Saturday, April 10, 2010

Buckner Day: Part One, Hopital Espoir

Thursday we had quite an unexpected shock!

I'm in Room 36, teaching high school English as usual. I'm reading out loud to the students, when in walks Mr. Hersey. He says he'll take over reading to the students, and that I need to step out in the hallway. Very nervous, I exit the classroom....

... only to see four of my friends from Buckner! Buckner International is a global ministry to vulnerable kids & families where I worked back in Dallas before coming to Haiti. I worked in fundraising, and absolutely loved my coworkers, including Randy, Sergio, Matt and Tricia. They visited Haiti for the first time last December, staying at the now-destroyed Hotel Montana. This time, they were in the DR working to get programs there established, and decided at the last minute to come to Haiti. Buckner (through its adoption wing Dillon) has been working with Hope Hospital and Hope Village orphanage (locally known as Hopital Espoir and Village Espoir) for several years, sending humanitarian aid to both the hospital and orphanage as well as doing some international adoptions through Village Espoir.

My friends took B and I to dinner on Thursday (at a very nice restaurant I've heard Steve refer to as the "anniversary restaurant") and then we made plans to meet on Friday to visit Hopital Espoir and Village Espoir. 
Meet Brice. He pronounces it "Breece". You've met Brice before- the first day Ben and I spent serving at Hopital Espoir in February. On February 12, when we saw Brice last, he was having a revised femur fracture surgery. His little leg was covered in an external fixator, metal rods sticking straight into the bone. I changed his bandage with a nurse from the German medical aid group Humedica. Humedica is still there, 12 weeks post-quake, God bless them, and so is Brice.
Brice's external fixator is gone, and he really does look good. Bored, but good. Now he lays in a Shelter Box tent in the former parking lot, sharing an uncovered mattress in 95 degree temperatures with his mother, who stays with him, and another boy about his age.
Brice's mother's feet- and Tigger.
Brice's roommate is a boy named Fednel. His young mother greets our driver, Mike, who was interpreting for us also. We initially came into this tent because somebody was yelling loudly- that was Fednel. He looks to be about 10 or 12 years old, and yesterday morning he had major surgery to put a plate on his femur. His mother must have thought we were doctors, because she pulled out a worn manilla envelope and started showing Randy and I his x-rays, dated from mid and late March. She showed us his two baggies of pills, each labeled with the no-reading-necessary pictoral instructions (photo coming below). He was writhing and crying out in pain.
Fednel's little sister showed us photos of her family. I get the impression that she and her mother are both sleeping at the hospital with Fednel.
Fednel's mother puts a soaking washcloth on her head to fight the heat as Randy prays for Fednel through Mike's interpreting.
As Fednel's mother continues telling Randy about her son, a Humedica (the awesome German medical aid team, whose members are sleeping at Quisqueya) doctor enters. I love this photo- she is wiping away Fednel's tears as he cries in pain. She speaks no Kreyol and had no interpreter, but she just hushed and soothed and wiped tears like a mama.
The Humedica doctor took out a syringe and injected something into Fednel's IV. She then helped him to lay down, still howling, but after a few moments the pain seemed to lesson and he quieted down. He closed his eyes and seemed to sleep.

It felt wrong to be taking this picture. It felt profane, exploitative, indecent. But I did it anyway, because I was thinking of you. You will never meet Fednel, or Brice, or their faithful mothers. I had this internal debate on each mission trip I've been on, and I always ultimately come back to the same decision: I am here in Haiti, not just as myself, but as a representative of my community- our community. I report back to you guys, so that your eyes can see what mine do, you can learn what I learn, so that God can refine you and steer your heart toward God's priorities, just as we experience it.
Rebuilding. Espoir had just finished a new wing before the quake. Now, ironically, the old wing is intact but the new wing needed repairing. Thank God the hospital was standing at all- it is one of the few.
This is the physical therapy ward. Every person you can see is missing something. But there were 3 physical therapists at Espoir yesterday, praise God, and so the hard work of getting moving again is beginning. Apparently much more equipment is on the way.
Dominoes:) I loved this- all these men with leg amputations, sitting around the table playing dominoes like normal in their wheelchairs.
One of the nurses at the hospital yesterday was my friend Beth, who used to work at CDTI until it closed due to lack of funds last week. She told me about this lady in the middle in the camo shirt here, and called her a miracle. This woman suffered a hemorrhaging miscarriage not one month ago. Her husband is the man in the orange shirt. The woman came to CDTI at death's door. The hospital had no equipment to do what was necessary, so they tried to arrange a transfer to another facility. Beth accompanied this woman for the transfer. Beth described sitting in the back of a taxi with the hemorrhaging woman's head in her lap, holding an IV bag high in the air through the bumpy unpaved roads, thinking the woman would die any minute. Now, a few weeks later, the woman was caring for her husband at Espoir, walking, healthy.
This is Marie-Julie. Her husband and another male relative are staying with her in the recovery tent. Her left arm was amputated above the elbow. She was inside a collapsed house for some time. She was a student at the University of Port-au-Prince- a six story building that collapsed like pancakes (I showed a picture of that building at one point in the past....). You can also see a little bit of her external fixator on her left femur.
This woman is a physical therapist, working with a woman whose left-leg injury is now healed to the point where she was ready to begin working and strengthening it again. She had an elastic band and has the woman picking up her leg ten times, then another ten times, to work out the knee. The whole tent was watching- it was a big tent, probably 20 people inside. She told the patient to do that exercise with anything around- a towel, a sheet, a pair of pants. The translator working with the PT remembered me from having worked at Quisqueya as a translator since the quake.
Hygiene kits! One humanitarian aid item sent by Buckner was the hygiene kit, and we were delighted to see patients with un-packed kits by their bedsides.
Forms. With a rotating cast of doctors, good medical record-keeping is important. The pills are dispensed in these little baggies with symbols depicting morning, noon, and night. Filled-in circles tell the number of pills that are to be taken at a time.
I saw these two ladies at the door to the bathroom, one going in while the other went out. I counted the visible legs- three instead of four.
Gladys, an amazing, tiger of a woman, runs Hopital Espoir and Village Espoir. Gladys is Haitian, and her two daughters attended Quisqueya! She took us on a tour of the hospital's storage rooms, where the aid Buckner sent is being cataloged for use and distribution. These boxes contains thousands of antibacterial wipes.
Inside the depot, Gladys and her grandson Michael showed us around. Randy inspects a giant pile of walkers.
Gladys is so with-it. She is frantically busy, fabulously connected, and gets. things. done.
Behind the pile of walkers, a beautiful sight!
Shoes! One of Buckner's main humanitarian efforts is the Shoes for Orphan Souls project, which sends hundreds of thousands of pairs of shoes to orphans around the world. Matt, one of the Buckner team members, organized the shipment of these items, so he was so pleased to see them in-country safe and sound. You can see one tiny little lime green Croc sticking out by his hand.
Gladys had some great insight into what is needed and what is just a burden.
Buckner sent many cots and linens, and she pointed them out.
Hygiene kids by the dozens.
Growing, rebuilding. One step at a time.

Coming tomorrow, the journey to the orphanage...
Buckner Day: Part Two, Village Espoir



  1. Katie -- I understand your internal debate about posting such personal pictures and want to thank you for following your heart. I can't come to Haiti right now due to family responsibilities here in Dallas and I can and have sent money to various aid organizations but by you posting these pictures and telling these stories I can pray for these dear people and for you and your work. Here in Dallas, Haiti is pretty much gone from the news. I'm ashamed to admit it but it's easy to get wrapped up in my own life and petty problems and be blind to the extreme pain and suffering outside of my comfortable little life. God has used your blog to get my attention then refocus it. I am grateful for that. I am praying for strength, patience, perseverance and wisdom for you guys.

  2. Ben/Katie- Although I don't know you, I wanted to thank you for all that you have done and all that you are doing. It's truly incredible to see how God is using you in Haiti. I will continue to lift you up in dad, Jim Huey, referred me to your site.



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