Entries in Haiti (47)
Today we pause to remember a terrible earthquake that shook Haiti to its core 4 years ago and killed thousands. Although the earthquake struck the capital, far from the northern areas One Child Matters serves, the entire country was affected. Refugees fled back north, where their familial roots may have been before they went to the city in search of work.
Ten months later, a new tragedy lurked. In the water. Cholera. Spread by unclean water and the poor sanitation practices endemic to Haiti, cholera preyed on those already struggling. It was, as they say, insult to injury.
With your help, we responded with aid after the earthquake. Within a week, Medical Mercy was on the ground in Port-au-Prince, and returned again in March of 2010. Your donations to the Children’s Crisis Fund also allowed us to move quickly, putting preventative measures in place to keep cholera at bay.
In the four years since that January earthquake, Medical Mercy has been a consistent presence, training project staff, running clinics, and assessing the needs of the children at each project. As the latest team of volunteer nurses, doctors, and friends travel home, we offer our profound thanks – for the difference they’ve made for the children, and for the way they have trained our staff to offer the care these children need to succeed.
Dr. Beyda shares about how children in One Child Matters projects have the opportunity for a different perspective in life:
Let's talk about purpose, mission, and priorities. How different are those three things for us as compared to those who live in Haiti. Let me share how those would be defined if you and I were 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 in One Child Matters’ programs they will see beyond the "have not" and relish the "have" of a life filled with grace and love, surrounded by a community of dedicated One Child Matters workers.
What it means for specific children:
I saw a young boy out of the corner of my eye. A tall, clearly elderly lady, unkempt, frail and barely able to walk was with him. The boy came and sat in the chair in front of me with a stoic face, waiting to be examined. 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 an abandoned child but sponsored, 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. For him, love has been hard to come by it seems.
This has been Haiti. 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 Band-Aid 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.
On the times when life-changing medical intervention is possible:
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 x-ray 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 x-ray showed 2 masses in her chest. No one bothered to tell the mother what the findings were at the time the x-rays 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 abandoned by those who took an oath to heal and care.
This time it won’t happen. With the local doctors working with me, we examined 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 destination 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 sustainable drinking water, a place to wash 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.
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 alongside, and who will stay and sustain the care we gave. 38 people who gave of their time to serve.
At One Child Matters, our very name suggests that our motivation is the worth of every child, that anyone can give and prove to one child that he or she matters. How that looks may vary for each person, but child sponsorship is one effective vehicle to change a child's life. Giving toward or volunteering with Medical Mercy is another. To give toward the unique ministry of Medical Mercy, click here.
We also use our Children's Crisis Fund to respond to needs of individual children as their needs are identified by the staff Medical Mercy has trained. When children need help beyond the regular support of sponsorship, we rely on the CCF, and you can make a donation here.
Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti, on this day that burdens of heart of many, and in the days yet to come. Thank you, as always, for your prayers and generous giving. Thank you for changing the lives of children in Haiti and beyond!
Here are a few updates that provide glimpses into the clinics and how the Medical Mercy team operates.
For day two: two separate clinics in two different communities, almost two hours from our hotel, remote villages, dirt roads with pigs in the way, and 300 children seen.
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 aid 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.
Anne describes the water filtration and the training they offered, a hallmark of Medical Mercy's program which always seeks to equip staff to create sustainable improvements for the health of the children:
The project director and some of the teachers gathered in a small room to be taught First Aid and Water Filtration. There are many aspects of First Aid to cover but in the end we had a profitable volley of questions and answers and they seem to understand the basics.
Doreen finished with water filtration. She put together the set up step by step so they could see. She got them to give her some water from the well, simply purified it through the filter and then – much to the teachers’ surprise – she drank it. There was an audible gasp in the room when they saw her drink it and they, with their eyes wide, told us that they did not drink the well water! Doreen cheerfully told them that it was a powerful filter that she trusted and it took out all the sickness (no small feat in Haiti, where cholera is a very real threat).
The water was good now and in so doing she made believers out of all of them.
The next day, two more clinics with several hundred children seen. Dr. Beyda writes:
And here is the neat part. We again did water filtration that we left behind and "tippy taps" were built for hand washing. Simple and effective. We are making and leaving 2 of them in each of the 12 projects that we will have visited.
And on interacting with the children and the challenges they face:
"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. Dr. Jerry felt the emotion. I leave it to you to find your own emotion to what that young boy said.
It is part of the ministry of One Child Matters to feed children the best we can. Today the children were given spaghetti with tomato sauce, a hardboiled egg and a banana. It may very well be the best meal they'll have until they come back to the project for more.
The team still has several days of clinics ahead. Please pray for strength and good rest for them as they try to serve the children in a way that reflects Jesus' care for them!
Thank you for praying with us!
Thank you for your prayers for the Medical Mercy team traveling to Haiti! The snowstorm blanketing much of the U.S. created some unexpected obstacles for the team, but they have safely arrived and completed their first clinic in Haiti.
From Dr. Beyda:
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 – Atlanta, 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 – two hours to negotiate the two countries’ protocols and paperwork.
We made it through 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. We 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 a 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 literally broken structure from an earthquake just a few years ago.
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.
From Anne, a perennial volunteer nurse with Medical Mercy:
This is my fifth trip to Haiti, the fourth with OCM, and this little border town of Ouanminthe has captured my heart and prayers since the beginning. Since I was a late arrival to this trip due to the weather and flight delays, I was not up on our itinerary and thus had no idea which projects we would serve.
Today it turned out to be my old friend Adreese’s church. I had been here before but somehow the venue has changed. It was here that I learned how to tell the children to chew their vitamins: “Crazee.” It is a term that often comes to my mind no matter what country or language in which I am teaching children.
Our first patient of the day is a 7 year old named Wendall. He was born just a few days after my own precious 7 year old back home. I tell him this but he is unimpressed, in fact, all my attempts to put his fearful face at ease, fail. I feel confident that he is confident I will be giving him a shot. When I try to have Bens reassure him that I will not be hurting him, Bens does not quite understand my intent and answers me that Wendall has no pain. Some things get lost in translation, so I let my actions speak louder than my words fail. I do my exam trying intentionally to touch him softly and with unexpected kindness.
It occurs to me that I, myself, may be a picture of how God approached me when I was frightened and disconnected: guiding me with His trademark, unexpected kindness. It was and always is, the kindness that I don’t expect that is my salvation. I remember that unexpected kindness is the definition of the Grace of God…
Please continue praying for the Medical Mercy team as they recover from their disrupted travel while serving hundreds of children in Haiti. May they continue to reach out with unexpected kindness, moving each child toward health and hope.
Dèyè mon, gen mon.
Beyond the mountains, more mountains.
This proverb is familiar to Haitians. Some say it is a proverb about patience – others, that there is more to someone or something then you can see at first.
We think it captures an essence of Haiti not often understood. Today, most people in the US associate one thing with Haiti: a terrible earthquake in January of 2010 that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
The earthquake will likely be a defining moment in Haiti’s modern history, but that tragedy stuck the nation’s capital, and a majority of Haitians live outside of Port-au-Prince.
The challenges Haiti faces – both pre- and post-earthquake – are numerous and complex, but so too is the country’s beauty. The name Haiti comes from the indigenous Taino people’s name for the island, Ayiti, or land of high mountains.
We serve several communities in Haiti in addition to Port-au-Prince. Cap Haitien, one of Haiti’s largest cities outside the capital, is in the far north on the coast that overlooks many of Haiti’s mountains.
Limbe, technically a group of communities to the west of Cap Haitien along the Limbe River, is much more rural. Like many of the smaller cities and villages in Haiti, Limbe has received little to no investment in infrastructure and other important resources.
Ouanaminthe, a city just across the river from another city we serve, Dajabon in the Dominican Republic, is home to one of the four border crossings into the DR. The Massacre River is shallow enough for crossing by foot, and many Haitians use it to bathe or wash their clothing.
Are you surprised by the diversity of this small country? We hope to broaden your perspective beyond the traditional news story. Many of the countries we serve could be defined by horrible events in their history; while these events and tragedies provide important context, we hope instead to define a country by the endless potential of their greatest resource: their children.
Each week, we set aside time as a staff to pray through prayer requests we’ve received from you and our partners overseas. It is so important to support those who work directly with your sponsored child.
Here are some of the requests we've been praying for this week and into the next:
ETHIOPIA: The cost of living in Ethiopia continues to rise, putting strain on the parents of children registered in our programs as well as project staff. Our Ethiopian staff has such a huge heart for the children, but they are burdened by their own needs as well. Please pray with us for provision and that our staff can find favor at home, in the marketplace, and in their communities to help them make the most of their resources.
Also, a mission trip with radio listeners from The House FM in Oklahoma and WCLN in North Carolina will leave for Ethiopia on September 13. They will help build a restroom and shower facility at one of the projects to address pressing public sanitation and health issues. They’re also going to do Vacation Bible School with the kids. It’s going to be a powerful trip, please pray with us that God will do much in them and through them.
KENYA: A Women’s Circle of Caring team is also leaving on September 13th for their final trip to the Emarti Maasai people. They have many projects and programs for the children and their mothers. A special message will be given – please pray for open ears and hearts.
CAMBODIA: A serious and mysterious illness is striking children in Cambodia; several children have died but the cause of this sickness has yet to be determined. We praise God that none of the children in our programs have fallen ill, but we must continue to pray protection over them and for the staff as they stay vigilant. Please also pray that the government and health care workers can find the cause of this to address it before more children are sickened or lost to this disease.
HAITI: Our staff asks for prayers for the parents to stay involved in the development of their children. As parents come to understand the benefit and value of the program, the children attend more consistently.
ZIMBABWE: So many communities need help. Please pray for discernment for the country staff and that God continues to raise up sponsors who can help them minister in powerful ways.
HONDURAS: Gangs are very active in several of the communities we serve. Please pray for the safety of our staff and that children in our programs find sanctuary at the centers. Siblings and parents can also use prayer that they stay out of reach of the gangs and provide positive, stable role models for the kids.
Thank you, as always, for joining us in prayer for the sake of the kids.
Many of us are watching the news as Tropical Storm strengthens into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. We are thankful to report that aside from heavy rains, our programs in Haiti are okay.
Please pray with us as a team from LifeWater International is in Haiti to evaluate water sources and determine the best places for possible water wells. Please pray that any flooding recedes quickly so the assessments can move forward.
We are also praying for our many friends and ministry partners in Louisiana and Mississippi.
We have seen how our God can still storms and even turn them around. We are standing with you in prayer!
One of the things we love most about our partners in ministry is their commitment to the children.We write often about Dr. Beyda. His leadership of Mission of Mercy's medical component (Medical Mercy) is inspiring and challenging.
Right now Dr. Beyda is traveling to our projects in Latin America to check on the health programs and staff he has trained. That's why we praise God for His work through Medical Mercy; it is not a one-time mission trip. It means establishing and continuing sustainable health care for the kids who need it most.
This is how he explained the purpose of the trip:
Three countries, 5 cities, 10 days. That's Honduras, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. I'll be going to several of our projects in each of the countries to see how we're doing with our medical care.
We've been to each of those countries, bringing medical teams and teaching, and now I'm going to find out how sustainable our medical care is. It's all about what we leave behind.
If we've done our job well, we've left behind an infrastructure of health care that is supporting the growth and development of the children. I'll be going to the projects, looking at the children, talking with the project leaders, the teachers, the cooks, local health care professionals, and yes, even the children. It's a time to fix what needs fixing, and applaud that which is going well. I'm looking forward to clapping long and hard and perhaps even giving a standing ovation. We'll just have to wait and see.
So what did Dr. Beyda find on his first stop?
There is nothing better than being surprised and happy about it. Honduras has 3000 Mission of Mercy children in over 20 projects, many of them in Tegucigalpa, some in the north at La Ceiba and some in the south near Choluteca.
How do you ensure that those 3000 children get health care, all of the time, consistently, completely and without question? You have doctors like Victoria and Francisco with the help of Mae-Ling and her husband to take care of the Mission of Mercy children. 24 hours a day.
Really. 24 hours a day.
Victoria and Francisco, two recent graduates from medical school in Honduras, had a place in their heart to serve the underserved, to give and expect nothing and to be there for all who came to them. Through a series of events and some divine intervention, Mission of Mercy came upon these two noble physicians and they found us, and the relationship was born.
For several years now, Victoria and Francisco have served all of the projects, visiting all of them and all of the children multiple times a year, established a nutritional supplementation program, a 24-hour call center, an ambulance, a central clinic base, and a mobile clinic program, twice yearly physical exams for all the Mission of Mercy children, and much more.
I spent two days with them, traveled to 4 of the projects, saw what they had accomplished, and stood up and applauded. Standing ovation!! These two young physicians found a place to serve, to give and to fulfill their vision. The children of Mission of Mercy are better for it.
As the team walked through the community, they were immediately smitten with the beautiful children with their deep eyes and yet horrified by their living conditions. One team member wrote,
"…what we saw should never be. No one should have to live in the filth that we saw. No child should have to play in the garbage. But then again, the children we saw had smiles on their faces as they played barefoot in piles of garbage. Maybe they know something about life that I don't know. I'd sure like to find out."
The children they saw. Children like the young boy, standing in what most would consider a dump, in his ironic and immaculate “Preserve the Future” shirt.
Because of the two-year anniversary of the massive earthquake in Haiti, today is a day of reflection in Haiti. It is a day of mourning, of remembrance. For others, it is a day of examination – have we helped? Have we made a difference for this country?
It is far too easy to get lost in analysis. So instead of focusing on our own efforts and their impact, we want to focus on the children. Like the young boy who paused during his day to let some visitors take his photograph.
Or these children with the beatific smiles as they are first enrolled in a Mission of Mercy program.
Or those who pray and sing to God before class, or those who eagerly make their way to school.
Much can be written of Haiti, of its continued status as “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,” a phrase that Haitian-born journalist Joel Dreyfuss considers a cage of words – “a box, a metaphorical prison” – that lends little to true understanding other than emphasizing the numerous tragedies and challenges it faces.
Instead, we will continue our work with the children of Haiti. We will continue to pray for dignity, for creative solutions to issues and continued growth in our partnering faith communities. We will pray for these children to find their identity as a child of God and not as a resident of a nation with a reputation.
And we will pray that we can have God’s eyes and ears and heart for this country. And we will claim the promise of our faith – we are new creations, the old has passed away, behold, new has come – for the children of Haiti, today and every day.
Your sponsored child may live halfway around the world, but you have more in common than you think in terms of Christmas traditions... especially food! We even included some recipes if you'd like to try something different this year!
In the coming weeks you should receive a Christmas card from your sponsored child, and on it will be Christmas wishes in their own hand. We love this time of year because you can see the anticipation of Christmas in the children's heartfelt wishes.
But very few of the children in our programs speak English -- so what do their Christmas wishes look like?
In most of the countries in which we work, the language spoken does not use a Latin or Roman alphabet such as what we use in English or what many of the countries in Africa or Central America use above.
Yet the result is just as beautiful. Several countries, such as the Philippines and India, have regions that use different languages or dialects, which are represented below.
And then there's the Middle East, where Christ and the Christmas season was born. What wonderful wishes!
It's a bit early to wish you a Merry Christmas, but we can't help getting in the spirit!
This may not make a typical Thanksgiving list, but that's no reason not to be grateful for the way you've helped us improve the lives of children!
Although Irene had been upgraded to a category two hurricane, the storm's path took it north of the coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Many Mission of Mercy projects are located in this northern region and closed temporarily to allow families to ride out the storm together.
Our prayers for the communities' safety were answered! The staff is still checking with families and community members, but it appears that no major damage occurred.
If you sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic or Haiti, please note that we will only contact you if we are notified that your sponsored child has been affected.
In the event of natural disasters or disease outbreaks, Mission of Mercy relies on our Children's Crisis Fund to respond. To ensure we continue to have has the funds available to help the children and their families in times of hardship, please consider a donation to the Children's Crisis Fund. To read how the Children's Crisis Fund met needs in the past, click here.
Thank you for your continued prayers!
We anxiously watched as Tropical Storm Emily approached the Dominican Republic and Haiti. And we are praised God as this storm weakened to Tropical Wave, which is weaker than its previous category of Tropical Depression.
Those praises continue as our field staff reported no damage. Some rain fell in the northern parts of the DR and Haiti, but not enough to cause concern. We thank God that our projects can continue to operate normally as they minister to the children and the community.
The mission team in Honduras wrapped up their projects in Choluteca and Tegucigalpa and safely returned to the U.S. God has surely knit their hearts together, so we can continue to pray that they can hear God clearly and have the time and space to seek God's face about all they saw, felt, and heard in Honduras.
Have you ever wondered what your sponsored child's home looks like? If you're the curious type, you'll enjoy this week as we travel around to each of the countries where Mission of Mercy works and show you the types of houses your sponsored children call home.
The needs of Haiti may seem overwhelming, but we are strengthened when we see how God has worked through you and your prayers. Click the link below to get a better idea of all that we've done in Haiti, and don't miss the video message from Haiti at the end!
Can you fill in the blank? Dr. Beyda has an answer and so do we.
Find the answer in this latest post and listen to a brief audio clip from Dr. Beyda on what happens in our clinics in Haiti!
In the past year, Medical Mercy has traveled to Haiti several times. Yet the roots of our response to Haiti's challenges, especially the cholera epidemic, go back much farther than that. How does an experience from more than 30 years ago inform our ministry today?
A human touch breaks down walls. Can your letters do that, too? More reflections from Jack's trip to Haiti, and more encouragement for us as sponsors.