West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti–Old Friends, Setting Up the Clinic

Sunday morning we piled into Pere Deravil’s truck to go to church at St. Paul’s. Pere Deravil is the priest in charge of the seminary campgrounds where we are staying, also the church and school at St Pauls. “Piled” is the correct word to describe the piles of people in the truck, with more folks added every 100 feet along the gravel road out of the campground. One of the passengers we picked up was Dieumene. She greeted us with her regal smile and climbed in to sit on Lauren’s lap.
Church service began at 7:15 with about 20 people, including 6 americans, the priest and 6 acolytes. By the time we had communion we had about 60, filling the pews.

The remainder of Sunday was spent visiting the kids from St Vincents, setting up our pharmacy supplies, and enjoying the ocean setting. There are about 40 kids and adult staff from St Vincents staying here in tents on the grounds of the seminary. There are also 21 seminarians and Pere Deravil’s family. Also Pere Sadoni sleeps here in a tent and drives back and forth to PAP every day. Don’t worry about the kids in tents. One of the adults, Cheriesme, showed me his tent, provided by the French Red Cross. It is tall enough for a man to stand in and has a separate sleeping compartment for a twin bed. It is mosquito proof and water proof and quite comfortable looking. I have pictures of baby Diana, Auguste, Yolene, and Yolande sleeping in their tent with Madame Yliesanne watching over them. It made me so happy and reassured to see the children safe and healthy and as smiling and friendly as ever. Some of the americans have discussed moving our sleeping quarters outside since it is so hot in the cabins.

Monday morning we set up our first clinic, and Amy and I saw most of the St Vincent kids. They are all healthy and doing well, with no lung infections or worms. Scabies seems to be quite common, so Kelvin and Lauren have been busy mixing sulfur powder with petroleum jelly to make a medicated ointment.
Debbie and John had to figure out how to share one stethoscope between them (note to self: make sure we bring enough stethoscopes for everyone next time).
In the afternoon we saw folks from the St Paul’s community including one probably pregnant lady who was unable or did not want to give us a urine sample for testing.
Monday evening we had another sumptuous meal prepared by Madame Deravil and then we had a birthday celebration for Marie Carmelle who is 47. We made her a birthday card and Amy and Lauren sang to her in french. We had sodas (limonade and orange soda) with cookies because Pere Deravil was unable to find us a cake.
She was pleased and hugged my neck and we both cried.
After that the girls went back to our cabin and got ready for bed. We thought it was at least 10 PM. Someone checked their watch and it was 20 minutes to 7.

Allie and Margaret had been expected to arrive Monday evening but their flights to Miami had been delayed or canceled, so they did not make the plane to PAP. Allie sent Amy an email (she gets it on her phone when she can figure out how to turn the thing on) describing her tears of frustration at missing an entire day in Haiti. Drew went with Pere Sadoni to PAP on Monday. Their first stop was a gas station where the attendant filled Pere Sadoni’s new truck with diesel fuel. They spent the next 3 hours draining the engine and the fuel pump and the fuel lines.
After that they went to St Vincents where Drew spent 2 hours with JoJo. JoJo was at home during the earthquake watching TV. The power went out so he went to the other building to take a shower. That’s when the quake hit. Had he stayed in his house he would have been killed. JoJo is back at work painting busily, I hope to see him on Friday. They have already started a clinic at the boys foyer and JoJo is at his post as bouncer and guardian. Pere Deravil has found another pediatrician, Dr Ferdinand, to work at St Vincents 3 days per week and is looking for a new orthopedic surgeon.
More later…

Tuesday morning we piled all our medical supplies and team into Pere Deravil’s truck and went to St Pauls school. They have ages 3 yrs to about 8th or 9th grade, 280 kids in all. We set up our clinic on the patio outside the school under a big shady tree. The breeze was delightful and the children of course were beautiful. Amy saw the older kids and a few adult staff, and I saw the younger kids. Kelvin helped with crowd control and signing kids in. Each kid has a medical card with name, age, and reason to see the doctor. One problem was that kids would answer yes to every question. Yes – I have stomachache. Yes I have headache. Yes I have cough. And so on. Soon we realized that we needed the parents to accompany their children, so we asked Pere Deravil to send a note home for parents of the younger kids to come with them on Wednesday.

Just before we started seeing patients on Tuesday morning, we got a call from Pere Sadoni. He was unable to find Allie and Margaret. He had a flat tire on the way to the airport so arrived an hour late. He was afraid they had taken a taxi! We spent a frantic 20 minutes trying to find Allie’s phone number among what cell phones we had with us, most of which were not operating. Finally we prayed together for their safety; Amy said a hebrew prayer of blessing.
We started seeing patients and soon heard that the women had found Pere Sadoni and were on their way to Montrouis.
We gave each patient their medical card and asked them to come to the “pharmacy” at St Pauls at 2:00 to get their prescriptions filled. I saw 5 or 6 kids with “malaria and typhoid fever” and spent many minutes with the interpreter trying to ask about their symptoms before asking the all important question “how do you know you have malaria (or typhoid)?” The answer was “because the doctor at the hospital told me so.” Oh really? Are you being treated? “Yes.” Are you getting better? “Yes.”. Pause. So…
After the 3rd case like that I figured it out. Usually the person just wanted vitamins to go with their malaria treatment.
We checked hemoglobins on many patients and surprisingly most folks are not anemic. We did find several at 7 or 8 (normal is 11 or 12). We were very happy to see the St Vincents kids are very healthy and look better overall than on previous trips. Their weights are up, there is much less anemia than before and they had no respiratory infections. Also the adult staff are in better shape. Those with diabetes have normal glucose levels (and are taking their medication daily). Blood pressures are down also. Amy and I think the ocean air and country life are better for them than the dusty cramped conditions in Port au Prince. Yet all say they want to move back. I think the kids miss being in school. I wonder how they will feel when they get back “home” and its not the same.
sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson
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