Saturday, October 30, 2010

Haiti and cholera + rain

Two important hazards right now for Haiti:

1. Cholera.  

 The Ministry of Health has confirmed 4,714 hospitalized cases and 330 deaths from cholera.

• UNICEF is procuring 600,000 bars of soap from within Haiti, and has placed international orders for 100,000,000 water purification tablets for delivery within the next week.

2.  Hurricane Tomas

This hurricane is expected to be sweeping up along the south side of Haiti sometime around Tuesday/Wednesday of this week.  The projected paths include Haiti, though.  

We'll of course be keeping an eye on it as it relates to our trip this Thursday, but the bigger concern is for the people still living in tents in PAP, and for those who are trying to make strong headway against cholera.  


Haiti Blog

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some more news

Hi everyone,

Currently we have enough funds in the Slate Hill Church account (thank you to all who have given!!) to do the following:

$6500 School support--included in this is some funds to be able to expand one of the schools to 9th grade.  I would LOVE to see a high school for Pestel (talented kids go to cities...and stay)
$300        Thomas Elie school floor--this will allow the school to finish off the floor of one of the schoolrooms
$600         Alfred Bonhomme--support for Alfred's kids to go to school (4 kids, one now in high school)
$700         Health vouchers
$750         Abriko Clinic (new clinic in the mountains that just opened up and needs some supplies)   You may remember that the village of Abriko built their own clinic AND school over the past year by receiving a grant.  I have been VERY impressed with this particular village, ever since my first visit to Pestel.  
$500         Play therapy supplies for kids with post-traumatic stress disorder after the earthquake.  Sister Jo is a licensed therapist and this is an excellent opportunity for her to use her skills to help the kids in Pestel who migrated in from PAP after the earthquake.
$1800 Sewing school--this is a new venture to provide space for young women to learn skills in sewing

How exciting is that?!?!   I'm personally thrilled.  Imagine what good will be done through each of those gifts.  Try attaching your imagination to God's promises (as opposed, for example, to concerns for the future) and you get some really incredible possibilities.  Imagine these good gifts (which come from God through us) being used to help someone who is ill...a child who is hurting after the earthquake...women learning to sew...children going to school for the first time...

This is joyful news and we know that God is honored/praised/thought very highly of    through it.

The United Nations office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said Sunday that 254 people have died, while 3,015 cases of cholera have been reported.

Read more:

From what I reading the infection appears to be leveling off.   
Again, cholera is indicative of widespread poverty.  With a huge # of people migrating out of PAP after the earthquake, the other areas have absorbed the impact.  But obviously not well.  More mouths to feed (in high-malnutrition areas), more people crammed into small houses and rooms.

It is telling that Haiti has not had an outbreak of cholera in many decades (one place indicated that it's been a century).  

Finally, I visited a most unique farm in Gettysburg on Saturday with two friends--Johnny Zook and Doug Stauffer.  We learned a lot of really important lessons that we believe can be adapted to help small farmers in Pestel.  The way forward for agricultural purposes will very likely need to include livestock (cows, goats, etc) and chickens    [I had to look up whether chickens were considered livestock or not, and apparently they can be, but I guess they're often put under 'poultry'].  



Friday, October 22, 2010

Two notes

First, I received a quick email from Rebecca to say that Water Missions International was sending water purification units up to St. Marc!!!  This is the same group that is going to install a water treatment unit for Pestel.  
Unfortunately the official death toll is now at 135.  Please continue to pray.  Some may be called to give as a faithful response to God's leading.  For those interested in giving I would recommend 

Second, I want to share this really awesome story with you from Vanessa Carpenter.  Vanessa was my guide on my first trip to Haiti several years ago, and her organization was responsible for bringing the kids from Haiti to Hershey for heart surgery.   She has been a great encouragement to me and she has witnessed God doing extraordinary things for the people of Haiti:

God at work:
Vanessa Mesidor's case was referred to me a year ago May 2009.  When we drove up the mountain to see her in the baptist mission hospital her doctors there and the US doctors with me said she only had a month to live.  As we know (We know nothing and God has a plan)  He kept her alive until we could get all of the proper paperwork and doctors to help her lined up.  Oct. 2 2010, we flew into Memphis.  Oct. 3 we went to church and everyone prayed for Vanessa and her upcoming surgery.  Monday we went in for our pre surgery work up and meeting.  Only to be told by the head of Cardiology that Vanessa was to ill for surgery.  They could not operate on her.  
We were very upset the host mom wanted to ask for a second opinion but I said no we had to abide by their decision.   I could not take Vanessa home right away so I had the host mom take me to the airport so I could go to Virginia for a few days before I needed to be in Kentucky, Wisconsin and Chicago.  I got a ticket and went to the gate.  Cried and prayed God this is in your hands.  I am sorry I did not get Vanessa here soon enough.  But to you "all be the Glory".  After two hours of waiting and it was almost time to board and the phone rang.   It was the Cardiologist can you please come to the Hospital tomorrow with Vanessa the two surgeons would like to see her?  I told her I am at the airport but yes we can have her there tomorrow.  She told me just take your plane have the host mom bring her in and we will conference you.   I got off the phone called my husband in Virginia.  Told him I thought I should stay he agreed.  So I canceled my flight and called the host parent to see if I could spend another night with them and we could take Vanessa to the Hospital the next day.  She was thrilled.  I told her do not get your hopes up.  It is in Gods hands.   They came back to the airport and picked me up.  Vanessa was very excited to see me (the host parents did not know enough Creole to tell her I was coming back so they waited and surprised her).   I explained that we had to go back to the doctor the next morning early.  We all went to bed.  Even this was a chore for Vanessa as she had to sleep sitting straight up.  If she laid down her heart would stop.  
On Tuesday Oct. 5 we went to the Hospital to meet with everyone.  I got to speak directly to the two surgeons.  They explained that she had only a one in 4 chance of getting off the OR table.   They did not want to shorten any of her possible time with her parents.   I explained to them that both mom and dad understood this.  That father had told me it would be  better for her to die asleep (go meet Jesus in his words) than to come back to Haiti and suffer a long prolonged painful death.  After lots of conversation, Dr. Knott-Craig said ok we will try.  Vanessa was admitted and I stayed right there with her.  At 6:30 the next morning they came for us.  We went down to pre op then back to surgery.  I was surrounded by the loving church family we had met on sunday.  We all prayed and left her in Gods hands.  Papa had asked the night before when I called to tell them yes they were going to operate the next morning, Papa asked if the Surgeon could please pray before surgery.  This request was told to the surgery team.  Before they started they all gathered in the corner and prayed for Gods will.  The entire OR Team.   Surgery started and they gave me updates every hour.  In the echo and all of the tests that they had done it only showed two heart valves not working properly.  However when they got in to her chest they found 3 not working all three needing major work.  The first they were unable to repair so they replaced it.  The second they repaired to the best of their ability, but it was only working at about 50 percent.  I was told that it needed to also be replaced but that the odd of living through two heart valve replacements were to high for them to do it now.  Then on to the third valve, it did not look good but they were going to see what they could do.  The next update was that the third valve they were able to repair and it was not leaking.  Working 100%.  Vanessa was headed to recovery.  
When Dr. Knott-Craig came out to speak with me he was very tired.  It had been a very long and hard surgery.  He stated that even though she made it through the surgery she had 72 hours that would be critical "we are not by no means out of the woods yet".  I cried thanked him and continued to pray.  Seeing Vanessa hooked up to all of the machines was a wonderful sight.  They had to leave her on the vent longer than usual but just 6 hours after surgery they did another ultrasound of the heart and found that it was working even better than it had right after surgery.  By the mornings Ultrasound it showed even more improvement.  By the afternoon everyone in the VC-ICU were amazed at how well she was doing.  They had said right after surgery to expect 1 week in VC-ICU and at least another week or more on the Cardiac unit for another week or more.  
Well Vanessa was taken to the regular Cardiac floor on Sunday just 4 days in VC-ICU (she could have been moved if they had a bed the day before) then just 3 days on the floor, she was well enough to go home to her host family.  TO GOD BE THE GLORY.  
Vanessa in one week from being operated on walked out of the hospital and is doing great.  She continues to get healthier and stronger each day, with each breath she takes.  
And yes I am in tears.  Just trying to write all of this is so hard on me.   God is so Good and I am so blessed to be a part of these children's lives.  
The Doctors are all blown away, her heart is working at Normal sinus rhythm, there is NO leakage around the valves, she has earned the nickname of "The Miracle Child"
Vanessa has gained 21 pounds in just two weeks.  Now that her heart does not have to work so hard her entire body can heal gain weight.  
Nurses and Doctors from around the hospital stopped in to see her, how she is doing.  
Thanks to everyone how has helped get Vanessa here and her care.  If I tried to write the list I would forget someone,  Please thank you, thank you, thank you all who have helped save this wonderful little girl.   Thank you to my family who put up with me.   I love you all.  

Vanessa A. Carpenter
Angel Missions Haiti - Director 
home 540-380-4588
Cell   540-580-9721
Answering service 1-800-409-7948

Haiti Blog

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pray for St. Marc, Haiti

News of a diarrheal epidemic has been released today.  The area is northwest Haiti near a city called St. Marc.  

This is a link to the news item:

So far they've confirmed 54 dead, but the number is likely higher.  The case-fatality rate appears to be almost 10%....which means:   out of every 10 people that get the infection, 1 is very likely to die.  That's a very disturbing number.

They are thinking this is either cholera or typhoid, but they haven't identified it yet.

We do not see cholera or typhoid here because these are diseases of dire poverty.  I could get into more detail, but for those interested it would be best to let you read about it on your own.

A local physician in Hershey was raised in St. Marc and has been supporting schools in St. Marc for decades.  Please pray for Dr. Mortel and those who care greatly about his work in St. Marc.

Please pray for the people in St. Marc and their families, for those who are working on their behalf with little-or-no resources, and for Aid organizations that can mobilize quickly with IV fluids to resuscitate people.

If it is cholera, it is deadly primarily because the people do not have access to IV fluids.  With IV fluids people do not die.  It's essentially that basic.  


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CharRocket Stove

Hi All,

Here is a quick video that shows Johnny's CharRocket stove.  It doesn't have any words, but hopefully you'll get the point.   

The general gist of it:
1.  it uses 'junk' wood or dried out bamboo (which they have in Pestel) as fuel.  Don't need to cut down trees...
2.  the temperature gets up to 500+ degrees very quickly.
3.  It's HIGHLY efficient
4.  It produces charcoal WHILE it cooks your meal.  The charcoal can be turned into briquettes....which can then be used for another meal or to be sold at market.   The charcoal is made also from 'throw away' stuff--in this video he used corn husks, for example.  
5.  It's safer.   Kids get severe burns using the 'open fire pit' method.  

We anticipate bringing this down to Haiti in March.  


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mid-October Update

Why not do a mid-October update!??!

The 2011 Haiti calendars just came off the press Thursday!   This is a fund-raiser, as you probably recall, to purchase supplies and medications for the Child Health Campaigns for Pestel.  
Quite literally:  every $3 raised last year helped one more kid.  I know the low cost seems ridiculous.  The challenge, though, is in helping 100 kids ($300) or 1000 ($3000) or 10,000 ($30,000).  So you see, every $3 gift helps one more child, and helps us to reach the 12,000+ kids in Pestel.   [Many thanks to Linda Chambers for leading this fundraiser!!!]

My meeting with the engineering firm in Harrisburg went very well.  The effort is focused on northern Haiti, which is quite distinct and geographically removed from Pestel.  But I think really good things can happen through this firm!!  And I'm contacting faculty at Penn State's main campus to try to get them involved.   While my efforts are clearly focused on Pestel, I have been mindful that one of the reasons God brought me to Penn State Hershey and has shown me favor in the position of Global Health Center director is to, among others, pull in the Penn State resources for the betterment of the people of Haiti.   Pretty great to see this moving forward!!!

I just received a most encouraging email from Michael of St. Joseph's/Wings of Hope/Trinity House.   You'll recall that St. Joseph's was leveled (quite literally--all 5 floors collapsed) during the earthquake, and Wings of Hope was condemned.  His email focused on Trinity House (down in Jacmel).  Quite interestingly, they are now working with Water Missions International to establish a water purification system for Trinity House as well as the surrounding poor people.  This is the same group that is going to set-up a water purification system in Pestel!!  Michael and his 'family' have started up a bakery and coffee-roasting business in Jacmel to help support the schools and orphanages.   

For various reasons we'll need to put the work in Pestel on hold from from December thru February.  That means the workers will be without work for those 3 months.  Strategically I know this makes sense.  But 'culture eats strategy for lunch', so I'd ask you to pray that the workers and Haitian physician have patience with this process, which is certainly a work-in-progress.

My next trip is in November.  I'll likely be going back in early March with a couple of men from my church.  We had a really great time last Sunday showcasing Johnny's "CharRocket" stove and new solar fruit drier.  We're eager to get these innovations down to Pestel to see how they use them!!  That'll probably happen in early March.  

We've had several more gifts lately--some giving to support a classroom or to the sewing programs or wherever-it-is-most-needed.  Here's one that's particularly special:  a young boy in our church named Ben recently had a birthday party.  For his party he asked for gifts FOR the kids of Pestel.  Balls and toys and jump ropes and sports items.  :)

"Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord."


Sunday, October 10, 2010

October Update from Fidelis

Hi all,

Some neat news here and some updates....and some suggestions for giving 

I spoke with Sister Fidelis this morning.  She and Sister Jo are doing well and were heading up the mountains in Pestel today until we arrive in early November.  

For the past couple of years "we" (meaning, a family in our church) have been sponsoring 4 children (Alfred's kids) in Pestel through school.  The oldest, Jessica, recently took the national exam as she finished up 6th grade.  She passed!  Beyond that, she also applied to a specific high school in Port-au-Prince which required her to take another entrance exam.  She passed that as well and was accepted into the school!  This is a true highlight for us because without the financial support Jessica (and her siblings) would not have continued in school because their father (Alfred) was severely burned on the job, thus disabling him.  I've attached a photo of the 4 kids.

There is no high school opportunity in Pestel so those who succeed must then go to the city, which reduces their chances of returning to the rural areas.   A high school will need to be started in Pestel at some point.   There is a trade school, and we hope for a possible agricultural training center.  

With current funds in the account from folks like yourself we will be doing the following:
1.  $3555  will go to support 14 teachers throughout Pestel for this school year.  That will impact about 300 kids!!
2.  We will use money to fix the floor in one of the schoolrooms in the village of Thomas Elie (see photo).  This is the same place that we were able to hep with the school benches.  The way the floor is currently they have not been able to use it.
3.  We will be purchasing several more Chateau Deaus (water catchment system through Dr. John Leininger's organization).  We just installed 6 of them.  I believe we can set up another 4 ($1000 a piece).  The ones we had installed last year are still working quite well.  

4.  Some money will be going to help with medical vouchers and medical emergency needs

I will offer some specific giving opportunities that Sister Fidelis mentioned.  If any of these particularly are items that you would like to support, just let me know:

Copy Machine--any copies have to be done at the nearest city (Jeremie) which is about 3-4 hours away.  Teachers have to copy sheets by hand, for example.  This would benefit the school primarily.   Small fees could be charged to others as a way to provide revenue for the school (i.e. purchase replacement parts etc).

($750)  Diagnostic tools and equipment for the new medical clinic in the village in Abriko.  This would include some things like chairs, tables

($500)   Play therapy in school for post-traumatic stress.  Sister Jo is a registered therapist and uses art therapy as a way to bring about healing.  Some of the children in the area are from PAP and were traumatized by the earthquake.  I think this is a fantastic way to utilize the gifts God has given Sister Jo.  She would purchase materials with the funds

($1000)  Lease space in town for a sewing school.  I believe an Eagle Scouts project in Toledo Ohio was able to secure 17 working sewing machines which should be arriving in Haiti fairly soon.  This would provide an important trade for Pestel.

($1000)  Lease space in the mountains for a sewing center.  The young women would be trained down in town, but they would work up in the mountains.  The idea is to produce goods that would be sold in the US.  Right now they are planning to work with a parish in Toledo Ohio.

($1000)  Support for a classroom.   Tuition costs about $50US per child per year.   $50 x 20 = $1000


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Busy week ahead

I know you don't need a blow-by-blow account of my life, but there are some really interesting opportunities this week I want to let you know about:

Monday night--I'll be returning to Messiah College to speak to the Pre-Medical group. That's always a lot of fun!

Wednesday morning--I'm meeting with an eclectic group in Harrisburg to discuss how an engineering firm might become involved in helping Haiti in some fashion.  The group includes a lot of engineers as well as a local Haitian American lawyer, folks who are connected to the UN and USAID.   I'm looking forward to this!

Thursday morning--I've been invited to participate in a teleconference with a group of people in Iowa to discuss the possibilities of having some of the largest food producers involvement in helping Pestel develop an agriculture-to-nutrition initiative.   :)    
I'll let you know how things go after Thursday, but needless to say, I'm quite jazzed about this meeting.  The way out of the deep mire of malnutrition is, in my opinion, through building up the region's agriculture--so that they can produce their own food, feed their kids with locally grown food, and generate new income for their local economies.  This can then (hopefully) spill over to further health and education and infrastructure needs.

Sunday (next week)--we'll be participating in our church's Mission Sunday.  We'll be showcasing Johnny's CharRocket stove:   an innovation that is designed for Pestel.  The stove is very low-tech, VERY efficient (it can run on dried leaves and dried bamboo, for example), and produces charcoal which can be formed into charcoal briquettes. Each use of the stove produces enough briquettes to cook another meal.  I will try to send out a video soon (I worked on it yesterday but had trouble uploading it to Youtube).

I greatly value the "big" meetings and the "small" meetings.  My perspective is that both are opportunities to sow seed for God's kingdom.  Some plant, some water, but God causes the growth.  

AND the really exciting thing is that we may have no idea whatever of the harvest.  But investing in God's kingdom is going to yield returns far greater than anything we can generate on our own.  And this is pleasing to God.

THAT'S what gets me up in the morning


Let our work do this:  reflect well on God.

"Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and praise your Father in heaven."

Happy Sunday morning!