Mar 5, 2013

Back in Haiti

Back in Haiti

It is hard to believe that I have been back in Haiti now for 6 weeks. So much has happened in these 6 weeks, I figure it is time to sit still and write an update. It has been incredible to see patients and the progress so many have made. Many want to know has progress been made since the earthquake? Per reports Haiti still is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and you can still see many buildings, homes and lives that are in need of being rebuilt or healed. I can’t answer the question of where did all the money go that was given to Haiti after the earthquake. What I can say is I continue to see God doing some pretty AMAZING things in the lives of many Haitians I have had the honor of knowing in my two years here.

We ran into a patient that had a foot fracture, arm fractures and severe nerve damage to his arm needing an external fixator and several operations post earthquake. He now has full use of his arm and has two different construction jobs. He also recently got married with his first child on the way. We ran into another patient that lost a leg in the earthquake and really struggled in therapy with depression.  One day in therapy he drew a picture of himself walking with a house in the background. He said one day “he would love to be able to walk again, have a job so he could provide for his family, and a house to live in.” The first few weeks we were here we went into a little village community with small houses built by Haitians that work for Fr. Joseph (the Italian priest that overseas this whole compound I live on).  As we were standing there walked up this patient from his home with a smile on his face. He was telling us about the construction job he has with Fr. Joseph and was explaining that if he continues to make the $40 a month house payments for the next 5 years he will fully own his home.  What a joyful sight that was to see.

I also got to see a former patient that is in her 30’s and had a stroke giving birth to her 4th child. She had difficulty walking and had no use of her right arm it was so badly subluxed when she first came in. She now can do her own laundry, cook, braid her own hair and care for her family. She continues to come to our stroke class to continue to gain strength. I got to see another stroke patient that had her second stroke actually at our clinic. I remember the day we ended up loading her in the car while she was having seizures to take her to the hospital. She is now back walking and talking better than ever before. I got to see one of the children that we built a wheelchair for come in as mom proudly had her show me she can now sit up on her own and hold her head upright without support. Mom said they no longer need the wheelchair at home and in therapy we are working towards walking with support in a walker. Mom returned the wheelchair and we were able to make a few adaptations so we could use it for another child with difficulty sitting and holding their head up. The mom is 7 mos pregnant so this chair was greatly appreciated. These are just a few of the AMAZING ways God is working through this ministry.

I continue to be overwhelmed by the resilience of the Haitian people.  The way they come together and value community. The way they simply just keep on going even through the setbacks and challenges of life here. Last week I was going to the airport to look for a friend’s lost luggage. When we left we passed a gentleman who is a bilateral amputee pedaling away on this little arm bike down our street. I have seen him many times. Nothing in Haiti happens quickly so it took about two hours to get to the airport and wait for someone to check for the luggage and then drive back. This is only about a 15 mile trip but on mostly dirt and hectic streets full of potholes it can take a while. On the way back we passed the same gentleman and I asked our driver about him. He told me everyday he pedals his arm bike to the airport to work and then pedals home. It must take him 2.5-3 hours each way. I was blown away that this was the same guy I had seen many times at the airport on a little scooter helping people with luggage.  Talk about resilience and just overcoming so many things we take for granted. I look forward to the day I can visit with this gentleman and hear more of his story.

So long story short I do think progress is being made and God is continuing to work in the lives of so many of His faithful servants here.There are still days where the constant needs can be overwhelming and my purpose here is unclear.  This is usually when I find myself pushing my own agenda and I am quickly humbled. There are also times when it gets tiring to hear the words “bay mwen” (give me) but then I am reminded of the many who have inspired me by the way they have taken what they have been given and found joy out of their obstacles.  I continue to learn so much about love, patience, community, relationships, and resilience from the people of Haiti. Thank you for your faithful support of the work God is doing here and the work God is doing in me. More updates to come on this year’s Ultra Marathon and Community Run.