We’re fresh off our latest trip to Cap Haitien, Haiti, and like with most trips, we’ve returned with even more motivation for the work we do for the Haitian people. Through medical care, family support, farming, and small business, we are grateful for the opportunities we have to build relationships and impact lives. Check out the short recap video below, and keep reading for more details about the trip!
The team set off to Haiti on March 9th, carrying more than 19 suitcases of medications, vitamins, and medical supplies valued at over $22,000. Five members of the Espwa leadership team (Jen, Chris, Joe, Brady & Kristin) were excited to be back in-country, but we were also privileged to assemble an amazing team of medical professionals, including two Nurse Practitioners, four RNs, and an Occupational Therapist. Another member arrived midway through the trip, bringing our team total to 11 individuals. Our primary goal for the trip was to serve Haitians through medical care, with a secondary goal of meeting with the liaisons for our other Espwa projects to check progress.
The medical team worked side-by-side with two Haitian physicians, Dr. Eugene Maklin (Espwa’s in-country Medical Director) and Wislyn Avenard, and began by serving for two days at the Blue Hills community. While there is no clinic in the small community, our team was able to set up shop in a school building run by Thomas Dieuseul and his wife. Patients began arriving first thing in the morning in order to reserve a spot in line to be seen by the team, and the waiting area was soon filled to capacity. Over two days, the team saw more than 300 patients, treating them for conditions ranging from dehydration to skin abscesses.
The team took a break from medical duty over the weekend, which gave an opportunity to experience some of Espwa’s other projects and to enjoy Haiti’s beauty. The team was very impressed by the amazing progress of Dr. Maklin’s New Hope Hospital (read about the story here). The building now has full three floors and is in the process of getting its roof, with a hopeful opening date in the July 2016 timeframe. On Saturday, the team met our Peace & Joy Families, who had assembled for their monthly meeting with our project liaison, Paul Guerrier. Pastor Benjamin Fleurant, who ministers to the families, was also at the meeting and led the children in a song while the team watched. Sunday was a wonderful day of rest, in which the team spent the morning at Friendship Island – essentially a private island off the coast of Haiti (thanks Haitian Creole Tour!) – and several members even ventured to city central for church services in one of Cap Haitien’s oldest cathedrals.
The team was back at it on Monday morning, this time serving at St. Anthony’s clinic, which Espwa has been part of since its inception. Dr. Maklin sees patients there every Monday, and it’s been great to see the relationships unfold with members of the community over the past several years. The team served at the clinic for 2 ½ days and saw more than 400 patients. The Espwa team was grateful for all the donated vitamins (which can’t be purchased in Haiti), because it guaranteed each child received an adequate supply. Espwa President, Jen Schmidt, summarized the week’s medical mission by saying, “We all worked so well together and everything fell perfectly into place, allowing us to treat over 700 patients! God is good!”
While most of the team provided medical care, our non-medical members checked progress on several other Espwa projects. The team met with Pastor Benjamin Fleurant, who regularly meets with our Peace & Joy families for Christian discipleship and relationship building. In December, thanks to your support, we were able to purchase a welding generator for him that has dramatically helped his ability to generate income and focus more on his church and his ministry to the Peace & Joy families. We met with Jovenel Joseph Kenold, who operates one of our main projects – a farming initiative – and who now has his sights set on a larger farm with his Agrolide organization. We explored some of the steps that need to be taken to make the next farm a reality. We also met with Paul Guerrier and Frantz Louis-Charles, who interface with our Peace & Joy families on a monthly basis, to discuss ways forward with small business opportunities in the future.
After 24 trips to Haiti since 2007, Chris Pfeiffer, Espwa VP, continues to learn valuable lessons with each trip. Chris says, “I see more and more value in time spent with our Haitian friends. Loving, caring relationships, built on consistency and trust, really matter. These take time, but are worth the effort. I’m more convinced than ever that these relationships are more important than “doing stuff” in Haiti or “bringing stuff” to Haiti.” This trip was just one more opportunity to show love and build relationships in Haiti. And while progress can sometimes be slow or discouraging, we’re in it for the long-haul.
We consider this trip a major success – through outstanding medical care, network building, and inching each of our projects forward. But we couldn’t have done it without your support. Many thanks to everyone who donated vitamins, funds, prayers, emotional support, or all of the above! Although each of us are back home, our thoughts and efforts to make a lasting impact on Haiti remain. Until next time…