In This Issue:
By Carlo Vilfranche as told to Dr. June Hanks, Program Director of Medical Teams International’s Haiti Advantage Program
It feels like “barely surviving” has been the state of my life since I was a small boy.
From a young age, I have worked hard to help my family survive on our small family plot of land in Torbeck, just outside of Les Cayes, Haiti. I feel fortunate to have been able to finish elementary school and a couple of years of high school. Unfortunately, we did not have enough money so that I could finish school. It was then that I decided to try to become a mason.
Through a sponsorship, I attended a local vocational school, graduated with my diploma and began my apprenticeship. I married, had a baby girl and thought my life was moving in a positive direction. All this quickly changed the day when a car hit my motorcycle 13 years ago. That day, I lost my foot.
The surgical wound of the initial amputation became infected, so I went to another hospital. I was told that my entire leg had to be amputated above the knee or I would die from the infection. What else could I do? My whole right leg was amputated.
After two weeks in the hospital, I returned home to my wife and little girl with one leg, a pair of crutches, a vocational trade, but no one willing to hire me. I depended on others to support my family and me. With my skills as a mason, I was able to finish building a one-room house for my family, which has since grown to include 4 children.
We do what we can to get by. Sometimes, people will give my wife and children work and occasionally, they will let me do some masonry. But most often than now, when people see me on crutches and without a leg, they do not even give me a chance to work. They see a person without a leg before they see “me”.
In 2008, I went to a clinic that quoted me 3,000 Haitian dollars ($400 USD) for an artificial leg. I was already barely able to feed my family and certainly could not afford my much-needed leg. I left that clinic knowing that living a life with a handicap in Haiti is one with no real sustainable means of survival.
A few months ago, my cousin encouraged me to visit the Haiti Advantage clinic in Les Cayes. I came out with a new custom-fitted prosthetic. I left without crutches or a cane, on my own two legs, and with a new lease on life. Now, I feel real!
Learn more about our Haiti Advantage Program at www.medicalteams.org/HaitiAdvantage.
Please join us for a presentation on mission life in Somalia and Kenya on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 12 noon at the Medical Teams International Headquarters at 14150 SW Milton Court, Tigard, OR 97224.
Our keynote speaker is Dr. Paul Neumann of Stayton, OR. He is a Family Practitioner who has been on several previous mission trips to Haiti, Mexico and Costa Rica. Dr. Neumann recently went on a Disaster Relief trip to Kenya and Somalia with us and will be sharing his photos, experiences and reflections.
“There was amazing infectious laughter and humor in spite of the heat, the dust and the suffering,” blogged Dr. Neumann. “The laughter erupting in the midst of poverty and famine and indignity is the most magical and true laughter. Thank you Africa… I feel you gave me more than I could ever give to you.”
Bring your talent to parts of the world that have a great need for them. Here are some of our urgent volunteer needs:
A Pathologist is needed to work alongside residents and other hospital staff at Mbingo Baptist Hospital near Bamenda, Cameroon. Volunteer will provide clinical services, hands-on training and classroom lectures for 2 – 4 weeks. Travel dates are flexible between March and June 2012 and between August and September 2012.
There are 22 rural Guatemalan communities that need work teams to help support their ongoing campaigns. Tasks involve building latrines and water sanitation systems, improving indoor stove ventilation and planting fruit trees. The ideal team will have 6-12 enthusiastic individuals willing to travel on April 14 – 22, 2012.
Our local partners in Honduras have an urgent need for cardiologists and EKG technicians to train medical personnel in performing and reading electrocardiograms and treadmill stress diagnostics. Trips run 7 – 10 days in length with flexible travel date between March – May 2012.
Dentists are needed to provide clinical services and hygiene education at Trinity Dental Clinic in Monrovia and rural clinics throughout Liberia for 2 – 3 weeks. The teams may also be asked to provide informal training to local dental assistants and community health educators. Travel dates are flexible throughout the year.
Obstetrician/Gynecologists are needed to help with surgeries and other clinical services in Koutiala Hospital in Mali. Deployment length is flexible with a minimum of two weeks during May through August 2012.
SIM Galmi Christian Hospital in Madaoua, Niger requests an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and a Pediatrician to come serve with them for 2 – 4 weeks in May 2012.
An OB/GYN and a Cytologist are needed to provide training for local Uzbek OB/GYN physicians in cervical cancer prevention and treatment. Proposed training includes colposcopy, treatment of precancerous lesions, gynecologic inflammatory diseases and cytology. Dates are flexible, preferably during spring 2012, and will last two to three weeks.
For the complete list of international volunteer opportunities, please visit www.medicalteams.org/IntVolunteer.
We love to receive your volunteer stories and photos! If you volunteered in the past year and have a photograph or story to share, please e-mail it to Chiqui Flowers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, volunteers!
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