Saturday, January 30, 2010

Update from one of my friends

Hi everyone,
This is from one of my friends, Gordon Zubrod.  Gordy and I went to medical school together and were room-mates for a year.  Gordy is now on the faculty at York Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program--where I did my residency!

Gordy felt God calling him to take time off work and go to Haiti.  He just got down there yesterday, I believe, and he is heading out to the big island that sits in front of PAP (Gonave).

We had a smooth departure and journey yesterday.  Left from Fort Pierce, Florida on one of the jets that Hendrick Motorsports (the owner of many of the big Nascar drivers) had lent to MFI to use in Haiti relief around 8:30 AM, stopped to refuel in the Bahamas and then continued on to Haiti.  Arrived around 11:30 and had no problems through customs and immigration.  We traveled north about an hour to our host Ben's house.  This area was not the hardest hit and I was surprised to see how life seemed to be returning to a normal routine--exchanged money, filled up gas at the gas station, drove by road pavers back to work on the roads.  Our Haitian driver pointed out the mass grave sites as we drove.  We did see piles of rubble that had been moved to the side of the roads in many places.  Had a quiet evening planning out our steps from here. 

Today we will head up to a local pastor and his church.  They have a dispensary there and apparently there are a number of refugees that have been staying there.  This afternoon we will hitch a ride with some Wesleyan missionaries that are sailing over to the island of LaGonave.  They have asked our host, Ben, to help them with negotiating with the military and relief organizations about getting food to the island.  7,000 refugees per day are leaving Port au Prince and taking the ferry over to the island.  The island has little capacity for food production and is largely dependent on shipments from Port au Prince which have stopped.  The food shortage is the most critical problem the island is facing.  Please pray for wisdom and relief to this situation.  We would also like to visit the churches on the island to see how people are doing.  Finally there is a Wesleyan hospital there we plan to visit and have some antibiotics and wound care supplies to give them.  We will be there for 3 nights.  I'm not sure what communication we will have from there.

Thank you for your prayers!

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UN presence pre-earthquake

I just came across this site which shows which UN countries were part of the peacekeeping process in Haiti (and where they were located) prior to the earthquake:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Haiti update

Good morning,

We spoke with Anderson yesterday and he sounds down, as you can tell by the email I forwarded.  He is praying, reading his Bible.  The days turn from day to night, day to night, day to night...and that's about the extent of it right now for him.

We spoke to Nakesha's parents again and they are doing well.  Their bakery was undamaged, but is not up-and-running yet.   They too, like most, sleep outside even though their house is ok.  

There is a group of Hershey volunteer surgeons working with Operation Smile and Partners in Health down in Haiti.  They keep a great blog:
They mention that they felt some aftershocks last night.

I read a report from USAID about the issue of food in Haiti.  Obviously the needs are great now, but they will be great in the future.  
The report includes a map that shows an estimated 30,000 people have migrated out to the Department of the Grande Anse--which is where Jeremie and Pestel are.   A Department is akin to our State.  But since Haiti is about the size of Maryland, think of it more like a county in terms of size and the impact that 30,000 people would have.  
"This movement is expected to exert additional pressure on available food and environmental resources (e.g., firewood)..."    The report mentions, however, that they believe the migration back to PAP will occur about 3 months after the earthquake.


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Monday, January 25, 2010

Fwd: HI

I just received this email from Anderson.  If you know Anderson (or even if you don't!) it might be nice to send him an email with some encouragement.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Anderson Thelusma <>
Date: Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 4:18 PM
Subject: HI
To: Benjamin Fredrick <>

Hello Ben,
 How is it going for u? I am still so stresfull even after the earthquake so it's a little bit hard for me being worryless. I fell like the earth doesn't wanna hold us anymore... That's mad.
Hope u will keep praying for me my man.
Have a good night
God bless ya

Hotmail: Free, trusted and rich email service. Get it now.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

A few updates

We FINALLY spoke with Esaia this morning!!   He is the father of Nakesha.  I have stayed at his house in PAP several times on my recent trips, and he is a most upbeat, wonderful guy who will bend over backwards for you.   If I ever make a request, he ALWAYS says, "Pa gen problem."  It's no problem.  
At first he didn't know who was calling, but when he understand that it was "Ben and Jen" he got SO excited!   It was great--but then we couldn't hardly understand a single word because he talked so fast in Creole.  :)    But we did hear from him that the whole family and their house is ok.   We are so glad for them!  I'm eager to see everyone again soon.

We've tried several times to call Anderson but the phone just rings.  

Here's a video from Hearts about St. Joseph's and Wings of Hope:

Aren't you amazed at the videos of people being rescued, even today?  And some of them, when they escape, praise God by singing songs.  For many their faith in God is so embedded that it holds them fast through the darkest of valleys.  

Here is a good story about how Puerto Rico is helping Haiti.  I'm really impressed:


Friday, January 22, 2010

Update on Wings of Hope and St. Joe's

I just read this update:   The Boys from St. Joseph's will be moving to Trinity House (in Jacmel)

From Facebook post:

PRAISE GOD FROM WHO ALL BLESSINGS FLOW! We have a new house for Wings! Not the building next door, but an almost new home up the road about 5-10 minutes. Got a great deal for a year's rent. We will move in enough to sleep tonight and then start making it a home tomorrow.

I received word that Sisters Fidelis and Jo went to Port-au-Prince to help out at Father Rick's hospital.  He was featured recently in an ABC news spot:
Warning:   not an easy video to watch in parts.
This is Father Rick's hospital website:

Also, Penn State Hershey now has a webpage for Haiti

This past Wednesday the kids at our church put on an indoor soccer match to raise money for Haiti.  It was probably a 20 minute match or so, and they raised $1000!   
What is fantastic is that the idea came from one of the young boys and he announced it to the Church last Sunday.

I spoke to the Kiwanis group on Tuesday, and it went very well.  Always a great encouragement to me!  Also, I met a gentleman who "happens" to be the district director for Kiwanis.  He wants to meet with me to discuss applying for a grant with Kiwanis International for Pestel!  

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Volunteers heading for Haiti

As mentioned in the Patriot News, a group of volunteers are heading to Haiti over the next couple of days to provide surgeries. They've collected their supplies, gotten their vaccinations, started the anti-malarial pills (chloroquine), and are going to load up the truck tomorrow. The needs in Haiti are tremendous and these folks have done a wonderful job, working with Operation Smile and Partners in Health.

It is encouraging to see top-notch international organizations such as Op Smile and PIH collaborating in this unique way. Operation Smile will provide the surgical 'theater' and supplies, and PIH will provide the in-country expertise and logistics.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Email from a friend

Hi everyone,
Please read over this email from one of our friends, Deneen.  She adopted a young boy from Haiti a couple of years ago, and passed along this note to me today:
Deneen--this will automatically post to the blog.   I hope this can be of some help.

Hi Ben,


Hope you can help...  If you have been watching CNN you might have heard about Jamie and Ali from Pittsburgh who are in Haiti with 25 orphans trying to get them home.  See link below.


Actually there are 3 BRESMA houses and the total number of kids was 100 but has grown to 150.  This is the orphanage where my son lived for almost 2 years.  Jamie and Ali helped me get Wisler home.  We are doing a fundraiser for the orphange.  Would you please consider posting this informaiton about our fundraiser on your blog and sharing it with anyone you know who might be interested in helping Haiti...


When: Saturday Jan 23rd from 10:00am to Noon

Where: Olympic Skating Center - 60 E Shady Lane Enola PA

Donation: $5 please (100% to BRESMA) and skate rental


Final request - I am looking for Wisler's brother Mesi.  He is 27 months old and lives in Cite Soliel.  Do you have any thoughts on how I might go about finding him?  Do you have any contacts?  At this point I would like to know they are ok and if they need anything.  Eventually if Mesi is placed for adoption I would like to adopt him.  Not sure if you are on Facebook but I have more info there along with pictures.


Any help you can give me would be great.




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Monday Update--Situation worsening

Two reports today, one from USAID and the other from the Red Cross, highlight the worsening situation in Port-Au-Prince.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Further details

Here are some notes from Sister Fidelis who is out in Pestel:

The people in Pestel are still in shock.  Many still do not know the status of relatives living in PAP.  Almost everyone in Pestel has relatives in PAP, and many have sent children there.  One of the boat captains (a fellow whose boat I used in the past) went from Pestel to PAP today to pick up people and bring them back to Pestel.  
There is not much fuel in Pestel at this point.  It was being sold in PAP for about $12.50 per gallon.  
A few houses in the mountain villages were damaged in the quake.  There were actually tremors reported throughout the area back in November.
Father Parnell (one of two priests in Pestel) said that just after the earthquake the sea receded from the wharf in Pestel so that people could walk on dry land.  As far as I know, the wharf always has several feet of water, so I should think that would have seemed ominous.
Prayer services are being held frequently at the church, and the attendance is large.  She asks that we continue to pray for them, and I told her that we would.

From Anderson:
He was in PAP at the time of the earthquake at a friend's house.  "I knew what it was (so I wasn't scared at first) but didn't know it was that big.  It was a BIG one!"  
His friends and family are all safe.  His house in PAP sustained some damage, but not bad.   He is planning to stay out in the countryside for some time where it is relatively safe, and they have access to food.
He had contacted Dany & Esaia--their family is safe.  
Alix, the guy I use as a translator, is safe.
We all believe Nelson is safe because he was out in Pestel.

HIS Home for Children is an orphanage that I've visited a couple of times.  Chris and Hal (wonderful people!) are fine and I believe all the children are fine, but their orphanage sustained damages.  
I sent a photo of St. Joseph's Home for Boys.  All those boys and their leaders are now up at another orphanage--Wings of Hope.   Wings of Hope also sustained significant damages, and from the description and the photos, a huge part of the house is in jeopardy.  

I've encouraged Anderson and Sister Fidelis to stay put, given how things are developing.  They are both aware that the prison was affected so that about 4000 prisoners are now out in the city.  Fidelis mentioned that some of the prisoners will be political prisoners, but certainly the others could make a difficult situation even worse.   I think they are both planning to stay where they are, which is a VERY good idea.

Pestel will likely see an influx of people, and perhaps especially kids.  

At this point they want me to continue with the plans for medications and household surveys.  And at this point I am still planning to return to Haiti in early March.  The main question is whether I will be able to fly out to Jeremie or not, but we'll just take it as it comes.



This is basically it:    we have now been able to confirm the safety of EVERYONE we have been trying to reach!!!

Spoke with Sister Fidelis this evening.  She and Sister Jo are in Pestel.   More on this conversation later!!
Spoke with Anderson--he and his whole family are safe!  They are no longer in Port-au-Prince.  They are out in the countryside with family, and he has food and water for now.  

Dany, Nakysha, and family--Anderson spoke with them and they are all well!   All are safe!  This is the wonderful family that I have stayed with on the past couple of trips, and we hosted Dany and Nakesha for Nakesha's heart surgery.  We are SO relieved to hear this!!   We haven't been able to get in touch with them

The folks at 3 orphanages are all safe, despite serious damage to the buildings.  I'm attaching a photo of St. Joseph's Home for Boys.  It was a 4 story building.  

If you have been praying, you are witnessing a most wonderful answer to prayer!  

I will write more later, but right now I'm actually feeling both relief and exhaustion.


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For those of us looking to do something of good today for Haiti, please consider signing this online petition:

This is a petition to Timothy Geitner, Treasury Secretary, to act on behalf of Haiti to urge cancellation of Haiti's debt by creditors (the US already canceled the debt owed to Haiti in September 2009 after Haiti had met a number of development milestones.  Haiti currently owes nearly $1 billion to other nations).   Haiti was already on-track for this anyway, and I believe the entire debt was likely to be forgiven this year with other nations following the US lead.  

The bigger point, I believe, is that during this disaster relief, the petition requests aid be given to Haiti in the form of GRANTS (free money) and not loans (interest-bearing money).   Loans would immediately place them back in debt which amounts to money being used to pay off interest (not even the principal because they are so poor) to other countries.  The money they would spend on loan repayment should be used instead to build their infrastructure (hospitals, schools, roads, electricity, and so forth).

There is a fine-line between accountability and mercy sometimes.  In Haiti's case, however, they were already on-track to be debt-free (through cancellation) so that they could internally use the money instead of  sending it overseas to make interest payments.  This was an act of mercy by the US and certain others.  It was also due to the hard work of Haitians to meet a series of developmental milestones in their economy, governance, and so forth.       

We should urge nations to continue to act mercifully at this point and provide grants, not loans.

Thanks to Andrea for passing this along.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Update from Elias

All of Elias' siblings are safe!!   This is truly wonderful news! 
Thanks to all for your prayers

Thursday, January 14, 2010

From Elias

This is from Elias:

I can confirm that one of my immediate sisters is alive and well . . .Four brothers to hear from.
Thanks for your help.

Please continue to pray as there is much to pray about.  God answers prayers.  May our hearts be changed to be more like His own.
Always hoping, always persevering, never failing....


Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2010 12:00:51 -0500
Subject: Haiti updates

Hi all,

A few things to report:

First, please check out this report from Ohio:

It is a news report that remarkably includes Sisters Fidelis and Jo on the phone!!    It is well worth watching, and I am THRILLED they are safe.   It will also give you some insight into how folks in Pestel are feeling right now.

Second, I was asked by the Dean this morning to coordinate the medical center's response to the situation in Haiti.   That is a big task....but God has placed me here for this sort of thing.  I am very aware that God has provided me opportunity to be in this position, and that I must use my position wisely on behalf of Haitians.   Please pray for wisdom and insight.

Third, we have not yet heard from our friends in Port-au-Prince.   As you probably know, this gets harder and not easier....

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Anderson called!

Jen just told me that Anderson called her!!!

SUCH a huge relief.

God--be praised!


Haiti updates

Hi all,

A few things to report:

First, please check out this report from Ohio:

It is a news report that remarkably includes Sisters Fidelis and Jo on the phone!!    It is well worth watching, and I am THRILLED they are safe.   It will also give you some insight into how folks in Pestel are feeling right now.

Second, I was asked by the Dean this morning to coordinate the medical center's response to the situation in Haiti.   That is a big task....but God has placed me here for this sort of thing.  I am very aware that God has provided me opportunity to be in this position, and that I must use my position wisely on behalf of Haitians.   Please pray for wisdom and insight.

Third, we have not yet heard from our friends in Port-au-Prince.   As you probably know, this gets harder and not easier....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Hi all,
Please be in prayer for a friend, Elias, and his family.  Elias lives in Harrisburg and has been very important in helping us with the kids who've come from Haiti for heart surgery.  He has been instrumental with translating and helping the kids to feel comfortable.  I just got off the phone with him.  He has several siblings still living in Haiti and he has not heard from them yet.  Of those family members he has talked to, their houses were destroyed and they had to stay at a school last night with a bunch of other people.
Elias is going to be contacting state representatives to see if he can be helpful as a translator in Haiti.   If you have suggestions on who he might talk to to see about joining a relief effort from the state, please let me know.
We have gotten the phones to ring for Anderson and Dany Fevrier, but no answer yet. 
College students from Messiah College, about 1/2 hour from Hershey, PA  (and my alma mater) are organizing a prayer vigil tonight on  behalf of Haiti. 
Our local 27News is going to use some of Steve Miller's Port Au Prince shots durning their 11 o'clock program tonight.  Thank you Steve for your gift.
To all who are praying, writing, who have passed along thoughtful words (and poems)...our sincerest thanks.   

Please pray that the phones would begin to ring, and that people would begin to answer.

Sisters Fidelis and Jo are safe!

Just got this email--thank you SO much Sister Diana Lynn (and everyone at ST. Francis in Ohio!!!)

Dear Ben,

We received an email last night around 10:00 or so from both Fidelis and Jo that they are safe and are in Pestel with Fr. Pernell at the Rectory.  They are, or course so concerned about the Haitians and the degree of devastation and loss of lives to these beautiful people.


We were so relieved to get the news of their safety.  Our love and prayers are certainly holding the country of Haiti and all affected at this time.


Please do keep us informed as you learn of developments.


Sister Diana Lynn

We are continuing to try to reach Anderson and Dany's family.   

I received an email from Father Rick who has a new children's hospital in Port-au-Prince.  Sounds like damage was done to the new hospital, so there will be needs there as well.

One of Vanessa Carpenter's coworkers in Haiti is safe!


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Haiti earthquake

We have not yet been able to get in contact with anyone directly in Haiti.  It appears the phone lines are down.   

I learned from my friend Vanessa Carpenter (Angel Missions Haiti) that two orphanages I am connected with, St. Joseph's Home for Boys and Wings of Hope, both suffered significant damage.   She heard that St. Joe's may have collapsed.  Some of the boys were initially trapped, but I believe they all made it out safe.  One of the directors, Bill (who is a wonderful young man--he grew up in St. Joe's) was trapped on a top level and had to jump down a couple of flights onto another roof.

Wings of Hope is an orphanage for mentally and physically handicapped children.  All the children and staff are safe, but the building suffered structural damage.  All 46 of them are crowded into a dining hall on the first floor.

We have not been able to get through to Sister Fidelis and Sister Jo, Anderson, Nakesha's family...

There are great needs right now, as you've all seen on the TV/internet.  
There will be great needs in the weeks and months to come.

It will not be easy to get food and water to Wings of Hope, for example. How long can they house everyone in that small space before they venture back into the main part of the house (how do they know if it's structurally sound?).
And St. Joseph's Home--same kinds of issues.  Those are just two areas of need that I know of, and I'm certain more will come.

The needs of Haiti have been overwhelming for quite some time, well before the earthquake.  Now the needs are both dire and overwhelming.

But we must do well with what God places in our hands.   I remember looking over Port-au-Prince on my first trip, baffled at how many greatly poor people lived within my line of sight, wondering how it is possible that God can have a love for each and every one of showed me how finite and small I am.

It also showed me that I am not called to 'heal Haiti' of its woes, but rather to seek to meet the needs of those with whom God places me in contact.  These are individuals....families...villages...orphanages....all with names that I know and that you have come to know through videos and photos.

I will let you know as I learn of things.

In the meantime, if you are compelled to give you may consider something along these lines:

Red Cross--they will be an excellent resource to provide immediate relief operations.  They are a big organization that can leverage the donations in ways few others can.   

And in the weeks to come, also consider:
Hearts With Haiti--this is the organization that has developed St. Joseph's home and Wings of Hope.  They will need NEW resources to rebuild.  There would be little of the donation lost to overhead because the funds will go directly to the people in need 
Angel Missions Haiti--Vanessa's organization that seeks to meet the medical/surgical needs of people in PAP.  Dollars will hit the ground running in a couple of weeks.
Beyond Borders--another wonderful organization that I've been in contact with.  They've helped folks in Pestel in the past, and they are deeply committed to the long-haul approach to helping.

And pray.   I think we have a tendency to try to control, often things that are far outside of our control.   It may make us uncomfortable not to be able to DO anything.  And as important as money is (I am trying to say this carefully) because it is very is more important to allow ourselves to be deeply affected by this.  As we realize our weakness and inability we turn to God who is able to accomplish the impossible.   We can then respond in faith.
Giving without prayer and 'suffering with' may be the wrong first step, for ourselves and for them.

Thank you for your emails.   I will keep you posted.
And please let me know if you've learned of anything important as well.


Friday, January 8, 2010


Hi everyone,

I want to send this along to you as another unique opportunity to make a difference in an area with great needs.  This email is from my friend Charles Howard who served with his family in Uganda (through CURE Intl--a children's hospital).  He is now back in the States, and he has made the following request.  If you would like to be part of this opportunity (a GREAT way to invest!), please feel free to contact Charles directly

During our time in Uganda, we were blessed to have developed friendships
with a variety of people, one of them, Ronnie, is the subject of this

Ronnie worked as the Radiographer/CT Scan Tech (actually so much more) at
CURE Children's Hospital in Uganda. During his time of service there, it
became apparent to him that for him to realize his personal and professional
dreams that he would need to seek the opportunity of returning to medical
school. His work with children with disabilities at the hospital was a large
impetus to this vision.

For two years he worked through the various bureaucracies of the system and
was accepted at the very last minute to begin school this past fall (Oct).
Through the generosity of some other individuals, we were able to secure the
funding of his first semester of schooling and part of the second term.

We are now seeking to raise $1450 U.S. in a very short time (end of next
week) to fill the gap that was partly created by an unexpected increase in

If you think you or someone (group) you know would be interested in
assisting Ronnie in furthering his education, please let me know or you can
do one of the following:

Non-tax deductible gifts: Send a check to Charles Howard 1926 Robindale
Ave., Lancaster, PA 17601 or for Tax-deductible checks send them to CURE
International and mark on the check it is designated to Uganda and Ronnie

CURE International
701 Bosler Avenue
Lemoyne, PA 17043

We are working to establish a more concrete group of longer-term funders for
the rest of his education and if you are not interested or able to donate at
this time, I will be in touch in a few months.

If it is not an anonymous gift and you will be sending your donation
directly to CURE International, please let me know if possible, so I can
keep track of the running total.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this opportunity.

Kind Regards,

Charles Howard

Monday, January 4, 2010

A good way to start the New Year

Happy New Year!

We started collecting money from the Haiti calendars, and so far we've raised $1400!!!   Phenomenal!
That means another 12000 (twelve thousand!) kids will receive anti-parasite medications this year!   So between what the calendar is raising so far and what Variety International is giving, we have enough funds to reach 24,000 kids with anti-parasite medications in Pestel.   I had prayed that God would prosper the work of Steve's hands as he took the photos, and God has again been gracious!

Right now we have enough funds to purchase Vitamin A and Iodine doses for 12,000 kids.  As we continue to raise money, and as the medical students seek out possible medication donations, we can potentially use the $$ slated to buy medications for other needs   And as you know, there is no shortage of needs.

Beyond that, the medical students have been great to work with.  They are eager, innovative, and hard-working.  It's a great gift to have them on-board.

I'll be talking to the Haiti Rep for Mennonite Central Cmte tomorrow by Skype (He's in Port-au-Prince and was recently out to the Pestel-area, of all places!) to see if there is possibility of collaboration.  That's something to pray about.  

A group near Philly is eager to become involved as well.  My sense is that they bring with them talents and abilities and energy.  I trust there will be more to report as the days roll by.   :)

We're going to move forward in 2010 by piloting a solar fruit dryer.  My friend Johnny Zook will be developing a prototype here in the US, and once we work out a lot of logistics, we'll give it a try down in Pestel to see if it can become something economically helpful to them.  Here's some info on the one we're exploring:

I cannot believe that my next trip to Haiti is only two months away!   How did THAT happen?!?   I'm thrilled that one of my best friends, Jon Eager, will be going down with me in early March!   Jon and his family are home on furlough from Tanzania right now where he serves as a medical missionary with Africa Inland Mission.  Jon and I went to medical school together, and then residency at York Hospital where we were co-Chief Residents.  

God is answering prayers; He is challenging people and moving in hearts; He is revealing Himself through His good plans, showing us all that He is Good and Trustworthy.  
Let us be very confident and convinced of this:  God is good and trustworthy.

Happy New Year!