Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Tale Of Two Countries

Shortly after entering Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, you are greeted by views like the photo to the left. Nearby is a new Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. Higher end stores than even those seen in Atlanta can be found in malls throughout the city. This bustling cosmopolitan city is really amazing. My stay there was only enhanced by my hosts, the Garcia family.

Upon crossing the border into Haiti, you are immediately greeted by the scene in the photo to the right. People bathing and doing their laundry in the river. This scene is repeated with each river you cross throughout the country.  Everywhere you look in Haiti, you are reminded of the soul grinding poverty.

It is really unexplainable how two countries so close and similar can be so totally opposite. The only conclusion I can draw is in how their separate governments have chosen to govern their countries over the decades. The bottom line is that Haiti, like many impoverished third world countries, desperately needs your prayers.

It is very good to be back and see my Haitian friends. For those who don't know, I live with a Haitian priest here in Cap Haitien, Haiti when I am here working. A true cultural immersion experience. I thought it was hot in Atlanta, but nothing could have prepared me for Haiti in August. Stifling, oppressive, breath taking heat. Hopefully rain will come soon and cool things off.

In spite of minor annoyances, I feel so blessed to be able to be here to assist with health care. We are making fantastic progress with the hemophilia program, looking forward to good clinic work this week, followed by the return of Dr.Visani who will perform urological surgeries here for the remainder of September.

Peace and grace,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Haiti Hemophilia Sante - Progress

The past 2 days in Santo Domingo have been very productive. Wednesday evening leaders of the Dominican Republic hemophilia foundation gathered at the home I am staying at to tell me about the foundation. I heard of its birth and progress over the past 15 years. It was founded by the wife of my host family, Senora Garcia. Her son, Damaso Jr. has hemophilia and the family has dedicated themselves to helping improve the lives of their fellow countrymen who also have hemophilia. A truly inspiring and lovely family and group of people.

Yesterday we spent the day at a pediatric hospital. They have a dedicated hemophilia program complete with a stand alone clinic. In visiting with Dr. Rosa Nieves, also a member of the foundation, she generously offered to allow us to bring Haitian that with suspected hemophilia to her clinic free of charge, so they can be tested. We will also bring along their Haitian doctors so they may observe and eventually replicate the process in Haiti.

We also were able to locate a Haitian pediatrician in Port Au Prince who is currently following a few hemophilia patients. They have never actually been tested though due to lack of testing equipment in Haiti. Our current plan is to bring these patients, along with two others we are now aware of, back to Santo Domingo on 19 September so that they may attend the clinic on Monday the 20th.

We are going to be developing and training community health nurses over the next 4 weeks who can then continue family education, monitor patients for bleeds, and deliver medication as needed. We are also going to establish clinic sites in Haiti that the patients will visit on a monthly or every other month basis to be checked by the doctors. Our Haitian physicians will accompany the patients to the clinic in September for further training in hemophilia care.

A lot to do in a little time, but I am very excited about the rapid progress of this program. I will be seeking one of the families of the Haitian hemophilia patients that are able and willing to assume a directors role. They will then partner with the doctors to ensure the program's continuance. At that time I will move into more of an advisory and supportive role.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On The Road Again...

Leaving for Haiti in the morning with a lot of mixed emotions. I am really excited to see my friends in Haiti and continue helping with the projects we have underway. At the same time, it is a tough time to leave my family. We've had a lot of external turmoil lately and it is hard to leave with so many emotions still flowing. God will provide and protect.

It seems like I've gotten away from the primary purpose of this mission over the past couple of months. This really is simply about saying yes to God, and attempting to submit to His will for my life. Period. It is all for His glory by blessing others with His love. I would really appreciate your prayers for this.

I am so blessed to be able to travel to Haiti and show God's love to the Haitian people. I had a very good meeting with Medical Ministry International last weekend. It looks like I will be joining them when I return form Haiti in order to make this mission more permanent. I will still need to do my own fund raising, but they will be able to provide much needed structure and oversight. They also will provide a regular supply of medical teams, which will be a huge blessing for the people of Haiti.

I recently posted a change in my donation address. Campus Church did not feel that they could act as a long term mission board. I sincerely appreciate their accepting my donations for the length of time that they did. Community Church has replaced them for the moment, but this will most likely change as things progress with MMI. The "All Things Are Possible" campaign is going well. We are well over a fourth of the way to our goal of 400 donors of $10 a month.

I can't thank each of you enough for the support and encouragement you provide. I would encourage everyone to take a look at how they can personally make a difference for God in the world. Especially right now, please join me in praying for the people of Pakistan.

Peace and grace,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Haiti - The Year Ahead

After six months in Haiti it is a good time to look ahead with a clear focus on how we can best help the people in Haiti over the next year. The time in Haiti has provided a great look at the areas that most need help, some are "helpable" others aren't. I was recently asked to write an article for a hemophilia publication here in the States. It was a really good exercise to review the experiences I've been through in Haiti as it helped provide a vision for the work ahead.

Over the next year we will continue working with L'hopital St. Francois de Sales in bringing in foreign surgeons to supplement the quantity and quality of surgical services offered in Haiti. A key focus of this task will be in continuing to provide training opportunities for Haitian residents and students by having them continue to work alongside our visiting surgeons in the operating room.

We will expand the number of mobile medical clinics we coordinate over the next year. I am meeting with Medical Ministries International in Dallas later this month as part of this focus. They will provide medical teams based on a schedule I provide them if we decide to partner together. I will also be working with Haiti Hospital appeal and a mobile maternity/pediatric medical clinic bus they are bringing in to Haiti.

The third focus will be on the community of Shada. This focus will primarily be in the form of financial support. The clinic is very well established, and expertly run by a dear Haitian lady named Madame Bwa. However, it is underfunded. They are currently only able to afford a doctor 1 day a week to provide care for a huge population. We are currently in the process of expanding this to two days a week. It only costs $1,800 a year to hire a doctor and open the clinic each additional day a week. Our goal is to be able to support 2 added days each week. Long term, we plan to help this community in education and micro-industry as well.

Our final focus over the next year will be in the development of a national hemophilia patient registry and treatment program. Haiti is perhaps the last country in the world with such a program. While statistics show that there should be around a thousand patients with hemophilia in Haiti; we only know of one at this time. This program will help save the lives of the other 999. We are working with Laurie Kelley and her Save One Life foundation in this effort. Dr. Eugene Maklin, a wonderful Haitian physician, is our Haitian partner in this focus.

As you can see we have a lot of work going on in Haiti. The best thing about all the work is that each area includes, and contributes to the growth of, Haitian professionals. Ideally. our involvement will be able to decrease as theirs increases over the next few years, allowing us to move on to other areas of need in the country.

Our current "All Things Are Possible" campaign is going very well. We are over one fourth of the way to our goal of having 400 - $10 monthly donations. Mary Morgan Gentry recently held a very successful yard sale in Nashville to support this mission - All proceeds from this are going to the Shada clinic. Tigger Gore and my son Chris are planning another yard sale in the Atlanta area in September, along with a benefit dinner and silent auction in October.

How can you help? Please pray for Haiti along with all the people helping there. For that matter, pray for the poor all over the world. Until you've ministered to people in a true third world country, you have no idea how truly blessed you are. Other ways: Be a part of the All Things Are Possible campaign. Tell your company or foundation about our work in order to obtain matching donor funds. Donate silent auction items for our benefit dinner in October. Please email me at for details or to participate in any of these.

God has been so amazing in how He has helped us help the Haitian people. He has recently provided me with a very good job in Atlanta that is very understanding about me working in Haiti. While they are allowing me one month off every quarter to work in Haiti; it is also allowing me to completely support myself. This means all donated funds now go directly to the work in Haiti. We are also taking steps to formalize A Healthier Haiti and make it a stand alone organization. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your prayers, encouragement, and support over the past six months. It has been an incredible learning experience. I hope you join in our excitement about our areas of focus for the next year.

Grace and peace,