Saturday, October 31, 2009

Haiti: Day 1

Up early, and off to Haiti by bus, trailer, and van. A 3 hour drive to the border. The scenery changes, the atmosphere changes, and our mood changes. A little more somber, a little more worried. We are to cross the border with over 600 pounds of medicine, go into some hostile territory, and there you have it.
We arrive at the DR side, and the bridge is waiting for us. Across that bridge is a desolate and barren land, strikingly isolated from the rest of the world. Haiti: the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The bridge spans a river named for the genocide and atrocities that occurred during the political upheaval years ago. "Massacre River". Thousands upon thousands were butchered and violated. We cross with that in mind and wonder what it was like, and more importantly why it had to happen.
At the end of the bridge is the Haiti customs and passport control. The test of our paper work and contacts works. We get through. Nothing is confiscated, no fees, but a few bribes. We pick up our 2 plain clothes armed police men who will be with us for the week, one in the bus with us, the other in the van with the rest of the meds. Within 30 minutes they earn they keep. We are stopped by a "customs" officer, later to be found out to be renegade and wanting a bribe, and then the national police at a road block. Without our escort we would have been in some serious trouble. No fault of our own. It's just the way it is here if you don't have someone who knows the ropes and has some fire power so to speak. We make it to Cap Haitian after another 2 hours. The city is difficult to described. Picture a city pummeled by poverty, garbage, isolation, war, corruption and dry. That's where we are.
We get to our hotel, and it is a welcome site, nice and clean and a little out of the area of filth. We spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening packaging meds for tomorrow. We're tired, yet excited. Anxious, yet patient. Tomorrow brings our first day of patients. We'll have double the team that we have now, with interpreters and support staff. And our 2 security officers. Practicing medicine with armed protection. Maybe a little too cautious. But then again, who knows what's behind the throngs of people we may see tomorrow. Perhaps just love and acceptance. And that will be just fine with me.

In all things give thanks,

Friday, October 30, 2009

Haiti: and so it begins...

13 left Phoenix, picked up 2 more in Dallas, and 3 in Miami for a total of 18. 2 already in Dominican Republic. Grand total: 20 US team members. There are 5 DR members here, and we expect about 15-20 interpretors when we get to Haiti. Total team of about 40-50, perhaps more.

We made it to the DR with over 600 pounds of medicines, and had a short glitch at customs, but paper work helped, and after discussion, negotiation and persistence, we made it through. The team is ready, and we leave early in the am for Haiti. Thru customs again, and then into the country with hopefully all of our meds.

It interesting to see who we are on the 1st day, and who we will become by the last day. The changes are dramatic, in our emotions, our expectations, our outloook, and our understanding of life. We come with an attitude of "giving" and leave with a gratitude of "receiving". We always leave with more than we came with...I think you know what I mean. Our expectations are somewhat skewed until we realize that it is not about what, but about who. The greatest too we bring to the people we'll see in Haiti is ourselves. I'm excited to see how we'll use it. Tomorrow comes early and soon...and so it begins.

In all things give thanks,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Haiti: Getting ready…

We leave this Friday, October 30th, 2009 for Haiti. 22 US team members and 25-35 local team members. Big team for a big medical mission trip. We expect to see over 2500 patients and will be traveling to some pretty remote places in Haiti. We have over 600 lbs of medicines that we are taking in addition to our equipment. We have a photo journalist and a video journalist who will be with us, 4 doctors, 6 nurses, a pharmacist and 1 pastor and 10 lay people. We’ll have 2 security guards with us  at all times, a police escort from the border from the Dominican Republic into Haiti, and police to watch over us. Sounds dramatic, but it’s really only precautionary.

We’ll be seeing the 1000 children that MoM sponsor, their siblings and families. 10 projects, 100 children each. Clinics will be run every day, from 8am until we’re done. We finally got our clearance in writing from the Minister of Health in Haiti to bring the team and medicines in. We’re ready…now all we have to do is make the flight. More to come…DSC01900

In all things give thanks,