Medical Mission Team
Last month at this time the news was full of the expectant coming of Hurricane Matthew. Ken and I were bombarded with messages of prayers coming our way, family members who were very worried about our safety, and, of course, the media with their scary reporting of what was about to happen to Haiti.
By the grace of God Ken and I, along with the people in our area were spared the destructive winds and rains, but there were sections of Haiti which were torn apart. These areas were about 7-8 hours away by car, so it was my thought we would never really know what happened there. It was just too far away. As it would happen though, a short term medical mission team was coming from Houston, and it was scheduled to go to the mountains in our area.
It didn’t take much to convince the mission team we needed to check on the people of the south after all the pictures, and reporting came regarding their welfare after this devastating hurricane.
I was honored to be asked to accompany the group, and work with the doctors and nurses from the States. The area we would be serving was called Port Salut. This was an area of Haiti known for its resemblances to the Bahamas with its sleepy little beach towns, having some tourism, but mostly farming. We left the campus at 3:30 am, and traveled many hours until we reached our destination a little before lunch. We were told to bring our own snacks because finding food there might be difficult. The directors had made arrangements with a ministry called, Restavek Freedom, for food and lodging for some of us. Other members of the team would stay in a once beautiful ocean front motel which had minimal electricity and no running water. It was interesting to see the people staying at the motel (generally reporters, and aid workers) going to the beach in the morning to get a bucket of water so they could flush their toilets.
Rebarb bent with the strength of the wind
One of the striking details of the trip was that the closer we got to the south the more evidence you could see of a very bad storm which had left its mark. I grew up in Florida, and remembered after a hurricane you were more likely to see a palm tree fall over, then broken in half, but the palm trees here looked like twisted toothpicks. The heads of the trees were completely snapped off. The Haitians we brought with us; translators, security guards, men to help us set up the tents and unload the two truckloads of equipment, were quiet as we traveled closer to Port Salut. Many knew at one time this was one of the most beautiful areas of Haiti.
Family members bringing things to their loved ones in disaster areas
One man said this;
“These people were poor in money, but rich in resources. They had the beautiful ocean at their doorsteps where they could fish. They had lush hillsides covered in fruit trees; Coconuts, Breadfruit, Mangoes and Papaya. The grassy hillsides were dotted with grazing goats and cattle. There were no children here with red hair (denoting malnutrition). Now look at it, there are no animals - all dead, crops washed away, trees twisted and snapped in half. What will they do now?”
I could tell he was near tears, and I found out later it was the area he grew up in, and had spent many childhood days living in happiness. He was poor, but he did not know it because he was not hungry.
They have a saying in Haiti, “ Lape nan vant, lape nan tet”, “Peace in the stomach is peace in the head.” It simply means when you are not hungry then the world is right.
We found a pastor who had a church in the area we wanted to serve and asked permission to set up our mobile clinic. It took us about 2 hours to erect tents for shade, tables and chairs for the staff and patients being seen. We set up a wound care area for the many who were left exposed to the 170mph winds after their houses fell in on them.
Trucks filled with supplies and medicine
There were quite a few who needed to have stiches, but it had been too long, so we cleaned their wounds, bandaged them, and sent them on their way with antibiotics and a prayer for healing.
What is really sad though is because people are so used to seeing Haiti in a suffering state they have almost become desensitized to all the pictures they have seen. I feel this will be yet another economical chasm for Haiti which will be a slow and painful climb out.
“Therefore encourage one another, and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
The LORD tells us to keep each other lifted up, and I certainly felt that way as I met people from all over Haiti coming to help. As the country awaited aid from containers coming via the ocean, ministries from all over Haiti were rushing to bring tarps, food and fresh water. The ministries sent word out of the needs, and missions were stopping their usual work to see to it their “neighbors” in the south had immediate care. As each ministry was sent donations from their State side donors the organizations took those materials to the people who needed them the most. It was also wonderful to see the effort to take money which was donated to Haiti for disaster relief, and buy these materials in Haiti. This keeps the economy moving here, and doesn’t take away from an already hurting nation.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who donated, no matter how small, to these relief efforts. There are still people here who are only eating several times a week, but working together Haiti will be able to sustain. Some of you have asked me how to donate, and who to donate to, and all though many are doing their part there are those organizations which stand out in my mind. I have prepared a list for anyone who has not yet donated and would like to now.
God bless you all for your love and continued prayers
Barbara and Ken MacMannis
“And, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
For animal lovers!
Providing farm animals to the poor
Providing free rabies vaccination to the stray dogs of Haiti
Seeds for farmers