One of the most important challenges faced by the Haiti Outreach program has been the effort to provide medicines for our remote clinic in Bouly and for our medical missions. For years we have tried a variety of strategies to bring into Haiti sizable quantities of drugs required to treat a variety of needs, including large numbers of prenatal and postnatal mothers. Each strategy brought a unique form of frustration.
On several occasions our medical teams packed suitcases with pills, creams and other medicines. The process was stressful for the doctors and nurses, as the ability to get the medicines through customs in the Port au Prince airport seemed to depend upon luck as much as anything else. Even then, the amount of medicines was only enough for the three or four-day medical mission. Supplying enough medicines at the clinic for 400 patients each month meant that we had to make large purchases of medicines three to four times each year, get them to a remote village one thousand miles away, and do it at a cost we could afford.
For a while we attempted to purchase medicines from a company in the Netherlands that offered a discount price. The cheaper price distorted other problems. Because our purchases were smaller than those of many other customers, we were never a priority with the Dutch firm. Medicines were transported by ship with unpredictable schedules. After arriving in Haiti, they remained on the docks while stuck in a customs process that we never understood. After we were forced to pay a customs fee of $2,500 to get a shipment of medicines released, we gave up.
Last December we tried another strategy. The Haitian doctor who works at our Bouly clinic traveled across the border to the Dominican Republic to purchase medicines there. He obtained the medicines, but the cost and hassle were both more than we can justify.
For the past two months, Jeff Keenan and Dean Mire--both doctors--have been communicating with MAP (Medical Assistance Program), a Christian non-profit organization that for more than six decades has had the sole mission of helping deliver medicines at a low cost to countries such as Haiti. Jeff and Dean are encouraged that their discussions with MAP leaders will lead to our ability to order the medicines we need at a reasonable cost and have them delivered by plane to a warehouse in Port au Prince. The result would be a major step forward for our mission by strengthening our ability to provide affordable drugs to one of the most remote regions in Haiti.
On another topic: the annual sponsorship drive for students at our primary and secondary schools in Boucan Carre will be conducted immediately after each mass at Sacred Heart on March 30-31, and April 6-7. You may sponsor a student then or online on our website at haitioutreachprogram.com.
The next meeting of the Haiti Outreach group will be Thursday, April 4, at 6:30 in the library of Sacred Heart School.