Tuesday, July 22, 2008

haiti update - july 19, 2008

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

Hi! This week was a busy one with the medical program. Doudeleimy Beaubrun came back to Haiti after almost one year in the United States for medical treatment of her clubbed feet. Her family was happy to see her again and to see that she is now able to walk normally. People in the village where they live didn’t offer the family much encouragement while they were searching for medical care. Some people told them that nothing could be done and that when she arrived in the United States the doctors would most likely send her back untreated. The villagers were wrong and her parents were proud when one by one people in the village visited the family to see the girl who had crooked feet being able to walk on straightened feet. Doudeleimy is now making her adjustment from living in an American home to a mud hut. She never wants to take her running shoes off and she keeps her backpack on all the time. Right now she is being treated as a queen. She talks to everyone in English but eventually she will learn Creole again. Her father is trying to enroll her in a mission school run by Americans so that she can retain her English. During our visit to the village we were approached by families of other sick children. A grandmother came with her granddaughter. Remika Felix is 7 months old and is malnourished. She only weighs about 4 or 5 pounds and she can’t sit up by herself. Her mother died last week after probably dying from an untreated infection after giving birth to Remika. The mother was only 23 years old when she died. Another mother came with 2 of her children, a 3 year old and a 12 month old. She is also pregnant with her 4th child. The 3 year old hasn’t been able to walk for the last year and is the same size as his 12-month-old brother. His malnutrition has caused him not to grow and also taken away his strength to stand and walk. The boys name is Evenerson. When I got home I contacted some missionaries that I know who have children’s homes. Tony and Linda Cortesi of Holy Angels are taking in Remika and Deedee is taking in Evenerson. Pray for their efforts and that the children will thrive in their care.
Francisco of Smile Train came to Haiti from Mexico to visit several hospitals here in Haiti. Smile Train is currently working in 75 countries around the world sponsoring cleft lip and palette surgeries. They work with surgeons living in these countries. They are planning a unique program for Haiti. It is estimated that there is anywhere between 2 and 8 thousand people who need surgical correction of their cleft lips and palettes here in Haiti. They are designing a pilot program called “Cleft Free Haiti” where they will partner up with hospitals around the country. It will take some time before this plan can be realized but it will be great when it is in place and working. Pray that one day every child born in Haiti will have access to this type of surgery. While driving Francisco around Port-au-Prince on Tuesday morning we passed a “ra-ra”. These “ra-ras” are groups of people that are usually on the streets around carnival time. Francisco asked what they were celebrating but I didn’t know. Later, we found out that these people were celebrating the former president Aristides’ 55th birthday. The march started in front of his residence on Tabarre (he is currently living in exile in South Africa) and then headed downtown where other groups joined in. By the time they reached the large downtown park area there were a few thousand people. The UN and police had the Palais National area blocked off and when some people tried to go around the barricades tear gas was fired to stop them. After a while the birthday march was over and everyone went their own way. Aristide still has a following especially amongst the poor in the slum areas of Bel Air and Cite Soleil where the people see him as a champion of the poor.
The 3rd candidate nominated by President Preval as prime minister was ratified by the Haitian parliament. Now Michele Pierre-Louis will need to be accepted by the senate before being installed as prime minister. The prime minister is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day functioning of the government and also for presenting the budget. Haiti has been without a prime minister since the April food riots. Michele Pierre-Louis is a woman and some people are speaking out over the radio that they don’t want a woman to help to lead the country. Some of the people here in the neighborhood don’t want her either. It’s difficult to keep people happy here in Haiti. There are many political parties here in Haiti and all stand for something different.
The rice subsidy that was put in place by the president has now expired and rice prices have jumped from 43US$ to 52US$. The rarity of rice on the international market continues as China and India have halted rice exportations for economic reasons, as well as Australia’s rice production being decreased due to environmental conditions. The problems of hunger in Haiti will not be resolved in the short term.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good weekend!

Karen Bultje, Coram Deo

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