Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Funday!

Hello! Today was our last full day here in Haiti.

We started the day with church service at Grace Village with all the kids. While the service was mostly in Creole, there were many moments where I found myself lifted, and then lost in the sound of Fanfan’s voice or the children’s song.

From Grace Village we headed into down town Port-au-Prince. It is so striking the number of buildings that remain significantly damaged from the earthquake, and even more striking that many of them are still being used for work or living. The town was so busy with vendors and people and animals moving about…So strange that some of the sites here have become common for me to see including tent towns and huge trash piles in the street…I will miss Haiti when I leave.

SO, it was with mixed emotions that our day came to an end…tomorrow we head home. I feel unsure of completely how this trip has changed me only certain that it has. ~Rachel

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today brought the entire team to St. Joseph’s for the Wound Clinic and Dispensary.  Several of us drove with the Sister’s to the clinic location and while en route, prayed the rosary.  This was a bit unexpected but an interesting experience.  The wound clinic was a little overwhelming for us “newbies” but The Sisters and an experienced volunteer were informative and made sure we knew what to do to help. We thought it was amazing that most of the patients had been coming for wound care for many years, one man for 10 years, and new exactly what wound care they needed and how to perform it- we pretty much just let them tell us how to dress their wounds; patients usually know best! The wounds were shockingly extensive, and we felt terrible when our care caused pain. The patients never companied or reacted negatively however; they bravely endured the pain and were extremely thankful.  The people of Haiti continue to impress us with their spirit! We were able to leave most of our remaining wound care supplies with the Wound Clinic before we left. 

The rest of the team helped in the dispensary distributing much needed medications. The team gave out “handfuls of pills” and they quickly treated the massive amounts of people for free.  The Sisters were amazing and the team just loved working with them.  We cannot say enough about how wonderful the Sisters are and what a huge asset they are for Haitian people.

After a brief lunch in the Tap Tap, we headed to Grace Village for a visit with the kids and the nurses did assessments of some elderly patients from Titanyen. We saw 5 elderly at Grace Village and visited 2 elderly in their homes for health assessments.  We were able to assess their needs and just be someone to listen to them for a little while. Visiting the elderly in their strikingly modest homes was extra special for us and let them know we care. For a few team members, it was our first experience in a tent home and we were struck by the simplicity. It warmed our hearts to know that the immobile elderly are checked on almost every day.  After a few more tight hugs from the kids, we headed back to the guest house for dinner.  Another day brought us very rewarding work and once again, we are exhausted and content. God blessed us once again.

PS- We have a little Gecko that visits us every evening by clinging onto our family room window. We have named him Stripey Jr. I wonder if he’ll visit them next team as well.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tap Tap Klinik in Titanyen

Yesterday, we couldn’t bring ourselves to blog – the exhausting drive to and from Reiser Heights was very rough and we were all too tired! SORRY!

Today brought us to Titanyen and Grace Village. For the new members of the team, myself included, it was our first look at Grace Village and we were AMAZED! This place is absolutely beautiful from the breath taking view of the hills below and the sea to the blues and purples of the dormitories and other buildings. It was obvious that every detail was carefully thought about and built with love. The children were all in school so many of us team members swung on the swings! It was super fun even for us “grown ups”

We set up a clinic in the back of the Tap Tap and at first were a little worried that it would be a slow day. BOY, we had nothing to worry about! I’ve learned that word spreads fast in Haiti and in no time, we had a huge line. We organized into two teams (The Fungicides and The Wound Warriors) and formed two lines plus a station for washing and treating scalp infections. One member even gave the elderly massages. We saw people with a wide variety of complaints, handed out Tylenol, Ibuprofen, topical creams including large amounts of muscle rubs and vitamins to almost every person including adults. We also saw a few people we couldn’t help – one man with very obvious symptoms of Diabetes and several people with hypertension that we had no medicine to treat with. They promised to seek out a doctor if they we able.  Even with the limitations of our Tap Tap clinic, I think our most valuable treatments were love, compassion, understanding and someone to listen even if it was for just one minute. We have conservatively estimated treating about 300 people in Titanyen!!!

After the clinic wrapped up, we headed back to Grace Village for a quick visit. The children were waiting for us and rushed to hug us as soon as we exited the Tap Tap. We hugged them all up as much as we could, played with them on the playground, and talked to them about school. I was instantly in love with Grace Village.  What an amazing place for children to grow up!

We ended the day with another first aid station at the tent city just down the street from the guest house. We were only able to stay an hour before dark, but we saw many people, dressed some wounds, and washed and treated some infected scalps.  

We experienced another day packed full helping the Haitian people and God provided guidance to our medical team again today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day Two

Day two in Haiti has come and gone and as I reflect back on the day I keeping thinking of a quote I noticed on a rock in the guesthouse, "Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever. It describes our day at the home of the sick and dying perfectly. It is hard to walk away after placing an infant or child back in their crib, knowing that they may not survive through the night. Their cries for love and attention are not easily forgotten; their smiles and laughter seared into your heart and mind. It amazes me to watch them laugh and smile even though most could barely hold their head up or lift their arm because they are so weak from disease or malnutrition. Pardon the cliche, but laughter really is the best medicine. As always, I'm in awe of the nuns and helpers that work tirelessly to feed, change, play and treat the babies and children. I can imagine it being mentally, physically and spiritually taxing to the point of helplessness at times. Going to the home for the sick and dying for me has always been the most challenging day in Haiti, but always my favorite.

After dinner, the team decided to do an impromptu clinic out of the tap tap at one of the tent cities close by. Jean drove us to the tent city and did some much appreciated triage, translation and crowd control. Each day here has provided some critical knowledge & information on organizing and operating our "clinics". Once word spread, we had a line outside the tap tap and a crowd inside the tap tap. We treated 3-5 patients at a time and ended up treating 37 patients in 1 hour. The team as a whole was energized, encouraged and renewed by our mission. Our goal on this journey has always been to help 1 patient. Every life is precious and important and if we only touch one than we have accomplished what we set out to do. As always, God's plans abundantly exceed ours. We are blessed with any incredible team; a team who collaborates, cooperates and meshes well together. Each member has her role yet we cannot function without the group as a whole.

Tomorrow we look forward to hosting a clinic at Reiser Heights. I can't wait to see what God has planned for us!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Water truck day

Today we went with the water trucks to deliver clean water into some of the poorest parts of Haiti. The first stop some women on our team helped with the water hose & fill buckets while others played with the kids. It was great to see all of the “newbie” team members so engaged in what we did (along with the other team members who have been to the water stops before.) It was fun to see them experience the water truck for the first time as it brought back memories for most of us about our first time stepping out of the tap tap with wide eyes just looking around trying to take in as much as you could. During our 3 stops we where able to provide wound care to many people. The clinic (aka Tap Tap) proved a great spot for us to see people & provide the necessary care needed.