Sunday, January 9, 2011

Northwest Haiti Plans

Hello everyone, Josh, Alex, and I had a chance to make it to Church this morning at Quisqueya. It was a nice way to start the day. To update you on our mission to the Northwest, we were set to leave Monday morning on our 10 hour trek over the mountain range, but our driver backed out. We have a tap tap (the equivalent of a Haitian covered pickup truck) available to take on the journey, but it is likely not to make it to our destination without complications and at the very least a bottle of ibuprophen. These roads have massive potholes and moguls. They are steep and can only be traveled on a with a 4x4. We've heard that at one point there's even a river to ford. Other than a more reliable vehicle, we've got all the other details squared away... translator, route, etc. Another option... once again, the possibility of taking the UN chopper on Monday has opened up, but the MINUSTAH (Ministry United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) has been sending out warnings that we can likely expect political violence to start tomorrow, Monday morning. This causes problems for two reasons: The UN stops flights when these protests (or manifestations, as they are called here) begin; secondly, if we are going to leave in the morning, it is going to make getting out of the city very difficult and travel through Gonaives (a town halfway between here and our destination) very dangerous considering it is already an unsafe town that some describe as being shrouded in a dark light. That being said, though, I've got contacts there as well, so if something happened we'd be close to help. I'm all about stepping up to the plate, taking some semi-calculated risks and trusting that God's got a plan worked out and trusting it. But, as we are beginning to run low on time, I'm going to have to trust that the work we can do here in Port au Prince will be just as important. I have truly done the footwork here and the fact that we are still getting such resistance in our plans, makes me have to believe it may not actually be what God has planned for us. It just drives me crazy though to know that at this very second, there could be people in this remote area dying from a disease that's very easy to treat because they are potentially being turned away from the local hospital. If we had more time here, I'd be sure to get up there and I would setup a cholera treatment unit (CTU) from scratch, so these people could get the help they need. In the meantime, it looks like we will likely be staying in the capital and get back over to St. Damien's cholera treatment unit. Truly, though, tomorrow's announcement will determine a lot. We may very well all end up on lockdown!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Back In Haiti 2011

Just wanting to update everyone on our progress. Our plans here right now are rather complicated. To start with, several of the medical teams into the area have cancelled due to the recent political violence and instability. At this time, things appear to be fairly stable. Rumor has it, however, that on Monday the government will be announcing the results of the election. We can almost certainly expect that there will be conflict coincididing with that announcement. We are currently safe staying at gated compound with an armed guard. The second wrench in our plans involves a major decrease in the number of new cholera cases at our originally planned site. There has recently been a sharp decrease from about 150 new cases a day in the Port au Paix and Saint Louis du Nord area to only about 15 new cases a day. It is now manageable for the Haitian staff in the area that have been trained to do the work and the UN has stopped the flights into the area. Truly, this is great news. It not only means that the disease spread in this area has diminished, but it means the education programs that prevent it to begin with are working. However, that being said… the disease continues to pop up and ravage through small towns which are unprepared for the strength in which it hits. One such town is about 2 hours west of Port au Paix. Reports from the area indicate there are large numbers of patients who are symptomatic and further word seems to indicate the hospital in the area might be turning the cholera patients away. What we are currently trying to organize is a mission into the area to 1. Assess the current needs 2. Deliver relevant supplies 3. Put our hands and minds to work in the trenches. That all being said, this is taking quite a bit of logistics, which is what we are working on now. In the meantime, I’m praying for some discernment from the Lord regarding our options. We were at a cholera treatment clinic (CTU) here in PAP at St. Damien’s children’s hospital. Fortunately, the cases here in the capital are diminished for the time being as well, so the wards were not packed, but there were plenty of children hooked up to IV lines getting fluids. The decontamination process is rather interesting as well. Upon entering and exiting the CTU, you must wash your hands with a chlorine solution, walk through a chlorine soaked sponge, and then have the soles of your shoes sprayed with additional chlorine. Really, it’s rather eerie to be honest. Anyhow, I’ll try to keep everyone posted prior to heading out.

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