Friday, May 30, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Hi! God is a mighty fortress and we have spent the last couple of weeks making the grounds of Coram Deo into a kind of fortress too. The walls are now covered in barbed wire and we even made an adjustment to the barrier so that we could install barbed wire along the top of the gate as well. We have been getting compliments from the community about our security upgrades. The policeman who has been advising us is also happy with what is done. “Mack” (name changed to protect the guilty), a member of the Judas gang, now has a shiny red motorcycle. It looks like the thieving business is profitable. He is driving around with no insurance, plates or license and we gave the police this information. We are requesting a photo from the organization that sponsored him for school so that we can give this to the police for their investigation. Today we visited the squatter settlement behind our house. It was a very interesting visit. We discovered some new things. They had built up a dirt ramp against the wall. With this dirt ramp the wall is only about 2 feet high on their side of the property. There are tree branches against the barbed wire so they don’t get cut going over the wall when they go to the outside washroom on our property. Now they say they are going to remove the branches and help repair the barbed wire portion. We are going to go over with a work crew and remove the dirt ramp with a pick and shovel next week. This will also solve the problem of the dirty toilets and maybe the water problem too (we seem to be using a lot of water). One of the houses on the property also has a hole in the wall right over the roof of our briquette shelter. They are allowing us access on Monday to fill in the hole in the house wall. The other squatter settlement we visited too, and we saw that there is no barrier to the outside street, which means anyone from the road, can get onto their property. We got the name of the owner of the property and are going to ask him when he is going to put in a barrier. The neighbors say they feel bad about the break-ins and assured me it wasn’t them. They say the people who did this know our property and I agreed with them and explained about the Judas gang. Pray that “Mack” and his buddies get caught.
Last Saturday there was some excitement on our street corner. The children came running to me with the news that the people on the “happy corner” had caught a thief. I went to look to see if it was someone I knew. The police had shown up and had put him into the back of the police pickup truck. Unfortunately this man was no thief. He had a disagreement with a woman who was the mother of his child. I guess their conversation didn’t go so well because when he had walked down the street this woman starting yelling to the people on the street to stop the thief. They did thinking they were being neighborly and pretty soon a large mob formed. One man eagerly started to beat up the man as a thief is considered as being a low person here in Haiti. The police showed up in time to put the man in the police truck. It was then that the mob found out that this man wasn’t really a thief after all. The police then put the woman who had cried out stop the thief into the police vehicle as well and drove away. The mob then turned on this man who had beaten up the supposed thief and accused him of being a vagabond. He was pushed around a little bit and the people said that he should have been taken away by the police too. Things eventually settled down and after some pushing and shoving everyone went their separate ways.
We have been busy with the medical program. John Charles will most likely be traveling to the United States in July for hydrocephalus surgery. We received an update on Doudeleimy Beaubrun, a 2-year-old girl who is in the United States getting treatment for her clubbed feet. She has for the last few months been getting casts put on her feet to help straighten them. This week she had surgery where a small bone was removed to help straighten her feet. She is standing and her family is excited with this news. Continue to keep her in prayer, as she will be continuing with her physiotherapy. Her clubbed feet were quite severe so it is amazing to see a picture of her standing. A photo of her will be put on the Coram Deo blogsite. Dieuna Philippe had a second surgery for hydrocephalus this week. Pray for those looking after her. Emmanuel Oreus, a 2-year-old boy who is malnourished is still in the hospital but is slowly improving. He was being tube fed but now is to the point where he is able to eat again.
Several parents came with their children to our gate this week looking for help for them. A mother came with a young boy who had a hernia that was causing problems for him. She told me that she was referred to Coram Deo by a doctor at the state hospital, Hopital La Paix, which is located on Delmas 33. She told me that in the last week 2 children died in the middle of their operations when the electricity suddenly went off in the operating room. The Cuban surgeon who was working there no longer wants to operate there according to the mother. Another state hospital, Hopital Sainte Catherine, which is located in Cite Soleil has not been functioning for several days because the medical staff is on strike over not being paid for 8 months. Pray that the state hospitals can be better run and supplied.
Michelson Josme, a 3-year-old boy was operated on last week for a tumor under his arm. The operation went well and he was still in the recovery room at 3:30 pm when I was at the hospital. I received a phone call around 7:30 pm that he had suddenly died in his bed in the pediatrics ward. Pray for his family as they deal with his death. We know that he is with the Lord and no longer suffering.
Kidnapping is still an ongoing problem here in Haiti. This past Wednesday a Canadian woman working for Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) was kidnapped from her home in the middle of the night in the Thomassin area. As of this time she is still in the hands of her kidnappers. Pray that she is released unharmed. I spoke with a nurse who works in the pediatrics room of the Bernard Mevs Hospital on airport road. One of her friends died last week. A motorcycle with 3 men on it drove by policemen standing at Carrefour Payant on Delmas 18. The man in the middle yelled out for help saying that he was being kidnapped. Guns were fired and a man who was standing there waiting for a tap-tap was shot in the abdomen and killed. This man was the nurse’s friend. This man is an amputee with only one leg. I guess he couldn’t get out of the way quick enough. As far as I know the kidnappers that were on the motorcycle got away with the person they had kidnapped. Pray that kidnapping can be controlled here in Haiti.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good weekend!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Our neighbors are not the best. There are some squatters living in a couple of properties behind us. They conveniently left a hole in the wall of their house. It leads right to the tin roof of the briquette shelter. This is another access point to our property that needs to be fixed. I am not sure though how the neighbors would react if I came over with cement blocks and mortar to fill in this hole in their house. Pray for discernment as we try to figure out a way to get them to fill in this hole.
The other property behind our house also is occupied by squatters. You can see that the building they are living in was never finished and abandoned by the previous owners. I believe that these people are responsible for eating our cats.
The welders in front of our house have not been the most accommodating. We kept asking them not to keep their steel against the wall as people can use the material to climb over the wall. Finally the morning after we lost our solar panel we had enough and dumped the material across the street. Since then the welders have been cooperating with our requests of not putting things against the wall. The front wall will soon have barbed wire on top too.
This wall is no longer a low wall. It is now the same height as the front wall of the property and has barbed wire on top. This side wall was the common access point used in all our break-ins totalling 4 in number.
Hi! The last couple of weeks have been busy with the medical part of the program and also trying to improve the security here at the house. Two weeks ago we started making the wall higher. I told the guys that if the thieves saw we were making the wall higher and putting barbed wire up that they may try to make another attempt before the easy access over the neighbor’s low wall is finished. It took 2 days to finish raising the wall. Sure enough, the thieves entered the yard after the first day and took another solar panel that night. We then removed the remaining solar panels from the roof and stored them inside the house. Hopefully they won’t try to get inside the house to get them. We are now down to 6 solar panels. We have started putting up barbed wire on the front wall and hope to finish surrounding the property in barbed wire by the end of the week. This will eliminate easy access to the thieves. I also found out that we are not the only ones dealing with these thieves. Another house in the area was robbed of its solar panels as well. Hopefully, these thieves will one day get caught. A cyber café had also moved out of the area a couple of months ago because all their computers were stolen one night. I think the same group of people are involved in all these thefts and I also think that at least a couple of them were people who used to be associated with Coram Deo. I call the group the “Judas Gang”. Pray that the thieves leave us alone and get caught.
It has been more difficult to use the computer because now the solar panels are removed, the invertor batteries don’t hold a charge, the generator is broken and the only time we have electricity is during the middle of the night until early morning. We hope to purchase new batteries with the funds raised in the “Buy a battery” project when I get back from a visit to Canada (hopefully for 3 weeks at the end of May). Thank you to those who donated to this project. I am concerned that if we get them before I go to Canada that the thieves will break in and steal them while I am gone. The solar panels will be re-installed once all the barbed wire is up and I get back from Canada as well. We will have to find a way of making them more difficult to remove. The generator is still not repaired but the mechanic is looking for a part. It will be nice when our energy problems are solved!
It looks like there is more malnutrition around, affecting young children especially. In one week 4 children were brought to us by their parents seeking assistance. 3 of the children needed to be hospitalized. A 5-month-old baby, Antonio, looked like a one month old because he never received proper feedings. As a result he never grew or developed properly. We found an orphanage that will help the family by taking in the baby for a time. The orphanage is run by Tony and Linda Cortesi. The baby is already showing noticeable improvement. Keep him in prayer.
Kervens Jean is a young 2 year old who was brought by his mother sick and malnourished. We sent them right away to the Bernard Mevs Hospital on Airport Rd. He was admitted to the pediatrics room there and received medicine and is now discharged. The doctor said that he probably would have died if he hadn’t gotten medical care. His family has suffered a lot of hardships. At the end of October 2007 they had to take shelter from flooding that destroyed all their belongings. Gangs came into the building where they and other families were staying and robbed them and raped some of the women and older children. Kervens mother has a 13-year-old daughter. One of these gang members wanted to rape this girl and the mother pleaded with him to leave her alone and rape her instead. He did and now the mother is pregnant. The family is living in a shack near Airport Road in a squatter settlement. The government has told these people to move out of the area and Kervens’ mother doesn’t know where she will go after her shack gets torn down. Pray for Kervens Jean and his family as they deal with all these difficulties.
The hydrocephalus medical team came to Haiti on May 2nd and operated on 17 hydrocephalus children. The surgeries were held at Hopital La Paix on Delmas 33. All the children are discharged now except for one child, Maudlin Thomas. Keep him in prayer as he deals with a fever that doesn’t want to go away. This is Maudlin’s second operation. The first one was done at the end of October. In October he was also one of the last children to be discharged from the hospital because he had meningitis. In hydrocephalus treatment there are 2 types of surgeries. The first one is a shuntless surgery, which is called a ventriculoscopy. The ventriculoscopy procedure didn’t work for Maudlin and he now has a shunt. Pray that the shunt stays infection free.
John Charles and Chrisno Jeudi, 2 hydrocephalus babies that we have on our hydrocephalus list were not chosen for surgery by the Miami medical team. Pray that Angel Missions can find a hospital in the United States for both of these babies. They are both good candidates neurologically.
Dieuna Philippe, a hydrocephalus baby who recently went to the United States for surgery is in hospital. She was the baby who was blocked from getting a visa earlier because of the protests on the streets. The two-week delay caused her to deteriorate. When she arrived in the United States she was brought to the hospital where the doctors found out that she was septic with an infection. The doctor said that if she had arrived a couple of days later she would have been dead. She did get her surgery though. Keep her in prayer as we wait to see what God’s will is on her life. Pray also for those who are caring for her, both medical staff and her host family. She is not alone and is in good hands.
Jacob just celebrated his birthday on May 5th. Benson’s mother came to our gate last week armed with a broken bottle. Francois, the gatekeeper did a good job making sure that she couldn’t force her way into the yard and the people on the street told her to go away. She is crazy and this is the reason that Benson is staying with us. Fortunately he was at school and not here at Coram Deo at the time. Benson has lots of stories about living with his mother on the streets and being hit with the flat part of a machete by her. For a couple of days after he was complaining of a stomach ache and I think he was worried about his mother coming to get him but he is doing better now. Pray his crazy mother doesn’t come back.
The Haitian senate voted to accept the nomination of Ericq Pierre as the new prime minister of Haiti but the parliament voted no and now the nomination process has to start again with the president submitting another nomination for the position of prime minister. This will not help the situation in the country. The leaders of the April protest in Cayes threatened to start another protest that will be worse than the last one if a prime minister wasn’t named by Monday of this week. People are now waiting for their reaction. There are also rumors on the streets that rice coming into Haiti is being diverted to the Dominican Republic and President Preval is being blamed for this. This rumor, even if untrue can also cause problems for the country. We are having trouble getting diesel fuel. For some reason none of the gas stations we went to had any. The gas station attendants say there is a diesel fuel shortage. If we can’t find diesel fuel tomorrow we will start taking tap-taps to get around. In the downtown area thieves are stealing food from trucks and sometimes the entire truck. Some large trucks have police escorting them to their destination. Keep Haiti in prayer as the country deals with the political uncertainty that is present now.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good week!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo