West Tennessee Haiti Partnership


I slept wonderfully last night, which is saying something in Haiti. The temperature is a cool 70 degrees at night, with a lovely breeze. Even the constant barking dogs did not keep me awake. How wonderful to escape the world of alarm clocks and cell phones…..ummmm….what is that ringing sound!!! Everyone in my room (there are six women in one room) awakened at 5 AM to the sound of a cell phone ringing…. two of us stumbled out of bed, trying to find the ringing phone in the pitch dark. It sounded like it was coming from under the bed next to mine. Jennifer helpfully found a flashlight while I was staring at the bed where the sound was coming from. Except that the person in the bed next to mine is deaf. Why would she have a cell phone alarm ringing at 5 AM? After what seemed like 5 minutes, the ringing stopped. I climbed back into bed, blissfully covering my face with the sheet, and RING. ….. there it goes again. Now it was funny. Hope started giggling, and now I was fully awake. About every 5 minutes after that, the phone would ring briefly.
Eventually we figured out the phone was in the room NEXT to ours, so the ringing was coming from just on the other side of the wall at the head of my bed. The owner of the cell phone was, shall we say, “sufficiently disciplined”.
After breakfast, we were picked up by Pere Sadoni to go to the school and set up the clinic. How grand to drive throught the gates of St Vincent’s, and see familiar smiling faces. Jo Jo greeted us as always. Jean Robert had his big grin and warm welcome. Drew and I set off right away with Jean Robert to find a local pharmacy, to purchase medicine for malaria and worms. We can’t really buy these in large quantities for reasonable prices in the US, so we always buy them in Haiti. We were offered a driver, but I preferred to walk. However, after walking for 45 minutes and finding 3 closed pharmacies, I was beginning to wonder if we should have driven anyway. But the ever capable Jean Robert found us a pharmacy near the University Hospital, and we found what we wanted. Jean Robert taught me a new phrase today, “mwen bra dwat” which means “my right hand”. Fortunately the 4th pharmacy was only 2 blocks from the school, so the walk back was a lot shorter.
We returned to St Vincent’s, expecting everything to be set up to start clinic and run the pharmacy. It was, except that John Mutin could not find the medical cards. These are 5×7 cards, specially printed for our trips, which we use as both medical record and prescription card for patients to carry to the pharmacy. The cards help us stay organized in the clinic, help identify patients and keep track of what diagnosis, what medicine was prescribed, etc. John had searched through 2 dozen suitcases, unpacking all the other medical supplies, but no cards. After much fruitless searching we decided to use notebook paper instead, which basically functions but is more fragile and does not have the pre-printed information that the cards contain. At any rate, we got through clinic without them. We saw about 30 patients today, and Dr Jennifer Holbourn (the flashlight helper from 5 AM) worked in the physical therapy clinic. She is a doctor of manual therapy, and I have been very excited to bring her to St Vincent’s to work with the handicapped children. Today the most wonderful thing happened. I saw Diana Vincent walking, using the parallel bars. Diana has cerebral palsy and is an orphan, having been abandoned by her mother at the age of 2 at St Vincent’s. The first time I met Diana in 2008 she was so sick with pneumonia she couldn’t lift her head off the pillow. Now she is growing and getting regular physical therapy and is actually learning to walk. We called several team members to come see, and cameras flashed like she was Jennifer Lopez. Many tears of joy were shed at seeing this darling girl with the beautiful smile take a few steps. We are inspired by the hope that she will not end up like some of the other children we know, confined to a wheelchair all her life.
Back at the guesthouse, after supper and determined to find those medical cards, I looked in a suitcase which was sitting by the door. Apparently it had been overlooked when we took our baggage to the school with all our supplies. Yes, there were the cards, along with rolled gauze (which John had been looking for in the clinic earlier) and several injectable medications, boxes of gloves, soap, and a host of very useful supplies! Ah well, at least we found it before our last day in Haiti.
We are planning to have Compline soon and close the day in thanksgiving for the progress we see at St Vincent’s, the joy in the faces of our Haitian friends and the sheer delight at being in a place where God’s blessings are so evident.

Susan Nelson

This entry was posted in Stories & Updates, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.