Saturday, October 25, 2008
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.