Tuesday, June 8, 2010
La Saline, which means the salt, is a hot dusty place. The land is free to use, because part of the time it is under water. So the poorest of the poor build there. A couple of weeks ago we held a clinic for the school at the church in this town. About 100 children and a few adults were seen and treated. This church also does a feeding program for the children of the Saline, so we gave them vitamins to distribute as a supplement to their diet of beans and rice. We returned with a new team, and this weekend the land was dry, as it had not rained in 4-5 days. This was a blessing, because when it rains, mud and garbage wash into the flats, making it unpleasant to walk through. A medical team from South Florida and Martin Memorial Hospital came to help with a two-day clinic for the general public. As you looked out the window of the church, across the dry, hot, dusty salt flats, you could see the ocean only 200 yards away. This gave us a nice breeze to help keep us going in the extreme heat. Advertisement was word of mouth, so we started out slow but by mid-morning, we were quite busy. We had one doctor who was a Pediatrician and another who was Internal medicine; there was also a PA, who saw mostly adults. We split the patients into two groups—children and adults—and there were three stations set up for physicals and treatment, with a fourth station set as a pharmacy. My job was crowd control and the triage of patients. No one was life or death sick, but many people came with colds, headaches, back pain, ear aches and coughing. Malnutrition, worms, high blood pressure and asthma were also common problems. We saw and treated over 450 people in the two days that we were there. If we would be charging for our care, we would have gotten a big bonus from our employer; but we are not here for the money, rather to help those in need. The needs here are real, and many times, desperate. People need jobs. In the States, we complain that our unemployment rate is 8-9%; in Haiti, unemployment is 70%. We complain that our employer doesn’t offer eye and dental coverage; but on La Gonave, two-thirds of the Island does not even have a clinic or hospital close enough to reach if their life was at risk. Many do not have clean water, or soil suitable to grow food. We have started a project fund through Global Partners to help with these basic needs, and provide training so that they can solve these life-threatening problems themselves. We have called this project, La Gonave Community Health Evangelism. How can you help these people? You can come to give of your time and your skills. We need many different skills taught to help train the Haitians to help themselves. We also need financial help to be able to do this work in Haiti. We would like to introduce to you the new project number, WM06-1337. This is the project fund to help pay the expenses of our emerging community health and development mission. This is the venture that we have started in Fantina, and hope to develop across the Island. It is a training program that teaches community leaders to identify the local needs, and to identify local resources to solve those needs. It then teaches local Community Health Agents the needed skills to teach and help the community to put the identified solution to the local needs into practice.