As I sat down to write this blog post it’s only been 2 days since I returned home from Haiti. But it’s with a heavy heart, as I am now sad that I came home. As Hurricane Matthew bears down on Haiti, I wonder how many will die or be washed away and never be seen again, or how many will be injured and not have enough people to help them. I wish I was there to do what I could to ease the suffering that will occur.
Grab a cup of coffee, this is a long one. But I think I lost some of you last time by breaking it up so here goes!!
I hope you were able to follow along on Facebook and Instagram with the pictures and videos that I posted during my trip. Hopefully they helped you to get a better sense of what I was able to do by seeing those.
My trip down went without any problems! No flight issues and Jet Blue was good to work with at a $200 savings over American Airlines. My 12th trip and never been stopped in Customs!! I thank God for protecting my medical supplies so I don't have to give them up or pay “Taxes” to the Customs guys. Let's pray for many more trips like that!
When I first arrived at Christian Light School things didn't quite look like I was planning them in my head and I was a little apprehensive and maybe even a little disappointed about how things might go. But it didn't take long before I felt like I was back in a familiar place and a place I know I have been called!
Thursday morning school started at 8 am and I had my first patient at 7:55. I thought that was a good sign. But as it turns out he was my only patient for the day. It's the rainy season and like many children they have Grip (a cough/cold/flu). We found him a mat and let him lay down in his room where he would get lots of water and 2 meals rather than send him home where he would have nothing. So again I questioned if this was going to be what I anticipated.
Sherrie, the director of Christian Light School, has been working in Haiti for 16 years. She has been through a lot and is a great source of knowledge about not only Haiti, but this journey I am on toward full-time work here. She does an amazing work in Haiti with the over 300 kids in the school. She also provides almost 4,000 meals a week to not only keep the kids healthier, but help them to be able to learn so they don't concentrate on empty stomachs.
I decided that working in a larger medical facility would be a good idea as there are many health issues in Haiti that we do not see in America. It would be a great way to learn about tropical medicine as well as build relationships and a network to assist with special needs or really sick kids as they come along. Edmond took me to several hospitals in the area. One of them is called Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs or Our Little Brothers and Sisters, also known as St. Damion’s Children’s Hospital. As it turned out this is the same hospital that I took Baby Boo Boo to during my last trip. This is one of the largest children's hospitals in Haiti. I was given an appointment Monday morning at 9 am to talk with them about volunteering once a week at their facility. I also went to Grace Hospital and will be contacting there HR director about possibly working with them as well since they are within walking distance from the school. But they do more chronic inpatient work than they do clinic or ER type things.
As it turns out it's NOT about who you know, it's about how you dress! Thursday I wore shorts and a T-shirt as I wasn't really sure what I would be doing (remember ONE patient). Friday I had planned to go out with the baby feeders into the ravine and see the littlest children. So I put on my scrubs and grabbed my stethoscope and headed down stairs. I had so many asking for help I had to make appointments. I was able to go out with the baby feeders and saw about 15 of the kids who were sick or had other issues. Many of them have low grade temps from having Grip. I saw several kids from the school when I got back and then I did a blood pressure clinic for the cooks, custodial staff, and some of the teachers. I then saw a couple of the teachers for some chronic issues they were having. I finished the day by seeing the Restavek's (child slaves) classes. I saw almost 25 of them. They had many issues but one of the biggest ones was no dental care. Many had cavities and stated their gums would bleed when they got the chance to brush their teeth, which is probably not very often. Brushing their teeth made their gums very tender since they are not used to it. Some of them had complaints that we just grabbed a Tylenol or Ibuprofen for, but that is not an option for them. It was sad how many were very hesitant to be seen because it might get them in trouble with their owner. Several had to be reassured they were safe and would not get in trouble. I look forward to working with them more to not only make them feel better, but to make them feel loved by someone as well. So in all I probably saw 75 patients on Friday!
Saturday I got to be the Biology teacher for 2 classes! Many of the kids come to school on Saturday by choice as they don’t have much to do and know how important their education is. The teacher for this class uses DVD's that are in English. He doesn't speak English very well so he has a hard time following the video and being able to answer the kid’s questions so I took question and answer time and helped them as best I could. Those classes were a long time ago for me!
Sunday I went to Quisquueya Chapel for church. Many of the people there are Americans so it was fun to see some familiar faces and talk with some new folks about what they are doing in Haiti.
Monday I went back to Our Little Brothers and Sisters for my meeting. It wasn’t as productive as I had hoped. There was a little bit of a language barrier and I am pretty sure they don’t understand my credentials. There is a big difference between the government run ambulances in Haiti and my ambulances in the US. I will continue to work on this project as I still believe it would be a great benefit for me as well as for them. I also went to 4C which is a pharmaceutical company in Haiti that is from Canada. It is where I can buy bulk medicine when I return to Haiti.
After that I had the privilege of going to Bernard Mevs to visit a friend. Dahicha is a little girl with special needs that I met at Ebenezer Glenn Orphanage 2 trips ago. She instantly had my heart wrapped around her little finger. She is not doing well and ended up in the PICU on a ventilator. She has since had surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids to improve her breathing but the last word was they were unsure if that would be enough or if she would end up needing a tracheostomy for the rest of her life. That would be a very difficult thing to manage in Haiti with all the dust. Please continue to pray for little Dahicha. It was also nice to be able to see Marla who manages EGO with her husband Ken. It was heartbreaking to hear how she almost lost Dahicha before they got her on the vent.
Tuesday I went back out with the baby feeders to check on the babies that I had seen on Friday and see how they were doing. All of them were doing better indicating that it was just the Grip going around during the rainy season. After I got back I had several more students and staff come for assistance. There are so many issues that are from basic things like not drinking enough water. There is a lot that can be done for basic health education.
Wednesday was a day for sorting and packing. I had the opportunity to leave a few things in a large tote on my last trip. This trip I have filled that tote as well as my second suite case with items to leave. I now have almost 90 pounds of items waiting for me on my return so I can get more needed items down there without carrying things back and forth.
One of the Restavek came to the school for help in the afternoon. He had been sick for several days. He had pneumonia. I found enough antibiotics and did my best to explain through a translator how to take them. It was children’s concentration so he has to take a lot of it each time. I hope that he understood the instructions for the medications and the importance of taking it all and not saving some for later. I hope he is doing better now. I made arrangements for someone with the Restavek Freedom Foundation to check on him in a couple days.
So, strangely familiar to my last trip, I got a Facebook message on Wednesday night. It asked if I was available for another Ambulance transport with Hero Ambulance. There was another sick baby that was in need of help. After some details were worked out I was on my way with Edmond to meet the ambulance. We met up by the overpass and then headed out of Port-au-Prince (PAP). We met up with the organization that requested us and did an intercept in the parking lot of a gas station in Mariani. We found Dalia and her frightened mother. Dalia was a 21 day old, 4.5-pound little girl who was severely dehydrated, malnourished, anemic, and septic. We loaded her into the ambulance and after a quick assessment, we were off. Setting around a gas station after dark drawing attention to yourself is not the best of ideas. Sometimes you felt like you were going to hurt her just trying to hold on to her with all the BIG bumps in the road. She was stable enough that trying to start an IV on scene was not in anyone’s best interest and trying on the road would be impossible. After about a 45-minute transport back into PAP we arrived at St. Damion’s Children’s Hospital without incident. As much as I would like to know that outcome, it will be impossible to get any further information on her. But I think with the appropriate care she will survive.
Thursday morning it was off to the airport to head home in front of the storm. At that time Hurricane Matthew was an unnamed tropical depression which quickly changed. At this point I really wish I would have known and been able to stay. There will be so much to be done after the storm clears.
It has taken me a couple days to write this post. I apologize. I have been glued to Facebook trying to get any news I can about Haiti and the effects of the hurricane. The last category 4 hurricane that hit Haiti directly killed 8,000 people. At this point it raises a lot more questions than it answers about the future for me. I would really like to go down in a very short amount of time and help with the disaster relief work. I am not sure how that will all come together at this point but I am looking into it. I will keep you posted as things progress.
Thank you for taking the time to read about the latest adventures with Kelby’s Kids. I am so blessed to be able to serve with you and for you as your representative to Kelby's Kids!