Medical Trip March 2017

While our most recent medical mission trip to Cap Haitien departed on March 24th, it actually started the week before with a suitcase packing party.  With each trip, we have to weigh the pros and cons of taking items versus buying in country.  Can we get the medicines we need in country?  Will the medicines have the same effectiveness if not regulated by the FDA?  To alleviate these concerns, we’ve had medicines from Haiti (usually supplied by companies in India) laboratory tested and we’ve determined which ones should be bought in country and which must be hand-carried there.  The packing party filled six suitcases of medical items.

Some of you may have seen our fundraiser for baggage fees on these suitcases.  American Airlines is the only international airline that flies into Cap Haitien, and unfortunately, will not offer us any type of discount or waiver of baggage fees.  On the morning of March 24th, our team entered the airport fully intending to pay an exorbitant fee for all the medical supplies, but a kind-hearted check-in agent heard our story and waived our baggage fees completely!  The money raised for baggage fees could then be spent where it is needed much, much more – for medications purchased in Haiti.  What an amazing start to the trip!

On Saturday and Sunday, the team of American and Haitian providers and nurses, along with translators, worked at New Hope Hospital.  This was the first Espwa medical team in Haiti since the grand opening of the hospital, so this opened up a whole new way to serve more patients.  Our Espwa Medical Director, Jen Schmidt, relayed a story about a patient who evidenced signs of cholera, a terrible water-borne disease that ravages the digestive system and can lead to severe dehydration and death. The patient had traveled very far just to get to New Hope Hospital, where the team was able to pump him with fluids and antibiotics, before being transferred to the nearest cholera treatment center.  Schmidt said, “New Hope Hospital saved that man’s life.”  In an area that has never had hospital coverage, the aptly named New Hope Hospital is like a beacon of hope.  Over the two day period, the team saw more than 200 patients.

Starting on Monday, the team returned to the site of one of Espwa’s first projects, St. Anthony’s Clinic.  Although separated by only around 20 miles, the clinic was a night-and-day change from New Hope.  Without labs and testing or an extensive pharmacy, the team had to rely on their experience in the field – all members of the team have been on medical trips with Espwa in the past – coupled with Dr. Maklin’s intimate knowledge of common Haitian illnesses.  St. Anthony’s is always one of our stops, so many familiar faces greeted the team members.  All told, another 200 patients were seen on Monday and Tuesday at St. Anthony’s.

After a down day on Wednesday, the team served its final day in the Blue Hills community on Thursday.  The team set up a makeshift clinic at the local school building, similar to that of past trips.  The school’s proprietor, Thomas Dieuseul, had a new baby of his own this time around and the team was happy to see her thriving.  The team had a very full day and was able to see over 200 patients at Blue Hills, while furthering our relationship with the community.

The team safely arrived back home on Friday, March 31st after a week of serving at three locations, seeing over 600 patients, and deepening relationships with both our Haitian medical counterparts and the communities we serve.  We keep coming back, because we’re in it for the long-term.  Special thanks to Dr. Eugene Maklin who fights the battle for positive change in the Cap Haitien medical community each and every day.  Until next time!


January 2017 Trip Report

From January 4 – 8, 2017, we sent a team of four individuals down to Cap Haitien, Haiti.  The purpose of the trip was to provide training to some of our Haitian team members, as well as explore a few areas that could develop into projects in the future.

At the training event, all of our main project leads were in attendance: Frantz Louis-Charles (Haitian Creole Tour, Peace & Joy), Dr. Eugene Maklin (New Hope Hospital, St. Anthony’s Clinic), Jovenel Joseph (Farming), Paul Guerrier (Peace & Joy), and Pastor Benjamin Fleurant (EBAC Church). While our project leads do speak English at varying proficiencies, we also had two translators to assist. The training session covered many of the principles our organization supports, such as knowing the different stages of poverty alleviation (relief, rehabilitation, and development), as well as ways to avoid paternalism and show dignity to those we serve. Our goal was to better prepare our liaisons on the ground in selecting projects that fall within our mission statement. After a full morning of training, the team all went to lunch and kept the discussion going.

Brady Cillo, Espwa’s Special Projects Director, said of the training, “I felt honored to be able to talk through poverty alleviation with our Haitian project leads. These folks have lived through poverty and had some great insights. It was also an amazing opportunity for brainstorming and connecting some of our diverse projects.”

As Cillo observed, the training allowed our project leads to share ideas and discuss how their varying projects could interact. For instance, the New Hope Hospital has extra land that could be used for farming, and the crops could be used to feed the hospital staff and even patients or family members of patients. Pastor Benjamin expressed that his congregation was interested in a hospital care ministry, which Dr. Maklin was happy to support. These types of interactions were priceless and they reinforced the value in Haitians taking ownership of the change process.

In addition to the training, the team also visited New Hope Hospital. The hospital had opened its doors four months prior, but the relatively empty rooms displayed how much work is still to be done. Dr. Maklin called his staff together for an impromptu appreciation ceremony, complete with a cake and sparkling cider, to say ‘thanks’ to Espwa for our role in supporting the hospital throughout the construction phase. What an honor!

The team also investigated other opportunities for small businesses in the future, such as a sea glass jewelry endeavor, and spoke with several potential project liaisons.  Mike Cillo, owner of DKC Creations, brought down jewelry-making supplies and equipment.  With several students, he spent a day searching for sea glass on Haiti’s beaches, then teaching them how to wire-wrap jewelry from their finds. Another team member tested communications equipment at EBAC Christian Academy in an effort to one day provide enhanced teaching methods to the students there.

Chris Pfeiffer, Espwa Executive Director, and Brady Cillo met with the Peace & Joy families for several hours one morning, while the other team members completed their specific tasks.  The goal was to discuss some upcoming opportunities that we’ve been made aware of, as well as record responses to the asset-based community development packets created by Espwa.  Frantz Louis-Charles and his employee, Michael, worked through the packets with each of the adult family members.

The team spent its last day with Haitian Creole Tour, a prior Espwa project, exploring the rich history of the region at the Citadelle and San Souci Palace.  Haitian Creole Tour had hired transportation, a guide for the tour, and arranged all the details.

It was a great trip and definitely planted some seeds with how we can best use our resources in the coming months and years. Thanks to all who played a part in supporting the team on this trip!


September 2016 Trip Report

With all the other pressing events over the past month and a half, we haven’t taken the time to report on our trip in September 2016.  So here goes!

The September trip was only 5 days, but it sure was memorable.  Longtime supporters and friends of Espwa, the Richardson’s (Dave, Karen, Jensen, and Corey), made their first trip to meet the Peace & Joy Families.  The Richardson’s have been instrumental in supporting the families since our journey began with the children at Peace & Joy Orphanage.  Also on the trip were Espwa board members, Chris Pfeiffer and Joe Shaffer, as well as Scott Lammers.  

The trip began with a quick stop at Jovenel’s farm, and then a long visit with the Peace & Joy Families.  The Richardson’s have known each of the Peace & Joy children by name for years, but this was the first time meeting in person – it was a surreal and joy-filled moment.  And just in time for the new school year, we were able to bless the children with some school supplies donated by the Jacobson Elementary (Chandler, AZ) CATS program.

The next day, the team enjoyed an excursion to Friendship Island with the help of Haitian Creole Tour, as well as a stop at EBAC Orphanage.  Visiting long-term missionaries Alice Wise and Kathy Gouker is always encouraging, and the team was also able to share a jewelry-making experience with several of the older girls at EBAC.  The owners of DKC Creations, Mike & Deb Cillo, had donated jewelry supplies and tools for the trip.  The Richardson’s then led a short workshop that was meant to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of the young women.

The following day, the team visited the amazing progress on the New Hope Hospital, which by the time of this writing is now in operation and seeing patients, as well as St. Anthony’s Clinic.

The final day brought a visit to the Blue Hills area, where Espwa had provided some capital for the community to purchase benches and chalkboards for the school.  This is the same school where Espwa medical teams provide checkups during medical trips.  Haitians from the community used the money to purchase lumber and pay local tradesmen to construct the benches and chalkboards.

Sharing the amazing experiences of Haiti with long-time friends and new supporters alike continually drives our mission.  Until our next trip, thanks to all!


June 2016 Trip Report

We wanted to express a big thank you to everyone who supported us on the trip a few weeks ago – from financially, to prayers, to supporting our family members while we were gone.  It is always encouraging to see how these trips come together and the impact they make.

The blended team of Duquesne Faculty members and Pleasant Hills Church experienced many things in Cap Haitien.  We had an amazing time seeing the progress on the New Hope Hospital and visiting with Dr. Eugene.  In his typical easy-going but passionate fashion, he gave us a tour of the hospital and grounds, as well as a visit to the newly renovated St. Anthony’s clinic.

The team also visited the site of Jovenel’s first farm, as well as EBAC orphanage.  At EBAC, we met with longtime missionaries Alice Wise and Kathy Gouker, whose stories never fail to captivate, as well as our pastor to the Peace & Joy Families, Benjamin Fleurant.  Our time with Pastor Benjamin, strengthening the relationship and getting feedback from his time with the children and their families was much needed.

One brief success story from this trip is worth sharing.  Our project liaison and owner of Haitian Creole Tour, Frantz Louis-Charles, was very excited to show us the tract of land he had recently purchased!  After very humble beginnings at EBAC orphanage, Frantz has flourished these past few years in the tourism business that was originally funded through an Espwa small business project.  To see Frantz as a landowner, working hard and succeeding in his profession, it brings a great sense of pride in the work that we do.  We do it for the Frantz’s of Haiti.  People we love and who just need some hope.  A little empowerment and faith goes a long way.

The final excitement for the trip was our annual beach trip with the Peace & Joy families!  On the 27th of June, we embarked on a bus-turned-tap-tap adventure that started with picking up the families.  Long story short, the bus ended up getting a flat tire that was beyond repair, so a tap-tap army came to the rescue.  Nothing was keeping us from the beach!

Until next time, thanks again for your support.  It’s trips like these that re-focus our efforts and give us the motivation to keep running the race laid out for us in Haiti.


Heading Out Soon

On June 23rd, we’ll be sending a team down to Cap Haitien, Haiti.  Led by Espwa VP, Chris Pfeiffer, the team will have some familiar faces from one of our partners, Pleasant Hills Church, as well as some staff from the Duquesne School of Pharmacy.

The team intends to meet with Dr. Eugene Maklin to view progress on the New Hope hospital.  The hospital has undergone a drastic transformation since its inception last year.  By employing Haitian construction workers, the project has also injected much needed capital into the economy while empowering the workers with an opportunity to use their talents and provide for their families.  Dr. Maklin is especially looking forward to meeting with the representatives from the School of Pharmacy to investigate possible partnerships in the future.

On Monday, June 27th, the annual Peace & Joy beach trip will kick off. This event has become a staple in our ongoing relationship with the 18 families, as we show them love and have an all-around fun day at one of Haiti’s scenic beaches.

The team will also check in with Jovenel (Agrolide farm) and Frantz (Haitian Creole Tour), and see some recent updates to St. Anthony’s clinic.

Let’s be praying for the team’s  safe travels on the way to and in country, and that God will use this trip to continue building up and empowering our friends in Haiti.


Interview with Pastor Benjamin

If you received our quarterly newsletter, you’ve likely seen the video of Pastor Benjamin and the welding generator that has significantly impacted his life.  As can be expected, much of the interview had to be edited out in order to fit into the short segment within the video.  We thought it worthwhile to post the full text of the interview here so that you can get more acquainted with him, learn a bit about his church, and start to see his character. We’re glad to have Pastor Benjamin as an Espwa partner!

Tell us your name and where you serve as pastor.

I’m Benjamin Fleurant. I work at the Baptist Church Army of Christ (EBAC) of Morne Rouge.

Tell us about some of the financial difficulties you face as a church and as a pastor.

There are obviously material difficulties that we face.  But I think the root of the problem comes from not modeling the type of Christ-like living as found in the Bible.  It is difficult to find this type of Christian.

How has the welding generator been able to make a difference in your life?

We want to thank God first, and then the Espwa Foundation, who thought of supporting us in this way. The welding generator sure makes a difference.  Even though I don’t use it myself or rent it every day, at least I have the hope of renting it to find support for my family.

Tell us about the ministry with the Peace & Joy families.

Normally, in my ministry with the Peace & Joy children, I go there and teach them songs, verses, and do Bible stories. Sometimes we also talk with their parents to keep them growing and to bring them spiritual hope.

It’s a pleasure for me to work with those kids. First of all, there is a great need for the ministry, because in the area where they live, it is outside the city and there are not a lot of Christians/believers.  The work we’re doing is progressing, even though on a spiritual level, I wouldn’t say we’ve achieved the progress I was expecting.  I had been ministering once a month, but I found that time interval was too long.  Now, I have decided to go once a week.  We’re also dividing the children into different age groups (5 to 11, and 12 and older).  Another thing we hope might overcome this distance between us is to provide opportunities for the children to come to EBAC Church once a month. The objective is to bring hope to the children’s lives and for their growth.  And that’s where we are right now. I am hoping God will give us the strength we need to keep growing the ministry in Jesus’ name.

What are you passionate about?

My passion is to evangelize and teach people how to understand God better, which is based on Hosea 4:6, which says, “My people are perishing because of lack of understanding of the words of God.”

How can we pray for you, for the Peace & Joy families, and Cap Haitien?

My personal request is that God would give me strength, zealousness, and more faith to continue day by day to do His work.  For the children, my prayer request is that they would have a discerning mind so they can understand the words of God, and for them to be obedient to what the Bible asks.  And my vision for Cap Haitien is for a city-wide evangelization – for the areas where people don’t hear about the gospel – and that I can help people better understand the God’s word.

What does hope mean to you?

For me, hope is one of the greatest words.  If people are living without hope, then it’s like this person doesn’t exist. Because wherever there is hope, there is life. The best hope is Jesus. When a Christian goes somewhere, he should bring hope.  That’s why, to me, hope is life.

What do you want to say to anyone who supported you with the generator?

First, I want to thank God. Thank you to everyone who heard about this opportunity and participated to support me.  I don’t have the words to express my gratitude, but God knows my heart. I pray that God helps you spiritually and materially, so that you can continue to grow in faith and support more people to do the work of God.

 

Check out the video recap below if you haven’t yet seen it:


A Great March Trip!

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!

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/160039016]

 

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…