Well, I promised you a story that had been evolving in my last blog post so I wanted to get that out at least before I head for the horrible cold and snowy north country…
On November 17, we (the medical team that was here for the week and myself (See post 11/23/16 “Going Down South”)) held a medical clinic in Port Salut for the victims of hurricane Matthew. We had a young lady come thought the clinic for help. I don’t remember now what her medical need was but after she was seen she was on her way out when she turned around and came back. She said that she wanted to give her life to Jesus because she needed Him! (After surviving an earthquake and a direct hit from a hurricane it makes you reevaluate your life!!)
We prayed with Marie and gave her a Bible in Creole with the date and place written in it to remember this day. As we were talking with her we asked her about her leg. She told us that she had been in the earthquake in Port-Au-Prince (PAP) and had been injured and lost her leg. Her Prosthesis was in bad shape to say the least. David (medical team leader) asked her about a new one and she said she needs one because this one is 6 years old but she could never afford one. This one was given to her because of all the support after the earthquake but all the programs for prosthesis are gone now and you must pay for them. David got her name and phone number and said he couldn’t make any promises but would see what he could do for her. The day after we got back to Port-au-Prince we went to Bernard Mevs Hospital where the prosthetic lab is. He was going to pay for her new leg so she could get it when she came to PAP next time. It was not open that day so David gave me the amount of money that Marie said it would cost and asked me to see it through.
I called Marie on Friday afternoon and asked her when she thought she would be able to get to PAP as I didn’t want to pay to early and have them forget who it was for. She said it would be some time before she could find the money to take the bus to get there. I told her to let me know before she came and I would go and pay. She said OK. At 7:20 am on Monday morning she called and said I am at the hospital where are you?! So, I got my driver and we were off for the hospital. When we arrived, I could not find her so I called her and she said she was stuck in traffic but almost there. The next call she said she got lost. After an hour of waiting she finally arrived. I didn’t think too much of it cause it’s kind of the Haitian way! We went to register her so I could set up an account and pay the fee. The registration people sent us to the logistics office. There we were referred to another hospital. They stated they don’t have funding and have closed the Prosthetic lab here. We headed out the gate and to the truck. I talked with Edmond and he said it’s going to be more expensive at this other hospital, especially if they see the white guy, so I will drop you back off at the school and take her by myself he said. As we were getting in the truck a Physical Therapist from the hospital came out and said that Macena, the prosthetic’s guy, wanted to see us. So, we went back into the hospital. As we were going in we met that lady that referred us to the other hospital and she yelled at him and told him we didn’t belong here anymore, we had a referral. He said OK and when she walked away he said “let’s go upstairs to the Prosthetic’s lab and hide!” So, we went upstairs. He said Macena was stuck in traffic but would be there in a few minutes, not the first time I had heard that today.
A little over an hour later, I am setting here thinking if all he wants to do is see us and can’t help us I don’t have time for this, I have already been here 2 ½ hours and have accomplished nothing. He finally arrived and was shocked at the condition of her leg. He said I can repair this one until I can build her a new one. He said we have no funding so you will need to pay me so that I can go buy the items to make it. He said it would be 3 times the amount that David had given me but it would be 10 times as much at the other hospital. He said it makes him very made as that hospital still gets funding from the U.S. and they charge their own people too much. Well, I certainly couldn’t and wouldn’t tell her “NO”. I paid him for the new Prosthesis and he went to work to fix up her old leg to get her by in the meantime. He also got her measurements and made a mold of her leg so that he would build her a new custom prosthesis as well. Now she at least has a foot again! This meant that she would need a new pair of shoes for the trip home as she has only needed 1 shoe for the last year or two. So, I gave her some money to get a new pair of shoes when she left.
10 days later the new leg was done. I called Marie and told her to be at the hospital by 10 am the next morning. I arrived at the hospital at 10 am and was met by Macena. We called Marie and she said she was waiting for a Tap Tap (Taxi) to bring her from the bus station to the hospital but it wouldn’t be long. A while later we called and she said traffic was bad but they were getting closer. While we were waiting, I was talking with Wilfrid Macena, as I discovered that Macena was not his first name. He began telling me his story and showing be pictures and videos of his recent experiences. You see, Wilfrid is also a post-earthquake amputee. He had a wall fall on him and brake his lower leg. It got infected and 7 days later when he got help he ended up being an above the knee amputee. He has taken adversity head-on in his new life style. He thanks God for allowing to help his people. He is the captain of the Haitian Amputee Soccer team. He has traveled the world sharing with people that life isn’t over after an amputation and inspiring them to get back to as normal of life as possible. He has also done a lot of work with Disabled American Veterans projects.
Finally, after 90 minutes Marie showed up with her sister. They both looked very nice and she was excited to be getting her new prosthesis. After a little bit of last minute fine tuning the prosthesis was ready to go! During the process of getting everything just right, it came up in conversation that during the first 2 calls we made that they were both actually still at her sister’s house getting ready so they would look nice for this event. So, it wasn’t really a Haitian thing that made them late it was just a girl thing!! It will take her a little bit to learn to walk correctly again as she has been compensating for the loss of the height of that foot for a long time. But before long she will be walking almost normally. It was so encouraging to see how happy she was to not only have a new, higher quality leg but one that matches her better and won’t make her stand out as different. Being disabled in Haiti is a huge disadvantage. People look down on any form of being handicapped here so the less people notice the less you must deal with that and the better life will be for her.
If I had shown you this picture first you would probably have never noticed that that foot wasn’t real or that she even had a disability. Now, most of the time people that don’t know her will never notice. Another plus for her with this one is that unlike the old one there is actually a gap between the big toe and the rest of the toes so she can actually where flip flops for the first time since January 12, 2010!
Marie and Wilfrid sporting their Prosthesis together with pride! I think it made her much more comfortable to go though this process knowing that he is also an amputee and knows the struggles she deals with.
I am blessed to have been a small part of this story. Marie has gone from being a Happy & Healthy, happy go lucky, young lady to someone that needed to be physically helped. I was able to be part of bringing her the physical help she needed. But, she has always needed a spiritual help. I am thankful that Marie has chosen a personal relationship with God so that someday she will find complete healing, because there won’t be any prosthesis in Heaven!!
Well, I will be leaving for the airport in about 2 hours. It is bitter sweet… I am looking forward to seeing family and friends for the holidays but I love life in Haiti and the Haitian people. I also know that some kids will just not get help while I am gone. I get kids coming with complaints that are months old. Treatment was never an option until I arrived. I am not even going to pretend to be happy about the cold, I am just going to try to survive it. I am to the point where 76-77 in my room in the evenings is cool to me.
Thanks again for everything you do to be a part of Kelby’s Kids!!! I will try to get another blog post out a couple days after I get home. There is a lot to catch you up on!
Blessings to you during this season of CHRISTmas!
Until No Child Dies,