Friday, April 30, 2010


I was inspired by the people around me at the clinic today. This morning one of our translator/aides Guibson told us he encountered a woman trying to walk up the hill toward the hospital as he was walking to work. He noticed she was swaying and having trouble holding her balance and asked her what was wrong. (He is learning to evaluate a person’s gait already!) She told him she had not eaten in 2 days and did not feel well. He helped her to clinic and had her wait in a grassy area behind the hospital. After lunch, when the kitchen staff was cleaning up, he asked if he could help them scrape the baked rice from the large rice cooking pot. They were happy to turn the chore over to Guibson. He asked me if he could take some water from us and he used it to loosen the baked on rice and fill a plate for her with it. He scraped some bean sauce from a second pot and made her a plate of food. He then asked if he could fill an empty water bottle with more water and give it to her. We told him he overwhelmed us with his generosity toward her and he said that God and we, had been generous to him by providing him this new job. He felt he wanted to pass God’s blessings on. He told us he saves a portion of his pay each week for the future and uses a small portion to help those he finds who are in need each week. He told us he believes if you give to others it will come back to you. Some ideas are universal.
One of the children presented me with a hand woven bracelet that says, “I love Haiti” and thanked me for being there helping today. I told him I would accept the gift if he would allow me to present him with a gift tomorrow. He smiled from ear to ear and nodded “yes!” That smile and the light in his eyes just brightened my afternoon.
The head nurse who attended JoAnn’s inservice yesterday came by as I was working on Judeline’s hand and Judeline was obviously in pain. She stopped to talk with her and encourage her and then left and returned with a soft rubber ball for Judeline to work with. I was so happy to see one of the nursing staff being encouraging and also being willing to work with the therapists for the good of the patients. JoAnn’s program really seemed to have the desired effect of making us part of the team now!
What an amazing world it would be if everyone spent their days looking for those in need and then helping them, thanking others for their service, encouraging someone during a difficult time or just bringing your wide childish smile to a melting team of tired and hot therapists.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Two days of amazing meetings! JoAnn and I went to the Haitian government Injury and Rehab group meeting yesterday and talked with colleagues I had met 3 weeks ago, as well as meeting several new and exciting people. After I spoke about our clinic, one of the participants introduced herself as a representative of the US aid program who was in Haiti for 2 weeks on a fact finding mission. She was looking for places where congressional money could be spent to further rehab services in Haiti now. She looked at me and mouthed, “We need to talk!” We met after the official meeting, told her our story, and she has agreed to come tour our clinic! Access to some congressional funds would be awesome. We also met with a PT who runs a program at Albert Schweitzer Hospital who had much advice on starting a Rehab Tech school to begin to train local Haitians to take over the clinic eventually. Lastly, the wife of one of the heads of Healing Hands for Haiti was there and said she was in the country to be with her husband and did not feel very useful as her specialty was business not medicine. We told her we would love to have her advice as we know nothing about business, but appear to have started one! She may be able to come to the guest house to meet with us this weekend. So many wonderful contacts and offers of help.
Today I found a volunteer to drive me to the Petionville Club where Sean Penn’s group is serving the now 50,000 living in a tent city there. I met with the medical director and chief ortho doctor and Sean himself came to sit next to me to listen in on the conversation and my description of our new clinic and services we can provide. (He has a great smile!) Another of my, “How did I get here?” moments in Haiti.

Anise and Isaac are both doing very well and Isaac is growing stronger each day. I found a donated portable baby crib and stroller in the back of the storage area at the hospital and we presented them to her yesterday as gifts. They are planning to leave soon. I would like to write they are going home, but unfortunately they have no home to return to. She is still unsure where they will live once she is discharged, but at least little Isaac will have a bed to sleep in.
Joslyn, who had a severe stroke passed away this morning. It was a blessing as her body had been failing over the past 2 weeks and her bedsores multiplying. It is an interesting ritual here when a patient dies. All the family gathers outside and they accompany the men with a stretcher who go in to pick up the body. They parade out wailing and crying and talking to the deceased about how much they will miss her and how sad they are. We have watched this several times and the intensity of it is always interesting to me. Funerals and death in the US are such quiet affairs. Here their grief is cried out loudly. Something about that seems healthier for the grieving process.
JoAnn presented a great inservice to the nursing staff today on body mechanics and the prevention of bedsores. The nurses here have been very wary of us since day one, but today went a long way toward breaking down that barrier and moving toward working as a team. They seemed genuinely interested in learning how to prevent back injuries for themselves and how to move patients more easily. Once JoAnn got them all involved in practicing on each other, there was much laughter and some real teaching going on. We told them we were here to help them however we can and I am hoping they will now feel comfortable enough to ask.
So many wonderful things going on that it is almost possible to forget how unbearably hot it is. Tomorrow is to be 101 with a heat index of 114. With no AC or even fans to move the hot air, it is tough. JoAnn and I have taken to walking past the ER and ICU as often as possible as there is AC in those rooms and some of it slips under the closed doors and out the side edges. We often find we need to consult on a patient as we are passing by and must stand there a few minutes to talk!
I am encouraged this can all come together and believe we can truly create a sustainable clinic here in Petionville. Things continue to appear in front of us just as we need them, so I know God is still busy. I am trying to keep up and not melt in the process!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Today was filled with many “Only in Haiti” moments.
I went to walk with Anise this morning and found little Isaac lying beside her and nursing. (Yeah!) He was dressed in 2 layers of t-shirts, with thick sock booties on his feet and a blanket over him. I was hot just looking at the little guy, as it was like a sauna in their hospital room. I suggested we at least remove the booties, but Anise would have none of it. She showed me today how to squeeze his nose to make it grow in a more pointy shape as wide flat noses are not considered attractive in Haiti. I suggested that maybe she was hurting his little nose and that I did not think that would actually change the shape, but she looked at me like I was just clueless. I can’t say I’ve ever seen any nose re-shaping take place anywhere before. Thankfully, Isaac is nursing more and seems to be stronger. They will most likely have to leave in a few days and I hope Isaac can grow just a bit more before they need to leave. I held him for over an hour this afternoon and marveled at what survival against the odds looks like. He is only about 5 pounds but has a head full of hair and the sweetest disposition.
I watched a 9 year old pull a double-edged straight razor blade out of his pocket and begin to carve a piece of wood into a top. I asked him if he was worried he might cut his finger and he showed me where he had done just that in the past. You don’t see too many kids in my neighborhood playing with razor blades.
At lunchtime today I watched two large pigs sprint up the hill beside me, and 2 baby goats graze on the scrub grass. I watched people carry chickens home holding them by their feet upside down and swinging them as they walked.
We had to eat lunch in shifts today as the kitchen had plenty of rice and beans but limited plates and spoons. And, JoAnn and I were so thrilled today to find a place before lunch to actually wash our hands with soap and water. We found a garden hose attached to a spigot near our clinic! Hand sanitizer only goes so far with the grime we deal with daily. Somehow there is black stuff under all my nails by noon everyday and I wear gloves often! Every sink we could find in the hospital is broken or without water including by the nurses station and in all the patient rooms. We keep wondering where (or if?) the staff wash their hands. Running water, even non-potable water is a luxury here.
While waiting for our ride home this evening, I asked Guibson, one of the translators what he was planning to cook for dinner. He looked at me in a confused way and answered, “I cooked and ate this morning before I arrived for work and I ate lunch here at the hospital.” Only in Haiti are 2 meals a day considered fortunate.
I have to keep telling myself to stop thinking like an American. We just take so much for granted.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Well, President Preval must have payed his bill to Hugo Chavez because the gas shortage is over today. Good for the people I guess, but bad for us because the traffic is back again. It was nice for a few days to not have to sit in bumper to bumper standstills twice a day.
The children made the day wonderful today. Early this morning a mother brought a 3 year old little boy named Clifford to our clinic. He lost his left leg above the knee and she had brought him to the hospital because of a tiny blister on his stump. People in Haiti have no idea what therapy is or that it is available so she never considered any service other than having his stump checked. I taught her how to place a special sock on his stump to help shape it for a future prosthesis and pump some of the swelling out of it and she caught on so quickly and was so happy to be able to help him. I got out several pairs of children's crutches but they were all too big for him! We finally took one set apart and rebuilt them to fit. They were red and yellow and he was so delighted when I put them on his arms. He must have watched others walking with crutches as he seemed to know just what to do. He put them out in front of him one at a time and then took a little hop. In just a minute or two he was hopping all over the clinic and little beads of sweat were rolling down his face. Having not walked for months now, he must have been so tired, but did not want to stop! We asked mom to bring him back in 2 days and hope to be able to refer him to a group that fits children with prosthetic limbs. If I did nothing else here this week, giving him back the ability to move on his own made me feel so good!
Then I went to see Isaac today and he is so much better! The little limp boy I held just 2 days ago has been replaced by a stronger one who moves his arms and legs often and tries to hold up his head when I lift him. Anise says she feeds him often now and I am so happy she finally understood how important that is. Her milk supply has increased and I know Isaac is now getting the quantity he needs. When she and I went for a walk she told her husband to watch him closely and be sure no mosquitoes bit him. I told her mom's in Haiti have so much more to worry about than in America and that she was doing such a great job. We talked about breastfeeding more today, sore nipples and c-sections. To the translator's credit,he never faltered or was too embarrassed!
JoAnn and I are trying to relax at the guest house this evening but the frogs are so noisy. They do not sound like frogs back home, but more like a group of drunken ducks quacking and laughing. It is not a rhythmic sound but more chaotic and bizarre. Last night a small red and blue colored frog fell out of a tree onto our balcony and scared JoAnn enough that the owner of the guest house heard her screams and came running to see what was wrong! We found the frog dead this afternoon and I had to peel his suction cup legs off the tile floor. Something else to add to our list of things that you will experience only in Haiti.

Jo Ann

This is my first entry on our blog and I happily dedicate it to...the professor and Mary Ann!(you know who you are)
It's hard to believe that my first experience in Haiti was on April 5th and that by my return on April 23rd I felt like I had come home. Even the airport no longer provokes anxiety!
This is unlike anything I have ever done before and I can honestly say it is the highlight of my 30 year career as a P.T.
I'm sure Donna has written about the little boy we saw this morning with an amputation from the earthquake. We had the gift of giving him his first pair of crutches and watching him stand and take his first steps!Can anything really top that?
I watch what a few weeks of therapy can do and see the difference of a life lived independently vs. dreams forever lost.I have never questioned my career choice,but somewhere between the hospital administrators,productivity ratings,billing and insurance company's I forgot the joy of doing what we do best...treating patients.
I hope others will take advantage of this opportunity for Haiti and for yourself.
Time for sleep now so I'll be ready for more fun tomorrow!
(Jeff, sorry for any errors...but you are not here to edit for me!)

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Were Baaaaack! JoAnn and I returned to Haiti just 8 days after we left. Walking through the airport we kept saying to ourselves, “Didn’t we just do this?” Upon exiting the airport, our driver was not waiting for us as planned. But directly in front of me was Ruben, a nice man who we paid to assist us the last time we arrived and our driver was not there. His eyes lit up when he saw me and he came and gave me a big hug and the kiss on cheek that is the traditional Haitian/French greeting. He waited with us again, and when it was obvious our driver was not just simply late, he offered the use of his cell phone. I tried to give him $1 for his service and he refused saying, “We are friends now. No, No.” While waiting for the driver he kept asking me in a roundabout way if I was coming back and if people from the US could bring things. Much gets lost in translation here as the Haitian people do not like to directly ask for favors. I have learned to just cut to the chase and ask “What is it you need?” His answer was, “a tent.” He said he and his siblings sleep on the ground and as he put it, “When it rains hard on you, it wakes you up and you cannot fall back to sleep.” It rains almost nightly here now as it is the rainy season and he said they are all very tired. JoAnn decided to bring a few tarps with her this trip, “just in case” and she gave one to him. The smile on his face reached from ear to ear. I now know we will have permanent friend and helper at the airport for years to come!

Walking through the hospital and into our clinic felt so much like coming home. The last 2 teams have grown the clinic and its services greatly in this short time and all the patients have progressed so well. Seeing Judeline donning her own prosthesis and walking herself to the outdoor clinic took my breath away. Alex, Emmanuel and Guibson our translators are now much more than that. They are true therapy aides and have embraced their new jobs with such passion. I taught Guibson what the phrase, “You have really stepped up your game!” means and he told me he has tried so hard to do just that. I told them all when I left that this could be more than just a translator job for them if they were interested, but I do not think they fully understood the opportunity available at that time. Over the past 2 weeks they have come to understand what could be. They asked the last team for books to learn more about the body and have begun memorizing the names of the major bones already. JoAnn and I brought them each a basic anatomy book and presented it to them yesterday. They were so pleased! What made my heart sing was hearing them describe that before we arrived they did not know that “therapy” existed. They have watched us work with Judeline since day one when she cried continually and refused to even sit up in bed on her own. “In just 3 weeks she is walking!” They said. They told us they see therapy as like a miracle and they love the idea of being part of making that miracle happen for patients. “It makes you feel so good inside to help people like this!” Alex told me. “That’s why we love our jobs.” I replied. They really get it now and they are hooked! They love being a part of this and tell us they eventually want to become therapists like us.

Saturday was a tough one emotionally. We said good-bye to Janean, Heather and Kirsten in the early morning and then walked into the hospital to learn that Luc Pierre had been discharged! The last X-ray from 3 days ago showed his lower leg bones displaced again despite the external fixator and it appeared the lower leg was still infected. He told the surgeon he really did not want his leg amputated so they told him to go home and return in 22 days! 22? Why not 7 or 100? We do not believe he will even be alive in 22 days with a displaced lower leg bone and an infection and can you imagine the pain he will suffer in that time. Emmanuel went to his chart and found his phone number for us, but there was no answer. Alex and Emmanuel told us they were touched by the tears in our eyes and could not understand why the Haitian doctors did not care about Luc the way we did. Like I said, they get it now!
Later in the day, I went to walk with Anise and found her sitting in the main hospital lobby. We walked to our outdoor clinic and she sat to rest while we worked on Judeline’s hand. When I realized it had been at least 2 ½ hours since I found her, I asked if she wanted to walk back to her room as it must be time for Isaac to eat. When we got there she did not seem to have any interest in feeding him. When I asked her when the last time she nursed him was she answered, “I feed him when he cries.” I asked her if I could hold him and picked up this limp and flaccid little baby. He still has an IV drip, but did not seem to have the energy to cry or even move his arms. I did not see any rooting reflex or apparent desire to feed and realized this baby was failing. Through the translator I came to realize that Anise thought the IV was feeding Isaac and she did not need to nurse often. This is her first baby and it appears no instruction is happening from the nursing staff at the hospital. I told her Isaac needs to eat at least every 2 hours and that the IV was doing very little for him. She and her husband seemed very surprised and I am not sure fully believed me. I tried to teach her that her milk was what would make him grow strong and her husband told me he was concerned that Isaac had lost weight since he was born. I spent much time teaching but we are never sure what gets through and what is lost in translation. I am praying often for Isaac and hope he can hold on until Monday and we can teach even more then. JoAnn and I decided we need to have a conversation with Josiane about options and the need for more aggressive breastfeeding instruction with the new moms. Judy sent several new outfits and an adorable hat as a gift for Isaac and we need to make sure he grows big and strong so he can fit into them!
It is so hard not to bring our expectations of American standards of medical care down here to Haiti but watching a 70 year old man suffer and die in severe pain, or a newborn baby die should not happen anywhere. Prevention of suffering and healthy babies must be the minimal standard anywhere in a civilized world.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Heather - Friday

It is funny how many things can get lost in traslation. You never know if what you said was the point that was really made. Especially with a people who want to please and say oui, oui (yes, yes) and shake their heads. Today brought a laughable situation. I had a patient from the Dominican Republic (who had shot himself accidentally in the foot. ) People from DR speak Spanish. So I found myself explaining scar massage and range of motion from: English to Creole, Creole to Spanish.. Another of my pts stood in as translator and we created a 4 peson path from therapist to pt. Ha!

We distributed water again and peanut butter sandwiches. (To give a little fat to the children) Everyone is grateful, and did not take more than one for themselves so it could go farther.

Jefferson was not at the clinic when we arrived this am. He showed up later with a gift for me- a pair of sandles he had made out of a cornflake box. Beautiful. I would have worn them all day if they would have stayed on. He asked me who would taake cae of him when I was gone. I told him to pray to Jesus to meet his needs, even to the poit of bringing someone else to him. He is a christian boy, so he understood. As the truck pulled away he cried.

They translators were in a mix of joy and sadness. They did not want to see us go. They have learned about hope and Jesus' servant attitude. And have taught us more than they know. The joy comes from the connections that are being made to create a therapy school here in Haiti. So many are in need of our services.

This trip was very spiritual for me. I am learning about listening for Gods voice, following His will and showing His love and mercy. Thank you for all who have prayed for our teams.

Now I must go, Deet myself one last time, and head back for the US.

My 7th (and last day in Haiti) - Kirsten

Today is my last night in Haiti. I have really had a life changing experience during this trip. We leave for home tomorrow. I will leave with gladness and sadness. I have met some outstanding people here. Hatians are a very proud people and are true survivors, despite the tragedies they have suffered. Maya Angelou has written many books and poems. One of my favorite poems is titled: And Still I Rise. That completely covers the feeling I get from the Hatian people.
As I said, today is my last day. I will miss so many of the people I have had the honor of working with. As I said goodbye to those I have come to know for this brief length of time, I will always be grateful to them for teaching me. The conditions have not been optimum, but I have loved the challenge of using classic OT skills to provide creative ways to help those in need. This position has reminded me why I love OT, and why I love working with people in need.




My time in Haiti is nearly over; I can't believe that it's been two weeks already!

Today, I saw a 9 year boy named Bernard. His house fell on him in the earthquake. He had a compound fracture of both bones in his lower leg. He first had an external fixator, and then another external fixator, then a cast, and two days ago had his cast taken off. He did not have any crutches, and so his mother has been carrying him on her back for over three months. All he needed was crutches! They both had huge smiles on their faces when they walked out of the clinic.

Judeline did something today that brought tears to my eyes. She got herself out of bed, put on her own prosthesis, and walked by herself (with the walker)out to the physical therapy clinic! No one helped her! It was a beautiful site to see this precious 15 year old girl smiling at us with a new confidence and determination. That girl grabbed my heart on day one, and it was tough to say goodbye to her. I told her I would continue to pray for her.

Alex, one of the translators, said that he had been thinking all last night about giving the water away yesterday. He said, "Why did you do that? Why are you giving things away?" He had just gone with me to give one of the nurses one of my scrubs tops. I told him again that God has given freely to us, and so we are supposed to freely give to others. He said that we were a great example to him and that it encouraged him greatly in his walk with the Lord. He is also very interested in becoming a physical therapist, and he used Judeline's progress as an example. He said, "I saw Judeline at the beginning, and I see her now, and it's a miracle! It's a miracle beyond miracles! She would not be anywhere without what the therapists have taught her, and I feel so proud to be part of it. I want to do this for others." Wow, Alex, also made me cry today!

Today was a day of the patients, to the translators, to people in the hospital like the administrators and the pharmacist, to our guest house friends, and to the country of Haiti.

What have I learned? That poverty has a face.

To God be the glory,


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hedda Thursday - Heather

Today began with a question last night: "what are we going to preach tomorrow?" Although we laughed at prospective topics, God was preparing us for the day. People were everywhere in the streets this morning along with the goats, chickens and pigs. Market day. We arrived at the clinic to find 2 out patients, both were hands. So the sermon began.

Let me start by saying that our interpreters have told us that they are Christians. We had a discussion about this. Come to find out they did not know about the true grace of God through Jesus Christ. They have a VERY legalistic view of Christianity. Works are everything. They felt like being poor they can not do "enough" good works to get to heaven. An hour discussion ensued. We had a Bible, which they were familiar with, and we seached scripture for answers.

Great gains were made in Judalines hand today. She relaxed and allowed Kirsten to do the treatment. She now has visible knuckles and increased flexion in her hand.

Don't let my teammates fool you. They readily went along with my plan. We actually had 60 gourds in one of the guys pocket to pick up a tap-tap. But they were all full. When we got to the to of the hill, Janean said to me: "Gibson says iti os very dirty and we cannot buy or eat the food. So what are we here for." That is when we bought a bag and then bought water bags from the vendors. Don't worry, Emmanuel lifted the bag to the top of my head. My hand go quite a rest today. The people laughed and clapped, and then were all happy for some water. It was 96 degrees with 100% humidity. God allowed us to bless his people. We wear bracelets that say "God's work, our hands." We say this in a mighty way today.

My son was at the clinic when I arrived and had made me a bracelet for me. He spent the rest of the day making another. They cut plastic from a bottle and then wrap it with string and weave a design. It was a loving gesture on his part.

Please continue to pray for us as we are to leave Haiti. Also pray for God to clearly show us what is next in His great plan.

It was nice to speak to my family last night. Thank you for giving up your mommy and wife.
Love to all,

My 6th day in Haiti - Kirsten

God's blessings and provisions continue. We are so spoiled in the US with ample everything available to us. This trip has reminded me of the ample blessings we enjoy without even thinking about it. Simple, basic things such as food and water. Just plain basic survival. In Haiti, food is minimal and water is scarce. Because we were slow this afternoon in the clinic (it is market day so they are busy buying food). We ventured to the market with our interpreters and purchased hundreds of bags of dlo. We passed them out to the venders, shoppers, passersby, at the nearby orphanage and at the hospital. The people are so grateful for all that we do. It cost us very little money, but made such a difference in the llives of a few who have suffered such a tragedy, and who struggle now for basic life necessities.

Tomorrow is my last day at the clinic. I will be sad to go, because I have met some very proud and grateful people. It has been an honor to be here and to do have I have been able to do.
Later, Kirsten


OK, I just want to start off by saying that it was all Heather's idea. We have been so well received with handing out water at the end of the day, that Heather decided we ought to step it up a notch (a big notch) and walk to the market (over a mile), buy tons of those little water bags, and hand them out to people. So, we did! Our three translators went with us and were very protective of us, staying right by our side.

**Before I go on, I have a retraction from last night's email. We miscommunicated on the price of water with our translators. The little water bags (about a cup and a half) costs about 2 gourdes; therefore, we purchased about 100 of them for $5.00, or 20 of them for a $1.00.

So, anyway, Heather starts by buying an entire vendor's bag full of water and puts in on her head for a picture. Everyone starting laughing and clapping. Then, she started handing them out and the people came from everywhere. Kirstin and I also starting handing them out, and we probably handed out 300 water bags there. We bought about 100 more and gave them to the kids at the orphanage just down the street from the hospital, and we gave about 100 more to all the patients and staff inside the hospital. Alex (my translator) and I had a great talk on the way back from the market. He said that he couldn't believe how generous Americans were; he said that meant more to him than anything we had done this week because we spent our own money to give away something free to the poor. He said, "I think you really care about Haiti." I told him that since we are Christians, it is our privilege to share with others and that's what God has called us to do. Besides, I told him, if he is a Christian and I am a Christian, we are brother and sister in Christ, and as a family member, I am called to help when he, and his country is in trouble. That seemed to really touch him.

I can't say that I was entirely comfortable; it was dirty, smelly, and there were flies everywhere. But there were people there too; valuable people to God, whom we were able to share with in even a small way. We made some pretty feeble attempts at "God Bless You" in Creole, and overall, I was so glad we went. So, thanks again, Heather, for pushing me WAY outside my comfort zone. (I'm kind of glad tomorrow is our last day; if we stayed much longer I'm afraid she would try to get us to ride a tap-tap!)

Luc Pierre still has his leg; they ordered an xray today to have a look at it. He was in good spirits and sat on the edge of the bed for some exercises.

Judeline did great; she walked with one crutch and mod assist on the other side today. She also did some really good stretching on her hand with Kirstin and Heather.

Anise had a fabulous day, walking over 250' with only one crutch. She is a beautiful, proud woman with a great smile, and such a joy to work with.

It is going to be so tough to say goodbye tomorrow. I'm dreading that...alot. Although I miss my family and friends, air conditioning and anything to eat besides beans and rice.

Blessings to you all,


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hedda Wednesday - Heather

There is no "TH" in Creole.
When our translators speek quickly they cannot say my name.

Today my son Jefferson needed new shoes. I asked the translators how much shoes are and gave him 5 dollars to go buy some and return to show me. He had very thinly worn flip flops that the had rigged a metal wire to hold the strap on the bottom. He did not even put them on until I had seen them. He was gone for several hours and probably had to walk a long way.

We were in the truck to go home and behind a tap-tap, but it only had a few people in it. I asked Janean and Kirsten if they wanted to get out and get on the back like the Haitians and take a picture. Janean was horrified that I even had the thought. Then we saw the patien had an externl fixator on her left lower leg. What a perfect time for some home health! I wanted to give her a business card, but they will not be here until Friday. I did get them to stop and actually get out to buy from some art vendors. It was fun and we were able to give to the Haitian economy, which has become important to us.

We don't go to the kitchen at lunch for beans and rice. Frankly, it is too hot to eat that kind of thing. (95 today). I also have difficulty eating when the children have nothing. The xray tech keeps bringing our lunch to us and we keep taking it to the kids. It is enough to feed 3 kids on each plate. Our translators don't like us to give it to them, but we do anyway.

I had an intense conversation with Emmanual about God's perfect plan and will for our lives. I see hope in him, but it is difficult in Haiti because there is no money. Day to day is a way of life. I am seeking information about providing therapy education here.

I has a tough discussion with our 15 year old about her hand. She needs to work it if she is going to be able to use it. She did some self mobilization and even relaxed her wrist on the armrest to listen to music. I saw my guy that had a long leg brace. I was able to mobilize his knee to 80 degrees with a therapy ball--my favorite technique at home! He really wanted to practice his English, so I was able to distract him enough to get his knee to move more.

I blew up some gloves and the kids played with them for quite some time. They are very good about giving to one another. This is what strikes me about Jefferson, if i give him anything he shares with his friends. It reminds me of the woman who gave much by giving a penny, but it was all she had. They give to one another like Christ would have us give.
(Luke 21:1-4)

One last thought: I asked one of the children how old he was. He said he didn't know. So we decided that today he is seven and he should add to that every year. This brings to mind the point about individualization. This is lacking here. We have a 15 year old girl that 3 therapists are working to make her more functional. It is an American approach...each person has value. Here there are so many with so much need,even a child does not know how old he is.

Tomorrow I will speak to our onlookers about God's love for them, each as individuals. Just like Christ would seek one sheep. I may make the point better if I say GOAT.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers,

Day 12 - Janean

Day 12

Today we had a goat wander into our clinic. Enough said.

Today, Heather coaxed me way, way out of my comfort zone and we got out of our van in Port au Prince and bartered with street vendors for some Haitian art. Let's just say I'm not too good at that. I purchase my item for half of what he started at, but he probably would have gone lower, I was just wanting to get back in the van!

Judeline did great again today; she let Heather put her hand in a bowl of water! She squealed a bit in pain, but then calmed down while listening to the ipod again. Later, I took my hair out of my hairband and she actually ran her LEFT hand through my hair a couple of times. Yeah, Judeline!

Luc Pierre did not have his surgery today. The hospital did not have electricity all day. His two daughters came and talked to the doctor. I'm not exactly clear about what was said, but I think the surgery has either been postponed or cancelled, but I'm not exactly sure.

One of my outpatients today agreed to let me soak her foot and tons of dry skin came off in chunks, all the way down to a stitch that had been left in from her previous surgery. I sent her to the plastic surgeon who was in clinic today, and he removed her stitch and told her how good the original wound was looking. Then she relaxed a bit and did some stretching and walked out of there looking and feeling alot better.

Anise walked several hundred feet today, and she walked about the last 100' with only one crutch. I told her that she has to start doing that so she has one hand free to carry baby Isaac. She looked so tall and proud to be walking with her prosthesis on the left leg, the crutch on the right side and a free arm to carry him!

Water is such a scarcity here. We bring in to work each day six water bottles full (three for us, and three for our translators). In addition, we carry in two gallons in jugs. The patients are not given water in the hospital because they don't have clean water. (The pharmacy has gallon jugs that you can get if you really beg. Claude told me yesterday that he is working on a water purification system and hopes to have one up and running in a few weeks.) Anyway, we have street children hanging around every day and patients, both in and outpatient, that all need water. A small bag of water, pint sized, costs .30 on the street. We have seen Judeline's mom walking down the hill from the hospital to buy water several times. How do these people do this day after day? Keep in mind that the average Haitian gets by on $2.00 per day.

The Scripture says, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me." Matthew 25:35-40.

Lord, help us to be obedient to your Word!

To God be the glory,


My Fifth Day in Haiti - Kirsten

Today was a slower day for us, but steady. Not as many people waiting, just more steady. I am grateful for working with a good team. Heather and Janean are great to work with and we share the load well.

I think this GlobalTherapyGroup team has a first. We now have a mascot of a baby goat. A baby goat wandered onto our outpatient dept today. How many other outpatient dept. can say they have a goat as a mascot.

The IPOD continues to work for our 15 year old as a distraction. More gains daily as the music keeps her occupied.

There are so many burns here as well as fractures and nerve injuries from crushing. I have seen many burn injuries needing scar massage. Many hand injuries as well. The people are so brave and resilient. Some of them travel a great distance to get to us. Despite their hardships, they come smiling, and are so grateful for everything we do. They wait patiently for us when we are swamped, and never complain. I appreciate this experience so much and know that I will never be the same.

Haiti Day four - Kirsten

My fourth day in Haiti has been full of more blessings. People continue to come to the free therapy clinic. I am so busy, but the patients are very patient. They never complain about waiting for me to see them. So many people with UE/hand fractures and crushing. The buildings in Haiti are mostly made of cement. Many of the people have nerve damage due the buildings falling on them. Some of them trapped for days under the rubble. OT's are a very important part of this treatment team and have a unique way of helping these people. I do hope that other OT's join the GlobalTherapyGroup team and help restore function to these people. For many of them, their hands are their liveilhood. If they are unable to work, they will not be able to eat. There is no unemployment compensation here.
Thank you (merci) for all your prayers for us in Haiti. We know that the prayers of the righteous are so important. Please continue to pray for us as we do God's work with our hands.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010



Well, I started the day by slamming Heather's right thumb in the door. She already has a wrist brace on the left, so I felt really bad; she was a trooper though and didn't complain a bit. We had a busy outpatient morning (but not quite as bad as yesterday). Alex (the translator) and I went up to the storage room to get a walker and platform for a patient and someone locked us in! We had to call Emmanuel (the other translator) to come up and rescue us; everyone had a big laugh out of that one.

Judeline had a big day. Her walking is not nearly as difficult as it used to be; she is walking the distance from her room to the outpatient clinic without that much effort; stand by assist only. The big news is that she let Heather completely hold her hand, clear to the fingers, and she let her work her fingers and wrist a bit. Kirsten was massaging her forearm scar, while we put her left foot in a bucket of water to soak the huge chunks of dead skin off of it. Judeline and I were sharing ipod headphones and listening to Kirk Franklin while all this was going on. We told her this was true spa treatment - her hand and arm massage, foot soaking, and listening to music! Tomorrow, we are going to try to soak that hand in water; at first, she said no, but the ipod music is a good "carrot" and much more high tech and hip than stickers! :) We asked Donna to bring nail polish on Friday, so we'll see.

Please pray for Luc Pierre tonight. His leg is badly infected and the ortho surgeon is taking him to surgery tomorrow. If it is as bad as he thinks, he will have to amputate below the knee. He is not a young man, divorced, with two daughters. One of them is coming to be with him tonight.

Down the hall, I had a partial hip replacement patient yesterday. She was 92 years old, with dementia, and was toe touch weightbearing because the ortho doc found a crack in her femur after surgery. She was being discharged home on post op day three! Anyway, the head of her femur was in a jar in her room; not kidding. I guess they wanted to take it home and show the neighbors or something. Anyway, Heather and I had quite a time loading her into the small SUV with a walker, wheelchair, her abduction wedge and about 5 bags of clothing.

We had lots of interesting outpatients today; again, lots of crush injuries and fractures. Our clinic is quite a busy place, especially in the morning, until about 1 or 2pm, and then we'll go see our inpatients. We usually have several family members, and spectators, and some street children watching since our clinic is outside. We are next to the ER, so we see lots of people coming in after motorcycle or car accidents (no, in Port au Prince?). Heather asked one of the street boys why he wasn't in school today and he said he had a tooth ache. She found out that his father is dead, and his mom lives in the country, so he lives with his 19 year old cousin. Heather paid $5 for him to see a dentist, although he wouldn't do much treatment without the mom's permission. We were able to give him some tylenol.

We have decided to begin our day with prayer in our clinic and invite anyone who is there if they want to join. We have decided to end our day by sharing any water we have left with the inpatients. We just take the milk jugs of water and go room to room filling pt's cups until we run out. Great feeling to see their faces light up with a free cup of water.

Blessings to you all,


Heather - Tuesday

So many connections are leading to other connections that we are now making a list. The thread of God's presence is everpresent. I am in awe daily.

The team barista has been making coffee about 5 am. We are all morning people. We have a secret stash of Dunkin Doughnuts coffee grounds and if I am luck I can get there before someone else makes the coffee we are better off. No such luck today. You would not believe the amount of dry creamer you have to add to lighten it even a little.

It is very hot. At one point we were standing together in the clinic and were covered with sweat. Lots and lots of water. It is sad to see lines of people waiting to fill up their water bottles. It costs $1 for a 3 gallon bottle, which is an average half day wage. Patients family has to walk at least a half mile to buy the patient some water.

I had an adopted son today. His name is Fredrickson Bennet. He is 14. Actually, I met him on Saturday. He was the boy that was filling up all the balloons and gave his away. He said he had a toothache. I looked in his mouth and one tooth was half deteriorated and the other had a large cavity. I found out that the hospital has a dentist, but he has no money. I paid $5 US and received some Haition change. He needs his tooth pulled, but it can't be done without his family permission. He is currently living in a tent home with his 17 year old cousin. I feed him my hospital lunch and bottled water. He was with me at the clinic all day. When we were winding down, he sat next to me and I rubbed his back (along with another boy). Small gesture of attention that we take for granted. I gave them our granola bars ad airplane peanuts before we left.

I am the Judaline whisperer. If no other reason existed for my wrist fracture, it would be ths girl. She has on a wrist splint similar to mine. Yesterday we compared notes on pain and she allowed me to touch it only a little. Today, we had 2 super treatments. Her arm is very sensative and she did not want anyone to touch it. I was able to grasp all of her fingers and even put my thumb between her fingers and thumb. All while Kirsten did scar massage down her arm. AMAZING! Maybe it did have a little to do with Kirstens IPOD. No, it was me!

Translators have learned the upper body bones. Emmanual says he is my body guard. I quiz him everytime we go to the supply closset, which is often. One time today i sent him to the closet and he was looking for a box of 4x4s. Janean and Alex got locked in the supply closet. Good thing they had a phone and called us to come get them.

Again, I feel that I haven't touched what went on today, but must share the computer seat.

Oh yeah...Janean shut my thumb in the car door this morning.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My third day in Haiti - Kirsten

Haiti is such a colorful place, despite the rubble. The population is massive and the overcrowding is obvious.
The clinic was busy this am. The word is getting out about the clinic and more people are coming. I am meeting so many concerned doctors and nurses from the US who are here to help as well. A hand surgeon is here now and wants to refer patients to me. One patient I saw had shoulder impingement with pain and edema. After about a half an hour, I was able to mobilize his scapula and range his arm to approximately 60 degrees. He was happy and left, to return tomorrow. He actually returned a few hours later after being hit by a car on the same arm that I worked. I referred him to the ER. More OT's are needed here. I am constantly busy with hand, shoulder/ UE injuries. There is plenty to do for OT.

The rainy season means more humidity. We are outside covered by a tarp, but the heat and humidity are great. We drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Today I used the hospital bathroom. If I don't already have thighs of steel, I will by the end of the week. Warning: carry kleenex with you and hand sanitizer!

The trauma from the earthquake is still evident in the people. The children are fearful of returning to school due to fear of the building collapsing on them. I admire the grace and tenacity of the people I meet. So humble and grateful for the care they receive. I wish some of our patients in KC could have the same attitude.

Each day is a new experience here. I am learning and growing because of this experience and will never be the same. More tomorrow.

Heather - Monday

Yesterday, I started my message and was interrupted by lack of internet connection. I blame Janean,she was hogging our blogging seat! On Sunday, I was unable to get a message because it was raining...really raining.

I am really enjoying this work. People come and sit and wait at the side of our clinic until the next person is available to see them. They are very grateful.

My first patients included: a lady from Saturday that has nerve damage on her R side from laying in rubbel. She wants to go without a cane, but she is not ready yet. She came to our prayer circle with our ministry team and a team of doctors. Her smile was so big to be included.

I then saw a 6 year old girl. (I have a six year old girl) She had a stroke when she was 7 months old and has had no access to therapy. She ambs with a CP type gait and is functional, but her mom was hoping for more. I gave her some exercises and Kirsten was really what she needed for her hand.

Next, a pt with a severe foot contraction. I spent over an hour "creating" a custom made foot orthosis to increase the weight bearing surface area. I must have went to the storage closet 20 times for something else in this process. Let me just say : It was great! It was made out of rapid splint anf formed to her foot, then I built up the heel with casting material. In the end, she didn't want it. She thought I was going to give her "special shoes. I fit her with forearm crutches, and used bandaids to make a new rubber stopper stay on her cane. It makes me laugh to think about.

I also saw and amputee who I sent to Handicap International for prosthetic refitting; a man who was just out of a long leg cast (hip to toe) We made a treatment table on the floor using our therapy sign and I worked his motion and taught him how to do it himself. He would benefit from daily therapy, but he lives too far away. He said he would try to come back on Wed or Fri. He lives in a tent city and with our gas shortage can not access transportation. Tap-taps are full of 20 or more people, not conducive to a stiff leg. Other pts were wounds and soft tissue injuries. My team mates are very good about not letting me lift and staying on top of my hand. Kirsten gives me private OT for chocolate.

So much happens in a day that we feel we can't get it all down on paper. God is seen in everything we do and I am excited to discuss this with my family and friends when I return.

Oh, one more thing...our interpreters (most of them) stick to use like glue. Yesturday Emmanuel learned all the bones of the leg, how to treat sweeling and that you can make something from odds and ends in a storage closet. We did disagree when we found that he did not translate to our patient with an external fixator that he may need an amputation. He said "I know my people, better to tell the family."

Blessings to all.



We are exhausted after today; we had the busiest outpatient clinic to date. All three of us were running around like chickens with our heads cut off for at least 5 hours straight. It was crazy! We saw stroke patients, car accident patients (no surprise there with the traffic), earthquake victims with fractures, pain, swelling, difficulty walking. I saw a 7 year old boy with a soft tissue injury on his arm; I asked if he was in school and his mother said he is too scared to go back. His old school collapsed in the quake. Kirsten was a great help because we had lots and lots of upper extremity patients today.

Judilene did great today; there was a reporter here from the Miami Herald doing a special story just about her. They took some pictures, and got most of her story from Josianne, the hospital vice president. Heather really worked with her this afternoon on her arm, after she walked with me. Heather recently broke her wrist and is still wearing the splint, so she was able to show Judeline how stiff she was and that she had to work on it to get better. Judeline really focused on what Heather was saying, and Heather had this soft voice and soft touch and Judeline really responded. She moved her fingers and wrist more than I had ever seen to date. Yeah!

Our translators are doing great and learning more all the time. Heather has taught some CEU courses so she has taken it upon herself to teach these guys some PT lingo. Today, she was just grilling them on RICE - rest, ice, compression, elevation. She was also reviewing the bones of the lower extremity and they were just eating it up. They consider this not only a job for them, but a way to continue working in the rehab field for years to come.

We had a sad situation today right by our outpatient clinic. A pickup truck pulled up with a patient lying in the back and a couple of people back there with him, one holding an IV. A doctor came up to me and said that the patient had a high fever, and was probably septic and they needed a surgeon. We showed him the ER entrance, and told him that the surgeon had just left. By the time he got back to the truck (only a minute or two), the man had died. His family stayed in the parking lot, with their dead relative covered with a sheet in the back of a truck and wailed and cried for several hours until finally at the end of the day, an ambulance came to pick him up. It was so sad.

The missions group here, the 410 Bridge, has an idea to start a women's industry by teaching Haitian women to sew burlap coffee bags into a cute little back pack to sell in the US. They needed help with the prototype bag, even though they said the instructions were supposed to be idiot-proof. What do you know but Kirsten owns her own purse-making business and is spending this evening helping them sew the first prototype! She just came back and found that they were getting 3 purses out of each burlap bag, but Kirsten showed them how to get 5 purses out of each bag.(Thank you God for orchestrating that!)

Also, Dr. Bernard mentioned that he was looking for a female translator for his guest house. I talked to Fabian today, who used to translate at the hospital but was recently laid off when most of the teams pulled out. I gave her Dr. Bernard's number, she called him and she has an interview tomorrow! She is so excited, she came up to give me a hug and said she had go home and wash her clothes and get ready for tomorrow. Her mother keeps her two children during the week while Fabian tries to get work to support them. Her mother lives up the mountain, not too far from Dr. Bernard, so she will get to see them more often as well! Yeah God for giving Fabian a job!

That's it for today; can't wait to hop in the shower!

To God be the glory!


PS. The fried plantain we for dinner last night was delicious!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My second day in Haiti - Kirsten

My second day in Haiti is a day of rest. Church, then playing at the orphanage with the little ones. They are such beautiful children and I hope they get adopted soon. I understand that they are given up for adoption in hopes that will have a better life than their parents can provide for them. We held babies during church and fed them lunch afterward.

We were told of the "brothels" now in the tent cities. I can't imagine having to do that to provide for my family, but if my child was starving I will never say I wouldn't. I am grateful that I live where there are more options for me. Thank You, GOD!

I keep thinking about the hospital conditions here. Small rooms with as many cots in the room as they will hold. The families are responsible for bathing and feeding the patients. Lunch only is provided. The only medication dispensed is Tylenol- no matter what the condition. Anise just had a c-section 3 days before I saw here and they would not give her even Tylenol. Imagine enduring the pain of a c-section and an amputation without meds. The patients are so grateful for all that we do. After I stood her, she thanked me graciously. Even in church this morning, we were frequently thanked for coming to help. Dr. Bernard used the story of Lazarus' death and the grieving of Mary and Martha for his sermon this morning. Our just being here was part of our helping the Hatians to deal with their grief. I am grateful for being a part of the solution and for being able to help the beautiful Hatian people go through the grieving process on to healing.

My first day in Haiti - Kirsten


My first day in Haiti has been such an amazing experience. I have a unique perspective from the other therapists that have come because I am an African American Occupational Therapist. The first OT to come. The first thing I noticed was that the Haitian people are such a beautiful people. I watched women walking with large baskets on their heads, totally full of grace and beauty. What posture and balance they must have to walk the streets without holding on to the items on their heads. The city of Port-au-Prince is such colorful place. Not many billboards, they just paint colorful advertisements and signs right on the walls of the city and on the buildings. It is so colorful and bright. The rubble and destruction lay among this and it is hard to see.

I got my first sight of the Physiotherapy clinic. What an amazing structure or part of one) in such a short period of time. Only GOD could have put the right people in the right place at the right time to erect a wall and tarp on top. It was amazing. The patients were so greatful for all we could do for them. I know why OT needs to be here. I saw so many hand and UE injuries from crushings. Lots of nerve damage. They are eager to do what they need to do to get better.

We are tired from the heat and humidity, but throughly blessed. GOD is awesome!
Kirsten Brooks

It's Sunday afternoon, and I finally have time to try to recap the last two days. Saturday morning started off by saying goodbye to Ky at the airport; she is a "kindred spirit" and she was wonderful to share my first week with. Her incredible sense of timing to say something humorous in the midst of some sort of stress was a great blessing to me! (Is humor a spiritual gift?) We headed back to the hospital and I saw 5 outpatients in the morning, set up the outdoor PT clinic and walked with Judeline. Our two new therapists arrived around noon; Kirsten is an occupational therapist and Heather is a physical therapist. I gave them a quick tour and they were seeing patients within the hour; they just jumped right in and went to work! Alexandra (12 yrs old) came back today and we had a very special gift for her. Ky was gracious enough to leave her tennis shoes, and so Alexandra was able to wear her new AFO with tennis shoes. She mentioned that she had slipped and fallen because the bottom surface of the AFO was slippery even with the surface we had afixed to the bottom. The family had taped cardboard there and it was slippery too. So, Alexandria's face just lit up when she was able to have tennis shoes. Thanks, Ky, you're the best!

The ABC team was picking up the two amputee girls and so they were running late in traffic (really? in Port au Prince?) and didn't arrive until 2. They wanted Judeline to walk back and forth with her walker, behind them as they filmed the two girls. Bless her heart, she walked FOUR TIMES, about 40' each time. Finally around 4pm, I told the producer that she just couldn't do it any more; I had bribed her with 10-12 stickers and a bottle of gatorade, and she did her best, but was simply exhausted. When we took off her prosthesis, her sleeve was soaked with sweat. She did great, and I was very proud of her and told her so. Alexandra was in the background for a while, working with Heather and Faustine was working with Kirsten. They had each of us say something on camera about how the prostheses will help children in Haiti. Who knows what they will use and what they will cut to get their 60 second update. The whole thing took two days of prep and 4 hours of shooting, for 60 seconds of airtime. Crazy. Heather brought 200 long balloons and a pump and entertained many of the street children that were hanging around to watch. She was swamped with kids for more than an hour and went through 100 of her balloons but the producers were happy. Hopefully it helps the hospital and helps Haiti. (I did take a picture of the producer with a crazy balloon hat on his head; I told him this morning that he can have a copy, but I just have a few requests for Haitian Community Hospital first.....). :)

I saw Luc Pierre in the afternoon and he was drenched with sweat and out of water; his wife was not there; she was out looking for food. I offered to bring him water, but his roommate (another patient) said he would share his water. Grace in the midst of need. Luc Pierre told me that he could feel God's grace in my hands through the way that I changed his bandages because I was gentle. He tells me every time I see him that he is thankful for me, but I tell him that I am thankful for him because he demonstrates to me patience in the midst of suffering. It was kind of funny that we were tripping over ourselves trying to out-thank the other!

We finally left the hospital around 5:30 and arrived at the guest house by 6:15; had dinner around 7, and collapsed from exhaustion after our showers, around 9:30.

We had a wonderful Sunday morning service; I recognized two of the songs - "How Great Thou Art" and "As the Deer". I love hearing them sing and worship. We shared the holding of the orphan children with the team here with the "4:10 Bridge" - titled after I Peter 4:10 which says "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." The team is working with an elderly widow of the church, who walks 45 minutes to church each Sunday. Her home is farther up the mountain and was destroyed in the earthquake. Her daughter, who is also a widow lives with her. The 4:10 Bridge group is helping to rebuild her home this week.

Dr. Bernard's message was about Jesus comforting Mary and Martha at the time of Lazarus' death. He thanked us and the many people who have come to Haiti to console and encourage Haitians in their time of grief and loss. He said that the personal presence of someone is sometimes all it takes to feel comforted. Then he said that there are thousands and thousands of Marys and Marthas out there that will need comforting in the months and years to come. How true; for Haiti and for other places around the world.

When we got back, we went to the orphanage and played with the children. Heather worked her balloon magic again and had kids swarming all around her. I held one little boy for a long time who just wanted to sit on my lap and have his back rubbed. After a while, we went in to the small baby area and we each fed a small child their lunch, which was a bowl of rice and beans that looked somewhat pureed. Words can't express the satisfying feeling of just holding and comforting an orphaned child, or feeding them a meal.

Now, we are relaxing, and preparing for another week. Thank you all for your love and prayers!


Missing Haiti

It has been two weeks to the day since we set off for our Haiti adventure and I am now sleeping in my own comfortable ,bug free bed! I still smile whenever I think of the dedicated and giving people we met but especially of our Haitian friends. Donna so eloquently chronicled our first week and I so enjoy the blogs written by the new rotations of therapists. I have a story to recount involving our famous friend, Judaline. She was having difficulty even touching her left hand and would not attempt any self range. Just prior to her visit I had worked with an 8 year old boy with bilateral hand contractures. At the end of the session he was using one hand to range the other. I praised him for his bravery and his technique. The translator relayed this episode to Judaline who promptly cried, "I am a girl!" I explained that although she is a beautiful girl, she needs to be as brave and strong as a boy to regain use of her hand. I over heard her mother say, The women in Haiti are as strong as men, but we don't have the same rights. As in the USA, there is much that deserves change in Haiti.
I want to encourage therapist from clinics large and small to sign up for a rotation. It is so satisfying to provide therapy in a setting where the need is so obvious. May the gods continue to smile on our endeavor! Judy

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Heather- First Day in Haiti

Wow! Today was a crazy day, and great. Kirsten and I got off the plane about 10:30 am spotted that flourescent pink sign for Bethal Guest House. We were swooped away to the hospital and began seeing pts within a half hour. Extreme Makeover was there with some great little girls that were fitted with new prosthetics by Limbs for Life and Range of Motion Project. It was a LONG day! They kept shooting and re-shooting. We were told 4 hours of shooting for 60 seconds of TV. Kids hang out at the clinic, but they were watching and grouping too much by the shooting. So I took out my balloons and ball pump and we headed for some benches. They crowded around and eventually made a line and we went through 100 balloons in 45 minutes. Hats! (thank you Chris) They loved it. Even our interpreters were facinated. The boys were running up and down the street with these balloon hats kicking a ball around.
We finally wrapped up the day, drove through the city,passed many chickens, a tent town and landed in our wonderful Guest House for dinner and a shower.
God has blessed us with a nice breeze to cool off the night.
Tomorrow we have church and a visit to the orphanage.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Last Night in Haiti

Good evening / Bonswa!
There have been some wonderful moments this week, and today was no exception. The preparation for ABC was completely fabulous!! Even having experienced it, I still can't believe it. Thank you all for your prayers...that is the only explanation for today's events! A brief summary: about 9:00 last night we received a call that the 2 children we were expecting for the taping were not going to make it. The children were at the border in the Dominican Republic, displaced after the earthquake, and there was no way to get them back to Port-au-Prince in time.
An hour of scrambling ensued! Even as we left for the hospital this morning we had no idea how things would go. About 7:45 AM in walks a precious 8 year old girl with a pair of primary colored crutches and an orange t-shirt that read "pretty cute." Pretty cute, indeed. The prosthetists arrived about 30 minutes later, and by noon Reynan was walking up and down stairs on her new prosthetic limb. While waiting, she was jumping rope on her one remaining limb, and about 10 minutes after they fit her new leg, she was jumping rope with 2 legs. I've never seen anything like it!!!!
And if you think that was amazing, about noon another adorable angel arrived, a 4 year old girl who one of the hospital translators remembered from their time working in a tent city. He had gone out on a motorcycle taxi at 10:00 last night to the tent city, found her tent, asked her if she was interested, then went back today to pick her up. By 4:00 she also had a new leg! This little girl, Lorusemie, lives in a tent city, yet her school uniform was bright white and ironed, and her one shoe was shined. What a mother she has!
We could not have found 2 more delightful girls if we had this planned months in advance. It was a long hot day for them, yet they were smiling, cheerful, playing with everyone, and incredibly patient with the entire process. This small segment will air at the end of the Extreme Home Makeover Show on May 5. Mark your calendars!
We also celebrated our first day seeing patients in the new outdoor PT clinic. It was nice to have a breeze and more light (hardly any of the lightbulbs in the hospital work, and occasionally there is no electricity anyway!). One of our outpatients has been coming all week, and after we did most of her treatment, I wanted to take her indoors for a few minutes to finish a few things with her lying down (only chairs outside). She balked, then told me she was scared to be inside because the ceiling fell on her in the quake and she preferred to be in open air. Even being here, I still underestimate the ongoing emotional toll...
Please continue to pray for my amazing friend, Janean. She will be in Haiti through April 24. Her throat is occasionally scratchy, but overall she is feeling better (thanks for the prayers!). She is an awesome therapist, and it's been a real blessing to share this special time with her! Our co-worker, Heather, and her friend Kirsten arrive tomorrow. I know they also will treasure your prayers.
This has been quite a week, and I leave Haiti with incredible memories. Tears of joy, admiration, compassion, and wonder have filled my eyes frequently. The people here inspire me, and I can't wait to show you all my pictures!
Bondye bon! God is good!!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 6 - Janean

Hello from Haiti!

Well, we have a serious gas shortage in Haiti, and our wise guest house owner (just like Joseph and the grain in Egypt) has stored gasoline on the property,and although we have gasoline, many people in Haiti do not. There was a line over 2 miles long at the gas station, on our way into town today. This has also affected our patients; we had several that did not come in today. The entire outpatient area was only about half as full as normal due to the shortage. There was less traffic over all, but more people riding tap-taps. Let me describe a tap-tap; it is usually a Nissan truck with a camper shell and benches on either side. There are about 15-20 people inside, and hanging onto the back. We actually saw a man in a three piece suit sitting in the back and also a women in high heels with a laptop on her lap riding a tap-tap. We heard that it costs anywhere between .15 and .50 to ride.

Judeline did absolutely great today; she walked 50' and with a much better gait pattern. She let me massage her forearm and I gave her lotion and she massaged her palm. She has a long way to go on that arm. She did let us put a different brace on it today that actually puts a tiny ("piti-piti")bit of pressure on her palm and that is a good step.

Anise had her baby yesterday by c-section and the baby girl turned out to be a baby boy and she named him Isaac! We all celebated wth her and she had lots of family in to see him.

We have discovered that cream or lotion is a big deal here. Just like Americans want a pill for everything, they want cream. Ky and I lovingly call it "magic cream" amongst ourselves because they all want a little bottle of Eucyrin. And you know what? After we have done everything we can, we give it to them, because it might make them feel just a tiny bit better.

Luke Pierre was a good story from today; he is in his 70's and has a badly fractured left leg with an external fixator. He has four wounds that we are dressing once per day. At first, he was just lying in bed all day, but he has done better everyday and today he ate lunch sitting up in his wheelchair and he hopped 5 steps with the walker. One of our translators recognized him yesterday as a man that used to sell vegetables on the street!

You can pray about the Extreme Home Makeover thing. They have a story they want to tell; we just want the people of Haiti to benefit and the Haitian Community Hospital, because of all the free care they provide. The producer, the prosthetist, and the prosthetics provider will all arrive tomorrow. They are all staying here at the guest house. Twelve people on a missions trip also arrived here tonight.

"The Hole in our Gospel" by Richard Stearns has been a recent inspiration for me. He quotes Rick Warren in chapter seven:

"If God only used perfect people, nothing would get done. God will use anybody if you're available."

To God be the glory!


Pics from Ky:

Janean and I with Darlene, the woman who wrote and sang us the beautiful song!

Janean and Judalene...a 15 year old whose concrete ceiling collapsed on her....she is so traumatized! She and her mom have lost everything....

And finally, one of all of us with our translators and our makeshift banner.....sorry about the plant in the foreground. It was hard to find someone who knew how to use a camera!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Haiti 4/14 - News from Ky

Bonswa / Good Evening from Haiti !
Another beautiful day in Haiti ; another evening of rain. We are praying for those in tent cities as we listen to tonight’s downpour. We are so aware of the ongoing emotional toll on this country, as well as all the physical inconveniences post-earthquake. We were working with a patient today and I brushed up against the bed as I reached to straighten her pillow. She looked panicked and told the translator she could feel the bed shaking, wondering if it was another quake or aftershock. The fear is so real and the people are so brave!

We saw 2 patients today who were both trapped for 3 days in the rubble after the quake. One, a 12 year old girl, lost her mother, and the other, a 24 year old woman, had deep, deep wounds on both hips that are still healing. Yet both patients today were smiling and encouraging each other and so thankful for therapy and the braces we were able to give them. They both walked down the hall with classic Haitian elegance.

Plans also continue to progress with our outpatient clinic and the team from ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover. The prosthetist and people from ABC will arrive on Friday and tape a segment on Saturday. It all seems very surreal and very exciting!

We continue to be so grateful for the support and prayers from all of you. God is SO good!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

News from Second Team in Haiti

Hi Everyone,
Below is the latest news from Janean Clark and Ky Zeiger who are the second team at the new Global Therapy Group (GTG) clinic. I awoke this morning in a panic. The enormity of what I have taken on hit me and I dissolved into tears thinking, "My volunteers run out in 6 weeks, I have payroll to meet weekly now and I have to return in 2 weeks and don't even have funds for a plane ticket yet!" As has been the pattern since this adventure began, I asked and what I needed was dropped in my lap multiplied by 100. Three hours after my mini-breakdown I received a call from Eric Neufeld a prosthetist who is a friend of a friend in Chicago and runs a foundation setting up prosthetic clinics in South America. He said he had a proposition for me. Extreme Makeover Home Edition wanted to take some prostheses from a young woman here in the states who wanted to donate them to be re-fitted to a child in Haiti . The show was having difficulty finding a place to plug in down there and needed to film this Saturday. He asked if we could make that happen at our new clinic. I made some calls and sent e-mails this afternoon and by dinner we had children identified, the Rainmaker Fund-raising group of guys who were to leave tomorrow changed their tickets to Sunday, they are ordering a big Grand Opening! sign for our clinic, will send it down with Eric and our clinic will be the site of their TV special. I have requested they allow us to put out a request for PT's and OT's nationwide to volunteer to staff our clinic for the next 1-2 years. Isn't God amazing?

Well, we had an absolutely amazing day! I don't think much can top this, as far as our experience goes. First, Judeline is doing well; she transferred with min assist today, bed to w/c. We put an AFO on her with an ortho shoe and she was able to use her left leg to pull herself down the hall and she is getting to therapy much quicker. She walked about 12 feet this morning and about 18 feet this afternoon WITH MINIMAL ASSIST! Anise's c-section was put off until tomorrow, but she did take a long walk today. Darlene, who is in the same room as Judeline was discharged today after Ky took her for a long walk and up and down stairs successfully. She told the translators that she had a gift for us and so we went to her room. She told us that she had no gift to give us but a song that she wrote in our honor. So, she had us sit on the bed, and she sang a song to us, with Gibson translating. Basically, she said how much she appreciated our loving care, and that we showed God's grace in the way we worked with people. She thanked us for coming to Haiti and praised God for His people everwhere. We just sat there with tears running down our cheeks, deeply touched. All we could say was "merci, merci" and hugged her. Sadly, we were so moved, we forgot to take a picture.
Then, I went to the meeting at 2pm with Josiann and Edith, and Barry W Borror, director of Star of Hope. Here is the synopsis of the meeting:
Barry states that Star of Hope's primary donor countries are Sweden , Finland , and the US , with the US being the smallest donor. They work in 18 countries, and were established in 1979. Josian's brother is on the board, and her sister is also on the board, representing legal issues. They have been in Haiti for 24 years. Currently, they have 13 projects in 10 communities in Haiti . First, he offered to build two new operating rooms, at European standards. This includes training staff in the utilization and organization of resources and equipment/supplies. Secondly they offered to bring Cyrec in as a partner to build a prosthetic clinic. They have partnered with them before on several clinics. Cyrec is out of Bogota , Columbia and is the leading prosthetists in all of South America , seeing 3,000 patients per month. They use computer aided technology to make the prosthetics. They are also heavily invested in teaching locals to eventually run the clinic themselves. I told them that our translators would be very interested in training for the clinic. They also provide skills training (computer, office, etc) for the amputees, support for the families in training how to help the amputee patient, and community outreach/accessibility/education. Edith asked if they could send a team down quickly because she knew of three children who needed prosthetics right away. He said that he could, but they were most interested in building a clinic for the long term, not just a short term fix. We would still run the physical therapy for inpatients and outpatients, but they would handle the amputees only. Josian and Edith were going to take it to the hospital board and then, assuming they said yes, they would have the team from Cyrec come in immediately for a meeting to make definite plans. With Josiann's siblings on the Board, I think it is a done deal.
So, we walk out of that meeting and we are met with Larry, who tells us the whole "Extreme Makeover" deal, and they need three kids under the age of 12 for the taping. How cool is that? Edith and Josiann immediately got on their phones and starting calling; the kids will be here Friday to meet with Eric and the film crew. Brad designed a logo for Global Therapy Group and ordered a huge sign that reads "Grand Opening" with the logos of CTG, HCH, and Rainmakers on it. HOW COOL IS THAT? He will send it with Eric. Plus, the extra coverage that the hospital and GTG will get may help you recruit more therapists! We were totally blown away by God's provision yet again. All the translators said "nothing is impossible with God" and they were high fiving us all over the place!
Amazing! To God be the Glory!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Greetings from Haiti!

Greetings from Haiti !

Donna, Joann, Judy, and Elliot left today so Janean and I were on our own. It was not as overwhelming as we feared!! God continues to show us that he is in charge and we are thankful for that!

We spent our day at Haitian Community Hospital seeing both inpatients and outpatients. A lot of the people we saw really just needed encouragement and permission to begin moving / weight-bearing. Janean had great success with a girl who was both injured and emotionally traumatized in the earthquake. The patient is a young teen with a below-knee amputation, an injury on the other leg, and an injured hand. Some therapists from Sweden who saw her in March sent a brace especially labeled with her name with another group from Sweden . A very global connection! The brace helped a lot, and Janean's gentle touch really made a difference with her spirits as well. Janean will be here in Haiti for 2 weeks, so we are hopeful that consistent care and lots of TLC will yield great results.

The patient Donna mentioned last week--the pregnant woman with an amputation--was having contractions today. We are hoping there will be a baby tomorrow for us to hold!

Big news about our clinic. Donna and her team accomplished amazing things last week and we are hoping to complete the task this week. The tarp is now up over the clinic!!! We are looking forward to getting outside where the air moves and seeing patients in the big beautiful space out there. Janean and I are working on a giant banner tonight so outpatients will know where to find us. We are VERY excited!!!

We also made a good contact for potential OP referrals....we met a nurse at church yesterday and she was looking for a place to send people who might need continued therapy. We met some of their team today and they were quite excited to hear there was somewhere to send their patients for follow-up. We even met a PT from Georgia who may come back with our team later this year.

We are excited to see what tomorrow holds and thank all of you for your support and prayers!!

As they say in Haiti , Bondye bon....God is good.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

My First Day in Haiti -Janean

Hello from Haiti ! Well, it has been a long day, but a good one. We arrived around 11:30am, and the airport experience was CRAZY, but we eventually found our driver, and drove to the hospital. The traffic here is absolutely chaotic; there are no lanes, people are honking their horns and yelling, there are UN trucks going by with guys with machine guns on top, and at the same time, goats, pigs, and dogs wandering the street. There are ladies walking with buckets of water on their heads and lots and lots of rubble and tent cities.

We were oriented at the hospital from 12:30 to around 6:30 pm, and it is quite overwhelming. I am getting all the names of people mixed up, between the patients, the employees, the administrators, and the volunteers. Toward the end of the day I started to feel a little more comfortable, but Monday is going to be interesting in the least, without Donna here. She told me that she already told the administrator that I would go with her to the meeting on Tuesday (with all those important people - the Haitian Minister of Health, the World Health Organization, etc, etc). She thought that I was the obvious choice since I am here for two weeks and so I can go to two meetings.

We have three interpreters who are going to stay with us the whole time. (that' the good news). The bad news is, we have to pay them privately at the end of each week. The hospital had been paying them, but that ended today. Their agreed rate is $4 per day, and they are working Mon-Sat. So, I am expected to pay each of them $24, and then give them a $20 tip, each week. Ky and I will split the costs for all three interpreters. They are pretty important though, and make the work easier. My personal interpreter's name is Alex; the other two are Gibson and Emmanuel.

Donna has already changed the name of our group to "Global Therapy Group" - does that surprise you? :)

I saw two inpatients this afternoon, one of which was the pregnant woman who is an amputee. She has not had her baby yet, but it will be any day. Her stump is much better (not as swollen), and she walked about 100' with a walker today. The other patient will be my special project. Her name is Judilene and she is 15. She has a below the knee amputation on the right, and an ankle injury on the left and a severe wrist injury with a tendon transplant on the left. She was just curled up in the corner not moving and not talking to anyone 4 days ago, and now she is walking about 15' with the walker and moderate assist. She has a long way to go, and she is kind of moody and suspicious of us, but begrudgingly does her therapy if she gets two stickers afterwards to decorate her wheelchair. I'll do my best to win her over. :)

The construction guys put up the center wall of the new outpatient clinic today, and they are putting the tarp (the roof) on tomorrow. They had two largepieces of tarp that needed to be sewn together. There were no needles, so they pounded out a nail and made an eye in the top, and made homemade needles. So we spent the last two hours or so sitting on the top of the hospital roof (that's where they are camping out), sewing by hand this large tarp. We finished and then sealed it with duct tape. The ribbon cutting ceremony is tomorrow, and we open the outpatient clinic on Monday!

Our driver came at 6:30, and it took us about an hour to get up the mountain to the guest house. It is very pretty up here, and cool. The city was very hot today and the hospital didn't have power all day, so we had no fans and no lights. Dinner was very nice; fish, green beans, rice, and a kind of warm potato salad. Then we had about an hour downpour of rain.

I'm pretty tired now; it's 10:10 here, but it's been a very long, but fun day. We have church tomorrow (3 hours long) and then we are going to visit the orphanage, so that should be fun.

Blessings to all!


Last Day in Haiti Donna

We said all our goodbyes today and it was so difficult for us and for our new friends!!!
We began the morning by hiring a work crew to clear all the old broken medical machinery, debris, standing water and trash from the concrete pad that will be the floor of our clinic. We went on a treasure hunt throughout the hospital and “procured” a desk, file cabinet, folding chairs and a frame we will drape and use as a screen for patients who must disrobe. All the items are broken in several places and covered with rust but still functional. We placed some brightly colored duct tape in star patterns on things and all the children watching declared “tres belle” (very beautiful.) At least it distracts from the rust. We made a temporary sign and took pictures of ourselves and all those watching and helping today. We will make our official sign tonight. This morning I said, “Now we need to make a sign” and turned around to look for a piece of cardboard. Directly behind me was a four foot tall roll of white vinyl. Just what I needed multiplied by 100. Why a roll of vinyl would be sitting in the doctor’s lounge in the hospital I have no idea. We unrolled a piece 20 feet long and will use black duct tape to make a large sign that says “Physio Therapy” that will hang over our entrance. One of the Haitian helpers told us to just draw a pair of crutches on the sign and the people here will get the idea. They have no idea what Physio Therapy is yet, but we are hoping that will change soon!
Alex our translator came in today, on his one day off, without pay. He said it is because he is so excited about the new clinic and keeps telling us, “Thank you for what you are doing for the people of Haiti .” He told us today he went home and began some of the exercises he had learned this week with his grandmother. It turns out she had a stroke and is paralyzed on the left side. We told him he must have the family bring her in so she can be one of our first patients. He also asked today if we had any books at home that we could bring to him so he can learn the names for the bones and muscles. “I want to learn as much as I can so I take full advantage of the opportunity you have given to me.” He said.
We asked Alex to recruit a few of the children hanging around to hold our sign in our official first picture of the clinic. After we were finished, we asked them if they would like a lollipop. Their answer was,“ We are hungry.” We all cried on our way up to where our backpacks were stored and brought them each several protein bars and a lollipop.
At lunch today we sat outdoors and ate the rice and beans the hospital kitchen provides. We were full after eating half a plate and I kept watching a young boy about 5 hanging around just behind us. I suggested we just leave the paper plates on the cement and walk away and maybe if he was hungry he would come and take it. Instead he followed us, tapped me on the arm and asked in his limited English “For me?” while pointing at the plates. Even at only 5 years old and so hungry, he was respectful enough to not take anything without asking. He fully encapsulates the people we have met this week who daily bring us to tears. We have to keep looking at each other and saying “Don’t start crying or we will never stop.” I just take a deep breath and we move on.
We hugged and kissed on each cheek all our new friends and promised we will return. We will begin making fliers next week and all the young men told us they will start passing them out in the community. “Build it and they will come.” keeps running through my head.” It has begun!