Communiqué #125

 

Communiqué #125

TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY

to the PEOPLE of HAITI

August 23, 2017

 

W E L D E R    i  n    D E M A N D 

A very exciting event was in store for us on the day that we set off to visit the community of Boisbouton on the other side of the tiny island of Île-à-Vache.  Nearly 10 months ago Hurricane Matthew had brought havoc to this community.  The storm had torn off the newly installed roof of the school and church that was being built. On our visit on this day we would see the replacement roof majestically perched on top of the restored structure.  It was truly a reason for celebration!

Pulling up to the site, I could see many men, women and children gathered near the structure.  My initial thought was that they had come here to celebrate with us.  It certainly was a big deal for the community!

Quickly, however, I would learn that they were not there for that reason at all!  They were actually there because a generator AND a welder was there.  There were so many things in their homes that needed welding, but finding a welder within walking distance was only a dream.  Now, right there in their midst, was exactly what they needed!  People came from all directions with broken down metal bed frames, “charcoal stoves” that were falling apart and even motorcycles with parts in need of welding.  Patiently each person waited their turn to finally have a four-legged bed again, a cooking surface that could be mended or needed repairs for their motorcycle.

It seems that the new structure brought out people for more reasons than the original intent of the building.  We pray that the people will return to this site to bring their children to school and their families to worship!  After all, this building is intended for more than the repair of physical items, but also for the educational and spiritual needs of the community!  May God continue to pour His blessings out on Boisbouton!

 

Nora Léon                                  

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic       Until next time, God willing …………

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Communiqué #124

TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY

to the PEOPLE of HAITI

May 17, 2017

 

 

M A N G O S   a n d   P B & J

 

 

People in Haiti always look forward to mango season! In the southwestern part of Haiti, this year the appearance of mangos is a bigger-than-normal deal! Hurricane Matthew devastated gardens and the mango crop in October 2016, leaving a people with no hopes of vegetables for months until gardens could be re-planted and harvested and no fruit until trees would again produce.

Much to the delight of adults and children alike, mangos have made their debut on Île-à-Vache this month! Suffering from a greater-than-normal food shortage has been a painful reminder what it is like to be hungry on a daily basis! The appearance of this juicy, tasty fruit is a welcome sight indeed!

It is not uncommon for children to eat 12 mangos in one sitting! It doesn’t matter that one will suffer a bellyache as a result, the tastiness of the fruit far outweighs the temporary discomfort.

The boys of GRACE Orphanage are equally as eager to feast on this treat! It is a pleasure to peel back the skin with one’s teeth and devour the juiciness fresh off the tree. An especially ripe fruit will result in the juices dribbling down one’s chin and dripping past one’s elbows, requiring a bucket of water to later remove the “sticky mess” from one’s face, arms, and clothes!

As the victims of Hurricane Matthew continue to struggle to have enough to eat and restore their lives to closer to how it was before the storm, please continue to keep them in your prayers and to help provide financial support!

On a recent visit to the orphanage, I was able to capture a few photos of our boys enjoying mangos. I also had decided to bring a large loaf of sliced bread, some peanut butter and some grape jelly. Little did I know that the boys of the orphanage had NEVER had PB&J sandwiches before. They had eaten peanut butter on bread, but had never added jelly. As I made sandwiches and cut them into triangular fourths, the boys watched in excitement. Once they tasted the sweet treat, they could not stuff the sandwiches into their mouths fast enough. I believe they were even swallowing the sandwiches whole in attempt to be ready for the next quarter that I would offer them. The older boys and the younger boys were both equally excited about the newest treat. The giggles that filled the room, the gleam in their eyes, and their excitement was so much fun to witness! They asked if today was a party!  They asked if they could have this treat EVERY day!! I cannot explain how much joy that this simple event brought to me! I think that maybe now I will bring PB&J to them EVERY time I visit. No toy, no trinket, no candy that I could have brought would have given them more pleasure.

Oh! The simple things in life! Today, as an American who grew up eating PB&J on an almost-daily basis, I am treasuring the joy that simple peanut butter and jelly brought to the boys of GRACE Orphanage!   And now I ask you … What is it today that is bringing you a simple joy??? Savor it! Treasure it, my friend!

 

 

Nora Léon                   

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic      Until next time, God willing …………

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Communiqué #123

Communiqué #123

TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY to the PEOPLE of HAITI

February 25, 2017

 

O N C E   A G A I N

Once again I find myself with an ache in my gut as I enter the General Hospital in LesCayes. This time it is for the newest little guy at the orphanage. Yesterday, Ched had invented himself a swing of sorts from an old mosquito net. It was not surprising that Ched had made yet another invention. For a little 4 year old, he has amazing handyman skills, developed by following his handyman father around when he had no mother to care for him and no choice but to be with his papa. He knows his tools. He knows when a hammer is needed, when a screwdriver is needed and what to do with a nail. This time, however, his invention resulted in a fall and a nasty break of his left leg.

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Ched with one of his recent “inventions”

He was injured on Thursday and after having a sleepless, painful night it became clear that the orphanage staff would need to take him on Friday on a boat for treatment only available on the mainland. Most likely he took a 20-minute motorcycle ride over a severely rutted road to reach the wharf where the water taxi would make the hour-long voyage to the mainland. Ched arrived at the hospital early in the morning. His x-rays revealed a diagonal break of his left leg from hip nearly to the knee and the need for a cast. It was not until late morning, however, before a doctor was available to perform the task.

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Side-by-side images of the broken left leg

I have seen this same room not too long ago (see Communiqué #120) when I brought another boy from Île-à-Vache for an orthopedic issue. The room was not any more sanitary. The affected skin area was not cleansed. The equipment was the same antique pieces that I had seen before. A strong doctor pulled hard on Ched’s leg in an attempt to align the broken bone, as traction equipment is only a dream. It was then that little Ched cried out “Manmi Nora!” as if to say “Please rescue me!” As we watched our little guy writhe in pain, I wiped the tears that were flowing from his eye down into his ear. He was smothered in sweat and pleading to be able to sit up. His cast would end up engulfing his tummy and both of his legs with a crude board between his legs to keep him immobile. It breaks my heart to know that for at least the next four weeks, he will not be able to stand, walk or sit. Such an active little guy will certainly not understand why he has to remain so still.

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Two-handed pull on broken limb

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Making the leg immobile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My prayer now is that his leg will heal properly and he will one day soon be able to be the active, curious, inventive boy that I have come to love.

This event also reminds me (yet again) what a great need there is for a hospital on Île-à-Vache. Today, as the doctor was setting Ched’s leg he mentioned that the little patient just before Ched was also a boy from Île-à-Vache. He had broken his arm and had to make a similar boat ride to the mainland to receive care.

Please join me in praying for the complete recovery of Ched and for the medical facility that is SO badly needed on Île-à-Vache! Our great God can do the impossible. You can be a part of helping to more adequately care for the medical needs of the people of this little isle!

 

Nora Léon                   

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic          Until next time, God willing …

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Communiqué #122

 

Communiqué #122

 

TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY

 

to the PEOPLE of HAITI

 

October 30, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

M A T T H E W   6 :  1 9  – 2 0

 

 

 

 

How quickly life can change!  I have been worshiping at this same church for nearly sixteen years, but today my eyes welled up as I recalled the long and hard struggles of Pastor Israel Izidor in making this church and all other aspects of his ministry a reality.  Now I was sitting in the remains of the church that had been such a source of joy.  To the human eye, it would appear that all those hard years of sacrifice by Pastor Israel and his surviving family members had been utterly crushed into the ground.  

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Worship under the balcony!

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View of the roof from the balcony!

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The CROSS still stands!

Today, instead of being in a covered sanctuary facing a familiar pulpit, the congregation sat in pews that now face in the opposite direction and where the narthex now is the place where a lectern and musical instruments stand.   The floor of the balcony serves as the only shelter from the sun and potential rain as the only remaining intact “roofing” in the church.    The beautiful church garden is devoid of large shade trees, BUT the cross still stands.   Worship can still happen even in the bleakest of circumstances.  The God we worshiped before is the same God we worshiped today.  We cannot stop giving Him the praise He deserves for the lives that were spared and for the help that is coming our way.

 

 

 

I could not help but reflect on Matthew 6:19,20 …  “19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

 

 

 

Indeed our treasure is in Heaven, where earthquakes and hurricanes will no longer destroy and kill and where the pain and suffering of today’s life will be just a distant memory.

 

 

 

Following the worship service, I wandered around the church grounds to view what still remained.  I continued to reflect on the many years that this place has been a part of my life.  On my very first mission trip to LesCayes in 1997, we held an eyeglass clinic in the “hanger” style church that served as both church and school.  It was the only structure (aside from a crude latrine) that was present on this piece of real estate.   After testing people for eyeglasses, we used a large mango tree as a place for team members to sit in its shade to share the Good News of Jesus with the participants.  All through the years, this particular mango tree has held a spiritual significance for me.  Once again, God spared this particular tree.  Although it has been stripped of many of its leaves, it still stands!  I think of it as a symbol of the fact that through it all … God is still there!   Things of this earth will fade in the glory of what awaits us in heaven. 

 

 

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The church/school ‘hanger” as it looked in 1997!

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The “witness station” mango tree still stands!

 

Pastor Israel … your work was not in vain!   People whose lives you touched with the Gospel of Christ continue to be an everlasting gift to the people of LesCayes.  You indeed “stored up treasures in heaven” in for forms of sinners saved and disciples made!  Well done thou good and faithful servant … your legacy continues!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nora Léon                    

 

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic                 Until next time, God willing …………

 

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Communiqué #121

TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY

to the PEOPLE of HAITI

October 9, 2016

 

 

 

J O S H U A   1 : 9

 

The team is safely back in the United States. The winds and rain are gone. The reality and the aftermath are starting to set in. The emotions are buried deep in my soul and few tears have made it to the surface.   Whole sections of this country are left without homes, without food, without their livestock and gardens and with only the wet clothes on their backs. How does one even begin to digest that reality when we are sitting in a comfortable home with all that we need???

 

Through it all, God’s hand has been evident in so many ways.

 

Before returning to Haiti, God had prompted me to memorize Joshua 1:9, which says, “This is my command! Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   I believe God was intentionally making sure that I had this verse laid on my heart. When I opened a “daily-verse-for-the-day” email, this exact same verse popped up! It occurred AGAIN when I opened my daily devotional. And again, when I spoke with my brother as he conveyed to me that he had delivered a message as the chaplain at a Civil War event based on Joshua 1:9.   When I returned to Haiti, I found my desk in disarray and as I was putting things back in place, I found a slip of paper that I had saved, and YES it was that of Joshua 1:9.   Preparing for the onslaught of the storm, I shared this verse with the mission team who had come to serve in our ministry on Île-à-Vache.   This verse is not just a SUGGESTION, but the words are a COMMAND!   Throughout the night of the worst wind and rain that I have ever endured, I kept reminding myself of this command. I decided that if God’s word is true, then I must follow His command to NOT BE AFRAID and rely on the reassurance that God is with me WHEREVER I GO!   Truly, truly, truly these words brought me through a long and difficult night when many in the storm’s path were wondering if there would ever be a break in the velocity of the screaming winds and if they would be alive in the morning to see another day on this earth!

 

How did I see God at work before, during and after the storm?

 

–                 I believe God used my previous 2010 Haiti earthquake experience to prepare me for Hurricane Matthew.

–                 I believe God used my daughter Tasha, a woman who is a 9-1-1 dispatcher by profession, to be my eyes and ears regarding the storm’s impending arrival and later my liaison with the frantic family members and friends wanting to know the status of the mission team.   Ironically, she had had some practice at being that frantic family member, when 6 years ago she awaited word of my survival from the Haiti earthquake.   Thus, when she was able to proclaim … “They are safe!” … she completely understood the relief that those few short words would bring.

–                 I know that I was personally blessed to have a mission team present both during the 2010 Haiti earthquake AND during Hurricane Matthew. Their presence provided me with added strength to endure two very similar, but different, experiences.   Only God could have planned that all out!

–                 I was amazed during both events how God brought long-ago memorized Bible verses and familiar hymns to provide comfort and reassurance that I am forever a daughter of the King, both in this life and the next. That same King had me in the palm of His almighty hand.

–                 For Hurricane Matthew, we had been advised to board up all of the glass windows on the ocean-side of the guesthouse. In a world with a Home Depot just down the street, that would have been good advice. But, on an island where sheets of plywood or supplies of nails are non-existent, we were unable to do so. AMAZINGLY, after the storm was over we would see that not one single piece of louvered glass was broken. Some had dislodged from their holding brackets, some window frames had quivered in their openings, but NO glass broke.

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–                 We were told that with 145 mph winds, there would be no way that our solar panels would stay attached to our roof and they most certainly would become projectiles. AMAZINGLY, all panels remained in place and we were able to have limited power throughout our time on the island.

–                 The church down the hill from guesthouse has a huge metal roof. When all other metal roofs on the island blew away or peeled back like the lid of a tin can … AMAZINGLY, the church roof stayed intact and would later serve as a great place to paint a huge S.O.S. sign.

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–                 The orphanage is located just a little higher up on the mountain. The orphans and staff chose to stay in the orphanage, even though the unfinished 2nd floor could have posed a risk of collapsing the whole building. At the end of the storm, the entire orphanage structure was intact AND had turned into a refuge for people who needed to flee their home at 3AM by walking through almost impossible winds to find a safer shelter while their homes started to explode into rubble.

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–                 God spared the one big building on the island capable of housing over 200 of the homeless. AMAZING!

–                 A stockpile of food stored at the school prior to the storm was available to feed the now-homeless people of the community who had no food to eat and whose gardens and fruit trees had been destroyed! AMAZING!

–                 At no point did we run out of food or drinkable water for the mission team, even though the number of days on the island had been extended because of the storm. The cooks had planned well and we would leave the island with food and water to spare!

–                 At no time did the mission team experience an illness that would require a doctor’s care.

–                 Following the storm, we learned that cell phone signals were non-existent. We had no way of knowing how many days/weeks it would take for the signal to be restored. AMAZINGLY, on the second day after the storm a weak signal was found on the top of the mountain allowing us to send word to the very concerned families of the missionaries back in the United States. Some hours later a stronger signal came in and team members were able to speak directly with their family members. An added blessing was that Verizon was providing FREE international calls to and from Haiti!

–                 It was feared that our boat that had transported us to Île-à-Vache was washed out to sea. We were amazed that it was found with only some damage to the benches.   Such was not the case for the commercial-grade boats of two nearby resorts that were rendered unusable and many more boats of the little fishing-vessel variety that were washed away or damaged beyond repair.

–                 Knowing that it was not wise to take our boat on the sea back to LesCayes without another boat as an escort in the event our motor stopped running, it was again God’s provision that we were able to find one boat that was intact and one boat captain who was willing to partner with us to accompany us on the sea crossing.

–                 As of this writing, it is AMAZING to report that only one life was lost on the isle, a sheer miracle when one views the utter destruction and has lived through the incredibly mighty winds and the unrelenting, lashing rains of this Category 4 hurricane.

–                 With three main bridges washed out on the road between LesCayes and Port-au-Prince, the team was not only in jeopardy of missing their original booked flight time, but also the possibility of not being able to get to their departure city of Port-au-Prince at all. God provided us with an incredible chauffeur (named Garry) who has proven time and again that he will go the extra mile to get our mission teams safely to where they need to go. He searched for alternate ways to cross the now-bridgeless rivers. AMAZINGLY, the team made their original intended flight time so that they could be reunited with their families who were eagerly awaiting their return.

 

The God of wind and sea … means what He says …. “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  


Nora Léon                   

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic     Until next time, God willing …

 

 

HURRICANE MATTHEW RELIEF … how YOU can help!

 

PLEASE use the link below for Hurricane Relief donations.                                                Western Union is NO LONGER offering fee-free wire transfers.                                                   OR
Mail your tax-deductible donations to
Caribbean Children’s Foundation
PO Box 33
Jenison MI 49429.0033

100% of your donation will go to Hurricane Relief in Haiti

http://caribbeanchildrensfoundation.org/donatecontactus.html

Our current objective is to provide iron sheets to those who have lost their homes. It is possible for the people to make temporary grass frond walls, but they have no means to provide a roof over their heads. We will also be bringing food to several communities on Île-à-Vache.   Funds sent to Haiti will allow us to purchase the items here and bring them by boat to the isle.   Both our car and our construction-material transportation boat were severely damaged making our task more difficult, but not impossible.   We are so grateful for the outpouring of words of encouragement, the prayers and the pledges to send money!

 

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Communiqué #120

Communiqué #120

TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY

to the PEOPLE of HAITI

APRIL 2, 2016

 

A dream for a pharmacy to serve the residents of Île-à-Vache has been on the hearts of Caribbean Children’s Foundation and Grace Ministries for a long time. With this dream were grander hopes for a medical facility to treat patients on this tiny isle where no hospital is available. It seems that God is blessing this dream with the vivid possibility of making this a reality.

 

When a team of doctors and nurses recently scouted out Île-à-Vache as a possible site for a similar dream they had been envisioning, it was then that real planning began.   During their visit, they would meet a little boy who would exemplify the great need for just such medical care. Jorge (not his real name) came to them with what he described as a soccer-related injury. Even after 6 or 7 months, his right leg still showed awful signs of bruising and oozing and an unnatural curve to his lower right leg. The team decided to fund treatment of his leg. He would need to travel to LesCayes to be seen by an orthopedic doctor there.   Jorge was supposed to return with his mother to see the doctors on their last day on Île-à-Vache. They were a “no-show”.

 

Several weeks went by before Léon and I were able to track down the boy. He could only estimate his age at 10 years, most likely because a record of his birth had never been kept. The bruised area was still oozing and in need of care.   We asked for him to return to us with his mother so that we could discuss our plan for treatment. Either out of reluctance, lack of concern, or worry of the financial burden, she sent the boy’s aunt to us instead. We asked for a phone number so that we could contact the mother with the date on which she would travel with Jorge by boat to the mainland. The aunt said the mother did not have a phone, but she would return with a couple of numbers of people who would know how to get the message to us. She never returned.

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Brave little patient!

Alas, we returned to the mainland and proceeded to make arrangements for an appointment with a doctor in a nearby village who could see Jorge. We were told that in order to see the doctor, one had to arrive at 5AM to get a ticket from the receptionist to assure that the child could be seen on the appointed day. The day was set for Friday and we sent word to Île-à-Vache that the boy and his mom needed to be on the early morning boat that we were bringing to LesCayes for the purpose of picking up sacks of rice and beans for our school feeding program.   The boy and his mom arrived, but the mom quickly disappeared into the city. She did not return until it was too late for the scheduled morning appointment. We managed to get another ticket for a late morning appointment. We picked them up in our car and headed out of town. Upon arriving, I overheard the mom explaining to the son that she was hungry. Leaving so early from Île-à-Vache had left no time to start a charcoal fire to prepare any type of food before departing.   In reality, as a widow with no employment, she probably did not even have food to prepare. As we waited in the car, near the doctor’s office, I noticed a couple of women selling crackers and beverages. I gave the mom some money to buy a little something for the two of them. I was quickly reminded that this mother most likely had never ridden in a car. She did not know how to open the door to get out. Living in a place where only recently cars have appeared on the scene, it is no wonder that this was a new experience for the both of them.

 

Soon, the man with the ”ticket” came to talk to us. He had just learned that the “bone” doctor only saw patients on Tuesday. The boy and his mom would need to travel back to Île-à-Vache and return the following Monday afternoon to be there in time for their very early Tuesday morning appointment.

 

Hmmm! Now what? We decided that most likely the doctor would order an x-ray, so we decided to go out in search of a facility to x-ray Jorge’s leg. The first radiology business that we went to told us that the technician was not working on that particular day. Next, we headed to a hospital where I had taken a young child for an x-ray in the past. We arrived to learn that they no longer had an x-ray machine. We then proceeded to the “poor people’s hospital.” After inquiring at several different offices, we were directed to the emergency room. It was one large room with about 10 beds, all occupied by patients in varying states of pain!   We were pleased to learn that not only could we get an x-ray, but an orthopedic doctor was on site and would be able to see Jorge. Various people needed to gawk at Jorge’s misshapen and bruised leg as they shook their head and commented about the injury being an old un-treated one.

 

Our next stop was to the cashier’s office. We needed to pay to register the patient and to have a file created for him, resulting in an admittance fee equivalent to about $2.50 U.S. We also needed to pay for the x-ray. Once we had the document and receipts in hand, we headed to the radiography room, where the x-rays clearly showed a broken bone not healing the way that it should have if properly treated immediately after the injury. With x-rays in hand, we proceeded to the doctor’s office. The office was located in the only remaining area of a building that was being demolished. Some well-worn benches were perched on a porch just outside his office door. Other children were waiting there with casts on their arms or with limbs that had just been removed from casts. It did not take long until we were summoned into the office and greeted by the nurse. She asked questions and took notes and then told us that we would not be able to see the doctor today because he had just headed into surgery. I asked if there was someone that could at least look at his leg as it appeared to me to be infected and in need of an antibiotic. A gentleman appeared who said that he would see if he could speak with the doctor about the case. He returned a short time later saying that if we could wait for a little while, the doctor would see Jorge. It was then that I realized that Jorge’s mom had disappeared from the scene. A mounting impression of a mother who was not particularly concerned about her child was building up inside me. My “mama bear” instinct kicked in and I proceeded to act as the surrogate mama, staying close to Jorge during his upcoming exam and acting as his advocate. The doctor took notes and said he would need surgery. He ordered blood tests and said that he would be immediately admitted into the hospital. When I asked about a possible infection, the doctor did not directly answer the question, but rather said he would “clean it up” during the surgery. We were then told that we must purchase bandaging supplies. After paying for and sending someone off the hospital premises to obtain the supplies, the staff ushered Jorge into an adjoining room that had clearly been used as the storage room for the construction crew. A hospital bed was against one wall, the bare mattress covered with cement dust and debris. Jorge was instructed to sit on the table. The staff started folding gauze on the soiled mattress and the nurse came in to clean the badly infected area by asking Jorge to hold his leg over a 5 gallon bucket while she poured antiseptic over the wound. The fist-sized area was cleaned and a gauze bandage was applied. No attempt was made to clean the rest of the leg of this otherwise very active little boy. Soon a partial cast took shape and was applied to the back of Jorge’s leg to immobilize the leg. It was wrapped in gauze and we were told to pick out a bed for Jorge in the pediatric ward. The mother had appeared and she took off for the ward in search of a bed for her son. Two men proceeded to carry Jorge out of the room, across the parking lot, up a steep stairs, through the small room of the nurses’ station and to the vacant bed that Jorge’s mom was standing by. A bare, torn mattress on a rusty metal-framed bed greeted us. It was then that we handed Jorge’s mom more money for her to take a motorcycle taxi into the city to buy a sheet for the bed. When Jorge’s mom left her home early in the morning, she had no idea that her trip with her son to the mainland would result in a hospital stay and perhaps several nights away from home. She came with one small backpack, stuffed with a rag-filled pillow and a few papers, but certainly not with clothing or other provisions for a lengthy stay and certainly not with the bedding that each patient must provide for himself.   While waiting for her return, the nurse filled out a list of supplies that would be needed for them to start an IV on Jorge. Trips on-foot to three different pharmacies finally resulted in the purchase of all the needed supplies. The mom returned with the sheet and after locating a mattress in better condition, her son was transferred into the bed with a sheet-covered mattress, which only remained clean until blood spurted onto it while nurses were trying to start an IV on Jorge. He was a brave little guy with the needle pokes, not shedding a tear.   Next, the lab slip needed to be taken to a “within walking distance” lab to obtain prices and times for the lab work to be done. We learned that Jorge needed to fast overnight, so the labs were delayed until the next morning. It was expected that Jorge would show up at the lab at 8AM, even though he had an IV and an immobilized leg with no crutches or wheelchair with which to maneuver himself with. It was only after some persuasion that the lab worker agreed to walk to the hospital grounds the next morning to take the blood samples at Jorge’s bedside – not a normal way of doing things. With everything on that day’s agenda crossed off the list, Léon and I decided it was time to call it a day. Once again, we gave money to the mama so that she could buy Jorge and herself some food to eat and something to drink since meals are not served to the patients at this or most Haitians hospitals.   As I mopped the sweat off my face and arms, I found it hard to imagine that anyone could rest in the overheated, uncomfortably humid and fan-less hospital room that now served as a sleeping quarters for several children and their family members who would be staying there and caring for their child overnight.

 

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Right leg x-rays

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Cast to immobilize leg

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Hospital room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, Léon and I returned to the hospital fully expecting that we would end up having to carry Jorge to the lab. We arrived to find Jorge’s mother nowhere in sight. We were pleasantly surprised to see the lab technician walk in the door prepared to draw lab samples. It was interesting to see him use a lancet to draw blood from Jorge’s earlobe. I had never seen that technique used before. Jorge did wince a bit when the needle was inserted for a blood draw, but again no tears were shed. The technician explained that some of the tests he needed would be done at the building next door because they were free tests that were only offered at that location. The tests would be done on Monday because it was Saturday and they were closed for the weekend. After the departure of the technician, I handed Jorge some goodies that I had brought for him, hoping that it would help to break up his boredom. Hot wheel cars seem to always be a hit with little boys. The coloring book and markers would end up being difficult for him because the IV was in the arm of his “writing” hand, but we did manage to do some dot-to-dot activities that seemed unfamiliar to him. Hygiene supplies and a hand towel were also in his goodie bag for both him and his mom – another luxury that is not provided by the hospital. We bid him farewell and told him we would return later that day, leaving him with more money to give to his mom to purchase food for the day.

 

Mid-afternoon we returned and found Jorge in a bed with an uncovered mattress in a completely different room. He was fast asleep with no mother in sight. We left him sleeping knowing that we could return later that day.

 

We returned in early evening to find him in his own bed, but once again with no mother in sight. We asked about why he had been in the other room. He replied he wanted to be in that room to watch the soccer game that was being televised. Haitians LOVE their soccer, so this really came as no surprise. When he fell asleep there, the staff just let him sleep, moving him back to his own bed only after he finished his nap.   We made sure that he had eaten during the day and asked if he knew anything more about when his surgery would be. He only knew that he was scheduled for additional tests on Monday. We left our telephone number in case his mom needed to get ahold of us and wished him a good night.

 

Jorge’s medical journey will continue for several more weeks, but one can only imagine how much easier it would have been if there was medical treatment available right in his own community. With God’s help, future medical cases will be able to be handled much more promptly once our new facility is in place.

 

We thank God for the possibilities that lie ahead and how He will use us to help achieve His plan!

 

Please remember to pray for the people of Haiti, including those faced with challenging choices with the lack of adequate medical care for their loved ones.

 

 

Nora Léon                   

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic           Until next time, God willing …………

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Communiqué #119

Communiqué #119

TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY

to the PEOPLE of HAITI

January 19, 2016

I M A G I N E

 

Sometimes when I am an eye-witness to certain things here in Haiti, I find myself wondering if people who have never been to a third world country could even imagine that situations like this could really still exist in today’s world.

 

On my recent visit to a school on the tiny island of Île-à-Vache, those types of thoughts surfaced.

 

I was volunteering in a third grade classroom and decided to ask each of the children to write down their name and their age on a sheet of paper. One boy did not know his full name. He needed to look at the cover of his notebook to see what his name was and how to spell it. The age range of the children was also interesting. The ages ranged from 8 to 17.   Most certainly the 17-year-old was in third grade because he had never had the opportunity to go to school when he was younger. There were several in the 12 to 15 age range where maybe that also was the case. For those from 9 to 11 perhaps this too was true OR they had failed to pass third grade and were repeating it for the second or third or fourth time in an attempt to pass to the next grade level after finally achieving successful academic results. I must admit that I really admire the oldest students for their desire to receive an education, even though it places them in a class with far younger children who may be unkind to them. I try to imagine if I were in those shoes if I would make the same choice.

Names and ages of 3rd graders

Names and ages of 3rd graders

Some 1st graders see electricity & a lighted ceiling fan for the first time EVER!

Some 1st graders see electricity & a lighted ceiling fan for the first time EVER!

Now imagine what it was like for a first grade class whose lesson for the day was taught in the rooms of our guesthouse. The first room that was visited was one of the bathrooms. For most of the children, they had NEVER seen a sink, a toilet or a shower. The teacher patiently explained what each of those modern conveniences was and how to use them. Imagine, in today’s world, living in a home that had none of those items. The next room they visited was a bedroom. The beds were a marvel to many, who most likely sleep on grass mats in their home or the bare and sometimes earthen floor.   The next stop was to the dining room where two large tables had lots of chairs surrounding them.   Many of their families count it a luxury to own even one handcrafted chair.   Also in the dining room was a ceiling fan with a light. Little eyes gazed in wonder as the switch was flipped and the light came on.   An even greater marvel was the rotating of the fan when the chain was pulled. As the children exited the room, many strained to get a little longer look at the marvelous rotating fan!          IMAGINE!

 

Nora Léon                   

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic       Until next time, God willing …………

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