West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

First Day at St Vincents, Busy and Hot

Our huge team of 18 managed today to see 51 patients in the medical clinic and 12 dental patients.  Dr Phil Caldwell was somehow able to organize the use of a private dental clinic, invite several dental students and a private dentist, and arrange transportation for students from St Vincents to the dental clinic. Oh, and a Kreyol interpreter who functions as a dental assistant.  Of course that would be John Robert.  Who knew he was a dental assistant in addition to his many other talents?  So the kids seen by Phil Cloutier (Phil “Junior”) last November are finally getting attention. One of our sweet boys, Bergenz, was first on the list.  Tim Baker helped the dentists today and told me “Bergenz was a champ” despite having his tooth pulled and having scary needles come his way.  I am relieved that this little boy will no longer be in pain.

At the school itself, we had clinic as usual, with “Mama Vickie” checking in the patients and John, Mimi  and Ashley getting vital signs, weights and heights, and blood samples.  This last part can be frightening for the kids, despite Ashleys best efforts to be gentle and give them “piwilis” (lollipops) afterwards.  Mimi’s experience as a first grade teacher proved valuable as she calmed the children and used her best “dont be scared” teacher voice”.

Brittany and I had a brief period of panic looking for our meds which were supposed to be left behind by the CBU nursing team who were here in April.   We could only find rolled gauze, alcohol wipes and a few otoscopes.  Where were the antibiotics?  The blood pressure and diabetes meds?  Finally Pere Sadoni came to ask me if I still needed the big box in his office.  Which contained our meds ordered from a local Haitian pharmacy. PHEW!

Sienna helped us in clinic with her Kreyol, and I was happy to show her a few “doctor tricks”. Like putting the stethoscope in your ears a certain way, and how to see tonsils!  Getting a kid to take a deep breath is not easy, even in my own language.  Now we had deaf or blind kids who spoke only sign language or Kreyol.  Sherye came up with an ingenious solution. She tied red ribbons to a tongue depressor and showed the deaf kids how to blow on the ribbons. It worked!  I told her she should get a patent on that one.

My favorite moment of the day came when I saw a boy with deformed legs whom I recognized from previous trips.  I remember him because Gordon Johnson (back in November 2014) had to pick him up and stand with him on the scale to weigh him, and carried him into the exam room for me.  Today Brutus (yes, thats his name) was wearing leg braces. He could walk, unsteadily and with assistance, but he could walk!  I realized that by the miracle that is St Vincents School, this child has received treatment and adaptive equipment and is learning to walk.  I had to stop for a moment and collect myself.  So many times we see the huge needs and   convince ourselves that every good thing comes in a suitcase  from America.  Yet the lesson I learn again and again at St Vincents is that God cares for these children and somehow amazing things happen; deaf children learn to sing, blind children play hand bells, crippled children are fitted with braces and learn to walk,  or to draw and paint.  i am humbled and joyful to be a witness to it all.

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