Saturday, October 25, 2008

photos - state hospital strike - part 1

This is the emergency room at the state General Hospital that is located in downtown Port-au-Prince. Normally this room is always packed with patients. The doctor's strike has gone on for 2 weeks now. Patients who could leave left for other hospitals or went home.

Some are too sick to leave and wait for the end of the strike. This man's backside is infected and rotting. He told me that he needs an operation but there can't be an operation if there is no staff to perform it. His family is not with him and he is abandoned. When I was there he hadn't eaten anything for 2 days. Pray for the forgotten ones in this strike.

The abandoned children's ward is packed with children. This baby was born with malformed hands. For this reason she is now a member of the abandoned room. Pray an orphanage can be found to take her in.

This baby was born with multiple deformities. She has severely clubbed feet as well as an arm that was formed backwards and a cleft lip. She too was abandoned because of having a deformity.

This is a close-up shot of her deformed arm, wrist and hand. You can see she has a cleft lip as well. Pray an orphanage can be found to take her in and provide the medical care that she needs.

photos - state hospital strike - part 2

Each department in the Hopital La Paix has a list of issues that they want the government to address. The pediatrics department say:1.they are tired of sending newborns to another hospital in bad condition; 2. Sending older children to another hospital because there is no medicine.; 3. Heard that people are saying that the doctors don't want to work but it is because there are no supplies; 4. Sending children away because there are not enough hospital beds.

The maternity department post what changes they would like to see: 1. Good conditions for women in labor; 2. Good consultation conditions throughout the pregnancy; 3. Good conditions for delivery 24 hours per day; 4. Good conditions to operate at any time, 24 hours per day when a caesarian section is required. The residents summarize that they will strike until we find satisfaction for pregnant women.

Internal Medicine residents request: 1. Opening another room immediately; 2. ECG and sonogram equipment 24 hours per day; 3. Suction machine; 4. Materials and medications for all emergencies.

The Surgery department residents say they are tired of: 1. Seeing how women and young men are dying in emergency because the operating room is closed during the night; 2. Seeing emergency cases waiting the same as other clinic cases in the mornings; 3. An operating room which always lack materials.

This sign is posted at the front entrance to Hopital La Paix. It reads: a determined strike for the population because of: 1. No laboratory; 2. No emergency; 3. No neonatology; 4. No operating room during the night; 5. Lack of beds; 6. No medications in the pharmacy. The conclusion at the bottom reads "What a shame for a university hospital". Pray that all these conditions can be addressed and improvements made to the operations at the haitian state hospitals. The government has quite the challenge as they lack resources themselves.

photos - various

Nesca Laguerre is a young girl who has a heart problem. Her family came to us this week for the first time. We put her name on our medical search list. It is difficult to find hospitals in the United States willing to donate for heart surgery. Pray for Nesca and her family.

On Monday along with a meal we provided the children with an albendazole pill which is used to treat worms. We are thankful for the donation of this medicine in helping to improve the children's health here at Coram Deo.

Jackenmy is the handicapped children teacher. Here he is distributing the medicine to his class.

The children enjoy having a lunch provided when school is over. We are grateful for donations of food in order to improve the nutrition of the children.

Solyvien Favra is the boy who has a deformed ankle and foot caused by a fracture that was never set. Many people have deformities caused by broken bones that aren't set. If a family doesn't have money they just wait at home and hope the bones set on their own; which usually doesn't result in a good outcome for a serious fracture. Please pray for our efforts in getting the paperwork ready for him.

haiti update - october 25, 2008

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Hi! This week was a busy week with the medical program. We were able to get Kervens Guerrier’s passport this week and are now waiting for one more paper to come from the United States before requesting a visa interview. If all goes well he will be getting the opportunity to travel to Ohio for surgery on his clubbed foot. His parents are excited that their child is getting medical care.
We also got word that Solyvien Favra; a 12-year-old boy with a severely deformed ankle due to a broken bone that was never set got accepted for medical care in Virginia. We are now starting the paperwork process towards getting his passport. On Monday morning Solyvien and his father went with us downtown to go to DGI to update his fathers’ id card. This is the first time in a while that we saw that there had been burning tires in Solyvien’s neighborhood. The family lives in the Delmas 18, Carrefour Payant area and several UN police from China along with the Haitian police were watching the area. We don’t know why the tires were burned but this is a common thing to do when people want to protest about something.
We also had another experience on Delmas 31 with a person who was collapsed at the side of the road (this time it wasn’t in the middle of the road). We were driving up Delmas 31 and a young woman was lying at the side of the road having a grand mal seizure. It had just happened and nobody else was there so we stopped to stay with her. A man stepped off a taptap to help us as well. There was not much we could do while she was in her seizure so we looked through her purse to try to find out her identification and if she was carrying a cell phone. All we found was a paper that had a list of telephone numbers. After about 5 minutes the seizure stopped and she slowly regained consciousness. She forced herself to her feet but was still pretty unstable and we tried to find out her name and where she lived so that we could either contact somebody to pick her up or drive her home. I was looking at the list of telephone numbers and asked her for her fathers name and told her that I wanted to contact him for her. We got the number from her and I gave the phone to the Haitian man who was helping us to talk with him. There were a few other people there as well and I asked them to hold her arm so that she wouldn’t fall down and this is when she panicked. I think that she thought we were going to kidnap her and as soon as one of the men touched her arm she tried to stumble run away. In Haiti the sewers don’t always have manhole covers on them and she was heading right for the hole. It was too late to grab her and she fell into the hole in the road and only her head was sticking out. It was amazing that she didn’t break anything. We helped her out of the hole and she started to move off again. All she got out of this fall was a bloody mouth. It was just at that time that a couple friends who knew her saw her. They were able to get her to stop moving and that is when we found out her name was Betty. They asked her what happened and if she was hit by a motorcycle. She told them that she was beat up by some people. We explained to her friends that this was not true and that she had had a seizure. I asked her friends to help accompany her home, as she didn’t want us to help and to explain to her father that she had a seizure. Hopefully the friends believed us that we didn’t beat her up. They followed behind Betty as she stumble walked away. Sometimes in Haiti it is difficult to help people.
There has been a strike at the two large state hospitals for the last couple of weeks. The residents are on strike for 7 months salary and better hospital conditions. Hopital La Paix on Delmas 33 is not functioning. The sick patients who were already hospitalized when the strike began either left to other hospitals or went home. There are a few who remained behind. The nurses are still working so they are providing care for the ones still there. Signs were posted throughout the departments of the hospital explaining why there was a strike. We went to the General Hospital downtown and the situation there is even worse. The abandoned children’s’ ward is full of children (around 28) and some beds have 3 children to a bed. Mercy and Sharing Foundation pays for the salary of the workers in this ward so the children are being looked after. These workers are frustrated though because of the overcrowding. They have contacted the social services department and asked the government to help find a place for these children. There were only a few children in the regular pediatrics ward and the mothers and a nurse were looking after them the best they could. The worst area is the emergency room. When the strike took place people who could leave the emergency room and who could afford another hospital left. Some just went home. The ones who stayed had nowhere else to go and live day-by-day hoping the strike will be finished. There are a couple of men who don’t have any family members with them and they are suffering. One man we talked with is slowly dying of an infection and his backside is rotting. He was in agony. We asked him if he had any family and offered to try and contact them for him. He gave us the number of his mother and we called. The person who answered the phone talked with him and was very short. The man asked this individual if he could tell his mother to come to him right away and the reply he got was that she wasn’t there and that person hung up the phone. You could see the sadness in his face when he handed back the phone. All he said was that they hung up the phone on him. Because nobody is with this man he hadn’t eaten anything in a couple of days. We helped him out with some food and something to drink. The smell in the room was pretty bad. There was an elderly lady there who had an infected foot and it was infected and rotting too. Her devoted husband was at her side. He couldn’t do anything to help her get care but he could sit by his wife so that she wouldn’t be alone. There were a few other people in the room that weren’t in as bad condition and they too were just awaiting the day for when the strike will end. Until then the people in the emergency room will continue to wait and suffer. When we left the room Lukner said that he didn’t want to see anymore and we drove home. The smell of rotting flesh is the worst smell that there is and he kept spitting out the window to get rid of the bad taste in his mouth. We stopped at a market to get something to drink to get rid of the bad taste. We are going to continue visiting the people there and to let them know that they are not alone. Pray for the end of the strike and also for the suffering that the patients still left at the hospital are enduring. Pray that we can find a way to help them. The hydrocephalus surgeries in November are scheduled to be held at Hopital La Paix. If the strike continues these surgeries will have to be delayed.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good weekend!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo

Saturday, October 18, 2008

photos - baptist mission, fort jacques

The Baptist Mission has a small zoo. We started our day here. The children's favorite animals to see were "Fifi" the monkey and the crocodile.

The children enjoyed using the slide.

After we visited the Baptist Mission we drove up to Fort Jacques. This is the area around the outside wall of the fort. There were a lot of people there because it was a holiday - "La Mort de Dessalines" (Death of Dessalines) who was one of the heroes of Haiti's independance battles.

There is a beautiful view of Port-au-Prince along the outside edge of the fort.

The children enjoyed their walk around the fort.

photos - fort alexandre - part 1

Here is Junior (with the sunglasses) posing with a few friends on the road to Fort Alexandre.

Fort Alexandre is in the distance. It was a nice walk up to the fort.

The children are getting closer to the ruins of the fort.

Manu waited behind with a concerned and serious look on his face. When I got close he instructed me that I needed to remove my red baseball cap before we got close to the bull. He told me that the color red makes bulls angry and they will charge after any person wearing the color red. It was nice that he was so concerned!

I like exploring around Fort Alexandre better than Fort Jacques because it is left as a ruin and not really a tourist area.

photos - fort alexandre - part 2

The children scrambled quickly to the top of the ruins of Fort Alexandre.

The children are walking down into the interior of the fort. This is one of the archways.

The children are posing under one of the arches. Manu was having a slight disagreement with Benson. They were both pulling on each others ears.

Here are the children clowning around on the top of the fort.

Soon it was time to climb down and head back to the road to Fort Jacques.

photos - pine forest

This is the road heading down from Fort Alexandre to Fort Jacques.

Women in Haiti have strong necks and are able to carry large loads. They also have good balance too.

The children climbed down the hill into the pine forest. Benson had a great day!

Set up was a logging display. They still use the old method of logging and cutting out boards.

They stood admiring the forest for only a few minutes when everyone heard a clanging sound. you can see that nobody cares about the forest. Everyone ran to see what was making the noise! So much for the logging lesson.

photos - walking dead - part 1

The children saw men walking on the street above the forest. They were dressed in what looked like a diaper from the distance. We followed them to see what was going on.

This was a procession of the "Walking Dead", who represent those who died in the independance battles against the French in 1804.

The men had their faces painted with mud. These walking dead had a story to tell. This man made quite a bit of noise banging the pot lids together to get everyone's attention.

Everyone was fascinated by their actions. They didn't mind that I took their photos.

The play didn't last very long but it was interesting to watch. The children kept their distance though.

photos - walking dead - part 2, OPACIE

The actors took their roles seriously.

Each pose was symbolic to a moment in the independance battle where Dessaline lost his life.

The procession of the walking dead moved on and presented the play again further up the road.

Friday was a busy day! While we were up the mountain the community organization - OPACIE (Organisation des Parents Allies Contre L'Ignorance et L'Esclavage des Enfants) which in english is translated as Organization of Parents Allied Against the Ignorance and Slavery of Children held a childrens program in our yard for poor children living in the community and that are part of their organization.

Around 150 children enjoyed the festivities of the day and enjoyed a meal inside the grounds of Coram Deo. The man standing at the front of the group is Pastor Octave. He is the leader of this christian organization. The parents meet once a week here at Coram Deo. As a show of support to this community group we let them use our grounds. Together we can all work together to help to build a better community for all. The entire day was organized by this group including security, decorations, program and meal. They even had a sound system set up with speakers and a microphone in place. Pray for Coram Deo as we work together with other haitians working to build a better haitian society for all.

haiti update - october 18, 2008

“…. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Luke 15:32

Hi! This week another child was added to the family here at Coram Deo. This child is just like the prodigal son. Reginald Jules was one of the original handicapped children in our school program back in 2000. When his aunt had brought him to us for help with his visual problems we had taken him to an eye doctor who said that nothing could be done to improve his vision as his eye problems originated in the brain. He was almost autistic and was a handful for his aunt. His mother didn’t treat him well and the aunt took over his care and raised him along with her other son Samuel Masseus. He started school here back in 2000 but wasn’t too eager to learn. He would rip up his paper and break or throw away his pencil. He had behavior problems as well. He would not willingly sit in class with the other children. Gradually things improved over the years. He lived at Coram Deo with his older cousin/brother Samuel until the school was transferred to another mission. Samuel left to live at the school and Reginald lived with his mother and aunt. Reginald continued attending the other school but problems began in his life. Several people came up to me and explained how they would see Reginald begging on the street for money. I thought at the time that this is how he decided to earn some money. This continued until July when one day I saw him in front of the One Stop grocery store on Delmas. Reginald told me later that he purposely stood near the pick-up truck so that I would see him. When I came out of the store I saw him and went over to say hello. I asked him what he was doing and he replied that he was just waiting for someone. That someone I found out later was me. The next morning he came to Coram Deo and stood in front of the gate. I drove out and saw him there and said hello and went on to where I needed to go. He talked with Manu and asked him to talk to me to find out if he could make briquettes. That evening Manu told me about the conversation and I told Manu that if he saw Reginald to tell him that he was welcome to come and help make briquettes. The next morning Reginald was back in front of the gate but the older guys wouldn’t let him inside as I forgot to inform them. Reginald stayed by the front gate until I got home and then let him in. Since then he has come early every morning and left in the late afternoon to go home. The children had a discussion one day and I overheard Reginald saying that nobody tells him when to get up in the morning or to go to bed at night. I figured that he just didn’t want to listen to his aunt. I didn’t find out until just this week that home was the street. Reginald told the guys that in the afternoon he didn’t go home. He would sleep overnight somewhere on the street in the back of a tap-tap or anywhere that was convenient. When I spoke with Reginald he told me some sad things. He said that his mother doesn’t want him and kicked him out of the house. When he was getting ready to start the school year he saw his mother and asked if she could get him some clothes and she told him to go away. He said that his aunt didn’t want him around anymore either. Reginald lies sometimes so I didn’t know what to believe. Lukner went with him to his aunt’s house and she came yesterday morning to talk. She confirmed that it was true that Reginald has been on the streets since January. I got her approval for him to stay here but I also want to work on improving his family situation. I told him that he would need to visit his aunt every week and that I would send someone with him to make sure that he arrives. It is good to have Reginald here. He is a handful but I think to where he was in the beginning and where he is now as a big improvement. He has gone from the child who couldn’t do anything to one who is still going to a local mission school and learning. This is why handicapped children need a lot of patience. There are a lot of mission schools focusing on helping the strong academic children to help form leaders tomorrow but we are focusing on helping handicapped children fit into Haitian society. Junior is acting like a big brother for Reginald. I think they understand each other as Junior too lived on the streets for 3 years. This week was tough for Benson too. All the talk of living on the streets made him remember of his ordeal living on the street with his crazy mother. He was crying one night remembering it. He told me that his worst fear was the rats that scurried around him at night. Pray for the children who live here at Coram Deo and that this could be a refuge for them and a place where they have structure (now someone tells Reginald when to go to bed and when to get up) and a family. Please continue to pray for the funding of our programs here at Coram Deo so that we can continue to provide for them.
October 17th is a national holiday here in Haiti – “ La Mort de Dessaline” (The death of Dessaline). Dessaline was one of the heroes who died fighting for the independence of Haiti. 19 of us piled on board “Kimosabee” the pick-up truck and headed up the mountain to go to the Baptist Mission, Fort Jacques and Fort Alexandre. The children had a fun excursion and enjoyed seeing the zoo at the Baptist Mission. Their favorite animals were “Fifi” the monkey and the crocodile. At Fort Jacques we had a good view of Port-au-Prince below us. There were many people there enjoying a festive time at the fort. We then walked up to Fort Alexandre, which is just a short distance away. I let the children walk ahead and took some pictures. I noticed that Manu was waiting for me just before we got to the fort. Off the path was a bull that was tied to a bush. Manu had a worried look on his face. When I got close he seriously told me that I must stop and remove my baseball cap. I asked him why and he told me that it was the color red and this is a dangerous color when you are near a “toro” (bull). If the bull saw this he would charge. I took my cap off and asked him what happened if I would wave the cap at the bull. He had a shocked look on his face and told me not to do that. He made sure that I hid it by my side until we finished walking by the “toro”. The bull didn’t even pause to look at us as we walked past. When we finished scrambling around the ruins of Fort Alexandre we took a different path away from the bull to make Manu happy. We headed back to Fort Jacques and went into the pine forest there (part of the 1% forested area left of Haiti). There was a logging stand set up where workers saw the logs into boards. I was just showing the children how they cut the logs when there was a clanging sound and everyone took off to see what the commotion was. So much for the lesson on logging. What captured everyone’s interest was the “Walking Dead”, a street play on the lives of those who fought in the independence of Haiti, especially Dessaline. These walking dead people explained the history of that time period. I took pictures and put it on the blog to show some scenes from the play. We then headed back down the mountain. Yesterday night Manu and Benson came up to me and informed me that they didn’t enjoy seeing the “Walking Dead”. I told them that it was their own fault. They should have stayed and listened to my logging lesson in the forest.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good weekend!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo

Monday, October 13, 2008

photos - school program

We open every morning with the national anthem, prayer and devotions. Both handicapped and non-handicapped children stand together. This is a symbol for the community that these children stand together and are part of the haitian society.

Jislaine Neanty is a determined deaf girl. She refused to sit in the handicapped class and wants the challenge of sitting in the non-handicapped class.

Lukner Exuma is a young deaf boy that is also attending school here at Coram Deo.

Rio Dana Bosquet is a downs syndrome boy that is serious about going to school.

Kervin Louissaint is a 10-year-old boy who now has the opportunity to go to school. On his first day he dressed in his Sunday best! We don't have uniforms but we ask the parents to make sure that they come to school with clean clothes, shoes and proper hair cuts.