| Feb 01, 2010
I guess Leogane is pretty close to the epicenter. Getting there is a sport: trying to get through mobs of people, traffic and cracks in the pavement. Our team spends several days at a time in Leogane. Some days the trip between the camp in Leogane and Port-au-Prince takes an hour. Some days it takes over 2 hours. While in Leogane we sleep in tents on the grounds of the Ayuda à Haiti (Help Haiti) headquarters: a Non-profit organization from the Dominican Republic. We are joined by humanitarian aid workers from around the world. The make-shift mobile hospital is just a big circle of open tents. Examiners take their places and the hundreds of patients who are checked in early in the morning wait under tarps for their turn to be seen; sometimes all day. I seize the few minutes I have in the morning before heading to my examining tent to sit on a broken block, and sing songs and witness to the hundreds of people gathered there. Their laughter and smiles fuel me for the long day of work ahead. It is in Leogane where I learn about the MRE: meals ready to eat (the soldiers clue me in on the best ones) and also that SOS means “Save our Ship”. In Haiti, it is a cry for food and water…or any attention at all. Handmade signs are everywhere.
At the mobile hospital it becomes clear that my dental tools might come in handy. Dr. Steve had encouraged me to bring a small set. “Bring them just in case…you never know!” he said wisely before we left the US. So, in the midst of disaster relief, I find myself extracting teeth, with my audience of wishful patients growing each day. To prevent a riot, I develop my own system of turning patients away. I draw numbers out of the hat at the end of the day, reminding my patients, “I am not God!” I guess the hardest part is knowing the disappointment of those I can’t treat. I am reminded that these people, in the midst of all their other suffering, are victims of chronic abscesses and tooth pain. Few of them have had any dental care at all before the earthquake.
Charles, 6, comes with half of his face swollen to twice normal size as well as his eye nearly swollen shut. He has a fever of almost 103 degrees. I have a special drug that I am able to give him to sedate him and make the extraction extremely easy. Pus flows from the wound. His mother is so sweet and caring, so attentive to him. After he gets his antibiotics and medical intervention for the fever and abscess, they are on their way. Once again, I am grateful I have something to offer these people that will bless them.
We go even deeper into the rural areas to hold several mobile clinics. On two occasions, we actually hold clinic at the site of voodoo temples. Apparently this area is known for its heavy concentration of voodoo practice. While we are treating the voodoo witchdoctor as a patient, our souls are being bathed with the sounds of worship from the tiny Christian church on the other side of the hedge. It is such an obvious example of the light dispelling the darkness.
I only get ‘violently’ sick once…and just ‘regular’ sick another time. It is a small price to pay. At the headquarters in Port-au-Prince, I have made some very special Haitian friends with the group of people who live and sleep outdoors on the grounds of the mission. The kids are particularly fun. When I get home at the end of the long hard day or have been gone for several days and return, they all run up to me, take my bags and guitar…and are ready to ‘play’. I fight the urge to crash and go outside to join them. We dance. We sing. We color and make crafts. I am so glad I don’t give in to my physical exhaustion…just yet…this is too precious of a moment to pass up.
Commercial flights to Haiti are supposed to begin again on the 19th of February…just in time to take me back. As I return to the devastated nation I left behind, I am reminded of a Scripture:
“BY MY GOD, I CAN LEAP OVER A WALL.”
It seems so apropos in the lives of those Haitians in whom I saw such tremendous inner strength, strength that came from their unwavering faith in a God that has helped them “leap over a wall”…the wall that came crashing down upon them.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support.
All His in 2010 –Kris
LITTLE BOYS PEERING IN FROM OUTSIDE TO WATCH ME WORK
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