What Difference Does it Make? – Haiti trip November 2015
This was not a typical Covenant mission trip to Haiti. For starters, we had three
non-Covenant participants. Two men from Madison (GA) Presbyterian joined us in
an exploratory trip to determine that congregation’s interest in joining the
partnership. In addition, Ernest Scott, a long time volunteer for Heifer International,
joined us from Washington, DC. John Greeley, Deb Griffin, Ed Lloyd and I
represented Covenant. We met as strangers and left as friends.
We enjoyed worshiping at Nan Mango and sharing a fabulous meal after the service.
We met with the first class of microfinance participants. These seven people are
working hard and all expect to fully repay their loans in December. One woman is a
representative for Digicel selling cellphone minutes. Another travels a great
distance to Picmy to buy fish to bring back to cell. Yet another raises and sells goats.
We were inspired by their efforts and determination. The microfinance program
will be significantly expanded in the next round of lending thanks to a gift to
Covenant’s Haiti program.
The next few days were truly bittersweet. Ed Lloyd joined Dr. LaPointe and others
on the staff of the Bill Rice Clinic seeing patients at the clinic and at remote clinics at
Nan Mango and Bois Brule. We were reminded of the fragility of life in this country.
A young woman at the clinic had nearly bled to death after terminating her own
pregnancy. We quickly put her in the pick-up truck and headed down the rocky
roads on a 40-minute trip to the Wesleyan Hospital. There is no blood bank at the
hospital and the woman’s family was summoned to see if there was a compatible
donor. We believe that this woman survived but she clearly would have died
without medical treatment.
At Nan Mango, a 47-year-old man with congestive heart failure and a 17-year-old
woman with a 38-day-old baby were also sent to the hospital. We returned to the
hospital each day to check on these patients. Sadly, the man was dying and it was
both heartbreaking and heartwarming to watch family members wash his fading
body. We left the hospital shaken and in a daze. David Powers, the pastor of
Madison Presbyterian, asked if we could pray for that man. We formed a circle and
were both moved and comforted by the simple act of praying for this man and his
family and others.
At the same time, we formed a pop-up pharmacy for our mobile clinics at Nan
Mango and the next day at Bois Brule with incredible efficiency. Ed Lloyd and Dr.
LaPointe saw over 200 patients in two days. Francky Charles, the nurse, dewormed
children in both schools and enrolled a child in the Medika Mamba program. The
people at Bois Brule had not had a partnership visit in almost two years and were so
grateful for the clinic. This is such a remote community that visits to the Bill Rice
Clinic are nearly impossible and our prenatal clinics do not reach that community.
The partnership is working to extend coverage to all communities but that takes
time and money and planning. Nothing is easy.
We know we are making a difference in Nan Mango – you can see it with your eyes.
The school is bright and cheery and the church is beautiful. There is a wonderful
latrine (if a latrine can be wonderful). Brand new PVC gutters line the buildings. We
are greeted as friends and know people by name.
At the same time, it is hard to feel that you are making a difference when the needs
are so great and your contributions are small and infrequent. This is, however, a
“ministry of presence” and sometimes it has to be enough to just demonstrate that a
community is not forgotten and that we care enough to come and be with them.
There is value in presence.