December was an active month for the Haiti Outreach Program. St. Kateri Tekawitha, our partner parish in Tabb, Virginia, held their annual Run with the Son 5K race on December 2. More than 300 runners took part in the event that raised approximately $16,000 to support our elementary and secondary schools in Boucan Carre. The contributions of our partner are invaluable.
On December 14, Leslie Adams led our group’s first all-female medical mission to Haiti. As always, the trip came with unforeseen challenges. Three of the group’s twelve suitcases, including medicines and food, were lost in the flight from Atlanta, making it necessary two days later to return to the Port au Prince airport. Fortunately, the bags were there and a major problem did not get worse.
The doctors’ mission included a trip to Guillaume, a tiny village located about a two-hour hike from Boucan Carre that to our knowledge had never had a visit from a doctor. More than one hundred patients were already there when the doctors arrived, including women and children dressed in their best clothes to see the American doctors. The three doctors, along with a Haitian nurse, three translators and a pharmacist, worked from small chairs and tables on the dirt floor of the little wooden chapel. From about 10:00 am until nearly 4:00 pm, they worked with no food or restroom break. The doctors, who included Kelly Rouse and Kathleen Edmunds, saw a remarkable 153 patients in only six hours. Unfortunately, some twenty patients were still waiting when the group had to leave in order to hike back over the mountain before sundown.
After a day’s rest, the group set out once again, this time undertaking the much more difficult trek to the village of Bouly. Upon arriving in Bouly Sunday afternoon, the team was brought a young woman who had been carried over the mountain on a stretcher for some five hours. The young lady appeared to have been beaten, was unconscious, had serious lacerations and was severely dehydrated. Our team did a magnificent job in stitching her wounds, giving her an IV, and stabilizing her condition. They literally saved her life.
Over the next two days the doctors saw just under 250 patients, a testimony to the medical needs in the Bouly region and to the value of our medical outreach. The volume of patients was actually a bit lower than in the past, leading us to hope that our efforts to provide a full-time nurse and part-time doctor are gradually having a positive impact on the region’s health. Many thanks to Leslie, Kelly and Kathleen for their tremendous work and sacrifice on behalf of our mission in Haiti. Each of the women went to Haiti despite knowing that the region was experiencing a very serious outbreak of cholera. Their commitment was no small thing.
Meanwhile, our group is planning two addition trips to Haiti. Dr. Dean Mire is organizing a medical mission for February. In March, we are planning to take another high school group to Haiti during spring break.
If you want to learn more about our efforts in Haiti, you can visit our website at haitioutreachprogram.com. Our next meeting is Thursday, January 11 at 6:30 in the library of Sacred Heart School.