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Haiti Report - March 2012

By Eleanor Gorsey, Ph.D.

While Port-au-Prince is recovering and rebuilding under their new president, the remote areas of Haiti still suffer from malnutrition and disease. For this reason, Joe Sapienza, President of Bread of Compassion, led a team of medical and service people to help the people in the remote mountain region of the western peninsula.

A 10-hour bumpy drive over nearly impassable roads led to a small mountain village – Joli Guibert. There a camp with no electricity or running water was set up. Bottled water was trucked in for the team. That night, our nurses were called to a team down the road to start IV hydration for people suffering with diarrhea and vomiting. The first medical clinic was at Tozia, a poor village, where their nurse, the Pastor’s daughter, had died. The little church where we set up the clinic had lost most of its roof and the replacement tarp did not cover all the people when it rained. Medical care, vitamins and supplies were provided to the people there.

The next day, we struggled up the mountain to Macushon (translation "pig mud"). The villagers had spent weeks laying rocks on the road so our team could access their village. Nevertheless, team members had to get off and walk up the hills so the vehicle could make it. The villagers were so happy to see us. A lot of medical care was provided, children were dewormed and given a supply of vitamins and clothing was distributed to the people.

The next day we traveled 3 miles to the coastal village of Pestel. There Doctor Philip had a small hospital with a broken water cistern, so there was no running water for the hospital. It also had to be trucked in. We paid to have the cistern repaired before the major rains and cholera season begins in April.

From there, we rode in a hand-made sail boat sitting atop bags of charcoal to Zitwa, an island village. In this village, we treated cholera and taught the village Pastor how to use simple water filters provided by Convoy of Hope to prevent more outbreaks. This village has no medical help and no school. At least 500 children are outside each day with no one to educate them. We met a young mother who had 3 children with birth defects, possibly preventable by nutrition and health care.

Deriveau, a larger village, was our final clinic. There the medical people encountered tuberculosis, aids, high blood pressure, infections and many other issues. Several people were sent to the hospital, many hours away for treatment.

Several serious cases on the trip included a woman with a blood pressure reading of 240/120 sent to the hospital, a 24 year-old man in severe pain from tuberculosis — also sent to the hospital (with with the broken cistern), 3 hours away. A baby was taken back to the orphanage in Port-au-Prince for care. People with aids were taught about their disease and sent to the hospital for medications.

 The final day, outside Port-au-Prince, we had a delightful surprise—we found 40 clean healthy children at an orphanage we visited last year. In 2010, these children had red hair, a sign of malnutrition. Last year, when we visited them with a pediatrician, many were sick. This year, they were clean, healthy and happy. The young Pastor and his wife, who took them into his run-down house after the earthquake said, "God has blessed me because I helped the children."

The medical team was led by Nancy Aguilar had a doctor, 3 nurses from MGH, and several nurses from Metrowest, Miami and Haiti. Those who would like to serve, donate or help in any way may do so by contacting Bread of Compassion.



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