Much has happened since our last update. A group of students from Catholic High School spent a week in Haiti to experience first-hand our work in Boucan Carre and Bouly. Led by Cindy Mire, the trip included dedication ceremonies of the new rectory at St. Michel and the four new classrooms at the primary school in Boucan Carre. The rectory will be a tremendous asset to our efforts in Haiti, providing more beds and bathrooms for volunteer that want to conduct mission trips. Our group also had the opportunity to visit with students and teachers at the primary school, where in addition to supporting teacher salaries our outreach program funds approximately 22,000 meals each month for the school’s 1,000 students.
Another highlight of the trip for the students was the six-hour trek over the mountains to Bouly, the small village where we have built and operate a medical clinic for some 30,000 residents in the surrounding mountains who previously had no access to medical care. The extent of poverty in rural Haiti is something none of the students have ever experienced, making the trip both a physical and emotional challenge. The students stayed overnight in our clinic and assisted the Haitian nurse who sees dozens of patients three days each week.
Organizing student trips is a priority of the Haiti Outreach Program. Over the years more than 100 students have made the trip. All were profoundly affected by becoming immersed in a world that is impossible to understand from the comfort of their homes and community. Some returned to learn the Creole language and as they grew older have made lasting contributions to our work in Haiti. We are indebted to all the volunteers and teachers who helped make these trips possible.
As we began operation of the Bouly clinic last summer, one of our greatest challenges has been the need to provide regular oversight by a Haitian physician. Our medical missions staffed by American doctors two or three times each year do not satisfy the requirements by the Haitian government to have a physician present on a more regular basis o supervise medical care at the clinic. Such supervision is needed, among things, for us to obtain approval from the government to bring medicines into Haiti.
We have succeeded in addressing this need by hiring a Haitian physician, Dr. Olgen Octave, to work directly with the Haiti Outreach Program and supervise medical services at the Bouly clinic. Dr. Octave will visit the clinic at least twice each month to supervise and assist our nurse, Wilmot Jean Baptiste. We are fortunate that both Octave and Jean Baptiste are Haitians from the local community who have a special commitment to the people we serve. Dr. Octave has already met with the Haitian Ministry of Health to seek a certificate that will enable us to purchase medicines in the US and bring them into Haiti.
A final note. Through the leadership of Sonya Mire and April Comerford, our annual School Sponsorship was a great success. We will have final totals in our next update.