3rd Anniversary of the January 12, 2010 quake…2 days to go

About the missionaries

Right after the quake, volunteers from around the world flooded Port-au-Prince, Leogane, and Jacmel, as they responded to the many needs of the distressed. At the same time, international organizations and NGOs rushed to Haiti, overloading the streets with pickup trucks toting their respective insignias. Planes going to Haiti carried more foreigners than nationals. Some Haitians even adopt defiant attitude toward this flux of visitors, fearing hidden or undisclosed agendas.
By the end of 2011, many organizations have left, and volunteers have shifted their attention to newer crises. However, one category of volunteers continues to come to Haiti: the missionaries. Nowadays, in any plane going to Haiti, you can find teams of missionaries, easily recognizable by their uniform T-shirts, mostly youngsters accompanied by experienced adults. They volunteer to church-led projects, particularly orphanages and mobile clinics. They stay at guest-houses managed by fellow missionaries. They’d travel to isolated towns and villages. Many such teams also fund local projects, such as school and clinics.
As the missionaries work with low profile groups that maintain little interaction with state entities, government reports barely include their contribution to the rebuilding effort. Nevertheless, their contribution is valuable to the health and social sectors, and even to the larger economic sector. Thanks to missionary funding or direct work, many Haitian patients access no or low cost care, many guest-houses and hotels remain in business, many young professionals enjoy steady income, and many families live in their own houses.
The Quake has planted a compassionate seed in many hearts. For most volunteers, this seed has birthed a small tree that couldn’t resist the test of time. But for missionaries, the seed has sprung a huge tree, whose many roots plunge deep into the soil. Thus, even though Haiti is no longer in the spotlight, missionaries are still flocking to this island nation, which still needs much help to become self-sufficient.

3rd Anniversary of the January 12, 2010 quake…3 days to go.

Four questions about the Haitian Patient

The upcoming 3rd anniversary of the quake is an opportunity for me to reflect on the Haitian patient. I’m going to answer a few key questions that can shed some light on him/her.

1.     Who is she?
She’s a mother with multiple children and a father often absent and unemployed. She’d go without care to get care for her children. When she’s pregnant, she’d seek prenatal care, but will deliver most likely at home. Too many times, she won’t have Pap test and mammogram, and will find out later that she has stages 3 or 4 cancers and a few months to live.

3rd Anniversary of the January 12, 2010 quake…5 days to go.

In June 2007, I went on a mission trip to Haiti, with a team based in Florida. The mission, held in Saint Michel du Sud, a town located in the southern region of Haiti, was part evangelistic and part medical. After going door-to-door for two days, urging people to turn to Jesus-Christ, we had a mobile clinic on our third and last day. Patients walked miles to get to the clinic site, but we didn’t have much to give them. However, this experience has made me taste the joy of serving my people, of putting my knowledge and experience at the service of the very country that has financed my medical education.

In December 2009, two weeks before the January 12 quake, I was in Haiti, spending Christmas with friends from the First Haitian Baptist Church of Pernier. We had such a great time! I remember very well the closing ceremony of the spiritual poetry contest, now a yearly event, organized by the youth of the Church, and sponsored by supporters from TBC, my local church in Boston, and a dinner for married couples, where my wife and I talked about communication between spouses.

2012 in review…Perspectives for 2013

Each year end is always an occasion to look back and do an assessment. Health wise, what had happened in Haiti? Were Haitian patients better off in 2012 than in 2011? Had health care quality shown any improvement? Had clinics, health centers, and hospitals provided better care in 2012 than in 2011? These questions and many others are necessary to have a sense of where we have been in 2012 and where we are now, at the dawn of 2013.

1)      Preventive care: Grade F (failed) – Basic health screenings, such as mammograms, pap tests, and colonoscopies are still accessible only to a few.