Sunday, January 31, 2010

India medical assessment

I'm in London awaiting my flight to New Delhi. It has just been one week since I've returned from Haiti. Be assured that Haiti is not forgotten and plans are being made to return to continue our medical mission. MoM is dedicated and committed to Haiti and we are moving forward to make sure that Haiti is not forgotten.

But there are other places we need to go to. India has thousands of abandoned and forgotten children who MoM is responsible for and for whom Medical Mercy will care for their medical needs. I'm going to assess 4 projects in the slums of New Delhi. I'll be taking a team there the end of April to care for over 1000 children. A daunting task but one that Medical Mercy does time and again. For me it's about being part of something greater than myself. What we do is simply that which is needed and done without question. The time spent with those less fortunate make up large and defining moments in my life.

I'm on my way to India and expect to see squalor, filth, poverty, and suffering. Different than Haiti? I'm not so sure. The circumstances may be, but the end results are the same. My heart is still heavy from Haiti. I expect it to be so for a very long time. India, Cambodia, Swaziland, Egypt, Mozambique and all the countries we go to, weight heavy on my heart. I keep close to me a latin phrase that reads: "After the shadows I await the light". I trust that it will come soon.

In all things give thanks,

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti Medical Relief team-the last few days

From where I sit the reflections seem so distant yet the memories are firmly cemented in the recesses of my brain. The reflections of the children, the ones with the amputated arms and legs, the adults with the same, the large lacerations, the crushing injuries, the blank look on the faces of those we served, and the destruction of the buildings, the homes, the roads, and lives, fade quickly. They are reflections after all. But the images, the memories, remain forever. And so do the stories.

He is ten years old. As I dressed his amputated left arm, he winced only once, and turned his head away afraid to show emotion. He had lain under the rubble of his house for 3 days with his mother laying on his shattered left arm. He said she died there on the second day. I bandaged his arm, hugged him and watched as he walked away cared for by a neighbor. His father and 2 siblings had yet to be found. No tears, no emotion.

A 24 day old baby that we had cared for the day before, came back. His mother said that she couldn't care for him and asked us to look after him. We found an orphanage and he is there. The mother came back the next day and just followed us around. Her first child. A decision she has yet to come to grips with.

We arrived at a local hospital that was destroyed by the quake. The only thing standing was the outpatient clinic. The courtyard and the rubble was filled with patients and family who were living under tarps, sheets, and waiting for help. 7 days after the quake, there had not been any food or emergency medical care. 2 young Haitian doctors and a few nurses had spent the days after doing the best they could with the little they had. We set up a make shift clinic and saw over 300 patients in 5 hours. The hospital had a sign that identified it as a public hospital. The sign had "Food for the poor" on it as well. Think what you will.

The homes and buildings that had been destroyed right next to our field site in Carrefour, were being cleared of rubble. The smell of those who were still in there was strong. I watched as the large bucket of the bulldozer, lifted up tons of concrete and saw the flutter of the corner of a dress. I turned away, not wanting to see what may be next.

And on this last day, we had some time to play with some children, singing, dancing and sharing the crackers and cookies that we had brought with us. They smiled, laughed and danced. But a few days ago, they had been frightened and wondering. And tonight they will sleep in the street again, afraid to sleep indoors. It was refreshing to see that for a moment, an hour, the children forgot the events of the past few days, and became children again.

I often ask the questions and wait for the answers to come to me. I sat with many victims of the quake this week and heard them ask the questions as well. They told me that they would wait for the answers to why this happened and what will become of them. I look to the answers as well. To try and understand or to at least begin to accept that there may never be an answer. I can only wish that the hearts of those who lived this, of those who lost whole families, will someday find understanding in their own way and live a life that is rich in love and grace. We came here to find a way to help, and in small way, a very small way, felt that we did. Maybe it was simply the show of love and grace that we brought. No more, no less. We were privileged to be able to do so.

In all things give thanks,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti Relief Medical team: Days 1-3

Technology leaves us begging formore and more, all the while giving us a reliablity on machines that leave us helpless when we don't have them or they don't work. This is one of those times. I have not had anything that works and have been begging tech time from those who do have technology that works. Smoke signals are more reliable.

We arrived at the airport after boarding the charter flight, with only 30of us on board and a whole lot of cargo. The airport at P-a-P was chaos. We parked on the tarmac in between C-130's and helicopters, charter jets and rpivate jets, all crowding to together like people on a morning rush subway. We unloaded our cargo and waited on the tarmac for our ride which eventually came and off to our base. An ahour and a half later we arrived, passing by a mass grave, with thousands of passed souls, piled under the bright lights, watched over bybulldozers who moved them without feeling. The smell was horrific. We met 3 other teams atthe base: a gorup of doctors who wereworking in hospitals providing post op care ,and an ob-gyn doc who did an emergecny C-section without anesthesis, losing themother and the baby. We went to bed early and rose a 6.1 afterschock. The building shook, we ran and got out without damnge to us or the building we were in. We drove to Carrefour, a poor community in the town of P-a-P and set up a field unit at the end of a small street surrounded by collapsed buildings and the smell of rotting bodies. Just 300 yards from us a person was pulled from the rubble.We saw alot of trauma: fracture femurs, ankles, arms, legs, lacerations, concussions and a comatose woman. 2 baibeis, both under 24 days of age were brought in severly dehydrated. The mothers had not eaten since the original earthquake and had no breast milk left. We placed IV, poured in IV solutions and one baby recovered and the other remainded marginal when we left. We'll see them both tomorrow again. We certainly had a different experience than usual. The devastation taht we saw is what you see on TV, but the feeling you have, the look in the peoples eyes, the smells, the atmosphere can onlybe felt when you are here. And it is not a very good feeling.

We return tomorrow. More will come. We will place casts, sutrue, debride wounds, clean abrasions, give IV fluids and pray. And wonder just why...why this has to happen at all. No questioning, just wonder. The answers will not be there for questions asked, but we will wonder all the same. And give thanks for what we have....


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti medical relief-airport

We got ALL of our stuff on the plane! Almost 5000 lbs of cargo being loaded (not all ours) but a good chunk of it. We will be boarding soon. Still working on getting out. I was on the phone during the wee hours and found that we will be partnering with some other medical folk out of Mission of Hope and go to hot spots in town. That's all I know. That's all I've got. Gotta go...

In all things give thanks,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Medical Relief-the night before departure

We made it to Miami. Yolaine a Haitian who works here in the US as an RN, and Fitz a Haitian who works in the US as an MD joined us, so the team is complete at 10: Yolaine, Fitz, Sarah B, Sarah C., Heather, Carleen, Vicki, Kelly, Michael, and myself. We are meeting up with the other members of the plane in the morning and will work on getting all the cargo on board. There is so much cargo, that the passenger list is only 30 people: our team of 10, a number of nurses from another organization who will be going to an orphanage, and a group of US security personnel. We aren't so sure we are going to make it through TSA without some hassels especially since we have to take all of our stuff through the scanners, etc, rather than checking it. It's a long story better as to why we have to do this and left for another time.

We've been watching the news and I have been getting reports from the ground. Still a little unsettled. Okay...a lot unsettled. We'll take things as they come, and go where we are pointed. I won't be able to send any blogs while we are there as you can imagine. But I promise to update as soon as we return. And as far as returning goes...we don't have a way back yet. Honest. True story. So we are counting on all of you to pray our way home. A magic carpet ride so to speak. I'll know Thursday or there about. And if I can get word out somehow, I will.

So give thanks for what you have and for what you've been given, and for that which you have been protected from. We go to a place less fortunate with heavy hearts and spirits. But if we look at those who are suffering with a smile, with encouragement and with grace, we may see a smile or two. What a privilege it is to serve. To serve those who reach out to us. To hold the hand of one who is suffering and looking, asking, begging for be the one to offer all that. It will be done with grace and love. No more, no less.

In all things give thanks,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti Medical Relief

We leave tomorrow morning. We hook up with a chartered 737 out of Miami on Tuesday that is filled with cargo from many organizations. We’re sharing this charitable flight to Port au Prince with a host of other organizations, We have 8 members from Phoenix, a Haitian doctor from U. of Virginia who is meeting us in Miami and an ABC reporter for a total team of 10. We will be adding 2 more doctors when we arrive there who will meet with us, giving us a team of 12. The supplies, meds, bags, etc are all coming together. Just  yesterday, I  counted 135 emails, 56 phone calls, and 45 texts that I’ve send and/or received getting things ready to go. Big issue now is that the cargo hold of the charity 737 we’re taking out of Miami is so full  we have to take our suitcases on board and take them through TSA security. Expect that that will be interesting. We are working on getting TSA to let us through due to our medical mission relief status.  We are now on Face Book, so go there and look for “Medical Mercy” and follow us. I’m also tweeting and that is also linked  to this blog and to Face Book. So go to twitter and follow that as well: I’ve got a satellite phone since there is no cellular service nor internet. I’ll do my best to give updates somehow. Be with us…but more importantly be with those who are there and hurting. This is never about the team, never about each of us individually. It is never about “look at me”. I’ll tell you the stories, show you the faces and share the thoughts and feelings. We are servants to those who reach out to us for help. Serve with us in your prayers and in your hearts. It will be a blessing to have you with us.


In all things give thanks,





Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Medical Relief

Over 100 emails, an hour and a half teleconference with key players last night, ordering medications, satellite phone, contacting medical team members, pulling in favors, over 100 phone calls made to different people and for the most part, our medical team will be tentatively leaving either Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. Right now we are working on a charter jet, either directly to Haiti from Phoenix or from Florida to Haiti. We will be at the Mission of Hope Haiti location and clinic ( and follow links to “disaster Haiti”. We have a long standing relationship with them and will be assisting/relieving medical help already there. We will be a very short distance from Port au Prince. We’ll be there for a week.


All of this will be with His blessings and guidance. There is still things that need to fall in to place. We are a “go” until the last minute. We may cancel if the unrest gets worse (it’s pretty bad already) or the charter jet falls though. All team members are “seasoned” and have accepted the risks inherent in doing something like this. I’ll list the team members as we get closer.


This is far from anything that we have done before, but we believe in who we are and more importantly whose we are. We follow where He points.


In all things give thanks,





Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti update-team preparing

Medical Mercy is in the midst of discussions and preparations regarding taking a medical team to Haiti very soon. Mission of Mercy is a long time partner with Mission of Hope Haiti ( which has a clinic and is only a few miles from Port aux Prince. There is a medical team there now and they have been working nonstop for 2 days now. We are close to finalizing our team here to go to either relieve or assist the team already there. We should know within 24 hours. Be with us and all of those who are there in prayer. We seek to find an understanding and some comfort for all who have been affected. Come back here soon and look for updates.


In all things give thanks,



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti earthquake

Here is what we've gotten from our country director in the DR:

"This is the current situation relation to the earthquake in Haiti and DR:
1 - First thing in Haiti projects not reported any damage because our projects are located in the northern part of the country, we have made recommendation to suspend the activities in the project only for security reasons.
2 - Very early in the morning we speak with the facilitator in Haiti and said they felt strong tremors, but these do not cause any harm to children or in projects.
3 - Communication is almost zero in some places but we have contacted a reporter in Juana Mendez and Cap Haitien and keeping us informed and no damage reported.
4 - DR just felt strong tremors and suspended activities in the project for safety reasons, we have two sponsors of children who are here with us but are well cared for and have already been provided with their families in the U.S., at my house that is quite safe and have sent a project very close also for security reasons. At the moment is all we are for Haiti in Port Au Prince is a real disaster, we sent a map where it was the earthquake and where are located our projects so they can see that are out of danger.
 Blessing!! Lic. Wellington ClementeMofM DR Country Director"