Sunday, April 23, 2017

We are back in Haiti. It's Sunday afternoon, and it is raining. We have never had a trip with so much rain!

The team arrived Friday afternoon, April 21. We have a large team this trip, with four new people. The newbies are Chip and Nancy Franzen from Atlanta, Jessie MacKay from North Carolina, and Shane Marcus from Minneapolis. Chip and Nancy came because they are friends of Terry and Steve Franzen and wanted to see what draws them to Haiti. Jessie came to discuss the possibility of a microcredit program with the communities we serve. Shane is the youth minister at St. John's and is considering bringing a team for a visit. The experienced team members include Terry and Steve Franzen, Dr. Dianne Pizey, Dick Anderson, TR and Stevie Shively, and Jane Weist.

We are staying at the FSIL (Episcopal Nursing School) in Leogane, which is new and very comfortable. There is air conditioning most of the time, and fans when the generator is not on and we are under city power. The food is delicious. One of the cooks has come over from the Hopital Ste. Croix Guesthouse, so it was nice to see someone we have known for many years.

We had a luggage problem. Three of the Minneapolis people's bags did not arrive. We are still awaiting the bags, but hopeful that we will get them later today. Unfortunately, one of the bags contains our Banangrams game, a Haiti tradition! Jane is missing her carryon since it was grabbed up at the last minute when the bins on the plane were full. Dianne is missing toiletries, and some of the shirts that the youth of St. John's decorated for the kids at St. Phillippe and St. Jacques. Other team members were able to loan clothing to Jane and toiletries to Dianne. We've had to limp along without the Bananagrams.

Saturday was our first clinic day, which was at Jasmin. The dental team (TR, Stevie, Jane, our Haitian dentist Emmanuel, and Emmanuel's wife, and translator Jean Claude) worked hard all day and were able to either fix or pull hurting teeth. The Haitian medical team worked hard seeing more than 100 patients. Our medical director, Dr. Frantz Codie and his wife Dr. Charenne Pierre were our doctors, and they were ably assisted by the rest of the Haitian team of nurses.

The rest of the Americans observed the clinic and then took a walk up the road beyond Jasmin. This was the first time we'd been able to do something so leisurely on a clinic day.  A local man led us, and Marcos, one of our translators, translated for us. We discovered that the Catholic ArchDiocese has installed a water system, including a pumping station, and water distribution sites along the road. The water comes from the spring higher up the mountain, and is supposed to be drinkable. There is a small fee for the water, so some people continue to get their water from the river further down the mountain. We saw lots of small subsistence farms of corn, beans, and sweet potato, and livestock, including goats, cows, and pigs. Of course, we also saw lots of cute kids along the way, and many friendly adults.

Some of us walked even more when we got back to the guesthouse, and took a little stroll up to the hospital and mass grave site from the earthquake.

It had rained Friday night and Saturday morning, so the river on the way up the mountain was quite high, and the road was muddy and deeply rutted. We were able to make it up without incident in Pere Sonley's 4 wheel drive vehicle and the additional 4 wheel drive vehicle we rented and Dr. Frantz drove for us.

Today, we went back up to Jasmin for church. It was wonderful to see so many old friends. The children seemed to recognize us, and only one little boy started crying when I spoke to him. I presented the church with a copy of the Lord's Prayer in Haitian Creole, and Pere Sonley with a green stole embroidered with Jerusalem crosses,  both of which Steve and I purchased in Jerusalem on our recent trip there.

The rain began as we started back to Leogane, and has not stopped all afternoon. So, instead of taking a walk to the shore, we are reading on the UIKeyInputUpArrowguesthouse porch, an unexpected relaxation in Haiti. .

Monday, October 31, 2016

Home Again

Dianne and I arrived back in the US late Friday evening, after a full week in Haiti. During that time, we were both able to spend time at our schools, which seem to be doing very well. The students were out of school for a week after Hurricane Matthew. They are now trickling back. This year, St. Joseph's expects about 500 students, and St. Phillippe and St. Jacques expects about 300 students. Both schools will run through the 10th grade this year. This is the second year for the 10th grade at St. Joseph's. Unfortunately, the  leadership decided not to expand to the 11th grade because of the extra cost involved with adding another grade. Perhaps we can do that in 2017-18. There are 12 students in the 10th grade, one of whom has been in our school since she started as a 3 year old. The community completed the additional school building for the 9th and 10th grades over the summer break.
We were able to add two more computers to the school's computer lab thanks to the skills of Ed Fair at Christ Church and the generosity of those donating the computers. The Haiti curriculum requires a computer lab for 10th grade.  We are so blessed to be able to provide this for the students. 

The leadership in Jasmin, Nicholas, and St. Joseph's School chose 28 families to receive direct aid from Christ Church to help them recover from the impact of Hurricane Matthew. These families suffered the most, including loss of their homes, livestock, and gardens. They each received about $125 US. They did not know they were receiving this money at the meeting, but only thought they were coming to discuss what could be done. They were overwhelmed and very grateful for the help. These were all people we have come to know and love through our clinics over the past several years. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this effort. 

Stay tuned for the dates for the 2017 trips. Terry

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Haiti Post Matthew

Dianne and I (Terry) are in Haiti to check on our clinics and visit for a week. We wanted to see first hand the damage from Hurricane Matthew in our communities. As you would expect, the damage on the mountain where Jasmin is located is greater than that in Colin, which is lower and more protected. Many families on the mountain lost their roofs, gardens were destroyed, and trees were toppled. Amazingly, in just a few short days, much of the debris has been cleared, but the families whose homes were damaged, are living in temporary shelters. That does not mean what we think in the US. A temporary shelter in Haiti is usually a few palm leaves over some kind of structure made from whatever can be salvaged. Lower down the mountain, the primary damage was from flooding, which destroyed gardens. A destroyed garden means no food and nothing to sell at the market. So, here the loss of a garden, no matter its size, is catastrophic.

Haiti Companions collected funds from many friends and was able to quickly send funds to our Country Director, who bought food and clean water in Port au Prince, and delivered it to the affected communities, which we serve. Christ Church, Norcross, Jasmin's partner, collected funds, which we will give this week to families which the lay leaders identify as those most in need for roof repairs, and help replanting their gardens. We are so thankful for everyone's support, which is so appreciated here.

Yesterday, we received an amazing gift of two chlorine producing units from Hope Source International. This non-profit based in Les Cayes, in conjunction with SWIM (Safe Water International Ministry) produces and distributes these units for free. They are very simple, yet amazingly effective in producing chlorine which kills bacteria in the water. With the threat of cholera looming after Matthew, it is more important than ever to use clean water, which is not available in our communities. The units are powered by a car battery, which is charged by a solar panel. In 1 short hour, salt water made from "raw salt" readily available at the market, is transformed into chlorine. Then, it sits for 24 hours so the sediment can sink and the solution clarify, before bottling it. Five ounces will purify 40 gallons of water. Amazing! What an incredible difference this will make in the lives of those we serve.

Yesterday, we started the process and today, we are bottling. We will take the units and the bottled chlorine up to our communities later in the week.

Saturday, we held the monthly clinic in Jasmin. The change to monthly clinics has been well received in the communities and everything is very orderly. Each patient attending the clinic is given a card identifying him/herself as a patient of Haiti Companions and they make an appointment for the clinic so that the clinic is not overwhelmed. We have more than 300 patients at Jasmin, so far. And, many new patients came on Saturday. I do not know the number served in Colin yet, but will learn that later in the week. Between the two locations, we serve 150-200 patients monthly at this time, with thoughts of expansion dancing in our heads.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Back home

It is early evening on Saturday and I'm sitting on the deck enjoying a beautiful cool Atlanta night and reflecting on this trip and our Diocese Global Mission Conference which was today. I presented about our Haiti partnership as part of a panel. That elicited at least one volunteer for the next trip, a doctor from Columbus, GA. As I will explain, however, future trips may be different than those in the past.

First, let me recap a couple unfortunate events this week. When we arrived at Jasmin for Wednesday's clinic, we quickly realized that some drugs that we had left in the pharmacy were missing. Ace detective Darrell discovered footprints on the top of a bench inside the church where the drugs were kept overnight. We surmised that the thief had climbed the pipe outside, hoisted him or herself through the high opening above the wall, and then landed on the bench. As the day progressed, we discovered more and more was missing - glucometers and test strips from the lab, almost all the Provit and STD Packs, all the creams, all the Travatan, all the Metformin, etc, etc. It was very disheartening and unfortunately, adversely impacted our patient care.

This happened after we had discovered earlier in the week that three of the bags of medicine we had left at the guesthouse from the fall trip had been taken. We were able to replace some of those drugs before the start of the clinics. Of course, that was an unexpected added expense. Because I did not go with the group, I was able to bring additional cash with me for these purchases.

These two events highlighted the fact that those living in desperate poverty will commit crimes even when those crimes adversely impact those in their own communities. These crimes can take place in Haiti, as well as in the US. We had a naive view that because our team travels to Haiti to help, we are immune from crime. Now we know differently.

Ironically, when I met with the lay leader and principal at St Joseph's School before clinics started on Wednesday and before we discovered the theft, they renewed their request for help funding a security wall around the school property. They had requested this when the school buildings were built after the earthquake, but we have not raised the needed funds for this project. We now feel the urgency to fulfill this need. If you are moved to give to this project, you may do so on the Haiti Companions website, or send donations to Christ Church, 400 Holcomb Bridge Road, Norcross, GA 30071. Please note "Haiti fence" as the purpose of your donation.

Thursday morning, Dianne, TR, and I met with Frantz to discuss how we might take the clinics to the next level. Frantz proposed a monthly clinic staffed by Haitian doctors and nurses at each site. He also described the process by which Haiti Companions can register as a non-governmental organization in Haiti. We will discuss this with the Haiti Companions Board and hopefully will move in this direction soon. This may impact our planned fall trip, so that it is something other than a week long clinic trip. Stay tuned. God is working.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday and all is well

Today was a special day - Jane's birthday! Stevie arranged for Jeanine to bake a cake and we celebrated in Haitian fashion tonight with Rudy and Myrline serenading us while we enjoyed the cake. Of course, we bought Jane a Prestige to celebrate, as well.

We are relaxing now after a fun day in Jasmin - 360 people of fun. It actually really was fun. We were very busy, obviously, but it was great to see everyone. I particularly love the older people. It is amazing how many old people in their late 70's and 80's, and supported by canes made of tree limbs, walk long distances to get to us. When I am able to post pictures, I will post a photo of a group from today. They call me "Cherie" and kiss both my cheeks in greeting. One very old woman talked on and on, but much too quickly for me to have any idea what she said. Of course, it was clear that she was glad to see our team. Many people told us that they pray for our team everyday.

The dental team set up in the new 10th grade class room, which the community has built to accommodate the expanding school. Of course, they may never get to use that classroom again, but they loved it this time!

The rest of us were in our usual spots, with 3 doctors outside and 1 inside.

Our optometrist, Guerino Laguerre, was set up in the vestibule of the church just before triage. (Laguerre Guerry was not able to come again and we think that Guerino is our "regular" optometrist now.) That seems to work well.He has good light there.
 Pharmacy, lab, and triage were in the church as in the past.

Yesterday at St. Phillippe and St. Jacques seemed a little slow, but we saw 260 patients. We were set up as in the spring with triage in the church and the rest of us in the school.It is a nice set up, but I prefer the roominess, slightly lower temperature, and light in Jasmin.

Dianne commented tonight that people seem to be less concerned this time about having every problem that they experience treated. They are much more specific about their complaint. As in the past, the people up the mountain in Jasmin are relatively sicker and more malnourished. If the past is any lesson, then the patients  from Nicholas that we will see tomorrow will be even less healthy. Nicholas is about a 4 hour walk one way up the mountain from Jasmin. When Pere Sonley goes there for church, he rides a donkey 2 hours from Jasmin!

I now have two ladies making skirts for Jasmin Creations. Between the two of them, I received 32 new crocheted skirts today. So, it is imperative that I try to figure out marketing on the Internet through Etsy, FaceBook, etc. I will post pictures here, also. These women are so excited when I pay them for the skirts. This is a great way for them to earn money to support their families. If you'd like to buy one or more, just contact me!

It seems that each time that we come here, there is something new and this time is no different. The guesthouse has a new landrover, which had no trouble getting up the mountain today. That was wonderful! Also, today a man sat outside the church carving statues. Unfortunately, there was no time to watch him other than from afar.

I visited briefly with my little friend Sofini and her mom today. Again, there was not much time, but it was wonderful to see them both.

I am giving out, so I will sign off now. Terry


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Trip dedicated to Steve Steinberg

I am very sad to report that Steve Steinberg, who was a member of our team for three trips, passed away last fall. Steve was a wonderful person whose quick wit, remarkable intelligence, and expansive world view enriched us all. On his last trip with us, Steve celebrated his 80th birthday. My last visit with Steve was in January 2015, when I had a business trip to New Orleans, Steve's adopted home town. Steve invited me to lunch at Antoine's where we enjoyed a delicious lunch and 25 cent martinis. Steve told me endless stories of his travels around the world and his exploits as a journalist. I will miss Steve greatly, and will cherish his memory. I am sure he is watching over us on this trip.

This trip is a little different than those in the past. Little by little we are trickling into Haiti. Our medical director, Dr. Dianne Pizey, traveled to Port au Prince on Wednesday, April 8, to attend the bi-annual Haiti Connection Conference. I will write more about that when I catch up with Dianne. The northern members of the team, including our dental director, Dr. Terry Shively, his wife Stevie, Jane Weist, Dick Anderson, nurse Darrell Martin, and Rev. Ward Bauman arrived on Friday, April 10, and successfully traveled to Leogane where Dianne was waiting for them. The southern team members, my husband Steve and I, will arrive tomorrow. I am flying from Montreal where I have been for business, and meeting Steve in Miami, then we fly to Port au Prince together. Wow! It will be nice for all the Americans to finally be together again.

As in the past, we have many Haitian team members, including a new member Sony Baziel, who will help in the pharmacy. Our other Haitian members include nurses Evens Joicin and Myrline Richeme, doctors Rudolph Richeme, Frantz Codio, and his wife Charenne, dentist Emmanuel Bastien and his wife, optometrist Laguerre Guerry, five nursing students, four translators, two drivers, and our priest Pere Sonley. Of course, we could not be successful without the great care of the guesthouse manager, Jeanine, and her staff. Lastly, we always appreciate the help of the US guesthouse liaisons, David Paige and Bob Sloane.

We expect our week to be much the same as in the past, with clinics on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by clean up and organization on Thursday. (Of course, nothing is ever the same in Haiti!) Steve and I have to leave on Friday to get back for the Diocese of Atlanta's Annual Global Mission Conference,which I chair. The northerners will return to their colder climate on Saturday.

Please keep those we serve and our team in your prayers.