Earlier this month, 11 people traveled together to Haiti for a short-term mission trip. Yes, there is still great need there, even almost 3 years after the devastating earthquake that rocked the small nation in 2010.
All is well in Haiti, or to explain the play on words all is about wells in Haiti! César Cortez, an Ecuadorian missionary with HCJB Global Hands' community development team, is spending three weeks in Haiti, providing strategic assistance to Lifewater International, one of our long-term partners.
As we began seeing patients for the second week in a row, the team had a feeling of confidence and pride in that no one had died from cholera while we were taking care of them. There had been several patients that had arrived in dire straits and were only saved through quick intervention by the team.
First of all, let me assure you that we are in very good hands, because we're trusting God who is caring for us so that in a week's time we'll be able to embrace you. On the other hand, we are with an organization that has a good track record and has a good understanding of the situation in the country including contacts with the higher leadership of the military who could evacuate us if such action became necessary. God does not want that to happen because we would lose many patients currently receiving treatment and many more who would come and not find the treatment they need. So please keep praying for us but worry less.
Just a short update. We are very tired but very well. Today I asked Samaritan's Purse if we could return to a "normal" work schedule of 12 to 13 hours a day rather than 15 or more. The night shift we are on is 15 hours of work while the day shift is proportionally shorter. It was not so much that we thought it was unfair but rather for the tremendous tiredness that has pursued us.
We thought we had a work routine established, but everything was different.... After the 13-hour shift Monday night we tried to sleep through the day on Tuesday. Some of us had just fallen into a sound sleep when the coordinators from Samaritan's Purse came to wake us saying, "You have 10 minutes to get ready to leave for Bercy to replace the group there because we believe the night might bring an uprising."
This morning was very special to me. At 3:40 a.m. I attended to a little girl whose dark brown body was flaccid and malnourished. She was brought to me by an anguished mother who (despite not being able to communicate with me since I do not know her language, Creole) was able to transmit through the expression of despair in her face and her gestures her desire that I save this piece of her heart.
We have a really great team. All of them are in good spirits. We love each of them. Thanks for praying for us. Departing Quito went very well. Upon arrival all of our suitcases were quickly at hand and we arrived at the Samaritan's Purse base at Titanyen in the afternoon. That night, after our meal, they asked us if we would go to Bercy, some 30 minutes to the north to a rehydration clinic.
The tent with the 24 beds that we that we prepared on the last day together (Friday) with our medical team was ready and perfect. That same night the first four patients arrived, three of them being from the same family. The mother and two children were in serious condition and would not have survived the night without intravenous hydration. God knew they were going to arrive. His timing is perfect. Samaritan's Purse did not let us leave without a debriefing time with pastors from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Friends, we are planning to return today. Dr. Mark Nelson is going to the U.S., and the other three of us are going to Quito via Panama. We have not yet heard from the airline concerning any possible delay. We believe that there aren't any problems. We have cloudy skies but as the day progresses it is getting clearer and the sun is shining.
We had the impression that the hurricane was losing strength and opened a window (diminishing rain and less wind), so we all worked together to prepare a new tent with 24 beds to treat cholera patients at the gate of the Global Outreach base at Titanyen. This tent, damaged by the storm, was fixed and improved. All team members, including medical professionals, helped with sledge hammers and tools to get it ready.
We have been evacuated from Jackson Beach (about two hours from Titanyen) as we prepare for the "Thomas storm" that is approaching. We looked after patients until 1 p.m., even taking one who was in serious condition to the hospital.
A hug from the Haiti team! Thanks to the Lord, we are all fine. Today the work with the medical team was here in Jackson Beach in the tent camps. Most of the tents are empty, but it seems that it is a "honey pot," an attraction that keeps volunteers from overseas coming in. Nevertheless, when our medical team arrived, it began to be populated quickly, and Drs. Nelson and Nina attended to more than 100 patients.
Your prayers about Tropical Storm Tomás or Fidel or our friend Chávez-at at least the probable sources that cause many problems!-are decreasing more and more. Setting all joking aside, thanks for your prayers. Thanks to the support from you and thousands of people around the world, we are able to serve as your representatives in Haiti. This is an incredible privilege!
We are well preparing to go out on a mobile medical clinic. Here in Jackson Beach everything is smaller and more informal and friendly. Yesterday the doctors had a few cases of malaria, but many other patients. In terms of the tropical storm, it's likely going to gain more strength in the coming hours and days. It could reach Haiti by Saturday. Obviously, these are predictions that keep changing from time to time. I hope to have more updates tonight with more photos.
Now that cholera from the point of view of new infections or cases has diminished drastically, we have moved from the Samaritan's Purse base of operations to Jackson Beach where we were originally destined to work from the outset. But because of the cholera reality, we were assigned to more important work. Obviously everything can change very quickly according to the situation as it develops. Samaritan's Purse's operations in Jackson Beach are focusing on the shelter program for temporary refugees, removing rubble and holding mobile medical clinics.
We're wondering what today will bring. There are two storms close to us. One is called Tomasa hurricane that is heading in our direction and the other the very serious possibility that there may be new outbreak of cholera. The epidemiologists believe that there's a high risk of thousands of more cases. For now the situation has calmed down, but in the mountains a community was found to have 60 cases that requite IV treatment.
Hospital Vozandes-Quito functions with a very high occupancy, and we have quite a turnover of patients. Being more of an acute-care hospital, our patients stay with us for days and weeks rather than months, and sometimes we don't get to know them all that well.