Thursday, November 26, 2009

photos - hydrocephalus surgeries - part 1

When the medical team arrived at the hospital they quickly got to work. These curious mothers are looking in.

Each child was evaluated before being admitted to the hospital.

Maggy of Project Medishare is taking this doctor's photos. Project Medishare pays for the cat scans for the children as well as co-ordinating with the director of the hospital, government and medical team making these neurosurgeries possible here in Haiti.

This doctor is examining one of the patients before sending to surgery.

These 2 members of the medical team are carrying this child to the operating room.

photos - hydrocephalus surgeries - part 2

Jony St. Louis from Healing Hands for Haiti is standing on the right. Healing Hands also has a physiotherapy program that the parents can take their children too after the surgeries. They also organize a few days of seminars each time there is a surgical process to explain to the parents what is hydrocephalus and how best to look after their children.

The same nurses from Hopital La Paix are assigned to provide nursing care each time there are surgeries. They are comfortable with the hydrocephalus children and provided excellent care.

These are a couple of families that we work with. The people of Coram Deo enjoyed bringing food to the hospital and helping out the families.

This shunt is malfunctioning. The shunt was removed and another placed on the other side of this girls' head. Pray this one works well.

This boy was waiting to be assigned a bed.

photos - hydrocephalus surgeries - part 3

This boy just came out of the recovery room and is covered in his crib.

The children were doing well and alert the next day after having surgery.

There were some children who ran fevers and had some vomiting but they recovered well.

It was amazing to see 29 children receiving a neurosurgery for their problems!

This parent and child look comfortable.

photos - hydrocephalus surgeries - part 4

The parents were happy to see how well their children were doing so soon after surgery.

Cindy is a happy girl who is part of His Home For Children, run by Hal and Chris Nungester. This is the second surgery for her.

This bright-eyed boy is doing well after surgery too!

Over time the skull bones will close in and seal off which will lessen this baby's head circumference as well.

This father is relaxing with his son after surgery.

photos - hydrocephalus surgeries - part 5

We provided a meal for the parents each evening while they were in the hospital with their children.

We also provided nourisoy cereal for the babies. This food is enriched with vitamins and protein, helping the babies to get strong!

It is tasty and the babies enjoyed eating it.

In the mornings we brought a sandwich and nourisoy for the parents and babies. This boy had both and was happy with that fact!

We provided the parents with a gift bag of soap, washcloth and toothbrush from the recent donations that we received. Thanks to all those who made this possible!

photos - hydrocephalus surgeries - part 6

We sent Andilene Chery to the United States in 2004 for surgery to remove a brain tumor. She is now 9 years old and walks, talks and goes to school! We give the Lord thanks for his healing mercies!

Her father is proud of her.

Sterline Bonhomme recently had a surgery to release the tendon for correction of her clubbed feet. Dr. Nau of Healing Hands has been treating her for her clubbed feet. She was not selected for surgery as her head is not growing that fast and priority given to other cases. Maybe she will be able to get surgery the next time around.

Carmilo was not selected for surgery. His head is 85cm and we are going to try and find medical care for him in the United States. Pray for the mission that is looking after him.

This lady came from the Tomassique which is in the Hinche region in search of help. Her baby was evaluated but will be part of the next surgical process.


Everything belongs to God. Steven Curtis Chapman has a song entitled "Yours". Follow the link to watch the video:

haiti update - november 21, 2009

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5,6

Hi! This week we got to see the results of having more policemen trained here in Port-au-Prince. “Mac the Knife” (real name – Mackenson Joseph) of the Judas Gang was arrested and is now getting the opportunity to reflect on his crimes while imprisoned in the National Penitentiary downtown. He used to be a sponsor student of Coram Deo and Adoration Christian School. Food for the Poor is a large mission in the Delmas 31 (Cite Aux Cayes) neighborhood. They provide cooked meals for a lot of poor people in the community as well as helping out missions with food and other materials. Outside the gates of this mission thieves wait to take what is handed out from Food for The Poor. Mackenson is one of these thieves. He approached a woman and demanded her to hand over the rice that she was carrying. She didn’t and he cut her hand with a knife. A police report was made and he was located and arrested. Pray that his heart is changed and that he repents for what he has done. Pray also for the other members of the Judas Gang and that they would repent for their actions as well. The catholic priest of the local parish received food from Food for the Poor as well and young men armed with rocks demanded him to hand it over. Once again police were called and quite a few of these guys were arrested! The other week we got some assistance from Food for the Poor too. Normally they request people to use an enclosed truck but we brought our tarp with us and tied it over the supplies. The guys from Coram Deo, including Cousin Johnny from Jeremie sat on the top of the covered supplies for security and I told them to hang on tight as we accelerated when we left the Food for the Poor gates.
On Monday we picked up Rachel from Deedee’s house to bring to Healing Hands. Rachel’s feet are slightly clubbed and she was fitted with some splints to hold the feet in the proper position. We were following behind a government vehicle and as we neared the corner of Rue Dalia and Faustin 1ere the car stopped and 3 men jumped out who were wearing uniforms from the mayor’s office. They quickly picked up the baskets and dumped them into their truck as well as booting one woman’s display of oranges all over the road. One vendor that had a bunch of sandals tried to run away with them but the guy grabbed them off the top of her head. They left the vendor alone who was selling books though. We went ahead and warned the vendors who were further ahead to move before they had their stuff taken too and a man who had a large bowl of bread ran inside a barrier. Joanna, who was holding Rachel told the people not to return and to find another place to sell if they didn’t want to lose their wares. The mayor has a very difficult job controlling where vendors can sell. A couple of hours later we returned and the vendors were back at their spot beside the church selling things. The Haitian people are very determined!
The man dressed in costume from the 1800’s sitting on a horse that we saw at Carrefour Aviation on October 17th made the news again. We were downtown on Tuesday morning and there was a special ceremony on the grounds of the Palais National. It looked nice and I wish that I had brought my camera. What happened before though shocked the palace security. The man on the horse followed the presidential convoy through the Champ Mars and to the palace gates. He proceeded to follow the vehicles onto the grounds of the palace and galloped up to speak with President Preval. This man identified himself as Emperor Dessalines and wanted to discuss the plans for the national holiday that was being held on Wednesday November 18th – Battle of Vertierres (one of the independence battles of Haiti). Dessalines was one of the leaders of the battles for independence against the French in 1803. Palace security arrested this man and brought him across the street to the police station and his horse is waiting on the grounds of the police station for his owner to be released from jail.
Wednesday morning we were busy picking up a couple of families who had come into Port-au-Prince from outlying areas for the hydrocephalus surgeries. We were heading on the road called “sur piste”, which is off Airport Rd. when we saw 3 men, each riding a horse. We passed them as they were trotting along. One of the men was holding a sword. They were heading towards Delmas 2. We went to the Jeremie wharf to pick up Guerdson Delile’s family who had come into port on the Jeremie boat and then to the Cap Haitian bus station near Cite Soleil to pick up Calwens Sanon and his family. Along with the 2 men from the mountains who are recuperating from their hernia surgeries we had 22 people sleeping here at Coram Deo! (this is our highest level ever). The Wednesday holiday was not a good one in the downtown area. The students from the state university were protesting the high cost of living, university reform and demanding the departure of the UN. The protests happened in the Ave. Christophe area. The protesters stopped 2 government vehicles and the vehicles were burned. Several vehicles had windows smashed by rocks, including 2 UN police vehicles. One professor and 12 students were arrested. We saw one government bus this week that had “UN” with an “X” through it spray-painted on the front windshield. Pray that the protests come to an end.
We made a couple of visits at the beginning of the week to see how Dathsun the premature baby hospitalized at General Hospital was doing. When we were there on Monday morning the grandmother was getting ready to put a 10cc feeding in the tube and we left the hospital confident that she was looking after her well. Every time we go to the hospital we usually see one dead baby in the hallway. That day there were two in the hallway when we got there. I should have noticed that something strange was going on. When we got there on Tuesday morning the grandmother told us that Dathsun had a difficult night and had breathing problems. He didn’t look good. She then said that there were no doctors around and that they were on strike. One of the parents had hit a doctor in anger on Sunday and since then all the other parents were being punished by the pediatric doctors. I looked at his chart and no medications were given on Monday or for Tuesday morning. The IV was shut off and the grandmother said that she was waiting for the baby to wake up before giving it milk through the tube. She had not given him anything since late Monday afternoon. There was only one nurse in the room but she couldn’t keep up with everything. I called Dorothy and we signed him out. While in the hospital he went down in weight from 2 pounds to 1 pound. Dorothy and her staff did all they could for Datsun but the Lord called him home and he died on Wednesday. We brought him to the morgue at General Hospital the next morning. While on the hospital grounds we saw Father/Dr. Rick from Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs Hospital leaving with a couple of their trucks. He is an American that has a unique ministry that not too many people know about. He regularly goes to the morgue and removes the unclaimed bodies for burial. This relieves the burden on the state and helps the morgue to function better. In the past when we have brought bodies to the morgue we have seen the government use dump trucks to haul the bodies away and they were placed into mass graves. Father Rick left that day with 35 bodies. We talked with a worker at the morgue and asked him to give Datsun’s body to Father Rick as the family wouldn’t be holding a funeral. He promised to do this. The grandmother was relieved and we brought her to the Gonaives bus station.
All the hydrocephalus children met at Hopital La Paix on Thursday and the ones who were chosen for the surgical list were hospitalized. The Miami neurosurgery team did 4 surgeries that day and the rest on Friday and Saturday. 29 neurosurgeries were performed which is the largest amount done yet. We brought food to the hospital for the morning and evening meals. Tim and Kim Bos arrived on Friday and they helped too in handing out the meals. Calwens and Guerdson did not receive a surgery but will most likely be on the next surgical list sometime in May. Healing Hands and Project Medishare did a good job of organizing everything. The nurses that care for the children are assigned by the hospital and they are the same ones each time. You can tell that they are now comfortable with looking after hydrocephalus children, which is a good sign for the future of the hydrocephalus program. The children received good care by the hospital staff. Pray for these children as they recover. It is great to be able to see these babies get surgery to stop their heads from getting larger. Carmilo’s head is now 85 cm and he was not selected for surgery. Pray for the mission that is looking after him. We are going to try to seek medical care for him in the United States. He is alert and smiles when spoken to and he is now starting to take in more fluids. Considering the size of his head, he has no pressure sores.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good week!

Karen Bultje, Coram Deo

Thursday, November 19, 2009



Published: November 19, 2009
Fourth of a six-part series on Haiti's environmental problems.

GRANMONT, Haiti -- With its rich delta soil and a year-round growing season, Haiti's famous agricultural region seems capable of feeding the entire Caribbean.

But Haiti is a net importer of food, spending about $400 million last year on purchases from abroad. The World Food Programme runs child nutrition and "food for work" operations. And fields in the nation's breadbasket, Artibonite Department, have been periodically swamped by flash floods and mud washed by tropical downpours off barren hillsides.

Farmers in the Granmont agricultural area, just outside Gonaïves, the department capital, say their plight is being ignored by the government and relief agencies focusing on defending urban infrastructure from flooding and strong storms.

"Granmont is the only place now in Gonaïves where you can produce all the food for the town," said Wilson Adeclair, a leader of a local community organization. "This place needs to be protected."

Though Gonaïves -- which was slammed by three devastating hurricanes and a tropical storm last year -- is the focus of extensive engineering aimed at curbing catastrophic flooding, Adeclair and his group have insisted that available aid money also be used to protect Granmont and other farming areas. They got their wish: 200 men and women are now digging a 4-foot-deep trench between the city and farmland aimed at draining floodwaters and protecting crops.

Workers here voice frustration at what they see as a lack of focus by the government and U.N. officials on their region, which produces rice, potatoes, tomatoes, leafy greens, bananas, cassava, peas, corn, cereals, papayas and mangoes.

Phase one of the canal is nearly complete, and the workers say they are confident it will get the job done. But they fear storm infrastructure in the city could send more water to farming areas than they can handle. They are also worried they won't have enough money to take the channel all the way to the sea.

"We are the only ones who are fighting every time to make a kind of presentation about the importance of this place, and sometimes it's very, very difficult for us," Adeclair said.

Haiti was the scene of food riots last year as commodity prices rose to record highs and the cost of imports soared.

Experts say the riots were a consequence of the misguided policies of aid agencies, especially the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which have for decades been telling Haiti to focus on exporting textiles and using the cash to purchase cheap food from the United States.

"Whenever they'd go to the World Bank and say, 'We need agriculture development spending,' they would say, 'No, that's not what we're doing,'" said Roger Thurow, co-author of the new book "Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty."

"It was under the whole Washington consensus 'food is cheap' policy that the word basically went out to Haiti," Thurow said in a recent interview. "So what happens in 2008? Prices of rice increase ... all of a sudden they can buy half as much rice, there's shortages in the country, the prices go up more, hunger follows, there's the riots, government falls."

The 2008 storm season, when a tropical storm and three hurricanes slammed into the country over a period of four weeks, created a full-blown crisis as flooding and mudslides devastated crops. Hunger got so bad in some places that the poorest of the capital's slums literally resorted to eating dirt, in the form of baked clay "cookies."

In the aftermath of the storms, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development organized a $10 million emergency distribution of seeds and plants to get farmers back to work as soon as possible.

After two harvests, the effort has yielded impressive results, FAO said, but that program is scheduled to end in January, and there is no word on whether it will be extended.

At last year's annual FAO meeting, national and international aid agencies vowed they would end their decades-long neglect of food production and prioritize building healthy agricultural industries in the developing world. But the residents of Gonaïves who depend on agriculture say they see no evidence of that new commitment.

The same promises were heard yesterday at the close of this year's FAO conference, regarded by many private nonprofits as a failure. Attendance was poor, and governments rejected FAO's call for $44 billion in annual spending on growing food in the developing world, though trillions have been spent shoring up bank balance sheets.

And on the ground here, people who depend on agriculture are disappointed. "We have seen nothing," said Oubens Dosselie, coordinator for an organization focused on the economic needs of women.

In and around Gonaïves, most foreign donor attention still seems to be focused on post-storm recovery.

Private aid groups are still clearing mud from streets and drainage canals. The U.S. Agency for International Development is financing the replacement of dozens of small bridges wiped out by the storms. The U.N. Development Programme arranged the funds for the Granmont project but only after prodding by the locals.

Many experts agree with Dosselie's bleak assessment. They see little indication that the World Bank, USAID, and Japanese and European aid agencies have shifted their priorities to helping the Third World grow enough food to meet its needs. The World Food Programme, an agency with a long history of feeding people in Haiti, has only recently turned its attention to helping farmers produce crops.

"The rhetoric says it's going to shift. I don't think we've seen clear evidence that that has really started," said Colin Chartres, director of water management at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). "I think it's a long journey."

The United Nations and local workers say the Haitian government has to step up and pay more attention to food production, but the government has earmarked 6.95 percent of its 2009-2010 budget for agriculture.

"We encourage the government to allocate no less than 12 percent of their budget," said Ari Toubo Ibrahim, FAO's chief of operations in Haiti.

Haiti's agriculture and environment ministers, both facing uncertain futures as the Senate forced a fifth change of government in five years, were unavailable to comment on the country's budget for food production.

Compared to other parts of the Third World, Haiti may have better food security because of the large U.N. presence and the massive interventions of last year, Ibrahim said. The government claims that the number of "food insecure" Haitians -- those facing starvation -- dropped from 2.4 million last year to 1.9 million.

But experts say the country's progress could be lost unless the government devotes more resources to building the nation's agricultural industry. It could have an opportunity to start doing that next month, when Haiti hosts a regional conference on food security for Latin American and the Caribbean.

"I think that they should not just host the meeting," Ibrahim said, "but also present a program and spell out their objectives, and maybe make a real commitment to reach those objectives."

Community groups say such a program entails more than just distributing seeds. A comprehensive system of drainage canals is needed to protect cropland from routine flooding. Haiti's roads are in abysmal shape, leaving farmers no means to get their excess produce to markets in good years. Promises to repair roads go unfulfilled, and requests for fertilizers go unanswered.

"Every month, we have a promise for the building of a road," said Adeclair, the community organization leader. "But it never comes."

Copyright 2009 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



Published: November 16, 2009

GONAIVES, Haiti -- More than once, Haiti's "Independence City" was nearly destroyed by nature, and it could happen again if the authorities don't finish construction on flood control systems in time.

Work on protections began after three hurricanes and a tropical storm pounded this historic coastal city of about 100,000 for more than four weeks last year, killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless.

"It was quite impossible to imagine that life was possible here in Gonaives," said Vicky Delore Ndjeuga, a Cameroon native who now works for the United Nations here. "There were no roads, no drinking water, no communication, because all had been destroyed by the hurricanes."

In the storms' aftermath, the U.N. peacekeepers set up the largest disaster relief operation in the organization's history. Troops deployed to battle gang leaders found themselves instead wading in neck-deep floodwaters to rescue stranded children, even as flooding destroyed their own base. Schools were converted into triage centers, and aid workers were scrambling around the clock.

With a quiet 2009 hurricane season providing a breather, relief and reconstruction operations have made progress. Work is under way to ring all of Gonaives with walls to prevent erosion of its steep hillsides and a recurrence of flooding and mudslides. And rivers and canals are being widened and improved to divert water from populated areas.

But the work is far from finished, the money is running out and donors are losing interest. "They started unfortunately very late in trying to build a drainage system, to stabilize the watershed," said Abdoul Aziz Thioye, the United Nations' top regional official here. "And I'm not sure they have enough money to finish all they really want to do."

A lot must be done. Gonaives -- Haiti's sixth largest city -- wears a bull's-eye in a region where fierce storms are the norm. Some of the city is built below sea level in a bowl rimmed by mountains. And with hillsides stripped of trees by people taking wood for charcoal production and home heating, there is nothing to stop deadly torrents of stormwater and mud from pouring into the bowl.

Water and mud rushing off the hillsides and rising from the sea were deadly last year. Survivors were forced to beg for food and clothing and sleep on rooftops for days as the city was clogged with mud, making evacuations and relief deliveries difficult, if not impossible.

"It will take a lot of time," Thioye said, "for the affected population here in Gonaives to cope with this traumatic situation."

Amazingly, what happened last year was not unprecedented. In the summer of 2004, this historic city was nearly washed off the map by Hurricane Jeanne. Mudslides and flooding killed more than 2,800 people.

Then last year came Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike.

Gonaives was a difficult place to live even before the storms. It is the city where Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti independent of France in 1804, creating the world's first majority black republic. Two hundred years later, instead of celebrating their bicentennial, Gonaives was coping with a natural disaster and the armed bandits who had assumed control in Hurricane Jeanne's aftermath.

The years between the storms were violent. Whereas gang warfare affected only pockets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, here it consumed the entire city. U.N. workers talk of encountering a few bodies in the streets each day as they went about delivering aid.

Peacekeepers have since brought most of the troublemakers to justice, and today security here is not a major issue. So attention is now focused squarely on rebuilding and improving the flood control systems. Life and commerce have returned and people feel free to walk the streets at night.

"Many political events started here in Gonaives, and in the past there was a lot of destruction," U.N. staffer Ndjeuga said. "For me, today it's wonderful. For me, it was not possible to imagine that we could have a town like this again."

Ndjeuga is the only civilian U.N. staffer left from that period -- all others requested reassignments after things settled down. Of the 100-odd aid organizations and nonprofits that rushed into Gonaives after the 2008 storms, only a dozen or so remain.

Helped on by a number of U.N. agencies, most notably the U.N. Development Programme and the International Labor Organization, the Haitian government is spearheading efforts to protect the city from periodic inundations. After proposals for relocating the city were rejected, the agencies began building better drainage ditches and retaining walls on hillsides and even widening a river.

Project overseers say the plan will work, but money is desperately needed to see it through. Many larger projects are not even halfway finished. The Haitians have made immense progress on another but still have a very long way to go.

Jean Wenog, a regional government official overseeing some work, points to one example in particular: a barren hillside north of the city where laborers have created terraced retaining walls. Workers used pickaxes and shovels to build reinforced barriers to slow floodwaters and channels to force water into the soil or toward streambeds.

Only dirt and stone have been used. There is no money for concrete, and its production would require workers to tear up the sandy hills even further. Heavy equipment is rejected because it takes away jobs.

"If they use machines and everything, you reduce the number of people busy working on the project," Wenog explains. "This is a manual project using human beings, using manpower, and using the opportunity to employ as many people as possible."

What is notable about the site, Wenog said, is that it survived the 2008 storms. Land directly below the site suffered no flooding, and locals who have taken notice are now moving there in droves, building Gonaives' newest suburb.

Wenog and his crew are working to repeat this success in 11 other sites. The two-year project has so far cost an estimated $4 million, with 2,400 residents employed and working in four rotations. Pay is $3.12 a day and its equivalent in food.

UNDP says that so far, 32 such sites were finished in 2008, creating 5,000 jobs. But even though these low-tech engineering projects can go up fast and have proven their worth, less than 2 percent of Gonaives' 700-square-kilometer watershed is now protected.

But additional funding may be needed to protect the retaining walls.

In some areas, thieves have carved sand from the walls to sell as construction material. Government officers say some of those they have caught destroying the work had earlier been hired to build it.

The culprits say they have no other options, as almost no jobs exist. Local U.N. officials roughly estimate unemployment at about 95 percent.

"We've asked the mayor to come and stop people [ripping it up], and the mayor says he doesn't have the means to maybe pay people to watch it, maybe pay security guards to come and protect the place," said Fred Saintile, a project manager with the Haitian government.

Officials are desperate to keep the work going into next year, to cover as much of the surrounding region as possible before the 2010 hurricane season. But the United Nations cannot provide any guarantees that the money will be there to continue.

Meanwhile, the Haitian government has already spent millions of dollars on larger engineering projects that require the use of heavy machinery.

In a desperate but late bid to prepare for storms this year, the government sent crews back in April to more than double the width of the River Laquinte and build dikes on its edges. So far, they have covered 12 kilometers of the riverbed, hoping to increase the river's carrying capacity by a factor of eight.

Fourteen drainage canals are being dug in the city itself, one designed to run directly underneath the busiest street in town, a key roadway connecting Port-au-Prince with the country's fourth-largest city, Cap-Haitien. About $10 million has been spent so far, but much more needs to be done.

Officials say disorganization between regional and central government officials and a scramble for funds have created unnecessary delays, resulting in some of the most important projects starting just ahead of summer.

The urban drainage channels have been cleared of most of the mud, but some segments are still unfinished. The widening of the River Laquinte cannot be completed until a bridge spanning it is replaced, and most here do not think the government has the money to do so. Construction on the underground channel, one of the keystones of the effort, is still in its initial stages.

The state and local government continue to appeal for funds to hire more workers to build more retaining walls, to encompass much more than the 2 percent of the watershed covered now.

Neighboring Cuba recently dispatched two experts to help city authorities develop an evacuation plan with the aim of reducing future flood fatalities to zero.

Though they are not quite sure how they can protect the barriers from people intent on setting up more illegal sand quarries, maximizing employment by putting as many people to work as possible to protect the city can go a long way in the interim, project organizers say. The income it generates could also help Gonaives' economy, enhancing infrastructure over the long run and gradually making the city less prone to destruction.

"Don't forget," Wenog said, "the objective is to rehabilitate the environment by rehabilitating the population, the human beings."

Copyright 2009 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

photos - various - part 1

Shania Reme and her mother visited us the other week. She is now 7-years-old. She had a shunt put in to treat her hydrocephalus in June 2002. She is doing well!

She now attends school! She lives in the Delmas 31 area.

This week we went to Food for the Poor and received some assistance. There are thieves outside of their gates waiting to snatch things off the back. The guys sat like this on top of the supplies when we left the gates. I told them to hang on!

We received 2 large sacks of beans, 3 large cases of adult running shoes, 4 cases of anti-bacterial hand soap, 1 case of bar soap...

... and 1 pallette of black tuxedo pants! A forklift loaded the pallette of pants into the truck and we had to unload by hand to get it from Kimosabee to the inside of the house. The children had fun. We give the Lord thanks for this blessing of assistance!

photos - various - part 2

Carmilo is around 2 years old and was abandoned at Dr. Joeys' clinic by his mother.

He has a very large head. Pray for the mission that is looking after him. It is a difficult task as his head is so large and his body tiny.

Islande Berlis is a 3-year-old girl that I met in a tap-tap. Her hand looks like a foot!

We are going to take her to see the Cure International doctor that is coming to Cap Haitian at the end of the month.

Benson enjoys hanging around!

photos - various - part 3

This baby was born at 7 months and only weighs 2 pounds. He was brought to Dorothy at Faith, Hope, Love Infant Rescue. We brought him to General Hospital on Saturday.

Dorothy is feeding him. You can really see how small he is in this picture. His head is very tiny.

Wiskendy is a 1-month-old baby boy. His mother is 20 years old and came to the house on Saturday afternoon to give him away. In Haiti the parents need paperwork to put their child in an orphanage and I told her when she has his birth certificate we will try and find an orphanage who can help him.

The mother lives with her uncles' family and he doesn't want a baby in the house, so she wants to get rid of him.

I am training Manu to be the future director of Coram Deo one day. This t-shirt is fitting. "I have decided to put myself in charge" it reads.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Look to the Lord and he can lead you out of any circumstance. Michael W. Smith recorded a song called "I'll Lead You Home". To watch the video follow the link to:

haiti update - november 15, 2009

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10

Hi! This week was a week of surprises! The cleft lip/colostomy baby was released from the pediatric surgical floor at General Hospital on Thursday and is now being cared for by Hal and Chris Nungester and staff at HIS Home for Children. It took some planning and paperwork by social workers at the hospital and at Bien Etre Social (Haiti Social Services) before Mangui could be released. In the end the director of Bien Etre Social was the one who officially declared Mangui abandoned and allowed him to leave the hospital. His name is officially “Marcos Giovanni”, a good Italian name! An adoptive couple has already been found. The husband was born with a cleft lip and his wife has a colostomy. This couple is ideally suited to adopt Marcos. We give the Lord thanks for all those who have come into Mangui’s (Marcos) path. Chris didn’t even have to pick him up from the hospital. Bien Etre Social brought him to their house. Another surprise is that an orphanage has been found for the other colostomy baby, Marvens who was the other baby abandoned on the pediatric surgical floor. Bien Etre Social brought him too to the orphanage that will now be responsible for his care. Thank you for your prayers for these two babies. They now have a home.
Kimosabee had some service work done last weekend (oil, fuel filter changed and u-joint replaced on the drive shaft). Monday morning, we were all set for a busy day driving around and the truck wouldn’t start. The tester showed the battery was discharged. I called the mechanic who serviced it and told him the truck wouldn’t start and he responded that there is something wrong with the battery. I told him that was strange because before it was serviced Kimosabee never had any trouble starting in the morning. We had no choice but to buy another battery. Next time I’ll make an identification mark on the battery so that I will know if it gets removed and switched with a bad battery. This happens a lot here in Haiti. Instead of driving we took a tap-tap over to Tabarre to change Jonel’s dressing and when we were in the tap-tap we met a mother and her 3-year-old girl. They had just come in the prior day from Jeremie and were seeking medical care. This girl was born with a deformed hand that sort of looks like a foot. They were going to the Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs Children’s Hospital on Tabarre. I told the mother that if they couldn’t help her to come and see us. A couple of days later I received a phone call and they weren’t able to find medical care at the hospital and they will be coming to the house next week. I wasn’t frustrated with the mechanic anymore after seeing this girl. I concluded that God wanted Kimosabee not to start so that I could meet this family on the tap-tap! Sometimes you can see the providence of God and how He has his own plan for what He wants us to do.
Our Sunday security guard (we don’t have one for the other days of the week) was sick. He was one of the people who benefited from the medical team from Canada that was at Adoration Christian School on Monday and Tuesday. He was diagnosed with malaria and was provided with medicine. He is now feeling better and ready to take his post with baseball bat in hand again! It was good that a lot of people in the community could get medical care from this team. This wasn’t the only team that was holding clinics this past week. Mission Services International comes to Haiti twice a year with medical teams and they held 6 clinics. They were able to help 2,000 people at all the clinic sites and they even had extra medicines that they gave us at the end as well as clothing, washcloths, Lubriderm skin cream for Manu and peanut butter! The teams come from churches in the Kentucky area. There were 35 people on this team and they also did evangelism and VBS activities with the children at these clinics. Pray for their efforts as well. It is great when medical teams come to Haiti to hold clinics!
On Thursday I went with Patty to take her adopted daughter Valerie, to pick up her medical report for the visa interview downtown. They live in the upper Delmas area and we decided to take Delmas 60. Traffic was backed up at Rue Pan-American and we decided on plan B and went up to Petionville. It was strange that traffic was busy going up to Petionville and when we reached the Canape Vert road traffic was backed up there too. I have never seen traffic backed up that far to head downtown and then we decided on plan C and went down to lower Delmas and took Delmas 18 to the Cathedral area. There was hardly any traffic there. We got to the doctor’s office and picked up the medical report. On the way back we took another detour by the Delmas 18 area and ended up with a flat tire but we finally made it back home. The next day I read in the news that the university students downtown were protesting and burned tires on Ave. Christophe and that traffic was paralyzed. That sure was a good word to describe the traffic jams! It’s amazing what burning tires can do to traffic circulation! The CIMO (swat police) broke up the demonstration and when the fire department didn’t show up they put out the tire fires themselves with buckets of water.
A hydrocephalus child was abandoned at Dr. Joey’s clinic this week. We know this child and his mother. Carmilo was born with an already developed hydrocephalus and was delivered c-section. He had a ventriculoscopy surgery from the Miami team but the head continued to grow. Carmilo is now around 2 years old and his head has grown to be very large. His mother is a young mother. She was raped in the Carrefour Marin area when she was 15 years old, which resulted in the pregnancy with Carmilo. She has done her best to provide for him but it got to the point where she decided she couldn’t do it anymore and left him at the clinic. He is now with another mission. Pray for their efforts. It is a difficult task as his head is so large. He may be able to get surgery this coming week. The Miami Neurosurgery Team will be doing hydrocephalus surgeries at Hopital La Paix on Delmas 33 starting on November 18th. Pray for all those who will be receiving surgery to treat their hydrocephalus. These surgeries give the mothers hope for their children and an end to suffering in some cases. Shania Reme is one example. She was born in February 2002 and had surgery to place a shunt in June 2002. This was before the involvement of the Miami neurosurgery team. Dr. Seino, a Cuban neurosurgeon performed the surgery over at Bernard Mevs Hospital. Shania has done well since her surgery and now is 7 years old and is walking, talking and going to school. You can hardly notice that she has hydrocephalus. It is good to see these success stories. When I first came to Haiti it was almost a 100% death rate for hydrocephalus babies and now with opportunities for surgery we see children surviving. Pray for the neurosurgery team and that more surgeries can be done in the future. Pray for Haitian neurosurgeons to be trained so that more hydrocephalus children may be helped.
A premature baby born at 7 months was brought to Dorothy, at Faith, Hope, Love Infant Rescue. He weighs only 2 pounds and is very tiny. The baby is from Gonaives and the mother is only 13 years old. The grandmother is with the baby. On Saturday morning we drove them to General Hospital in search of an incubator. Because the baby had been born one week ago he didn’t qualify for an incubator and is now in the pediatric emergency room with other children. The doctor says the chances for survival are very low. Pray for this baby and for strength for the grandmother as she sits with him in the hospital. It was an interesting trip driving to the hospital with Dorothy, grandmother and baby. When we reached the stoplight by the intersection of the Champ Mars public park we saw a man run by our truck heading in the opposite direction. Then we saw a couple of policemen running too in a different direction. We were wondering what they were running after and then saw two guys running through the park. The police gave up the chase quickly. It wasn’t serious because the police made no efforts to shoot to stop them. The light turned green and we went forward. At least it wasn’t a boring traffic stop!
That’s all the news for today. Have a good week!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


(Greenwire, 11/09/2009)

Nathanial Gronewold, E&E reporter
First of a four-part series.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- A hard rain can be deadly here. A family of four was reported killed late last month when rushing stormwater loosened soil under their hillside house and brought the structure down on them.

The denuded slopes around this city of 2 million turn stormwater into lethal torrents. Trees, shrubs and other vegetation that anchor soil and buffer runoff are rare here. They mark private compounds of the wealthy, islands of green protected by fences and armed guards in a sea of slums that have sprawled up sandy hills as the city's population tripled over the past 20 years.

"They are informal human settlements with very, very weak construction methods," said Stephanie Ziebell, an aid worker with the Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haiti, or MINUSTAH, the United Nations' only peacekeeping mission in the Americas. "There's nothing to protect them from water flooding down from the hillside."

Haiti -- the developing world's first and oldest independent nation -- is today a ward of the United Nations, dependent on foreign aid and the $612-million-a-year peacekeeping operation that only recently managed to smother the violence that has long plagued this country.

But it is violence done to the environment that is haunting Haiti now. Degradation of natural resources here is both a consequence and an amplifier of poverty and disorder. The country has become a poster child for environmental neglect, and many fear Haiti is close to total ecological collapse. Haiti has few and weak environmental laws. Its dense population has just two small national parks where no agency protects resources. Its forests have been overharvested, its marine resources overexploited.

"The environmental degradation has gotten to such a point that there's danger everywhere," said Jean-Cyril Pressoir, a Haitian native and owner of a new tour company here.

But the response to the growing crisis does not involve massive World Bank-financed industrial projects that were common in the past and put wads of cash into the pockets of U.S. or European experts. Instead, money and resources are now being diverted to smaller-scale pilot projects designed mostly by Haitians themselves, with a goal of saving their country and perhaps creating a new development paradigm.

"The crucial thing, because we're a country facing both an energy security crisis and a food security crisis, is how can we reconcile energy security and food security?" said Gael Pressoir, Jean-Cyril's brother and founder of a new nonprofit setting out to do just that.

Haiti's greatest challenge by far is deforestation. At the heart of the problem: the demand for charcoal. The country's 10 million residents meet 60 percent of their commercial and residential energy needs with charcoal. It is used in most household cooking but also runs bakeries, laundries, sugar refineries and rum distilleries. Charcoal production is a major factor in the deforestation that experts say has felled 98 percent of Haiti's tree cover, with the remaining 2 percent disappearing fast. While mature trees provide the best material for charcoal production, the scarcity of wood has forced people to take smaller and smaller trees and shrubs. Today people are even pulling roots to make charcoal.

Haitians are aware of the damage being done to their landscape, but they say the deforestation for charcoal persists because there are few employment opportunities. About 80 percent of the population survives on less than $2 per day in income; the country ranks 149 out of 182 nations on the Human Development Index, a comparative measure of the quality of life. But that drive to extract more and more from diminishing resources is only adding to the Haitians' problems.

There is "a very high rainfall-to-casualties ratio in Haiti -- mudslides, flooding, flash floods, etc.," said Matthew Marek, an official with the American Red Cross who has lived here for seven years. "It's probably fair to say that ... Haiti has experienced natural disaster-related fatalities regularly."

From security worries to biofuel development?
Concerns about Haiti's environment have risen recently as security has improved.

U.N. troops arrived in 2004 following the latest in a series of U.S. military interventions, prompted when armed factions took over several rural towns and demanded the removal of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide was eventually forced out, but mass insecurity continued until last year. Gangs took over municipalities and much of Port-au-Prince, which endured 30 to 50 kidnappings per month before U.N. forces took control. Crime continues to be a problem, but kidnappings are down; at least eight a month on average were reported during the first six months of this year.

"The security situation in Haiti today is very stable, absolutely under control compared to what we used to have along the years since 2004," Maj. Gen. Floriano Peixoto Vieira Neto, the Brazilian force commander of MINUSTAH's roughly 7,000 troops, said in an interview. "We have reached such a stable condition that all the national and international agencies can really work in order to restore the country to a normal situation."

As security normalizes, a Haitian nonprofit is proceeding quickly with a plan to stabilize degraded hillsides, which threaten entire neighborhoods now as well as the nation's future development.

Gael Pressoir, a plant geneticist, believes the answer to the nation's deforestation and energy woes lies in Mexico and with a nontoxic variety of the jatropha plant that grows wild there.
A former researcher at Cornell University, Pressoir passed on the opportunity for a lucrative career in U.S. agribusiness to return to Haiti and establish CHIBAS, a nonprofit biofuel venture featuring jatropha. He flew to Mexico two weeks ago to find the jatropha seeds he will need to begin his experiment, which he maintains could solve Haiti's deforestation and fuel problems.

Jatropha has the same protein concentration as soybean, meaning that like soy, its seeds and oil can be transformed to biodiesel and other fuels.

Last year, Haiti spent nearly $380 million importing diesel fuel to power its electrical generators, almost all of it from Venezuela and at a discount under Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's Petro Caribe initiative. Mass production of jatropha-based biodiesel could potentially offset this entirely, freeing those funds for other sectors of the Haitian economy.

Jatropha can also be used to make straight vegetable oil, which could power electrical generators in rural areas. The pulp waste generated from creating biodiesel and vegetable oil is rich in nutrients and can be turned into either compost for crops or animal feed for chickens, pigs, and even tilapia in small aquaculture operations.

Moreover, jatropha is an extremely hardy bush. The plant can thrive in poor soil that other plants cannot take root in, including Haiti's eroded hillsides. Funding has been secured from the Inter-American Development Bank, and Pressoir is scouting sites in the outskirts of the capital for pilot growing projects slated to begin early next year. He fully expects others to rapidly copy him if the pilots turn out to be a success.

"We are going to be conducting a mapping of Haiti to characterize where we can grow jatropha without affecting food production. That's strategy No. 1," Pressoir said. "Ultimately, the success of the pilot project is what's going to make the success or failure of the whole industry."

The government is also interested in what CHIBAS is doing. Though Brazilian diplomats have been working hard to sell their sugar-cane ethanol model for energy independence, officials here have reportedly dismissed it in favor of jatropha and possibly sorghum. Haiti already grows a lot of sugar cane, but the crop consumes a lot of water and competes with food crops for prime growing land.

Initiative features small, local projects
While CHIBAS works on deforestation on one track, the Haitian government is receiving gentle encouragement from one of the United Nations' smallest agencies on another.

Antonio Perera, a program manager with the U.N. Environment Programme, is working with officials on a comprehensive plan to restore the nation's lost forests. Having set up shop in the country just eight months ago -- after MINUSTAH troops and police officers made it safe to do so -- Perera has been undertaking a painstaking survey of the Haitian territory to determine where tree cover can best be restored without upsetting food production or incurring the wrath of various landowners.

A report spelling out one course of action is now under review, and the hope is to launch a concrete program early next year. While the details are being kept under wraps, Perera said the plan involves a collection of locally designed, incremental projects expected to take at least 20 years to complete and cost some $1 billion.

Perera's team is starting out by working with other agencies with more extensive experience here, most notably the World Food Programme. Several food production efforts are already under way, but UNEP is trying to devise ways that forest protection and restoration can be incorporated.

Organizers of the reforestation campaign insist the government must quickly take charge, lest the campaign be dismissed early on by the citizenry as more uninvited meddling by foreigners. Though UNEP is now taking the lead, it aims to turn the scheme entirely over to Haitian officials by the end of 2010 or early 2011. But given the chaotic state of government institutions, highlighted further by last month's dismissal of the prime minister after a raucous 10-hour Senate session, that is easier said than done.

"The problem is not the lack of enthusiasm," Perera said. "The challenge is to create the capacities inside those ministries in such a way that they can lead an initiative like this in the near future."

Cultivating jatropha on barren hillsides and a variety of other targeted reforestation efforts can, over time, go far in reducing Haiti's extreme vulnerability to the storms and powerful hurricanes that routinely sweep over the nation. But ultimately, experts say the nation has to find an alternative or outright replacement for charcoal, the dominant source of energy here.
"With any reforestation campaign, you have to find first a solution for energy," Perera said.

'A very sensitive moment'
Energy figures prominently in CHIBAS and the efforts of a community group to change household fuels.

CHIBAS says some pulp fibers from processed jatropha could be converted into burnable material, and households could use that for cooking.

And the community organization is transforming urban trash into burnable bricks of recycled paper (see related story). That initiative also started at a very small scale, but domestic demand for the charcoal substitute is growing fast, helping the pilot project gain notice throughout the country and abroad.

These proposed solutions to Haiti's environmental and energy crises seem almost too good to be true. They require relatively little financial assistance to get started and produce marketable, commercially competitive materials that could transform whole segments of the economy.

But what is needed most is a government capable of providing security and the fiscal and administrative incentives to see them through.

Though no one has been willing to admit it publicly, U.N. officials and locals both quietly speculate that Haiti could easily become another Somalia if MINUSTAH troops and police left today. But all acknowledge that they cannot stay forever, either, meaning that eventually the Haitian leadership will have to step up and assume the responsibilities that it has shirked for decades.

"I feel that we are in a very sensitive moment," said Didier Le Bret, France's newest ambassador to Haiti. "The prerequisite is that we have to keep the country stable, to keep in the people a feeling that they are not risking their lives every day. And if this is to be consolidated, then I think everything will follow."


Recycling is catching on here in Haiti! One of the biggest problems here in Port-au-Prince that is also the most visible is the amount of garbage everywhere. Here is an article that the New York Times published today. We've been making briquettes here at Coram Deo on a small scale for several years. When we had more handicapped people living here it was a make work project for them. Willy and Joel are trying to set up a project in Cite Soleil for people there. Pray for recycling to catch on here in Haiti! What a great way to get rid of garbage!


Published: November 9, 2009

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Two years ago, the Carrefour Feuilles (pronounced "kar-ah-fur fay") neighborhood was considered too dangerous for U.N. peacekeepers who were not protected by armored vehicles. And even today, a dozen or so Sri Lankan troops garrisoned here nervously stand watch behind heavy fortifications. But Carrefour Fueilles has turned out to be perfect for an experimental solid waste processing and recycling plant set up by people who live in the neighborhood.
"We helped to create the conditions that made it possible for [U.N. peacekeepers] to come and protect us," said Patrick Massenat, the president of the group that opened the recycling plant in 2007.

The recycling initiative could also be key to ending Haiti's dangerous overreliance on charcoal for energy -- responsible for the loss of 98 percent of the nation's forests. The plant converts waste paper collected from the streets to hockey puck-sized "briquettes" that burn hotter than charcoal and cost half as much. It also employs 385 people, paying each about $4 per day, comparable to pay for government workers.

The United Nations has been helping neighborhood leaders organize and finance the recycling plant and other environmental initiatives in slums that were scenes of heavy gun battles between Brazilian and Jordanian troops and gangs that controlled much of the capital. Such jobs produce fuel for cooking, control flooding from denuded hillsides and grow desperately needed crops.

"Carrefour Feuilles is a poor neighborhood, populated neighborhood, with people in a precarious situation there, and before the project settled, it was known as a very violent neighborhood," said Eliana Nicolini, a Brazilian U.N. aid worker coordinating the recycling project. "So far, it is a small little setup."

What is most notable about these projects is that they do not fall under the jurisdiction of U.N. environmental experts or urban specialists. They are overseen by the community violence reduction arm of the 10,000-strong peacekeeping operation, MINUSTAH. The specialized unit, established in 2006, is most active in Port-au-Prince but has also mobilized efforts to build drainage canals and enhance fishing in rural areas.

Even though troops have largely quelled gang violence, political and social tensions in the poorest neighborhoods persist. But residents say putting people to work on environmental cleanup projects is making life better and having a noticeably calming affect.

MINUSTAH's community violence reduction, or CVR, section is involved in more than 30 projects nationwide and has a budget of $3.4 million. Projects are conceived by the Haitians themselves and launched after being vetted by not only engineers and agronomy experts but also sociologists and psychologists.

The Carrefour Feuilles initiative is arguably unique, holding the potential to transform the national economy and halt Haiti's most serious environmental problem, deforestation.

Here is how it works:
Workers scour the neighborhood each morning to gather trash from bins they have set up and sometimes from households. Trucks haul refuse to a compound where recyclables are separated from the organic waste. Plastic, metal and glass are exported to recyclers in Taiwan, China, Canada and elsewhere, as there is no infrastructure in Haiti to process the materials. About 18 to 20 percent of the remaining refuse is hauled off to landfills.
What the plant is really after is paper and cardboard. After the paper is separated, workers mix it with water and sawdust and mash it into a cellulose pulp. The pulp is packed into PVC molds and compacted with a hydraulic press to squeeze out water, making a briquette that is left to dry in the sun for about a week.

The plant produces 700 to 1,000 briquettes a day this way, a fuel that burns hotter and cleaner than charcoal. And it is doing that with technology that is entirely Haitian and requires no electricity. The only fuel is gasoline for the trucks.

Mayors from all over Haiti have visited the facility, and government officials are eager to establish similar centers all over the country and expand the distribution of waste-paper briquettes.

"It's not yet sold massively on the street, but we know that as time goes by and in the next upcoming weeks, the distribution will go further and it will be more accessible," said Adam Otly, 40, who works at the plant.

Replacing charcoal
Otly and other workers here are confident the briquettes will be a massive hit throughout Haiti.
Two cans of charcoal -- what is required to cook enough food to feed the average-sized family for a day -- costs about 50 gourdes, or a half-day's income. But it would cost 11 gourdes to cook the equivalent amount of food with the center's briquettes.

"If you put 2 liters of water to boil with charcoal, it takes 17 minutes. With the briquette, the same quantity of water will boil in 11 minutes," said Jeanette Sejou, 36, a plant employee who has seven children. "So the savings is not only in our pocket, it's also in time."

The price is subsidized now in an effort to spread the product's popularity, and officials admit they eventually will have to double the price to stay profitable, but that still makes the briquettes less than half the cost of charcoal. But project developers are moving carefully to promote the briquettes. On the day the briquettes hit the market, charcoal vendors started to have trouble selling their wares, raising tensions between retailers.

Massenat, whose neighborhood committee opened the recycling plant, believes charcoal vendors will eventually switch to briquettes as they see the new fuel source is in their and their communities' best interest. "If we're cleaning the streets, we're cleaning their streets. If we're making briquettes by recycling something and protecting the environment, it's good for them," Massenat said. "We're building something for their future and their children's future."

CVR work expands
Meanwhile, the U.N. peacekeepers' community violence reduction section is pushing ahead with other projects. CVR is trucking young workers from the most violent Port-au-Prince neighborhoods, many of them former gang members, to hillsides to build dry walls that would slow stormwater rushing off the hills and steer it away from vulnerable neighborhoods.
And it is encouraging people to grow food in massive urban gardens, echoing a movement that is popular in U.S. cities.

"Over 4,000 families grow their food in the urban slums," said Jean Metens, a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization officer in Haiti. "It's mind-boggling, because you'd think of the slums as an area of concrete and no life at all, and they actually grow food."

The growing environmental initiatives could hold the key to peacekeeping troops' eventual departure. Nicolini, the aid worker coordinating the recycling project, said the United Nations hopes to be out of the Carrefour Feuilles project by the end of next year.
"We see this, in a sense, as buying time until governance can kick in," said Stephanie Ziebell, a U.S. employee of the CVR section.

Copyright 2009 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
For more news on energy and the environment, visit

Sunday, November 8, 2009

photos - november clinic - part 1

On Thursday Dr. Karen McCarthy and a medical team came and held a clinic here at Coram Deo. We give the Lord thanks for their willingness to help out the people here in the Delmas 31 community. Since our tree was chopped/trimmed, we hung up our large tarp to provide shelter from the sun for those who were waiting to register.

We had enough benches for everyone to have a seat while they waited.

This is the registration area.

The pharmacy was set up at the front. The team came with lots of medicine.

Jn. Eddy is helping to explain to this mother how to give the medicines to her child.