A team organized by All Saints Church (Pawleys Island SC) traveled to the community of Lotore to provide a medical and dental clinic. Team Leader Dr. David Grabeman chose the concept of “Leading a Life of Significance” to focus our prayers and evening devotions. Our team of 10 was thrilled by the beautiful new PAP terminal with improved passport control and baggage claim. Unfortunately, Customs was still a stressor as we had a great deal of medication with us. After an incomprehensible discussion with officials, Dave produced something for the gentlemen (expiration dates? manifest? proforma?) that allowed us to move along. We will never know what it was.
After a great evening at the Wahoo we crossed on the midday Lagonave ferry. We picked up the clinic items that we store at St Francis and rode up the mountain to Lotore and St Barnabus church and school. Artur Alexis drove the Zybeco route which seemed quicker and less steep. He had driven the two hour trip earlier to bring up the Haitian staff. After setting up our temporary clinics and sleeping quarters in the classrooms of the school, the cooks prepared a delicious dinner for the entire temporary staff over charcoal fires. Following devotions the generator ran out of gas so…lights were out at 10 and we all fell asleep in the peace of a Caribbean mountain pasture; a cool, gentle breeze, ten million stars and an occasional donkey braying in the distance. Ahhhh!
Thursday morning we awoke to the “sweeping granny” and the grounds of St Barnabus filling with patients who registered to be seen. Our dental clinic was staffed by Drs. Dave Grabeman (SC) and his brother Tom Grabeman (OH). They were assisted by Dave’s son, Christian Grabeman and Christian’s friend, Allston Lumpkin (SC). The clinic was also staffed with LaGonavans for registration, sterilization and translation. The dental clinic was very busy, with 4 chairs to see both pediatric and adult patients for extractions. All patients received prayer and great care! On Saturday we provided fluoride treatments to the children.
Leslie Jordanger, FNP (VA) and Dr Junior Lahens (Bill Rice) saw adult and ill children in the large classroom. Kent Low (SC) managed the clinic flow and general operations. Vital signs were recorded by Lotore’s CHW Yvenia StCyr; the patients then waited to be examined and treated by either Dr Junior or Ms Leslie, with Roselie and Noelvil translating. We asked registration to attempt to cap the number of patients at around 100 each day. Harriet Moore Miller(SC) managed the pharmacy and drug distribution and Judette (HT) operated a lab. When the clinic got backed up due to some lengthy wound care procedures, Mdme. Dupont (Bill Rice) came to the rescue and began to see patients as well. Without a pediatrician we saw quite a few children. Dr. Junior was an excellent clinician- dedicated, patient and willing to teach (typhoid, malaria-yikes!). We purchased our medications at wonderful discount prices through Blessings International http://www.blessing.org/ . We highly recommend their service and quality.
Accompanying the All Saints team was the HeartReach team of Dr Billy Fairey and Craig Daniel (SC), who were assisted by translator Jean Louis and Mdme. Dupont. They provided antihypertensive medications to patients from Lotore previously identified by Dr. Fairey with hypertension.
Stoney Miller (SC) assisted all 3 clinics as needed -even ran supplies out to us in the pasture during a difficult wound debridement (don’t ask!) and accompanied school administrator Carmil Bien-Aime to witness firsthand the living conditions of one of the students who was sick at school because she’d had nothing to eat for 3 days. This encounter proved to be a great spiritual kick in the rear for us, as we realized the needs beyond our clinic. Carmil shared his vision for a school lunch program at St Barnabus. This need certainly fit with our search for significance in Lotore. Other LGH partners have tried or are doing this so we hope to learn from their experiences. He also shared his hope for a new cistern. The community depends on the aging cistern at St B during the dry season (Feb.-April), as the closest well is reportedly in Nan Café- a 1+ hour donkey ride.
After 4 nights without electricity or plumbing we headed down to St Francis after Pere Vil led the St Barnabus community in a Sprirt-filled worship service. We walked to the new East Coast café for pizza, subs and crepes. Pere Vil was very busy with a confirmation service and celebration Sunday night for all the confirmands in his ten churches, a joyous occasion. We had a feast for dinner prepared by the excellent staff in the rectory. We took the 6:30AM ferry to the mainland Monday morning and spent our first night ever at the Kaliko, as the Wahoo was booked for Carnivale week. The Kaliko was an excellent accommodation; much larger than the Wahoo. It reminded one of us of a Disney cruise- big, bright, cheery and lots of families compared to the Wahoo’s laid-back vibe. We bought some live lobsters and crabs on the beach from local fisherman who grilled them, cracked them and brought them to us on paper plates. We delighted in seeing Haiti anew through the eyes and hearts of first time travelers Christian and Allston. These young men increased the joy of our trip.
There is a lot of progress in Haiti- less tent dwellings, improved roads, a water treatment plant and new factories on the mainland, etc. The block paving of the main road in Anse a Galet is being extended all the way through town. So… we see great progress but we still see starvation and deprivation in our sister community and know that we still have much work to do together. Next trip- April 16-23!