Mission of Hope is in a town called Titanyen. And I thought it wasn’t going to be feasible for us to get there during this trip to Haiti. Although I was pretty sure the organization was near where we were headed (to get blocks), you wouldn’t believe my excitement as we drove by the Mission of Hope offices on our way to get the bricks! In fact, it was just two driveways away from the concrete plant!
I asked Arnel, the driver, if he had ever heard of Mission of Hope. He said “yes” and told me he thought it was a great organization. So we made plans to stop there after we were done with getting blocks.
Mission of Hope is a large organization. They operate a clinic there at the place where we were, and they also operate daily mobile clinics in the region. They serve many needs for the children and people of Haiti. When I stopped by I met Dr. Jennifer. She runs the clinic on the grounds.
After about a short three-minute conversation, Jennifer phoned another worker named Chris. (Chris is in charge of the American medical staff.) He was off-site doing a mobile clinic.
Someone besides Chris answered the phone. Jennifer said she needed to talk to Chris straight away — “it’s an emergency,” she exclaimed! When Chris finally got on the line, Jennifer spoke loud enough so I could hear as she told Chris, “God has sent us the paramedic we need and he is sitting right here in front of me!”
It was an encouraging reminder of the great need for medical care in Haiti.
Jennifer handed me the phone and I talked with Chris. Since a face-to-face meeting would be difficult to arrange at that time, we agreed to start communicating by email.
As we headed back to Port-au-Prince, I had been very encouraged by my “chance” meeting with the Mission of Hope ministry.
Thursday, May 12
Arnel told me he had to be finished transporting me around by noon. So we headed out to the two places I still really wanted to go to.
He also told me we needed to make plans to return to Titanyen to get more blocks on Friday. Here was my chance to attempt to meet Chris at the Mission of Hope clinic! So I emailed him to see if it might work.
Our first stop Thursday morning was to “Ayiti Air Anbilans.” It was the very first air ambulance service in Haiti.
They are probably not an organization I would directly work for, but I definitely could see using their services while serving other medical organizations.
In reality, Ayiti Air Anbilans is the kind of place paramedics have to go to when visiting Haiti. Not going there would be like a firefighter going to New York and not stopping by a FDNY station.
My next stop was to Hero Client Rescue. They operate with Hero Ambulance Service in Port-au-Prince. They provide 911-type emergency calls to anyone. Their services include rapid response medical, security, ambulance transport, remote rescue, and international evacuation services for their members anywhere in Haiti for a weekly or monthly membership fee. This is an organization that I would like to work with in the future.
I was able to meet with the gal who heads up the organization (Stacy). And later that night we connected on Facebook and continued our conversation. (She described the work she’d done that evening with a shooting victim and a Moto accident victim.)
By day’s end I was also able to make contact with Chris from Mission of Hope and we scheduled a meeting for Friday morning.
Friday, May 13
Arnel surprised me with the news that he didn’t think we’d be able to go to Titanyen to get block today. I was looking forward to meeting with Chris at the Mission of Hope, so this potential development was disappointing to say the least.
It turns out a flat tire on the truck was keeping us from getting there. Let’s get that thing fixed!
After fixing the tire and crawling through a couple traffic jams, Arnel dropped me off at Mission of Hope — and I was only 90 minutes late. Not too shabby for Haiti.
Chris and I had a great meeting. We talked about what my tasks might look like if I partnered with them. It was such a blessing the way the meeting happened and how things came together.
By evening-time I was back at my apartment and chatting with Stacy from Hero Client Rescue.
She invited me to go out for a ride. But as the next day (Saturday) would be my last day in Haiti, the chances were slim that it would happen.
Then, an emergency happened. Stacy sent me an urgent direct message — “I need your help!”
What?! Right now!?
“Yes! I have to do a neonatal transport and need your help!”
We coordinated a pick-up point near my apartment and my Haitian friend (Juloveney) walked with me there. He recommended I not use my phone in public because it was potentially unsafe to be seen with it. Other than that, he said it was perfectly safe to be where we were.
The ambulance soon came whirring my way, and I jumped in.
It was at that point I learned we were on our way to a small hospital to provide emergency care to a premature baby — born at just 26 weeks!
Some of my readers might remember a Facebook notification I sent, asking for prayers. I sent that message from the back of this ambulanceon the way to get this baby.
I was a little nervous but I soon learned we were the only option this little baby boy had of living! We were his only chance.
We arrived at the hospital and got a full report of the situation. As we were preparing the baby for transport, the hospital went dark. The power went out! And there were no emergency lights.
After a few moments, the hospital staff started pulling out their cell phones and using them for light. (I’m guessing this wasn’t the first time they’d experienced a power-outage.)
We continued our work.
The baby hadn’t been named yet so we called him “Baby Boo Boo.”
We loaded him into the ambulance and we started the trip to the children’s hospital in Port-au-Prince.
The bumpy ride to Port-au-Prince is rough for anyone, but especially for premature babies. It was providing too much stimulation for Baby Boo Boo. It was caused additional stress on his already-stressed body and he was having to work harder to breathe.
We finally arrived at the hospital. But the drama wasn’t over.
Over the phone, the hospital had agreed to accept the baby for treatment. But when we arrived, they started debating whether they’d admit him or not!
The health care system in Haiti is “broken” at best.
The doctors at the government hospitals are on strike. So, the private and charitable hospitals have nearly been crippled with an overload of work.
But, they finally decided to admit Baby Boo Boo, and we rushed him into NICU.
His heart rate started to fall to a dangerous level. We thought we might lose him!
But by the time we handed him over to NICU staff, his heart-rate bounced back. The NICU staff assured us that they would take care of Baby Boo Boo. And we left the hospital.
On the way back to the apartment I learned that if I had said no, Hero Ambulance would have had to refuse the call to transport Baby Boo Boo. And the baby would have most certainly died in that small, country hospital.
By night’s end I was totally drained from the stress and the emotional roller coaster of everything. So much so, I didn't even feel either of Haiti’s earthquakes that night — a 2.8 magnitude at 9:00 pm and a 2.7 at 3:30 am. (Stacy messaged me about the earthquakes and I thought she was teasing me. You know, just to add more drama to the night’s events.)
Saturday, May 14
I was able to go out to the Providence University of Haiti to meet with the Dean of Students. We talked about the possibility of using their nursing program to do some speaking and training on emergencies and disaster issues.
This is the school where my buddy, Juloveney, attends. He’s in his last year of nursing school. He was a great companion on this entire trip and he hung out with me in the evenings so I wouldn’t be alone. He also helped me continue to learn Creole. But after nightfall I needed to start packing for my trip home.
I packed my bags to leave Haiti. One with stuff to take home. One with stuff to leave in Haiti.
No, it wasn’t stuff I planned on leaving for someone in need. It was my stuff. It might sound pretty simplistic, but I felt that by leaving one bag there, I was making a significant step in my preparation for transitioning to full-time work in Haiti.
Sunday, May 15
I was to the airport by 8:00 am.
Not that I need another reason to convince me to stay in Haiti, but, while sitting at the gate I started reading Facebook posts about the snow in Michigan.
It really was an amazing trip.
Many things were made a little clearer. And I feel like I have a better road to follow.
Speaking of roads, my driver, Arnel, didn’t know how to get to many of the organizations I wanted to go to. So I didn’t even get to many of the places I thought I needed to go.
But I got to one that I didn’t think I would get to.
My original desire to work with a different organization each day of the week changed with the hours I spent in traffic. Spending 6+ hours on the road every day would not be an effective way to work.
I am feeling drawn to Mission of Hope. And I’m seriously considering a full-time partnership with them. That was hardly on the radar when I left for Haiti.
And since I’m talking about my feelings … when Larry and Jayme left, I really didn’t enjoy being by myself. The community of Mission of Hope would help with that, too.
I’m also concerned about being on my own until my Creole improves. Working with a translator every day at Mission of Hope would help me increase my language skills.
Almost at the end!
In my first blog post “Heading out the door,” from May 4, I stated that I would probably be doing the least about of medical work of any trip thus far as it was a fact finding trip.
With the Moto accident on the mountain and, especially, the neonatal transport, I feel like I have done some of the most important medical work of all the time I’ve spent in Haiti.
Baby Boo Boo update! It is with a happy and blessed heart that I received word a few nights ago that he is “thriving” in the children’s hospital right now!
Each of you who pray for me and support me, played a part in Baby Boo Boo’s success! I hope you know that. Helping kids through Kelby’s Kids wouldn't be possible without you.
I want to thank you for your support thus far!
(And thanks for reading this HUGE update!)
I’m humbled to serve the littlest of Kelby’s Kids, because Kelby’s Kids are God’s kids!