| Jan 25, 2010
Dr. Steve, Carol, RN, and I are assigned to Balou. The sight is the private grounds of the Haitian Baptist Seminary in a hilly suburb of Port-au-Prince. It is estimated that anywhere from 2,500-4000 people are camping on the grass here at night. We have come to provide medical care. It is just one of literally thousands of IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps in and outside of the city. Sheets, tarps, and star-studded sky providing the shelter for these wounded people.
The night I arrive, I hear singing outside my window; I decide to go see where this ‘choir’ is practicing. As I walk down the hill, hundreds of people crowd the grounds. Standing and singings praises, their hands are lifted high in the warm night air. They are dancing and swaying to the worship music flowing out of an outdoor PA system. I join them. There is little room to move. I will never forget the feeling of this night’s experience. It is a taste of heaven in the midst of a hellish nightmare. Only the touch of God can bring such a sweet melody to a thousand broken hearts.
Patients sit in chairs waiting all day to be seen by our little team. This is when I am reminded of the prayers being said on my behalf. Where does my strength come from? Where does this love come from that flows from the depth of my being? His presence is felt. I listen to countless heartbreaking stories.
A 24 year old woman complains of a head wound. “A building collapsed and hit me in the head.”
I remove the dressing from 42 year old Sergo’s arm wound to find bone exposed and huge chunks of muscle cut away…an incredibly complicated injury. Amazingly, he has full use of his hand. We refer him to another facility where he can receive the care he needs.
An 11year old girl sits on a chair in front of me, trying to hold on to the squirming one month old baby in her skinny arms. She is obviously ill at ease with the infant. She tells me that she is the only person able to care for the baby whose family perished. Her complaint, “The baby is not eating”.
Loveson, 28, a handsome young man, winces as I remove the poorly placed stitches from his crushed nose. His wound is infected. His face is seriously disfigured. I talk to him about the love of the Lord. He looks at me and says, “I am a Christian. I know God allowed this to happen to me because He knew I would be able to handle it.”
Another young girl holds her little waif of a sister, Coraly, in her lap. I have to give Coraly painful wound care. It is so hard to inflict more pain on this precious little one but I know it is for her good. She is one of five sisters left to fend for themselves after losing their mom and 15 other family members. No dad is in the picture. Little Coraly, may Jesus help you and be your Mommy and Daddy.
Francise and Tranquile are two elderly women in their ~80’s that Carol and I find on the grass in the heat of the midday sun. They seem so helpless just sitting in the midst of the crowd, baking to death. They are both suffering from mild dehydration. We hang a couple IV’s on them and get them to a cooler spot.
Jean, 25, tells me how he crushed his finger while digging through the rubble of his home. I can smell alcohol on his breath and sense a profound despondency in his demeanor. As I suture his finger, I share the hope of Christ with him. I feel a deep love and compassion for him, knowing that I, too, once turned to alcohol to deal with pain. It is so natural to talk with him in a nonjudgmental way. There but for the grace of God go I. Jean returns for wound care several days later with a huge smile on his face sharing that he surrendered his life to Christ. Tears of joy flow from my eyes.
In one day, we admit seven patients to the Israeli hospital. Two are woman with broken pelvises who somehow find their way to our station. They have been untreated since the quake…2 weeks of living with an untreated broken pelvis.
We return to headquarters in Port-au-Prince. I join a team with the 82nd Airborne Unit that has made field assessments and is accompanying our medical volunteers to IDP camps where people have not received medical attention. Several of the clinics we hold in the next few days have tense moments when we are grateful for what seemed to be overkill at first: a group of fully armed soldiers in combat attire fending off the desperate crowd.
LAOGANE PATIENTS LINED UP AT 6AM ON STREET
CHARLES AND HIS MOM AFTER HIS EXTRACTION