Sunday, June 21, 2009

haiti update - june 20, 2009

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Hi! This week was busy with the medical and school programs. Exam week began on Monday for the school children here at Coram Deo and finished on Thursday. The school children will now be on summer vacation. Next Friday morning there will be a meeting with the parents to hand out the report cards. We give the Lord thanks that we were able to have a school program this year. Jakenmy Milien is the teacher of the handicapped class. He is writing the Philo state exams at the end of this month. If he passes these exams he will be finished with secondary school and will be part of the 10% of students who graduate school in Haiti. Pray that he studies well and is able to pass his exams.
Another malnourished child came down from the Kenscoff mountain area with her mother. She is around 2 years of age and her body was starting to swell with kwashiorkor malnutrition. The family lives in the area of Pastor Pierre’s “far church”. The father died a few months ago after being struck on the head with a tree branch. He was co-pastor of this church. Since that time the family has suffered. The other members of the church have been helping the pastor’s wife and family with food but they too are poor and don’t have much to share. We asked the Missionaries of Charity if they could accept the girl in their malnutrition program and they did this on Monday morning. Pray for this girl and those who are helping her. Pray too for those in outlying areas who are struggling to feed their families.
The medical students and their supporters continue to cause problems in the downtown area near General Hospital with their rock throwing and tire burning. This has made things difficult for people who work in the downtown area. President Preval has decided to object to the minimum wage laws passed by the parliament and senate for further study. Wednesday afternoon the students stopped a UN police vehicle that passed by their compound and they burned it. The 2 UN policemen got away unharmed. The funeral for Father Jean Juste was held on Thursday morning. He was much loved by the Haitian people and was considered as a “champion of the poor”. He had the same charisma that ex-president Aristide (he was a former priest too) had. A lot of people packed the large Cathedral and surrounding area that is located downtown near the Palais National. Because he was a Lavalas supporter people were concerned that there would be problems at the funeral. We had to go that morning with Donna of Feed the Child and a family from the Jacmel area to see a surgeon whose office was located one block up from the large public park downtown. Rene is an 11-year-old boy who has suffered a lot. 2 years ago his belly swelled and he was hospitalized. A fistula opened up in his abdomen and feces started to come out of his belly button. The boy’s mother had died and their grandmother was raising him and his twin brother. She was poor and didn’t have the money to afford the surgery to repair this problem. Instead she took him back home and left it up to God. Feces continued to pass through his belly button for 8 months after which it finally stopped and he was able to stool normally again. He still has abdominal pains from time to time and has missed school several times when the pain was too much for him. Right now he is doing alright. Dr. Philippe Rouseau is a Haitian surgeon whose specialty is pediatric abdominal surgery and he is an excellent surgeon. He ordered a few tests to be done but it is possible that Rene will not need surgery. Scarring in the intestines may cause the abdominal pain. The fistula may have healed by itself. Pray for Rene and that the tests will help the surgeon decide how to proceed. While we were in the medical clinic Lukner stayed on the street to keep an eye on things. He started to see a lot of people running up the street from the downtown area. The word was that someone had gotten shot by the UN at Father Jean Juste’s funeral. He moved with the people to find out where the trouble area was and kept in contact with me on the cell phone. He was able to keep safe and move out of the area but I was concerned for Kimosabee. There was nowhere to hide him and I had no choice but to leave him parked where he was. I was hoping that people wouldn’t smash his windows. Street vendors were packing up and leaving the area and businesses were closing their doors. Lukner went up Ave. John Brown to the area in front of Haitian Immigration. Some people wanted to enter into the Civil Etat compound and into Immigration for shelter but workers there had closed the gates. Several motorcycles were driving fast up John Brown to get away from the area. Lukner continued to move up John Brown and he stopped by the Prophalab pharmacy. A few Haitian policemen showed up and were telling vendors to pack up and leave and that there was trouble on the streets. Lukner was standing near the police and heard what was being said over the police radio. The area from the Capitol cinema to the Palais National had a lot of activity. He then moved further up the road and called to tell me where to pick him up. The street was quiet when we left the doctor’s office and Kimosabee’s windows were intact! I drove over to where Lukner was waiting and we then drove home. Later I found out more of what had happened. There were no problems at the funeral. The church was packed with people and when the service was over the funeral procession transported Father Jean Juste’s casket to the gates in front of the Palais National. He was then loaded onto a hearse for the voyage to his hometown of Cavaillon to be buried. While everyone was leaving the cathedral and the funeral procession was on its way some Brazilian soldiers showed up. They arrested an individual. Some people were throwing rocks at them and they fired into the air. After things settled it was noticed that there was a body on the ground with a head wound. People were angry with the UN and picked up the body and carried it towards the Palais National. At the gates of the Palais National the people deposited the body there. In anger people were smashing windows of vehicles in the area. Police removed the body and brought it to the morgue at General Hospital. The situation calmed down after a while. The next day the UN made a statement that the head wound was not caused by a bullet but by something blunt like a rock.
The area where the students are striking is right where General Hospital is located. As a result the hospital is not able to function. Doctors and nurses are not coming to work and the patients who stay there are stuck in their beds. When the students are active with their rock throwing and tire burning the police and UN are active with firing tear gas. The tear gas affects people in the area and patients in the hospital as well. On Friday a mother came with her 3-year-old girl to Coram Deo. They live in Cite Soleil. On Tuesday the girl tripped and fell into hot oil. She burned her right arm, hand, and stomach. The mother was not able to find care for her. She had first gone to the Missionaries of Charity on Delmas 31 and they told her that they couldn’t help her. She then came to our place. The skin needed to be debrided and we brought her over to Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs Hospital. I spoke with the doctor there and they told the mother to wait and then I went to another appointment with another child. Later the mother called me to say that the doctor told her that they couldn’t help her and told her to go to General Hospital. She went to General Hospital to find no doctor there. Saturday morning she was finally able to get care for her at a clinic being held at St. Joseph’s. Pray for this girl; that her burns heal without infection and also that the student strike would be settled soon and that General Hospital can function once again.
My nephew John had his surgery on his left foot on Wednesday. The procedure took 5 hours. John likes to sing. While being wheeled to the operating room he was singing with the nurses. He was singing right up to when they made him go to sleep. When he was back in his room after surgery the nurses would check the circulation in his toes every couple of hours. He noticed that they never looked at his other foot. He than lifted up his other foot and asked the nurse why doesn’t she check the other foot too. She then checked the other foot too. I don’t think the people at the hospital will forget John! He was discharged from the hospital today. He is doing well. Pray for his continued recovery. In another month’s time he will get a second surgery on his other foot. Maybe one day he will be able to stand!
That is all the news for today. Have a good weekend!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo

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