Thursday, November 20, 2008


The last week and a half...

Ashley, the executive director of CNP, flew into Port Au Prince a week before the convention was to commence where the Hospital hoped to make great strides in resurrecting it's existence in Leogane. In that week Ashley, Kara, and I were busy with meetings and planning for the expansion of the existing programs and surveying opportunities to upgrade our infrastructure on the ground. This week was very busy, especially the latter half...

Mitch and Sherry from Chattanooga and Lisa and Cynthia from Ann Arbor flew in that weekend and were willing to help HSC by hosting out patient clinics on both Monday and Tuesday prior to the meetings in Port Au Prince. Mitch and Sherry work along side a Haitian Cardiologist and were able to see 75 or more specialized cardiac patients during those two days performing EKG's and Echo Cardiograms on almost every patient. I was able to observe some of their work and it was evident that these consultations were very time consuming and more intricate than a normal mobile clinic. Big thanks to Mitch, Sherry, Lisa, Cynthia, and Dr. Casnel for the time and skills!! Also, while they were servicing cardiac patients the hospital was providing primary care through several doctors from the community that were volunteering their time along side of nursing students from the local school. It was great to see everyone doing their part to provide a great couple of days for the community.

Everyone headed into Port Au Prince for the next few days to engage in meetings that we hoped to be the frame work for the future of CNP and HSC. The Haiti Connection convention is a gathering of organizations that are involved all over the country and was kicked off with a great speech from Ophelia, Paul Farmers long time colleague and friend who is currently the Executive Director of Partners in Health. The following days were a mix of meetings with potential partnering organizations and networking among friends with a common goal; to end the viscous cycle of poverty in Haiti. Among many positive things that came out of these meetings, most importantly, the HSC board met and to the excitement to many, a governing board was elected and everyone on the board agreed to and signed into action a set of bylaws by which they will function. This is very exciting news and we hope and pray this is a giant step in the direction of resurrecting HSC!! Thanks for all the prayers...

At the conclusion of this week Kara and I had to say goodbye to a set of friends, but welcomed in another...

Thomas, Drew, Jonathan, Ann (Kara's mom),  and Lynn (Kara's aunt) arrived in Haiti on Thursday staying that initial night in PAP and then heading out to Leogane for the remainder of their visit. Kara and I were thrilled to be surrounded by friends and family and were grateful for the sacrifices made from everyone  in order to come see us! Their time here was fast but was a great taste of Haiti... from tours of the hospital, shopping in the market, hikes in the mountains, a day at the beach, visiting a LWI well site, sausages on a stick among other Haitian cuisines, and of course salsa dancing of which everyone participated!! It was a great trip and Kara and I hated to see everyone go, but look forward to seeing some of the same faces again in the spring.

On a side note, I wanted to briefly touch on Guerline and let everyone know that has been praying...

She is alive and well!! While Thomas, Drew, and Jonathan were here we took Saturday morning and traveled to check up on Guerline and here family!! It is always an adventure in Haiti when you head to the mountains, but I would love for some of your guys to pick those boys brains about the roads, the mountains, four low, and most importantly the emotions from their encounter with Guerline's family. 

Briefly... when we rounded the corner to their home Guerline's mother was the first to see us and she began screaming out in Creole, "my people are here, my people are here!!" She ran over to the house and scooped up Guerline to bring her to us as we approached from the other direction. She was still healthy although riding the fine border of malnutrition, but thankfully still leaps and bounds better than the first day we found her!! While we were there we gave her another weeks worth of plumpy nut and also delivered seed to her father who we hoped could plant in the community fields and provide nutrition to his family and others. Before we left Guerline's mother made another comment in Creole that was powerful and I was glad my friends were there to witness not only the impact but also the necessity of CNP and our programs. She left us saying, "You are all Guerline's father and I want to thank you for that..."

Thanks, as always, for the continued encouragement... I am sorry if I ever sound redundant in my gratitude, but knowing that someone is praying for you has taken a whole knew meaning during my time here...


PS. Out of time... I will post a picture soon!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Back

wow... sorry for my absence!!

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who I saw and all of those who contributed in every little way to a great visit back home! It was flawless and much needed! BIG THANKS

As far as reintroduction... the minute I stepped foot off of AA flight 803 I was greeted with a pleasant surprise. The heat wave that Haiti is famous for throughout the summer had seemed to have cooled off a bit. It is amazing how thankful you can be for the lower 90's when all you've known is the 100 +'s for so long... it made the transition that much more manageable. 

I say manageable for this very reason... 

Although you know the poverty stricken elements and graphic images that you will be exposed, I don't think after time away it will ever be easy to transition back, and I am thankful for this. I think if I ever reach a point where what I see and witness doesn't pull my heart strings, something is wrong, and something needs to be done. The hurt is great and the hurt is BIG!! One image in particular stirred my emotions to the brink of tears... I saw a child... and this child was partially clothed in what was nothing more than a tattered t-shirt. This child was obviously hungry and was walking bare footed over a large pile of trash. These piles of trash are abundant in Haiti and I am sure that I have mentioned them before; the odor they produce is practically unbearable. I watched this child plop himself down in the middle of this trash heap and begin digging through the surrounding trash in hopes of finding something to satisfy the hunger pains. As I watched, I saw him find something that had absolutely no resemblance of anything edible and he began to pry at it with his teeth... thankfully we were driving and I didn't witness this long because I think I would have lost it completely... 

I know it is important to witness graphic images such as these, because these images are the driving force behind what we do... like I said before, there is a great hurt and the hurt is BIG!!!

All in all, life back is good... good for the soul! Of course, it is challenging and believe me I still need all of the prayers I can get, but it is good. I want to let everyone know that we hope to have our own Internet soon and I hope to be much better in communicating with everyone about my time spent here. For all of you that have prayed for Guerline... Thank You!! I plan to see her soon because once again she hasn't reported back with her mother in the time that I was away. I hope and pray I find her well and I will report back to all of you as soon as I can.

M' pral pale ou tale...



Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Hey guys, thanks again for your patience!! 

Please continue to pray...

Leogane has been fortunate in all of this, but the north island of Haiti is in utter turmoil. They need your prayers and they need the rain to stop. I have heard that Haiti has been on the television a lot in the states and it has been nice to have updates from everyone because my access, as you all know, to the internet is not frequent. Therefore, most of you guys at home probably know more about the situation then I do.

As for Leogane and what I do know, the city is beginning to dry out and most of the roads are passable. Everyday since yesterday has seemed to gone on as normal. Businesses have been open and people have been strolling the streets as if the worst has past and we all hope that is true!! It has been nice to see the blue skies and to actually be reminded how hot it gets here in the direct sunlight again!! I think I even got a little sun burned today... that is the Haiti I know!!

As far as the programs and our ability to do work...

We have been slowed a little and most of the mothers in our programs have been limited in the transportation methods because of the high levels of water. As we see them subside we have seen more mothers bringing in their children in the past few days. Right now Kara and I are just trying to figure out where we can help. With all of the unclean water running around we are still waiting to see how we can use our resources here to help the people of Leogane. We know that there are many without water and we hope to help them really soon with some of our solution from our water program. So, things have definitely been slow but fortunately I have had to continue to enter the information from the survey we conducted in July to occupy my time. Thanks, as always, for the continued support and I look forward to seeing most of you really soon!! I hope to have more updates soon...

ps. above is a picture of the recent floods in Leogane, if you couldn't tell...haha!!
pss. ok, this is the main road next to the hospital, about 3.5 to 4 feet of water in places...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


To all those that have been praying for us, Thank You...

Gustav was tangled in the mountains before it reached us, therefore, the winds had dwindled to gusts of 40+ mph. On the other hand, the rain has been unrelenting and I can only begin to imagine the damage He has left in his wake. 

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti...with no waste management or sanitation services you can only imagine what rising water levels must mean!! Please pray for manageable sized epidemics, or better yet, none at all!!

Briefly, on our ride over in the landcruiser I witnessed what you would only imagine seeing in a magazine or the movies. The roads, or what use to be roads, where all rushing rivers!! For those of you that have visited Leogane, all the roads running from the main highway into the city have transformed into funnels for the outpouring of water from the mountains. In some places the water levels exceeded 4 feet!! We have heard from CNP staff in Darbonne that the water levels could be higher and they are experience some difficulties. All in all, the CNP staff, that we know, is safe and sound. But, I have a feeling that the work is just about to begin. 

I didn't have an opportunity on the way over to capture any photos, therefore, I leave you with one of my favorite areas of Leogane (the banks of the Grand Rivye). Thanks again for all your prayers and I will do my best, as always, to keep everyone posted!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Sorry and thanks for your patience...

The Internet situation down here has not gotten any better, in fact, it may be a little worse!! Hopefully some ideas are on the table and they will come to fruition soon!!

As far as what has been going on, there is a a lot!!! I will try to summarize the week with the mobile clinic from Chattanooga and a update of Guerline...

The team arrived two weeks ago from today and let me tell you, it was so good to see some familiar faces and hug the necks of those that have supported me so faithfully!! It wasn't a homemade apple pie, but they brought a little bit of home with them and I sapped it up like a biscuit does with gravy!!

All in all the week was a huge success! The Hospital here is going through some trying times and in order to support them here we began the week hosting a clinic for the city of Leogane right there at St. Croix. The turn out was impressive and actually we had to limit our services to, i believe, 260 patients. The setup was quite comfortable and as always the dental team, Deb Watlington and Alan Crisman, were inspiring!! For those of you that have participated in a mobile clinic you know how hard the dental team always works, and for those of you that haven't I am not doing it justice by briefly describing their efforts. But, let me tell you, at the end of everyday they are the last ones to finish working whether that is because of the lack of lighting, the approaching thunderstorm (which many times they work right through the rain), or because they successfully treated every patient. They are the last ones standing and deserve every bit of recognition for their valiant work!! 

The rest of the week was filled with a lot of hope and a lot of heartache, as most clinics are, but as Mitch always reminds everyone "you can only do as much as you can do and you have to let yourself be OK with what hope you gave." If you focus your thoughts and efforts on the negatives, which it is so easy to do in Haiti because you are surrounded by them, it's easy to lose sight of all the help you gave. I think that it is safe to say that most individuals when they leave Haiti after a clinic week feel pretty beat up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The weather and other elements takes its' toll on the body and then the situation of the Haitian people and the images you see seem to ring your heart out dry. But there again, when all is said and done you must dwell on the fact that without your work think of where the Haitian people would be and with strength from above you press on seeking to give HOPE!!

It truly was a great week, and of course, it was filled with what Haiti always offers: salsa dancing (Deb stole the show one night), french fries and beer, roads that never seem to be remotely passable but somehow you do, walks through riverbeds, tropical fruit and a wonderful week of Haitian cuisine, sunsets that will leave you feeling enchanted, and most importantly humbly spending time with your Haitian brothers and sisters in their world and at their level. All these things are truly a blessing!!

Thanks to ALL that participated and I look forward to the next time we can serve together!!

As for my girl, Guerline, her story is truly amazing and the book gets better with each passing page. I know I mentioned to some of you that I was heading back to the mountains if we didn't see her and/or her mother back at the hospital after her supplies of medicine had been depleted. Of course, they didn't come because they have no money and couldn't afford the transportation to the hospital, therefore, myself, Louis, and Guesly took to the mountains to take her more medicine and to check her progression as her body continues to re cooperate from the lack of nutrients that she went for so long without. 

Once again, there are not enough words to describe to everyone the feeling you get when you round the corner to her house and in that instant that she sees you her eyes light up like the brightest stars in the sky. Her smile was larger than I had ever seen and her embrace was worth any 2 hour hike ten times over!! It is amazing to witness a miracle with your own eyes!! I feel blessed beyond imagination and can only hope that everyone grasps, if only a smidgen, these emotions I am attempting to describe...

We spent an hour at her house playing and feeding her and taking necessary measurements for our records to track her continued progression. She sat in my lap, unfortunately I don't have these specific pictures, and I fed her her medicine. The picture above is right before she crawled up into my lap. Although I still don't speak the language great, the gratitude could be seen from miles away on the mother and fathers face!! Honestly, right now, I am at a loss of words and I know I will never completely describe my emotions of this experience. All I know is I am extremely blessed and thank the good Lord for showering my life with experiences such as these...they are truly life changing.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Safe Water

I know that I have mentioned to most of you being involved in CNP's launching of their safe water program, and with the help of CDC and other programs it officially launched a couple of months ago. As of now we are still learning and developing ideas, but currently our Monitrices from the nutritional program are being supplied with special buckets and a diluted chlorine solution called "gadyen dlo" to sell at a subsidized cost to families in their villages. Of course, in order to control quality of the water and to make sure the solution is being used properly we are training our Monitrices first at our monthly meetings, therein, allowing them to host training classes in their respective villages before anyone can purchase the bucket, top, and solution package.

The two full time employees of CNP that are working with the water program are Evans and Albert (who is in the picture above). Just after I arrived in Leogane, Evans took off for vacation so I have spent most of my time working with Albert. We have been going out approximately 2 times a week to supervise these class/meetings the Monitrices host in their villages in order to educate and answer any questions the locals may have. These meetings are a treat for me. Not only do I get to practice hearing/learning Kreyol from the locals during the meetings, I also get to hear personal stories, threw a translator, about how excited/thankful they are about this program and how the water in the past has made them or their children really sick. 

These meetings are sometimes held in churches and before each meeting they like to sing a hymn and pray before they begin. These times are extremely peaceful for me and although I can't understand the words of the hymn I sometimes recognize the tune and hum along. To be in these mountain villages among these mountain people singing/humming hymns and praying is very invigorating!! 

Usually the meetings last about an hour or so and without fail, no matter their living situation, they always offer some sort of "gift" before we begin our descent of the mountain. On this particular day they sent a child of the village up into the coconut trees to knock down several for us to drink. I have never had fresh coconut juice from the fruit before so it was truly a treat for me to have my first experience with my Haitian brothers and sisters!!

The preparation of the coconut fruit is quite a talent and I was mesmerized by the hatchet skills of the elder of the village who prepared the coconuts to drink. From an outsiders perspective it looked as though he swung aimlessly at these nuts sending the shell, like shrapnel, flying left and right, sometimes catching you in the face!! But it never failed, when he set his hatchet aside and rose to hand you the coconut there was a perfect size drinking whole ready for you to turn it up...and turn it up we did!!

As always I am humbled by the generous spirit of the Haitian people... 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


For those of you that didn't know, the Internet at the hospital has been out for over a week and I do apologize for the delay. With that said so much has happened that once again it is going to be impossible to catch everyone up on everything.

I have told some of you through email and maybe a phone conversation or two about the little girl I found in the mountains. It was in the middle of the survey and because of strict protocol in selecting houses it was a miracle that we stumbled upon sweet little Guerline. All the guys from the team were exhausted and were reluctant to stick to the protocol because of the distances you tend to travel in the mountains between houses. We climbed up and down the hillsides and threw the river beds until we reached this structure, Guerline's home, that looked as if one swift wind could send it to the ocean.

Guerline was inside the house and we didn't actually get a look at her until the mother had begun the survey answering basic questions about their location and home. I wondered over to the door of the house and peered in to find little Guerline there lifeless on a piece of cloth as her bed. It had to have been close to 90 degrees inside the house and she looked as if her lips hadn't felt the cool touch of water in days. She was lifeless and struggled to even maneuver her eyes to see who this stranger was in her house!! Of course, I immediately knew that we would be taking her with us to the hospital in the morning to begin protocol to hopefully bring her back to life.

When we found Guerline she was a little over a year and a half old but weighed less than some newborn babies in the states. At a little over 8 pounds there was hardly anything to her but skin and bones. Needless to say, it broke my heart!! The mother of Guerline new that she was sick but didn't have the money or means to seek help. Like I said before, it was a miracle that we found sweet little Guerline that day.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of her state when she was first brought into the hospital, but, honestly, I would want to spare most of you guys the heartache!! Thankfully the best thing about my story is the ending. 

The following morning after we had discussed logistics with the mother and father that we would pay for transportation, treatment, and etc. They pack their belongings put on their nicest clothes and carried Guerline 3 hours over three mountains to rendezvous with our driver where we hand another hour and a half drive back to the hospital. 

We just sent Guerline and her mother back home last week because she has made so much progress!! The mother is suppose to return to the hospital tomorrow to pick up more food, but if we see nothing of her by Friday I am headed back up to take supplies!! I think it is safe to say the Guerline stole my heart and I already told Kara, the program manager, that if her parents don't live through the time I spend here I am bringing here home...haha!!

The more she ate the more her personality began to reveal itself!! Everyday for about 10 days we would check on her progress multiple times a day and saw with our own eyes her growth and what was basically a "rebirth" of a beautiful Haitian girl full of personality and life!! The last day she held my fingers in the palms of here little hands and wanted to walk all over the hospital room laughing and smiling from ear to ear!! It was incredible...there is really no other way to describe it!!

Thanks for the prayers and be encouraged...