. This caught my attention. I'm pursuing this further. What I'd love to see develop is this: I could take several medical students down to the camps during the students' first and second years. We could interview the workers, provide some medical care (because no one speaks Creole in Gettysburg, so any medical care that is provided is definitely based on a best-guess). Then, in the students' 4th year we would go down to Haiti for a week or so. More to come on this front, I believe.

Our neighbor across the street came over yesterday and in the process mentioned that she has a number of Haitian American friends who go down every year, have helped to build water systems in Haiti. So we asked her to give them our names and phone number. An amazing piece of this puzzle. Have you noticed yet that these puzzle pieces just come flying in out of no where??

I've contacted a half-dozen organizations so far by email and just yesterday heard back from one of them that is working up the road from Pestel. They are interested in opening up a line of communication, so to speak.

My church has agreed to include Haiti Medical in next years' budget!! That's really cool, and very encouraging. A good number of people in the church are interested in becoming involved in various ways, and I'm extremely grateful. The church wants to adopt this as one of its outreaches and for that I could not be more thrilled!

I have never had the delusion that this is Me doing this work, or that it is My 'mission'. I am being pushed, prodded, and moved by God to participate in His good work. I have not engineered this (because frankly, whatever I have tried to engineer usually either falls flat or pales in comparison to what God brings out of His treasure chest). And I am so excited to see others that God is stirring up to take part in this.

Why Haiti? Why Pestel? Only God knows.
God is Good and what He designs is Good. And it is a great invigorating, inspiring participate in this way.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Nakeysha cleared to go home!

Nakeysha had her final cardiology (post-op) appointment yesterday and everything looks great! They cleared her to return to Haiti! Her parents are very excited. We're in the process of working out the travel arrangements. Here are a few photos of her after surgery (with a few "bonus" photos thrown in!):

Thursday, July 31, 2008

School supplies for Pestel

Now is the time to buy a few extra packs of pencils and pick up an extra eraser or two! One of my nurses informed me that BigLots is having a sale right now.

You can either drop off the items with us (Fredricks), at church (Slate Hill Mennonite) or give them to my family in Claremont, NH. We've already started collecting. It's a simple way to make an impact.

A short video of a school building in Pestel (to give you an idea of what they may or may not have):

Here's a quick reminder of what we're collecting:
What we're collecting:
  • Pencils
  • Colored Pencils
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Erasers
  • Pens
  • Rulers
  • Book bags
  • Crayons
  • Chalk
  • Board eraser
  • Maps
  • Bottles of glue
  • Scissors

What we're NOT collecting:
  • Paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Markers

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Alternative Cistern idea

Dr. John Leininger of Harvest International has been bringing teams down to Haiti for about 30 years, I believe. He works just up in the mountains at the edge of Pestel in a village called Joly Gilbert [on the map below it is south of Deze...To give you some perspective, the distance from Deze to Joly Gilbert in a straight line is 2 miles, but that is a LOOOOONGGGG two miles]

He recently sent me this photo of a cistern that they've put in place:

The setup seems to work quite well, and a real bonus is that it has a spigot (I thought it was 'spicket' but apparently that's not a real word)--one of the main ways the water becomes contaminated is when a dirty pale is placed into the water...contaminating the whole water supply.

The cost is substantially less than that of the concrete/block cisterns. Dr. Leinginger got them for about $400...including the PVC piping.

Does anyone have any thoughts about this construction? See any potential pitfalls? Any suggestions for improvement?

Also, any ideas of how many gallons this would hold?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beyond Borders

Beyond Borders is a top-notch organization working in Haiti. They are helping the people of Pestel directly by providing education and leadership training for KPA (see Partners for Pestel website). The foundation they are laying is crucial and a real advantage for the communities of Pestel.

Please take the time to watch their powerful and well-done video (and also check out their site! Please consider supporting Beyond Borders):

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

What is going on here? Chapter 1

Today starts a four-day video-series (if I can 'glamorize' it by calling it a series) that I'm calling "What is going on here?" Basically, as you'll see, the video plays through and you get to guess what the story is behind it. Some are obvious. Some...not so obvious. Some are fun...some more serious.
Either way I thought it would be a good way to share some of the snippets from the trip in a hopefully more interesting way.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dear Diary XI

Sister Fidelis was my host and guide. She has been a great encouragement to me, not only because of the courage and strength she exhibits by living among the needy in Pestel, but also by her kind words and prayers. Our friendship has grown tremendously in the relatively brief times that we've shared together.
Sister Fidelis lives by herself in a remote spot up in the mountain. There is no electricity, running water, or cell phone access here. Her house cannot be reached by road, but rather by "nature trails" or cow-paths. You can see the coast from her house, and while she only lives about 3 miles from the coast it takes a good bit to hike up there.
She is kept company by her dog (I've sadly forgotten his name) and donkey, Rosebud (who you can see in the video!). She also has a right-hand man who is quite indispensable.

Click HERE for a video of Sister Fidelis' house.

Click Here to go to the interactive map of Pestel to see where Sister Fidelis lives.

View Larger Map

(click on the map icons to see more information...I'm working on putting photos on the map as well...)

A lot is asked of her. She meets needs left and right. Her local development group (KPA) has already successfully built a number of solid cisterns in communities throughout Pestel.
KPA is a group of concerned citizens (initiated and led by Sister Fidelis) from about 12 of the villages around Pestel. Another village recently "signed-on". Each village selects 3 delegates that attend a monthly meeting. I met a good number of them at one of the first meetings (see previous blog), and I was very impressed by their attitudes and initiative.
It is this group that we will largely be supporting. As they thoughtfully and prayerfully decide which cisterns should be repaired next, where a school building should go up, I pray we in the US will respond to their needs.

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. One way we do this by giving to those in need. This is what Christ has done for each of us. He is our model for living. There is a degree of sacrifice to which some of us are being called. The importance of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness cannot be overstated.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dear Diary X

On Wednesday we traveled to a hard-to-reach place (I wanted to see first-hand the challenges we would face in providing care to these villages as well as the challenges they face day-in-and-day-out). This was a brutal walk.

Desye is a small village where probably a couple hundred families live. Interestingly, their homes are more spread out compared with the more centralized appearances of many other villages.
First, the setting is breathtaking. Tall, steep hills surround the area. It makes a wonderful place to live except there is no good way to reach it. The foot paths are challenging and exhausting. The way from the nearest village includes a field of boulders that at some points blockade any motorized vehicle (including a motorcycle). The villagers are determined to make a road, however. They send out brigades every Friday to smash the big rocks into smaller rocks, but even still, I simply don't see how a vehicle could traverse this landscape.

CLICK HERE For a video: The Road to Desye

The meeting in Desye was well-attended with about 75 present. It was the first, however, to unenthusiastically endorse our commitment to education. One of the teachers spoke up and said that while he teaches a class of about 30 kids, only 2 families had paid the $80 Haitian (or $11 US) per year. Sensing a lack of commitment to education I asked a question of the group that I had also asked of other villages: "How important is education to your community?" The obvious response simply did not come.
I was taken aback. I glanced as Sister Fidelis seated to my right, and she raised an eyebrow, then shook her head. Building a school or providing educational opportunities was not to be on the top of our list for Desye.
Before I could switch subjects, however, they did. Their overriding priority is a road. Much depends on a road. They cannot sell at markets, cannot send their kids to Junior High or High School down by the ocean, cannot access any healthcare...all because of a road. This was their contention, and I believe they are right.
They are invested in their families and their families live in Desye. They cannot move to a better location because 1) they don't believe they should. This is their home. This is where their local loyalty and history lives. They have good, productive land. They can survive here--they cannot thrive, however. 2) They cannot afford to move. In Desye (as in all of Pestel) they own plots of land. Do they abandon the property? Heaven knows they cannot sell it (who would want to buy it?). If they moved closer to the ocean they would have to rent land and a house, which is entirely out of their financial reach. I can see why they do not move to a 'better location.' Whether from a pragmatic-economic standpoint or a socio-historic perspective, there is little compelling reason to move.
They do need some basic infrastructure to be in place before they can hop on the first rung of the economic ladder. These are the rungs that provide opportunity (for education, training, health care, arts, sciences, electricity, etc).
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Pestel.

Update on Leila

Hi All,

Here's an email from our friends, the Grants.  They've been hosting a little girl from Burkina Faso named Leila for heart surgery.  Please see their update below.

Dear Friends & Family,
> We've been very blessed to have Leila in our home the last couple
> months, but last week she was cleared medically to go home.
> She's recovered completely from her surgery and is going home off of all
> medication! It's amazing to see how she's grown since we got her off
> the plane. Before the surgery, she couldn't even eat a meal without
> growing short of breath and needing a nap. Now, she walks and talks
> (English :-) ) like any other 2 year old (Molly taught her "NO!").
> Thank you all for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for
> smooth transitions after she goes home:
> - Our family's - we will miss her very much.
> - Leila's - she has really grown comfortable with us and will have to
> travel 30+ hours with a stranger before reuniting with her family.
> - Leila's family's - They've been missing her terribly, and will be
> quite surprised by her progress. She has a lot more energy now!!
> Also, we found out today that the organization that arranged for her to
> come over needs about $2000 to purchase a ticket to get her back to
> Burkina Faso. If you are able to help in any way, please contact
> Children's Medical Missions at
> <>.
> You can donate through PayPal, or by regular mail. They can also use
> donated frequent flyer miles (preferably Air France or American, but the
> website says "any airline").
> Thanks again!
> Lori & Devon Grant
> Devon & Molly

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dear Diary IX

The needs of Pestel are great, but the people are not complainers. They are frustrated because they strongly desire education and good health and opportunity for their children. They want them to learn English because they recognize the value of education and knowing languages--opportunities may open to them.

They are frustrated that they do not have reliable water [photo on the right is a cracked cistern located next to a school]. They cannot get their health needs cared for [there are two physicians for 70,000 people]. Their self-identified health issues include 'fever', TB, back pain [from hard, physical labor], respiratory diseases, diarrhea, rashes, malnutrition, chest pains, and 'acid' (GERD). Sister Fidelis is about to open 2 medical clinics--one of these will be in Abrico, and her announcement of this received a great deal of applause--both at Abrico and Lasalla (another village located about one hour away from Abrico by foot).

Another comment about education: at the Abrico community meeting one man from a nearby village [Toma Elli] stood up and mentioned that he is a teacher, but that he frequently goes unpaid. He has two other teachers and when money does come in from the government, he pays them $100 Haitian each, but that is not every month.
Some quick math: $7 Haitian = $1 US

So the current government (unreliable) payment... $100/7 = $14.25US per teacher per month

This was hard to hear because I have seen many teachers in Pestel who do not have work because they do not get paid. And who can blame them for not teaching. They have to do something to bring in money. So they turn to farming again.
In front of this large group at Abrico I commended this man, and asked him to persevere. I told him I would see if I could find some generous people in the US who might be willing to help him and his teachers.

This is my first appeal for help: Please consider providing some financial support to the teachers of Toma Elli. I was deeply impressed and moved by their story, and they need relief to be encouraged to continue in their work. Any amount would be helpful, whether one-time or ongoing. Helping to pay a teacher's salary will enable dozens of children to receive education. This will also help us to continue to build goodwill among the people. We want to encourage this kind of dedication to their communities.

You can give at this Site: Special Situations (Partnering With Pestel)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dear Diary VIII


I visited Abrico back in October 2007. That was a very brief visit. One of their community leaders, Mileas, is a man around my age who has charisma and excellent leadership skills. He is a humble man, knowledgeable, and deeply dedicated to his village. His mother's land, for example, was donated to the community for a school.

The man on the right is Mileas.

He is one of their key leaders. He can get them up out of their seats to do warm-up singing exercises ("loosening up"), and in the next minute run an organized meeting. People listen to him when he speaks.

In Abrico they have a small school that was to have been built by the government, but the funds never materialized. The community pooled their resources and found a way to build it themselves. The building you see briefly in the video is all the school building they have for 250 students.

You can view the video HERE.
Or you can always see it at the main website under Photos & Video.

There is another very sad (and maddening) story. The community received a grant from USAID to expand their school facility in size by severalfold. I saw some of the rebar rising up from the ground...amidst a vines and bushes. One of the contractors or officials had run off with the money.

So they make do (sort of). They will build temporary structures around the existing building out of bamboo to hold outdoor schools. This community is invested in education though they may not have much in the way of resources. When they state that they want education their witness is credible.

I am certain that the donated money must be given locally to people invested highly in their communities, as opposed to disinterested government officials (often regional or national level) or contractors.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dear Diary VII

At Sister Fidelis' house up in the mountains (village of Ferrier) there is no cell phone access, electricity or running water. That also means no refrigeration, flushing toilets, charging of dead batteries (which is why I don't have many photos from this trip), cold drinks, or safe leftovers.
But we did have popcorn! That seemed so out of place. Someone made a big basket of it last night when the kids put on a show for us. They sang songs, including one written for yours truly, and did a couple of cute plays. They are very inventive, imaginative kids who are not generally bashful or too worried about performing badly (i.e. overly self-conscience). Of course, this is an oversimplification because there are shy people, but I don't sense the same level of insecurity as we often find in the US.
Yesterday at Odelin's school down by the coast I was struck by one little girl. Her hair was thin and bronzed, her features sunken and thin. She is malnourished. She stood out rather starkly against the others seated around her. However, I was quite surprised when Odelin, in reading off the children's grades, called out her name. She had one of the highest scores in the entire class! It then also struck me that she clapped and seemed genuinely excited every time a student received a passing grade for that year (which was true of about 2/3 of the class).

Every time I come to Haiti I find a person who breaks my heart. She is one of them now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dear Diary VI

It seems ridiculous to write this: apparently the family with its own (private) cistern is often 'wealthier' than those without. In a community of about a 1000 people, for example, there may be 15 cisterns...10 of them private. In a drought they can sell water, at least until it dries up. In the US we worry about what color faucets we have, and we may get upset when the government tells us not to water our grass (through our automated sprinklers) because of a water shortage.
[the photo to the left is of a broken cistern in need of repair]

Economically this is a farming community. They do have at least one carpenter (a Baptist pastor) but he's being transferred out. There are also a couple of masons.

They grow mangoes, many (17?) types of yams, coffee, plantains, bananas, corn, cassava, pineapple, coconuts, peanuts, black beans. Some have chicken or goats or maybe a cow. I've only seen a couple of pigs in Haiti so far, and only one in Pestel.

Here is a short video featuring some of the foods in Pestel.

The land is quite fertile for these things, but they need to be taught good farming practices. They don't know about irrigation, terracing, or even planned planting (most of it is a bit haphazard). Their yield could improve significantly through changed farming practices (which means educational opportunities!) and fertilizer and formation of co-ops. Getting the food to market is a bit tricky now because the one main boat that brought goods to Port-au-Prince on a weekly basis sank recently. This is the same one I wrote about earlier.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dear Diary V

In Pestel there are beautiful singers, intelligent people, handy and mechanical folk--in short, most of the same as what we find in our own communities. But there is currently no opportunity for them. If they do seek opportunity it is often at the expense of their family or community.

An example: when we arrived at the path to Ferrier (where Sister Fidelis lives) we heard a musical sound like from a hand-made pipe. In actuality it was a someone blowing a conch shell (they have TONS of these shells) and using it to call people to help with a certain community task. They apparently often help one another--whether building something or harvesting food (i.e. coffee or mangoes or coconuts etc) or what have you.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dear Diary IV

At certain points as you travel in Pestel the main road continues but all else becomes hiking paths. You could ride a mule along these pathways and even a a point. Though the distance is relatively short (0.5 miles) the traveling is so slow and at time tricky.

Certain places you duck under overhanging coffee plants or step carefully over rocky paths. A single bag of cement for a cistern or a building would have to be hauled up by hand.

But honestly, if anyone could or would do it these people would. They are strong people--physically strong. And they are humiliatingly generous, kind, hospitable, and gracious with their words. How many times have I heard people thank God for me and thank me for my 'sacrifice' in coming out to them. I feel extremely unworthy of such kindnesses.

Though they are poor they remain a very happy community. I'm not trying to paint too rosy a picture here. Life is hard. Everything is hauled. Land is tilled by hand. Cisterns are dug by hand. Rocks are smashed up by hand. When they need sand for mixing with cement...they go dig it up from some sandy place and carry it to the building site. No cement trucks or even wheelbarrows.
But here you do see half-naked kids with bloated bellies (worms, most likely...or malnutrition). Here very few of the kids go to school because they cannot afford it. And of those that do attend the 3-4 hours of school per day (all that is currently offered) it is a surprise if more than 1 or 2 from an entire class would go on to high school (in Port-au-Prince or Jeremie).

There are a good number of teachers in each village. That's encouraging! But they are without employment. Either there is no school building or no funding...or both. They seem to be bright, capable people (a number of these folks are part of KPA--the development group). They care deeply for their communities (they could try to find work as a teacher in a bigger city in Haiti, for example) and hold out with hope.

I want to start seeing that hope fulfilled.

Back to School Sales (for Haiti?)

Hi Everyone,

In talking to my mom this morning she suggested that people could purchase extra school supplies this month for Pestel because of the per-school sales going on.  I think it's a great idea!!

The one thing they do not need is paper.  So please don't worry about buying that.  For some reason they can get paper cheaply (And they use a specific kind of lined paper...). 

But pens, pencils, erasers, rulers...all that good stuff...can be easily packed, doesn't weight much, and would be a big help to those who are attending school and their teachers.

We will plan to collect it all and store it until the next trip to Pestel (which...tentatively...may be in late February.  So if you're interested in going down with me...just let me know  :)

If you live in our area (Hershey) you can give it to us.  If up in NH, you can give it to my parents.  Fort those farther away...if you want to give in this way you could send money (either to us, or to the church if you want a tax deduction) and we can purchase things in your name. big bang for the buck.  And doing some real good for a bunch of kids in Pestel!

Great stuff!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dear Diary III

In the afternoon we held a second meeting that included some other local leaders, including the mayor (who is probably my age), a number of teachers, businesspeople, and priests/pastors. We discussed their concerns for Pestel.

From the Mayor's report the government has promised a number of things, including two new school buildings, internet access for the school by the coast, and a paved road up to the main road.
Yet, the Major agreed with the sentiment that it is best not to wait for the government.

There is a story I heard on my last trip that a local deputy for Pestel was given $30,000 for the school in Pestel. The money promptly made its way to Port-au-Prince where it went to help his kids (and his friends' kids) who lived there.
The shame is that this not uncommon. There is a reason that Haiti is ranked as the Most Corrupt nation for 2007. Grrrrr. More on this later.
From the meeting with KPA and with the local leaders two clear priorities emerged:
  1. Clean safe water
  2. Education--both primary and secondary schooling as well as health education

Nakyshia is home!

Nakyshia (2 year old Haitian girl) came home yesterday (Thursday) after having gone through open heart surgery on Tuesday morning.  She is doing great!  Truly, she's bouncing around, happy, and not much slows her down.  Her post-op echocardiogram was remarkably excellent.  The patch that closed the hole in her heart (atrial septal defect) looks perfect; there is no fluid around the heart (which is common), and all is going well.  Her mom Dani is obviously relieved and thrilled.

Thank you to those especially who graciously spent your time to watch our kids and help with meals.  We quite honestly could not have done this without you.

Dani will likely be flying back to Haiti on July 19th.  Nakyshia will stay with us for another month or so beyond that. 

Thank you all for your words of encouragement and prayers!

Jen and Ben

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Deary Diary II

We passed a young man, probably in his 20s, who used to run a restaurant in Pestel until he became ill last year and had to be hospitalized in Port-au-Prince. Ever since he came back, however, he has been in a depression. He cannot be who he once was. He prefers to be busy, active, making meal after meal. But apparently he no longer has the stamina (and confidence?).

At 11am we met with Sister Fidelis' community development group (KPA). There were a little over 30 who attended (some walking about 2 hours from their village). Each gave a report of his/her village about the population size, number of cisterns (including the # of non-functioning cisterns), and latrines.

Here are a few samples from the report:

Village of Abrico = 1,220 population.
# cisterns = 15
# functioning = 11
# latrines = 5
1 public school (government pays teachers)

Village of Toma Elli = 1,500 population.
# cisterns = 8
# functioning cisterns = 6
# latrines = 3
1 private school (no money to pay teachers)

At Abrico for example the public school serves 250 children. The building is one-room, about 20 x 20 feet. The villagers construct temporary structures (out of bamboo) around the structure.

Sadly about 1/3 of their cisterns do not work. They're cracked. From our discussion the reasons for this are either that they dried out (due to a prolonged drought earlier this year...the worst they'd seen in 30 years) or poor construction. They do not have funds to repair them, and this worsens the water situation for Pestel. During the drought many had walked up to 10 miles to find water. That's hard to imagine...but I met these people personally. And when they say they walked to "Corail" (about 10 miles away) I believe them.

Overall I was very encouraged by this meeting. These appear to be well-invested inviduals (volunteers), both men and women.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dear Diary

For the next couple of days I plan to post a few of the notes that I wrote down on my recent trip. Hopefully they're worth reading :)

Yesterday was an interesting day. We started out with breakfast (bananas, rolls, hard-boiled eggs, fresh squeezed orange juice) and then attended a church service by the ocean.

Apparently the church was built by one of the captains. Actually, it was built by the same captain (I posted about earlier on my website) whose overloaded boat capsized off the coast of Haiti. The online article requires an update. The boat actually sank nearer to Port-au-Prince. They are still finding bodies, and the current count is up above 30 that died. Financially the captain is ruined. Until now he has not been seen much in public since the incident. I sense he will rebuild, though. He seems to have drive. When the boat capsized he was in the midst of building another boat (which now sits like a skeleton on a beach).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Overview video of my trip to Pestel, Haiti

Hi everyone,

Here is a link to a short video of my recent trip to Pestel, Haiti.  I will be providing further updates, videos, photos, stories, etc. very soon. 

The trip was a big success from my standpoint.  Everything was accomplished (and then some!) that I had hoped for, and we're about ready to roll ahead with some exciting initiatives.  More to come on that later!

Feel free to share this!

And as always, truly a big thanks to you all for your encouragement and your prayers.  God is doing a really exciting work in Pestel. 

We truly need wisdom as we continue forward.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Howdy from Haiti

So I'm surviving.  It has been HOT and HUMID.   We're talking--mid 90s + humidity.   But it hasn't slowed us down a whole lot.  Every day I have been exhausted, though. 
I arrived back in PAP from Pestel today.  I'll have a lot of really great stuff to report on from Pestel.  And some good video/photos as well.  It'll take me a bit to upload everything, and I will keep you posted as I go.

I am spending tonight and tomorrow (Friday) here at Wings of Hope--the orphanage for handicapped children.  I'll be looking at their medication records, dispensary, talking with the nurse, seeing a few of the folks, and seeing how well the electronic health record works for them.

Nelson and Anderson are both doing very well!  It was really good to be able to see them both again.  

More to come!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Update before trip

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update. At this point my trip itinerary is full (which is just how I prefer it :) I'm really excited about the time in Pestel. Sister Fidelis and I have been working on setting up the right mix of meetings, and for those who are interested I've laid that out below.

I'm really hoping on this trip to come away with some concrete activities that I can then start promoting on their behalf. This will likely include, in my opinion, building more wells/cisterns, latrines, raising funds for desperately needed medicines and oral rehydration therapy. We shall see!

I'll let you know when I've posted new info on the site. And btw--if anyone has a better name than "Haiti Medical", that would be great. We don't have an 'organization'. That name is really just a descriptor for the site itself.

My trip:

Friday--leave from Dulles with Pharah. She's the little girl with the enlarged head that Victor carried back with him on our January trip. She's ready to go back to her mom!
I'll meet up with Lynda Varner and her team (Halos Medical Mission) and visit their clinic. They will have spent some time up at Wings of Hope. She has been very gracious in finding meds for Wings of Hope (i.e. anti-seizure and deworming meds)

Saturday--meet Anderson (!), Odelin and his two friends at the airport to fly out to Jeremie. We'll then take a boat from Jeremie to Pestel (weather-permitting). In Pestel we'll meet up with Sister Fidelis who will introduce us to a few people. We may arrive in time for market which is held on Saturdays!

Sunday--After church we'll meet with a development group Sister Fidelis has been mentoring called Christians Progress Together. These are representatives from nearby villages. We'll get their thoughts on where we should go, and then lay out for them some of our plans and thoughts as well. Then, around 1pm, we'll be meeting with about 25 of the local leaders (including the Mayor, teachers, 'district' representatives') to have a town-hall type of meeting to discuss their overarching concerns for their people, and share with them some of our ideas.

Monday--we'll meet the school children and parents associated with Odelin's school in Pestel. I'll be giving them some drawings that kids did at our church's VBS recently. We'll then travel up in to the mountains to visit some communities.

Tuesday and Wednesday--we'll travel around to different communities (including some of the farther places) to meet-and-greet as well as to do a basic environmental survey of the area (i.e where are their water supplies, and how do they get the water back to their homes? How close are their latrines? Where do they put their garbage? How do they cook their food? etc). I'll be keeping track of GPS coordinates for some of this data to help with planning. We'll also be visiting two buildings that are currently being renovated for use as clinics.

Thursday--back to Jeremie-->then to PAP.

Friday--I'll spend the day at Wings of Hope clinic where I'll see some of the kids and see how well the home-grown electronic health record works from Haiti (it works fine here but... :)

Saturday--home again.

So there you have it!