Saturday, February 7, 2015

January 2015 ~ 5th anniversary of the devastating earthquake

We just returned from our January team’s medical mission to Haiti, where we provided much needed care to more than 1200 at the clinic at Mountain Top Ministries. January 12, 2015, was the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti—so I would like to take this opportunity to share a few poignant facts. The earthquake was the first to strike this island nation in over 200 years. Haiti is approximately the size of Maryland with a population of about 10 million people. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti had been considered a failed state for many years prior to the earthquake due to its lack of infrastructure, a stable government, or a viable economy. In addition to the destruction of personal homes, the international airport, seaport, roads, hospitals, schools and universities, municipalities, a prison, and the presidential palace all collapsed during the earthquake. It took more than 2 years for only half of the rubble from the earthquake to be removed. According to Haitian government officials the earthquake disaster killed more than 250,000 people and displaced 1.5 million, who lived in tent cities without clean water, sanitation, food sources, or jobs and were ravaged by crime. According to the International Organization for Migration an estimated 103,565 people still currently live in 172 temporary settlement camps scattered throughout Port-au-Prince today. After an absence of more than 200 years, the cholera outbreak that began at the end of summer in 2010 has killed almost 9,000 and sickened over 700,000 people (UN statistics). The disease surfaced in Haiti months after the powerful earthquake, spreading rapidly during the rainy season due to the lack of adequate sanitation and clean water sources. Now most cholera treatment centers have dissipated, an immunization campaign has started and I did not hear of any recent cases.

As we traveled from the newly rebuilt airport to the guest house and clinic we see new roads with drainage curbs, street and stop lights, new buildings including homes, churches, businesses and hotels, gas stations, truck yards, street vendors, beautiful Haitian art, refurbished parks and many people going from here to there. What we don’t see is rubble or garbage. What we still see are the remaining “temporary” camps, people in need of health care and jobs, the valiant struggle of the Haitian people, somber reflection but a resilient countenance on most, and a lump in my throat with hope in my heart.

Sue Walsh

May Team 2014

“We cannot truly be who we are until we recognize others for who they are.”

     Greetings from Little by Little Team 23. We’ve arrived safely back in the states after a bountiful mission. Our group of 19 began a journey of service in the mountain village of Gramothe Haiti just 8 days ago. We are a unique and multidisciplinary team. Many of us strangers to one another when first we met, each of us ‘called’ for his or her own reason. Unbeknownst to us as we bid our farewells; strangers no more, we would share an extraordinary bond forever.
     That bond began with daily prayer. We stood in a circle, hands joined, one hand giving, and the other receiving. Through our hands and the grace of God came strength and camaraderie that grew stronger as each day passed until the team of 19 worked as one. We traveled each day to the clinic. The land of Haiti lush and green surrounded by its mother mountain. We arrived to hundreds of people in need of care. They had come from near and far dressed in clothing of many colors. The people, places and faces a photo could never capture. A smile of gratitude after just receiving a new pair of reading glasses, a mother’s relief her young daughter would get well just mere examples. In the evenings we joined together to reflect on the days behind us and looked forward to the days ahead of us. Emotions were raw but we found strength in one another and through the enduring support of our team leader Sue Walsh. We contemplated abundance, resilience and reciprocity.
     By day 5 we began to tire. There was more work to do, more patients to see. We were blessed with sunny days during rainy season so the Haitian people they came and they came. The very old, the very young, big and small could we see them all?
     Sunday, May 25th the Haitians celebrated Mother’s Day. Bònn Fèt dè Mè. For me the strength to persevere would come this day. We joined the village people as they worshiped. Although the service was entirely in Creole the faith was palpable. You needn’t speak Creole to understand the devotion. What the Haitians may lack in material goods there is abundance in their faith.

They sing, they sing
The Haitian man, so tall, so tall. He stands at the pulpit. He closes his eyes.
Head in his hands he prays to God.
They shout, they shout
It is loud but the sound is joy, the sound is hope.
They lift their hands to God
Such faith!

Little by Little Team 23 grew accomplishing BIG work this week providing care to over 700 deserving souls.                        

Mary Ulery