I have two lasting and vivid memories/images of our trip to Haiti.
To set the stage, when Edward Lloyd signed up for the trip, it was time to think about a remote medical clinic. This has been a long-term dream but here was the chance. It was an experiment – we did not know if people would come, did not know what times of ailments we would find or how to actually organize a pop-up clinic. But, you have to start somewhere. At our meeting with the community on Sunday, November 9th, the congregation asked for a clinic as the Bill Rice Clinic is a long walk away. That will never be economically feasible but we did promise a remote clinic on Tuesday.
We drove up the rocky, bumpy road Tuesday morning and arrived at Nan Mango to a large crowd of people… waiting to see a doctor. The partnership midwives set up a prenatal clinic in one room and saw 21 pregnant women that day. “Dr. Ed” set up shop in another classroom. We hauled benches out of every available classroom for an outdoor waiting room. People waiting patiently and quietly for hours…. All day with nothing to eat or drink.
Dr. LaPointe, the Haitian doctor at the Bill Rice Clinic, and Dr. Ed saw a total of 102 patients that day, the last ones as dark descended (love that flashlight feature on iPhones!) Dr. Ed greeted each patient with a warm smile… even the 49th patient of a long, long day.
So, the first lasting image is of healing hands…. Edward examining a baby by taking him into his lap, big hands gently listening to a small child cough.
This day confirmed our feeling that we simply must continue to take healthcare to the people…. Where they live. (Recruiting doctors, nurses, nurse practioners,and physician’s assistants for future trips!)
The second lasting image is from our community meeting after church on November 9th. This is becoming a regular event on our trips and a good opportunity to gather. As I said, the first request was for a clinic. The second community concern raised was the need for water. The gutters on our school building have rusted at the welds and rainwater just spills out. When there is ample water, the whole community can use the cistern but when there is no water, people have to walk to public wells for their water…. Often great distances. One woman pointed out that without lights, they could not have church at night. The group nodded and another person talked about having music for church. Ernie said that he would bring a guitar and someone mentioned an electric keyboard. We agreed that we could most likely provide power through a solar system to the church. Others talked about microfinance and we suggested that they met as a group and bring us a proposal. Latrines were another issue and we asked about an existing program (turns out not everyone in Nan Mango has benefited and it was not universally successful). Then the lay leader, Rigaud Louis stopped and asked, “How can you do all of this?” I explained that we had a lovely woman in our congregation who was probably unable to ever travel to Haiti but had always been interested and very supportive. I said her name is Charlotte Cook and she lost her beloved husband this year. The congregation at Nan Mango was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop, all side conversations had stopped. I explained that dear Charlotte was sharing her resources with our church and with their church. It was a beautiful moment of true communion. Charlotte wsa there and the bond between our two congregations seemed tangible and truly lasting.