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Life in Haiti After the Earthquake

life in Haiti Received from Scott Todd, our Senior Ministry Advisor, who is leading our medical team in Port-au-Prince.

Last night’s (Jan. 25) arrival – in the dark, no lights in the airport, Humvees and Marines roaring around, bags thrown on the tarmac, smell of jet fuel, shouting, chaos, can’t find our pickup, pulling out over 30 duffel bags and boxes, driving through the chaos of Port-au-Prince with three of our guys on top of each pickup “guarding” baggage.

Touring our office at night with flashlights, framed mission statement on the wall tilted, leadership principles tilted, warning to walk clear of certain walls which are collapsing – pitch tent in parking lot, spray some DEET, take some Malarone, sweating from hauling stuff.

Today (Jan. 26), our medical team worked under tarps because the people are afraid to go inside buildings. Within an hour we were up and running and saw approximately 100 patients.

Each patient registered at entry through a gate with name, basic info including height, weight etc… and took a number. Some were triaged. Others waited to be called to one of four (sometimes five) stations. Each station had a doc, nurse and translator (though some of our Haitian nurses also served as translators).

The cases were not as severe as I expected with some very serious cuts and abrasions that were infected and needed dressing, some dislocations, a few bone issues. Many were just overwhelmed and needed someone to look at them and tell them they were okay. We prayed with some of them.

The spirit of the team is wonderful – encouraging, humble, aware of the complexity of treating the whole person. No one became impatient or frustrated (despite many reasons to be so). The day was a success in my view.

We sleep in a parking lot and listen to trucks and generators and dogs. We have access to one of the two buildings which has been deemed safe. The other is not safe.

The IT guy has set up wireless that seems to work reasonably well. My phone does not call but does text – weird. Verizon seems to work. They need to add Haiti to their map commercial.

The crew is sleepless, all-out working, coping with very complex issues and needs protection from external expectations.

I met two girls who were sisters – both sponsored through Compassion. There are three girls in the family. They were home when the quake hit. One got out. The other two were trapped.

Mom was selling food on the street and ran home. Dad also ran home from his work at a wood-working shop. Mom and Dad and uncle dug out one girl after about eight hours and the second girl after about 11 hours. Both girls suffered injury.

The sisters came to our clinic and we dressed and cleaned their wounds – infection. I asked each of them afterward some questions, prayer requests, both independently said – pray that I will get back to school and do well in school, pray that we can have our house back.

I asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Doctor and Doctor.

Mom stood next to them as they shared, and she was crying. We prayed that someday when people are hurt it would be these two young ladies who offer healing.

Shaun captured this story on film and is editing it next to me in the muggy Haiti night under floodlights, a tarp-tent sitting in a sloped parking lot with one of my chair legs wobbling in a pot hole. Shaun is holding a flashlight in his mouth as he works his audio.

Three of our docs are just returning from Salvation Army’s site here; they were visiting a clinic in search of pediatric meds (we had a hard time finding and don’t have enough). They also wanted to review how the Salvation Army clinic is designed – to pick up ideas.

Dinner is arriving in black trash sacks – rice and beans and scrawny chicken (kinda cold, not sure where they get it), but purchased and delivered in love in a place where every kid I saw today was hungry.

Hungry. I felt shame as I hid in a room with the others to eat half a sandwich for my lunch. But I felt proud to be a part of it all and offer whatever I could to serve these kids. They deserve everything we can offer and more.

That comment on hunger might make you wonder about food distribution – we’re doing it but it is very complex and cannot be done simultaneously with our clinic. That would be a serious mistake. So I snuck a little to the sisters and gave my half empty water bottle to another boy but otherwise we really could not do anything resembling food distribution.