Friday, January 10, 2014

Haiti wrap up

There comes a time when we need to realize that things need to come to an end. And today was that time. We finished up our last day of clinic, seeing 1400 children, building permanent 2 permanent “tippy taps” in each of the 11 projects we went to, did dental hygiene, brought water filtration systems in and taught first aid and left first aid kits in all the projects. But you know that already. But what you may not know, is who really did this all. We had a US team of 27 members and a Haitian/DR team of 11 for at total of 38 people serving the 1400 children and the communities. We had 2 local physicians and 1 local dentist who were with us, working along side, and who will stay and sustain the care we gave. 38 people who gave of their time to serve.

 

But why is that so important to point out? Well because, when the end is here, we look back and wonder if the road we traveled was indeed straight or was it twisty, and if we really arrived at our destination. I pose the question: what was our destination on this medical mission? What were our expectations? The answer was there for me this morning.

 

I was asked to look at an 11 year old girl who had surgery several years ago to remove a superficial mass on her neck. She was left with nerve damage to her arm and accumulation of lymph that made her arm swell to twice its size. She had a chest xray taken a while back when her mother took her to see a doctor after wondering for many years why her arm looked like this after surgery. The chest xray should 2 masses in her chest. No one bothered to tell the mother what the findings were at the time the xrays were taken, nor did the doctor who did the original surgery tell the mother what the mass was that he took out. The mother and the child were abandonnned by those who took an oath to heal and care. This time it won’t happen. With the local doctors working with me, we examind the child, came up with a plan on what tests are needed now, what the next step in the care would be, sat with the mother and explained to her in detail what we thought was going on, and committed to always be there for them. The desitnation and expectation was simple: to recognize those who come to us for help as persons worthy of dignity no matter their circumstances, and a commitment to relationship that is genuine. I believe we did that. We left behind sustianalbe drinking water, a place to wahs their hands, education and supplies to treat wounds and other minor injuries, toothbrushes and dental education and medical care that will be there for as long as they need it.

 

So as we finish this medical mission in Haiti, I give thanks for those who came to serve: Kelly, Michelle B., Jerry, Deanna, Katy, Beth, Michelle S., John Hbk., Robert, Trisha, Hannah, Deb, Sue, Micki, Mikaela, John Hns., Brittany, Megan, Doreen, Kathryn, Michael, Dave, Brian S., Brian Y., Kyle, Rocky, Onesimo, James, Jose, Robinson, Elias, Michelet, and Mathias.

 

Well-done faithful servants.

 

In all things give thanks,

David

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Haiti day 5

23 kilometers and almost a 2 hour drive on roads that are not roads but want to be. Climbing up through the chain of mountains outside of Cap Haitian, we see a distant part of Haiti that is a speck on the side of an island that is far from the civilization on the east side called the Dominican Republic. The road twists and yields little in the way of comfort. We travel slowly if for only to prevent damage to our bodies and the van. We would be of no good to anyone otherwise.

We were supposed to see children from 3 projects. We arrived at the first and quickly realized that it was not to be. Children were brought from one project to us and we stayed here all day, a 15 minute break for lunch and a constant stream of children. 360 children. Some children with serious illness, acute and chronic. More children who were malnourished and many who were far from the norm. Tippy taps were built, first aid taught and supplies left behind and water filtration. The one we left last time we were here was still being used serving a project of over 500. We left another behind.

I saw him out of the corner of my eye. A tall, clearly elderly lady, unkept, frail and barley able to walk was with him. He came and sat in the chair in front of me waiting to be examined, a stoic face looking at me. A 3 year old, who acted like he was years ahead of his age. Stoicism does that. A few questions asked and I figured it out. His parents had abandoned him and his grandmother had taken him in. And so did One Child Matters. He is a sponsored, abandoned child, cared for by a frail and elderly woman who may not be here tomorrow. He is like many others we care for. I spent some time with him and treated his malnutrition and his chronic pneumonia. He never smiled. Not then. But when I took him in my lap, he cuddled close and showed a soft smile as he laid his head on my chest. Love for him, has been hard to come by it seems.

This has been Haiti. We have one more day of clinic and will see another few hundred children, putting in tippy taps, teaching first aid and dental hygiene and leaving first aid supples behind as well as water filtration.

The sun is setting as we sit on the bus that creeps along the road that is not a road and for a moment there is a pause in the conversation around all the experiences everyone is sharing from today. It as at that moment that it all came together for me. An abandoned 3 year old child is given a chance to be loved and cherished by those who embrace him in the OCM project. And with clean water to drink, a toothbrush, a bandaid for his cuts, a teacher who now knows how to treat a burn, a place to wash his hands and a medical program that came and set up a nutritional rescue program, preventative health exams and illness interventions left behind, this little 3 year old has a chance. Finally.

In all things give thanks,
David

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Haiti day 4

What does one say when there is nothing to say? That's where I'm am right now. Another day, another couple of hundred children, different village communities, same scenario. It exists everywhere we turn. So what needs to be said has been said. Well, not everything.

Let's talk about "purpose", "mission" and "priorities". How different are those three things for us as compared to those who live in Haiti. I'll leave you to identify yours and let me share with you what I've learned are for the Haitians.

"Purpose": to live another day.
"Mission": to find the next meal.
"Priorities": to fend for themselves individually.

The children we care for are learning differently what those categories mean: to purposely live a life with Christ; to serve others as a mission; to put God first as the priority. So even though they live in squalor and poverty, we trust that with what they learn and experience, they will see beyond the "have not" and relish on the "have" of a life filled with grace and love, surrounded by a community of dedicated OCM workers.

In all things give thanks,
David

Haiti day 4

What does one say when there is nothing to say? That's where I'm am right now. Another day, another couple of hundred children, different village communities, same scenario. It exists everywhere we turn. So what needs to be said has been said. Well, not everything.

Let's talk about "purpose", "mission" and "priorities". How different are those three things for us as compared to those who live in Haiti. I'll leave you to identify yours and let me share with you what I've learned are for the Haitians.

"Purpose": to live another day.
"Mission": to find the next meal.
"Priorities": to fend for themselves individually.

The children we care for are learning differently what those categories mean: to purposely live a life with Christ; to serve others as a mission; to put God first as the priority. So even though they live in squalor and poverty, we trust that with what they learn and experience, they will see beyond the "have not" and relish on the "have" of a life filled with grace and love, surrounded by a community of dedicated OCM workers.

In all things give thanks,
David

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Haiti day 3

"Why are you so sad?" Dr. Jerry asked the child. "Because I'm hungry" the young boy said. There's not much one can say after that. And it is one of those times when one wished they never asked the question. Dr. Jerry felt the emotion. It is a commonly felt emotion. I leave it to you to find your own emotion to what that young boy said.

A good day all the same. 2 projects and several hundred children seen. And here is the neat part. We again did water filtration that we left behind and "tippy taps" were built for hand washing. Simple to do and effective. We are making and leaving 2 of them in each of the 12 projects that we will have visited.

It is part of the ministry of OCM to feed children the best we can.  Today the children were given spaghetti with tomato sauce, a hard boiled egg and a banana. It may very well be the best meal they'll have until they come back to the project for more.

So once again we left something behind. We identified several children who needed advanced medical care which we will provide. The children we saw today were sicker than those children we've seen so far tomorrow we go to 3 projects. Hard to believe, but we will. I leave you to reflect on some of this as you look at the pictures. For me, I look for rest tonight. It is hard to come by. The mind races with thoughts of things to come for the children that we see and perhaps you are doing the same right now. Good thoughts for blessings and all things good are all that I can allow. They deserve it.

In all things give thanks,
David

Monday, January 06, 2014

Haiti day 2

Could it be? 2 separate clinics in 2 different communities, almost 2 hours from our hotel, remote villages, dirt roads, pigs in the way, and 300 children seen. We left at 7am this morning and got hack to the hotel at 8 pm. How could it be I say again. God is good. That is how it could be. I saw it in the midst of a place left to others more brave than I.

I looked around the community that we were in this afternoon and you can see the pictures. And the beauty of it all is that despite the poverty, the door on the house says to all. So I ask you. Could you live here, no electricity, toilets, and all that we are used to and still say "God is good?" Honest answer now please.

We were cramped in a room, seeing children and doing pharmacy. We saw more of the same and less of the healthy ones. We caught a few serious illnesses and prevented one child from going blind due to a serious eye infection. And what about the team? We caught the "fever" of caring and compassion. Smiles all around and a willingness to serve. We did nutritional assessments, put in place water filtration systems, left behind comprehensive first oaf kits and trained the staff, did dental hygiene, did psychological interventions, and treated patients. We left something behind that they could use and benefit from.

So tomorrow we go again and we will find ourselves in a community of poverty and physical demise. But no worries. Because it is only us who look around and say to ourselves "how can they live like this?" And those who we serve say "we'd like it to be better, but it is what it is. So we trust in God and He is good." True story. At least that is what a kind, old crippled Haitian man said when he came up to me when I stepped out into their world to take these pictures. When I looked at the children we took care of today, I prayed that they felt the same way.

In all things give thanks,

David

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Haiti day 1

It snowed. And it snowed some more. So much so that what should have been an 8 hour trip from Phoenix to the Dominican Republic took 40 hours. The team of 27 got scattered in several different directions. Atalanta, Dulles, JFK and Miami. And when everyone finally arrived, it was off for a 3 hour drive to the border to cross into Haiti. Not so easy though. 2 hours to negotiate the 2 countries protocols and paperwork. We made it threw and off to our first project and clinic. The team fell together, each member knowing where to go and what to do and we saw a bunch of children in the 2 hours we had left in the day before night settled on us and got our feet wet for the rest of the week. Well done team!

So you ask, what story do I have to tell? What struck me on this first day? What expectations were met and which ones were not? Well, the story is a familiar one. An 8 year old girl who is the size off  5 year old. Stunted. I was struck by the persistence of a country still torn from decades of unrest, an epidemic cholera still on the edge of reappearing, and a broken structure literally from an earthquake just a few years ago. As for expectations, there were none. I've learned not to have any. It is what it is in countries that are underprivileged and impoverished. There can't be expectations. One needs to feel the reality and know that despite any expectations one would have, the results are dictated by those who live it.

I look for no rewards in what I do. No pats on the back. Making a child healthier, getting a smile and knowing that their chance for living a life with potential for doing great things is enough I suppose. And to some that may be reward enough. But think about it. If those are the rewards and if those are the expectations, how do you deal with the remorse you'd feel if you don't meet those expectations? If the child can't be cured, won't live a life that is long and fruitful and lives an abbreviated time on this earth? So for me it's doing the best with what I have in where I am and praying for the best. Because after all, who's in control? You know who.

In all things give thanks.

David

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Haiti 2014

We are going back. An earthquake, a cholera epidemic and a country that is still under a great deal of hardship, continues to seek help. A team of 27 US volunteers (doctors, nurses, PharmD, nutritionists, and lay champions) and a team of 10 local staff including 2 doctors and a dentist, will make up this Medical Mercy ministry team. We are scheduled to travel to 12 projects in 5 and a half days, seeing our children and the community. The times will be tough, rough roads, hot and humid, and little time for rest, but would we want it any other way? Not at all. Our medical ministry is to serve and to endure, all the while being humble. We will see children who are severely malnourished, ill and some will be close to the end of their lives. The same can be said for some of the community adults. So, you ask, what is the purpose. It is 3 fold. First to treat if at all possible. Second to “care” always. And third, to validate the worth of those who come to us for help. 

We will leave something behind. We will be doing water filtration, first aid education leaving comprehensive first aid kits in every project, dental hygiene, we will be building “tippy taps”, a water delivery system that is amazingly simple in its design and use, and comprehensive nutritional assessments identifying those children who need a rapid nutritional rescue program that we have in place and will implement. So, on Sunday it all begins. I’ll blog every day as I can depending on the internet availability and invite you to come along. The weather on the east coast is threatening to block us from going, so bend a knee if you feel so inclined and pray for safe travels, for the health of the team, and for our tasks of medical ministry to be all that it should be. 

In all things give thanks,

David

Friday, October 11, 2013

India clinic day 5 and wrap up

After 5 days of clinic, 2 of which were half days due to travel, we finished serving the 1414 children that came to see us. The team was incredible. They worked tirelessly, without complaints and giving all that they had. There are many stories that they will come home with, some sad and depressing, some joyous, and all will be remembered for a lifetime. The theme for this week was "Who are you trying to please" using Galatians 1:10. I shared with the team that there are times that we are self-pleasing, people-pleasing and God-pleasing not so much. We talked about life not being fair, humility, realistic expectations, sacrifice and looking in the mirror to see who and what we really are. We explored our motivation for being here, our "why". And after all the talk, I asked the team to consider the question: so what? And challenged all of us to answer the question: now what? Are we ready to God-please first and foremost? Always? Can we be intentional about it? We are fallible no doubt. We are self-driven. But this trip did bring with it an opportunity to experience first hand what it feels like to God-please without thought. We did it. The whole team. Kelly, Paige, Lara, Carol-Lee, Julie, Anne, Barbara, Michelle, Deanna, David P. , Dave J., Beth, Allison, Darlene, Louie, Vic, Michael, Kendra and Fitz. 

The children are better off we hope and pray. We put in place first aid at all the projects we went to, taught and left behind a water filtration system, did dental hygiene and examined and treated many. Prayer was abundant, silently and openly. Medical Mercy and OCM serves to be a God-pleaser. This wonderful team were so as well. My prayer for them and me is that we remember what it was like this week, pleasing our God as served, as we had been asked to do, and make it foremost in our hearts and minds as we travel back to the US and back to our crazy lives. If we do so, we validate all that we did here for the children. That we gave and served and showed that it can be done. 

In all things give thanks,

David

Thursday, October 10, 2013

India clinic day 4

So let's see. Over 1100 children seen in 4 days, 1 more day to go, wonder what impact we'll have. It's not about the numbers although we all are intrigued by the "number seen", me included. It gives us a sense of accomplishment, a sense of completion. Really? Not so fast. It's really about the reason why and the how we do what we do, and what the children receive. I'll let you decide what all those things are at least from the stories you read here. For me, it is simple. We have a reason "why': to serve; and the "way" is to give of ourselves and do our best to ensure the health of the children. Today is an example.

We are still in a remote area of India, isolated and far from the "big city". We saw about 320 children today, many still presenting with stunting, the product of sever malnutrition before the age of 5 years. One child in particular, the child you see above, is one of those. She is 8 years old and is the size of a 5 year old. She is chronically ill, has a persistent cough, pneumonia, may have TB, no appetite and a lack for life. She had no breakfast this morning. There was no food in the house. The parents have been "quarreling" according to the child, the mother is sick, and the father is rarely home. She is a sponsored child, and because of that she is one of the lucky ones. She gets a noon time meal Monday through Friday because of the association OCM has with a school that she attends and she is cared for by OCM staff. Medical Mercy now gives her a chance for health. I gave her medications, put her in our follow up system, the local OCM staff will follow closely and send me a report in 2 weeks as to how she is doing. We did a full nutritional assessment on her, and She'll be assessed every 6 months so I can see how she is doing. Without the medications, the follow up, the care and the intentional effort to get her better, she would pass away slowly and alone. There in lies the "why" and the "way". She will do well, she will survive, she will grow and she will be able to live her life to her potential. 

We have one more clinic tomorrow. Not a full day due to the fact that we have 5 hours of travel to get back to our base. We'll see a couple of hundred children and finish out the week with a "total number". But more importantly, we will finish out the week having served and leaving behind a chance for the children to see a lifetime of love.

In all things give thanks,

David

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

India clinic day 3

Almost 5 hours from where we were based, on winding roads, so narrow that only one bus can move in any direction, is where we are now. We'll stay here until we return at the end of the week, seeing children who have little if anything and wanting for not. It always seems that way. They are happy with what they have needing only meals and caring. Where we are is mountainous with rubber trees, monkeys and elephants. Far from the common place of our lives.

So they waited for us. The children all sitting wait to be seen. And we did. Each with their own personality, unique smile and their own story when we took the time to ask. They were happy despite all that they faced and gave us hope that they will be okay. The project teachers, the principal and the pastor were clearly engaged with the children and cared deeply about them. It seems that when we are this far from what we know as comfortable, we are amazed at the resilience of the children who live in an environment that we would have second thoughts about loving there ourselves. But isn't it true that if there are people who care enough to "care" are there for us, we can endure. And that is what I saw today. Teachers, pastors and staff who take care of, care about and care for the children. I can't ask for anything more.

On all things give thanks,
David

India clinic day 3

Almost 5 hours from where we were based, on winding roads, so narrow that only one bus can move in any direction, is where we are now. We'll stay here until we return at the end of the week, seeing children who have little if anything and wanting for not. It always seems that way. They are happy with what they have needing only meals and caring. Where we are is mountainous with rubber trees, monkeys and elephants. Far from the common place of our lives.

So they waited for is. The children all sitting wait to be seen. And we did. Each with their own personality, unique smile and their own story when we took the time to ask. They were happy despite all that they faced and gave us hope that they will be okay. The project teachers, the principal and the pastor were clearly engaged with the children and cared deeply about them. It seems that when we are this far from what we know as comfortable, we are amazed at the resilience of the children who live in an environment that we would have second thoughts about loving there ourselves. But isn't it true that if there are people who care enough to "care" are there for us, we can endure. And that is what I saw today. Teachers, pastors and staff who take care of, care about and care for the children. I can't ask for anything more.

On all things give thanks,
David