Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: April 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti--Last Full Day in Haiti (Continued)

We also saw Michele Antoinise who visited with us for some time. She still works at the school's clinic which is now set up at the boys' foyer in a new temporary structure. Dr Ferdinand is now working 3 days per week since Dr Hilaire left after the earthquake. Michele and her fiancee are both fine.

JR took us to see the tent city where his family lives now. Words can't really describe it. Imagine walking down a narrow hallway in a small house made of tents and sheets, except that you keep walking to turn left then right then left again through the maze. Its hot enough to roast a chicken in there. Behind every flap of cloth sheeting is a family of 3 to 6 people. JR told me there is an architect and a police officer living in there. Total about 1000 people. We saw the "clinic" which is a small card table tucked into a corner under a tent flap. What must that be like to work in, I wonder. I think the UN sends in supplies, and I know they have power because I saw fans going inside the tents. Actually Amy noticed some concrete work UNDER the tents which makes it look like they are planning to be permanent, which is a sobering thought.
We left there in our melted condition and were happy to return to the boys' foyer to sit with JoJo in the shade. We left him with a good supply of paintings and promises to see him again in November.
Our return trip was another rough 2 hour ride for the folks in the back of the truck, and as soon as we arrived back at our campground everyone of us got into the ocean, except Lauren who took a nap and Drew who went to his favorite spot under the tree where Yolene, Auguste, Yolande and Diana hang out. Drew plays with Yolene; she pushes a toy truck off her chair and he exclaims and makes a big fuss and puts it back on her chair so she can grin at him and push the truck off the chair again
Several small children joined Allie in the ocean (kids from Montrouis) and they had great fun until Allie stepped on a sea urchin and had to let Amy dig the spines out of her foot.
After dinner another group from Memphis came; they are from Germantown Presbyterian church and have come to put in a well here and at Gonaive. They looked quite fresh without sunburn, mosquito bites or sweat soaked hair.
Lauren and I played clapping games and ring around the rosy with Frenel, Jean Marc, Rosana and some other Montrouis children. I said my goodbyes to Marie Carmelle and Madame Marc and promised to see them in November with Sienna.
Packing is much easier on the return trip and now I am typing away with everyone asleep. We must leave here at 5 am to catch our 8:55 plane to Miami. I am sad to leave but I feel so good about the children and how they have survived the terrible earthquake. I know now that they will be all right and will continue to grow and thrive. My adult friends in Haiti have suffered much but they are rebuilding their lives as Haiti has always done. JoJo will come to Sewanee in June or July to get his new prosthetics and Jean Robert will come with him, if all goes as planned. Its nice to be a part of their lives. I told JR yesterday: "Vi pa'm pi bon paske ou"
My life is better because of you

sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti--Last Full Day in Haiti

Sunrise awoke us as usual, with the faint sounds of the ocean coming in the window. This morning another sweet sound woke us up; Jean Robert playing hymns on his violin. I actually got a recording of it. John, Drew and I sat and listened, on the concrete wall that sits at the top of the steps leading down to the rocky beach. We watched the fishermen putting out their nets and enjoyed the music.
After breakfast we all loaded into Pere Deravil's truck for the trip to Port au Prince. All 11 of us in a Toyota truck, including JR and Pere Sadoni, the driver. I fortunately got one of the 4 inside seats.
As we got closer to PAP the traffic got worse, the crowds got thicker and the smell and dust got worse. We saw several tent cities and many crumbled buildings although most of the rubble has been cleared from the streets. You do still see piles of concrete where a building used to be, or part of a wall standing at a crazy angle.
We went to Holy Trinity Cathedral and were shocked and saddened to see this beautiful work of art in ruins. Drew and I embraced each other and wept. Its all down except the wall with the mural of The Last Supper and the Baptism of Jesus. These are covered with wooden beams to support the wall and keep it from crumbling further. Pere Sadoni told us there is a historical society which is working to preserve the remaining murals. There are huge cracks in this wall so it will be extremely difficult I imagine. John told me his "eye" was gone; the eye on the mural that was behind the altar. His first trip to Haiti during the church service he remembered a lot of the French hymns his grandmother had taught him, and told me he thought she was looking down on him from behind the altar.
Later we saw St Vincent's school. The French army is there clearing the ruins with bulldozers. Margaret talked with the soldiers in French to explain who we were; I think she kept us out of trouble for taking pictures of their operation. They told her that when they find any bodies they stop and call someone about it. I forgot to ask Pere Sadoni what will happen to the 7 people buried there. Drew stood by the pile of rubble that was once part of the school, and committed their bodies to the earth. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, even at the grave we make our song, Alleluia"

The griefs of the day came with joys too. We saw JoJo and Drew gave him a framed copy of Wendi Thomas' article about him with his picture in the Commercial Appeal. This actually made it to Haiti intact, glass and all. JoJo hasn't changed one bit, Drew says "he's as full of himself as ever" which is the wonderful truth. There was a teacher's meeting at the boys foyer, to prepare for starting school next week! All the kids now at Montrouis (17) will return to school as well as many students who are now with their families. There is active construction going on to build some new office and classroom space, funded by the Friends of St Vincent. We saw Lazar and I asked about his family; all are well. Pere Sadoni invited me to greet the teachers and I told them in creole: many people in America have been worried very much about them, that I was very glad to see all their faces and that Haiti has many friends in the US. Pere Sadoni congratulated me on my first speech in Creole.
We saw Elvie, who looks fine now but had a broken pelvis and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. We saw Adrian Kenson, one of the staff in a wheelchair, always friendly and smiling to greet us. We saw Dixie briefly and hugged her neck. Moliere greeted us also and said his family was safe. The woman now caring for baby Margaret brought her to us so Allie could see her. Allie had a bag of baby clothes for era; I think she changed her outfit every 20 minutes for a different photo. Margaret is growing and her skin is smooth and beautiful. She will have her shunt placed by a team coming from Jacksonville Florida to PAP in early May, then stay with this same woman for recovery before returning to St Vincent's.

sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti--Visiting St. Paul's, More Medical Challenges

Amy and Allie spent the morning at St Pauls school seeing the 3rd and 4th graders, about 45 patients. Margaret visited with some of the children and teachers and apparently taught them out of the creole/english medical dictionary while they were waiting to see the doctor.
When we returned from our boat trip we found Amy and Allie and Margaret in the pharmacy filling prescriptions from the morning. One man brought me an xray to look at. I had seen his child the day before and he is 1 year old but cannot walk. His legs appeared to be weak and could not bear his weight. I thought the child might have spina bifida and told the man he needed an xray. I expected that he would go to the hospital and see a specialist to get an xray. I never expected him to bring the xray back to me to read! Unfortunately the xray was very poor quality and did not show the spine, just a picture of the chest and abdomen. I tried to explain to the dad that I could not help his son, that he needed to take him to a neurologist in Port au Prince. He was trying really hard to help his son and I felt truly sorry for him. In the US I would have lots of options to evaluate the child, but here it is very difficult.
Later in the afternoon I spent time with Marie Carmel and the St Vincents kids. Kelvin and Lauren and Amy did face painting and I had the kids draw some pictures "for Sienna". I asked Frenel to sing Bienvenue a Ayiti for me and he did, in his sweet clear boy soprano.

Tonight it is sleeping time again; after my shower I remarked that there's nothing like feeling cool and clean so you can spray yourself with bug spray and climb under your mosquito net (some bugs do get under the net somehow).
Tomorrow we go to PAP to see St Vincents and JoJo and hopefully some of the other teachers who are meeting there tomorrow, like Pierre Guy and Judith Colas. More tearful reunions.

sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

La Gonâve Haiti Partnership

I have discovered that there is actually a La Gonâve Haiti Partnership that has been active on the island since 1989.  The 10 Episcopal Churches on the island joined with the People-Based Community Health and Development Project, an ecumenical partnership based in Atlanta, Georgia. The group serves 50,000 Haitians on La Gonâve under the administration of Pere Soner Alexandre, and they focus on Education, Healthcare, Nutrition, Agriculture, Water, and Economic Opportunity. You can read past mission reports and an upcoming schedule on their website,  They also publish a fantastic newsletter, also available on their website. Their most recent one, focusing on the Jan. 12 earthquake, includes a touching message from a member of their team who was in Haiti during the earthquake. It is very exciting to see collaboration between the Episcopal Church in Haiti and many different folks back in the U.S. 
Stephen Nelson

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti--Thursday and La Gonâve

Thursday started with getting up at the usual time-5:30 AM. The sun is bright by then and the rooster has been crowing since midnight. The Haitians have all been up by then anyway.
After breakfast we went on our boat adventure to La Gonâve, with Jean Robert. But first I must describe the ride to the ferry station in Pere Sadoni's new truck, with AIR CONDITIONING, and lovely music playing on the CD. Pere Sadoni told me about some of his plans for the school including several docs he is making arrangements with to work at St Vincents. Dr. Wilkins (orthopedic surgeon) plans to come to do surgeries again when the OR is rebuilt, so that sounds promising.
6 of us went with JR on the boat. Lauren asked "Where are the life jackets?" (Welcome to Haiti)
Drew thought he would not like the trip but he was transformed by the exhilarating ride across the bay, about 40 minutes. The wind was cool and the sea spray splashed our faces and made us laugh. We landed safely and quite happily at La Gonâve and after walking about 50 yards Debbie spotted a "bar and restaurant" where we went inside to have a limonade, served in the 16 oz glass bottle with a straw. 7 drinks for $5.
We walked up the only road thru town, a dusty paved road with little shade. There were some houses made of concrete block and some with skinny tree limbs propped up to hold a sort of mesh material. Motorcycles seemed to be the preferred mode of transport, with loud horns blaring to get us out of their way. A few goats and pigs were the subject of many photos, either because they were cute or more likely because that allowed us to stop in the only shade available. Drew and I agreed that these were the most interesting goats we had ever seen!
The terrain reminded me of Texas, with the rocky terrain and the scrub brush.
According to JR the temperature was 40 deg. C (about 104 F)
After a 20 minute walk we arrived at the episcopal school of St Francis of Assisi. We were surrounded by the 3rd graders at recess and Kelvin let them use his disposable camera, so he should have quite a collection of photos. They wanted to touch Lauren's hair, despite what the wind and sea had done to it.
We were invited to sit in a lovely house where the priest lives (he was out) and we shared the sandwiches made for us by "mom" (Madame Deravil) for our "field trip" before she went off to her job teaching at St Pauls school.
We refilled our water bottles and then toured the school. Many times to say "Nou kontan we ou" (we are happy to meet you) The school and church are beautiful. One concrete wall of the school is painted with marine animals like dolphins, whales even cephalopods. I thought my husband would appreciate that.
Back to the boat and homeward bound, we saw dolphins swimming in the bay! It made us all so happy to be alive and be in Haiti.
sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti--Baby Rhianna, Life in the Cabins

Debbie and Margaret toured the school and saw every classroom. Margaret speaks fluent french and apparently charmed all the students.

After lunch we walked back to the little house near our campground to see the 3 month old baby with the diarrhea. Her name is Rhianna. She looked more alert today although the mom had not made her the rice water we gave her the recipe for, and the baby was still having diarrhea. At least she had stopped giving her formula and was only giving breast milk. We talked with the baby's father who actually spoke english! He said he would help the mom make the rice water. Hopefully tomorrow we will see some improvement.
This afternoon we held a clinic for the seminarians and staff who cook for them, at the request of Pere Deravil. It was blazing hot in the room with no fan. John Mutin reminds me every 30 minutes to drink water, bless him. We had a child from St Paul's whom we had seen that morning with extra finger tags, come to our clinic so I could tie them off with suture. Problem was I could not find any suture. I must have forgotten to pack some. Fortunately the clinic we are using is a birthing center, with full surgical supplies including suture. One pack of ethilon (nylon) suture and we were in business. The 4 year old girl didn't like the lidocaine injections much, but when the anesthetic kicked in she sat and watched me tie off her finger tags. Not many kids in America would have been so calm, I expect.
One seminarian appeared quite professional and spoke excellent english. She had had back pain 2 weeks before which had resolved, but she just wanted a "checkup" Turns out her hemoglobin was 7.8. At least we brought plenty of vitamins!

Another delightful dip in the ocean made me forget how hot I was. Tonight I am in the "girls" cabin with everyone asleep at 9:00 except me typing away on my cell phone, which for some crazy reason can get wireless internet as long as the power is on. We only have power from 6 to 11 pm because that's when they turn on the generator. So the fan runs until 11 pm. Usually everyone wakes up then because the room gets much hotter. Amy even moved to the lower bunk because she said it was hotter in the top bunk. Everyone except me abandoned their mosquito nets after the first night, for the same reason. Anything that stops the slightest whiff of air has to go. We argued about whether keeping the overhead light on makes the room hotter. We take great care to position the rotating fan so everyone gets their due. This is quite a feat with 5 people in the room. I turned myself around so that my head was closer to the fan rather than my feet. I can't sleep with a pillow, my neck gets too hot. There was some debate about the vinyl mattress covers causing one to sweat more, but everyone decided they didn't want to be eaten by bed bugs. Except Debbie, who seems to be doing all right so far without a mattress cover. One must make these choices when it is 97 degrees outside! Actually the nights have been just a little cooler recently after a big rain Monday night. I can sleep without sweating and that's a definite plus.

Tomorrow we go on a ferry ride with Jean Robert, to the island of La Gonâ
ve which is just across the bay from Montrouis. It will be a nice break after our hard work these last 3 days. Amy is staying here with Allie and Margaret. Amy says "if you've seen one island you've seen them all"; Allie feels like she already missed one day in Haiti so she and Amy will go back to the school to see more kids. Amy is braver now about seeing kids after seeing about 30 of them today! Margaret wants to go back to the school as well.

So now I am caught up on the blog with real time. I thank all of you reading this for your love and prayers and financial support to come here and work with these children. The St Vincents kids really are doing well and the St Pauls school has a fine priest in charge who really cares about the school. There are plenty of opportunities to come here and build or repair classrooms, to teach english to the older kids (a special request by Pere Deravil), to sing/draw/play with the children. Our St Vincents kids will be moving back to PAP very soon and will still need us to come see them and bring medical teams. Think about when you might be able to come and experience this wonderful place yourself (just be prepared for the heat)
Good night for now
sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Continuing Relfections from Our Team in Haiti--Moonlight on the Carribean

Tuesday night I swam in the ocean. There is a rocky beach and the sounds of the ocean are always in the background. The water is cool enough to melt all the heat and cares of the day away.
Afterwards we had a game of spades. John said he did not know how to play, which or course meant that he beat us all. Walking back to my cabin, I saw the full moon shining brightly on the water.

Wednesday we went back to St Paul's again to see the young kids, this time with their parents. As we pulled up to the school in Pere Deravil's truck, the red hibiscus flowers and purple morning glories were in full bloom. The little children with their school uniforms and matching hair bows were grinning and pointing at us. Drew and I agreed that we feel very privileged to get up in the morning and come to work in this place.
Today Lauren worked with me and Kelvin worked with Amy seeing patients. Amy became a pediatrician in short order, and actually saw the sickest children. One girl had a severe ear infection with swollen lymph nodes and possibly mastoiditis. Amy thought she should go to the hospital but we decided to treat her with the injectable antibiotics we have and check her again in the morning. Another child had ruptured ear drums from multiple ear infections. Every time I come to Haiti I feel like there are 1 or 2 lives we save. Today our patient with the mastoiditis was that patient. If she did not die from that infection she would surely be deaf in that ear. That's worth all the money and effort we spend to get ourselves here, I think. Also we saw a mother with a one month old baby who came in saying her baby slept a lot and did not eat well. Turns out the mother has mastitis. I examined the baby, Amy examined the mother and Allie worked with the mom to get the baby to latch on better and also helped the mom massage her milk ducts. Truly a team effort.
sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti--Team is Complete, Handling Medications

Tuesday at lunchtime, Allie and Margaret arrived safely amid hugs and claps on the back for surviving a difficult trip. Now our team was complete at 9. In the afternoon we all went to the pharmacy to help out since we were expecting about 40 folks to bring their prescriptions. Margaret mixed and labeled sulfur ointment. John counted tylenol and ibuprofen tablets into bags of #30 each. Debbie counted antacids and iron tablets into bags of #30. Lauren and Kelvin actually filled the prescriptions for each patient. I wrote labels in creole. My creole is getting better each day. I say that now I can speak like a 4 year old! Please pharmacy...
One interesting event in the day happened as we were walking back from the school to our campground. We walked through the countryside where many people live, including one of our interpreters. His cousin had a sick baby so we stopped to see her. She was 3 months old and we were told she had diarrhea and vomiting. In a tropical country one always worries about horrible diseases like typhoid, but this baby looked pretty good to me. No fever no rash, good weight. We gave the mother a recipe for rice water out of Amy's book "Where there is no Doctor" which basically is boiled rice water with a little salt and sugar added. Pedialyte where there is no Walmart. We told the mom we would check on her the next day.
sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti--Old Friends, Setting Up the Clinic

Sunday morning we piled into Pere Deravil's truck to go to church at St. Paul's. Pere Deravil is the priest in charge of the seminary campgrounds where we are staying, also the church and school at St Pauls. "Piled" is the correct word to describe the piles of people in the truck, with more folks added every 100 feet along the gravel road out of the campground. One of the passengers we picked up was Dieumene. She greeted us with her regal smile and climbed in to sit on Lauren's lap.
Church service began at 7:15 with about 20 people, including 6 americans, the priest and 6 acolytes. By the time we had communion we had about 60, filling the pews.

The remainder of Sunday was spent visiting the kids from St Vincents, setting up our pharmacy supplies, and enjoying the ocean setting. There are about 40 kids and adult staff from St Vincents staying here in tents on the grounds of the seminary. There are also 21 seminarians and Pere Deravil's family. Also Pere Sadoni sleeps here in a tent and drives back and forth to PAP every day. Don't worry about the kids in tents. One of the adults, Cheriesme, showed me his tent, provided by the French Red Cross. It is tall enough for a man to stand in and has a separate sleeping compartment for a twin bed. It is mosquito proof and water proof and quite comfortable looking. I have pictures of baby Diana, Auguste, Yolene, and Yolande sleeping in their tent with Madame Yliesanne watching over them. It made me so happy and reassured to see the children safe and healthy and as smiling and friendly as ever. Some of the americans have discussed moving our sleeping quarters outside since it is so hot in the cabins.

Monday morning we set up our first clinic, and Amy and I saw most of the St Vincent kids. They are all healthy and doing well, with no lung infections or worms. Scabies seems to be quite common, so Kelvin and Lauren have been busy mixing sulfur powder with petroleum jelly to make a medicated ointment.
Debbie and John had to figure out how to share one stethoscope between them (note to self: make sure we bring enough stethoscopes for everyone next time).
In the afternoon we saw folks from the St Paul's community including one probably pregnant lady who was unable or did not want to give us a urine sample for testing.
Monday evening we had another sumptuous meal prepared by Madame Deravil and then we had a birthday celebration for Marie Carmelle who is 47. We made her a birthday card and Amy and Lauren sang to her in french. We had sodas (limonade and orange soda) with cookies because Pere Deravil was unable to find us a cake.
She was pleased and hugged my neck and we both cried.
After that the girls went back to our cabin and got ready for bed. We thought it was at least 10 PM. Someone checked their watch and it was 20 minutes to 7.

Allie and Margaret had been expected to arrive Monday evening but their flights to Miami had been delayed or canceled, so they did not make the plane to PAP. Allie sent Amy an email (she gets it on her phone when she can figure out how to turn the thing on) describing her tears of frustration at missing an entire day in Haiti. Drew went with Pere Sadoni to PAP on Monday. Their first stop was a gas station where the attendant filled Pere Sadoni's new truck with diesel fuel. They spent the next 3 hours draining the engine and the fuel pump and the fuel lines.
After that they went to St Vincents where Drew spent 2 hours with JoJo. JoJo was at home during the earthquake watching TV. The power went out so he went to the other building to take a shower. That's when the quake hit. Had he stayed in his house he would have been killed. JoJo is back at work painting busily, I hope to see him on Friday. They have already started a clinic at the boys foyer and JoJo is at his post as bouncer and guardian. Pere Deravil has found another pediatrician, Dr Ferdinand, to work at St Vincents 3 days per week and is looking for a new orthopedic surgeon.
More later...

Tuesday morning we piled all our medical supplies and team into Pere Deravil's truck and went to St Pauls school. They have ages 3 yrs to about 8th or 9th grade, 280 kids in all. We set up our clinic on the patio outside the school under a big shady tree. The breeze was delightful and the children of course were beautiful. Amy saw the older kids and a few adult staff, and I saw the younger kids. Kelvin helped with crowd control and signing kids in. Each kid has a medical card with name, age, and reason to see the doctor. One problem was that kids would answer yes to every question. Yes - I have stomachache. Yes I have headache. Yes I have cough. And so on. Soon we realized that we needed the parents to accompany their children, so we asked Pere Deravil to send a note home for parents of the younger kids to come with them on Wednesday.

Just before we started seeing patients on Tuesday morning, we got a call from Pere Sadoni. He was unable to find Allie and Margaret. He had a flat tire on the way to the airport so arrived an hour late. He was afraid they had taken a taxi! We spent a frantic 20 minutes trying to find Allie's phone number among what cell phones we had with us, most of which were not operating. Finally we prayed together for their safety; Amy said a hebrew prayer of blessing.
We started seeing patients and soon heard that the women had found Pere Sadoni and were on their way to Montrouis.
We gave each patient their medical card and asked them to come to the "pharmacy" at St Pauls at 2:00 to get their prescriptions filled. I saw 5 or 6 kids with "malaria and typhoid fever" and spent many minutes with the interpreter trying to ask about their symptoms before asking the all important question "how do you know you have malaria (or typhoid)?" The answer was "because the doctor at the hospital told me so." Oh really? Are you being treated? "Yes." Are you getting better? "Yes.". Pause. So...
After the 3rd case like that I figured it out. Usually the person just wanted vitamins to go with their malaria treatment.
We checked hemoglobins on many patients and surprisingly most folks are not anemic. We did find several at 7 or 8 (normal is 11 or 12). We were very happy to see the St Vincents kids are very healthy and look better overall than on previous trips. Their weights are up, there is much less anemia than before and they had no respiratory infections. Also the adult staff are in better shape. Those with diabetes have normal glucose levels (and are taking their medication daily). Blood pressures are down also. Amy and I think the ocean air and country life are better for them than the dusty cramped conditions in Port au Prince. Yet all say they want to move back. I think the kids miss being in school. I wonder how they will feel when they get back "home" and its not the same.
sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Incoming Updates from Team in Haiti

The first news from the April 2010 Haiti trip has just arrived (Tuesday 8:39 PM) from Dr. Susan Nelson. She had to send it in pieces so I am pasting it in the same pieces to give the flavor of the effort. (It may have been typed on a cell phone). 
David Nelson

Dear friends of Haiti,
Today is day 3 in Haiti. We had a bumpy plane ride but other than that arrived safely in Port au Prince with all our bags.
The US Military has built a new airport terminal next to the old one, which has many large cracks in the walls. You see these as you walk down the hall of the new terminal along with all the other americans traveling to Haiti. Many church groups evident. We were expecting to see Pere Sadoni right away but were instantly in the huge crowd of people trying to locate our 15 bags. We loaded all onto 3 carts and made our way outside, pushing through the chaotic crowd. Suddenly I heard my name and there was Jean Robert on the other side of the fence! It was WONDERFUL to see his smiling face and hug his neck. I wanted to send him all the love and prayers and tears from all the people in the US who have been worried sick about him and the children.

After a brief scuffle over tips to the various baggage handlers, we piled into 2 vehicles and were on our way.
We went to St Vincents for a brief stop. There we saw Ronald Noel, the school administrator who is working with construction crews at the school. The front wall of the school is a pile of rubble 12 feet high. The brace shop and school offices are completely destroyed. The pharmacy is intact though looted. However the beautiful wooden cabinets are still there and will be moved to a new temporary structure before the french army comes to level what's left of the school and start rebuilding.

Ronald told us how he had to get the children down from the second floor during the earthquake. He made some sort of basket and pulley system with the ropes they use to hang the school flag, and got the wheelchair bound kids down to safety. Marie Carmelle was too heavy to lift so had to spend the night on the second floor until 4 men came to get her down the next day. Pere Sadoni was in his car during the quake and drove to the school, then told some staff to take the kids to Holy Trinity Cathedral. He did not know then that the cathedral was destroyed. He soon found out and so went to the cathedral area to get the kids and take them to College St Pierre.
Ronald told us that there are still 7 bodies buried under the rubble at St Vincent's

We left the school and stopped by Jean Robert's house, which is still standing although his family sleeps in a tent city nearby. I gave him the 2 violins for his daughters Dida and Stephania and they gave me big smiles. Jean Robert has been appointed some sort of operations manager for this tent city of 1000 people. This does not surprise me as he is a strong and capable man with intelligence and a talent for working with all kinds of people.
Soon we connected somehow with Pere Sadoni, another face I was thrilled to see and embrace.
We then made the 2 hour drive to Montrouis. The best thing about the road is that it is well paved and a marvelous improvement from the last time I made that trip in 2008, however there are no lights and its pretty scary in the dark with people walking on the road and big trucks headed towards you. Yet we arrived safely to the campground in Montrouis.

That first night in our cabin was the longest night of my life. I was completely exhausted but it was SO HOT I could not sleep. Imagine trying to sleep when you are soaked with sweat. Then the dogs bark at one another and the ROOSTER CROWS at 2 AM, 3 AM, 4AM, you get the picture. I thought at one point SURELY it must be time to get up, checked my watch and it was 11:30 PM.
I was SO happy to see the sun come up!
The next night (and every night) I took benadryl and slept beautifully. Oh, and ear plugs.
More later...

sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Team in Haiti this week

A team of 9 from the WTN Haiti Partnership have traveled to Montrious to see the children who were evacuated out of St. Vincent's school after the Jan. 12 earthquake. The team members are:
Susan Nelson
John Mutin
Amy Bonk-Chanin
Debbie Hooser
Lauren Coleman
Kelvin Pollard II
Drew Woodruff
Allie Russos
Margaret McLaughlin

We wish them all the best in their work and hope that they find the children in good health and good spirits. We hope that they are able to meet many of the medical needs of the children and that the children have sufficient food and clean water, which we know are difficult things to find. We have not heard directly from the team yet, but we look forward to good news from them.  They flew out of Memphis early Saturday morning and will be staying in Haiti until next Saturday, May 1st.

Highlights and Numbers from the April 16, 2010 OCHA Situation Report

For thorough data and situation reports on the most recent situation in Haiti, refer to the OCHA and USAID reports (see previous post) OCHA and USAID stand for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Efforts and the US Agency for International Development.

  • Please note that this is the last Situation Report on the 12 January Earthquake response. OCHA Haiti will now produce Humanitarian Bulletins from 22 April 2010.
  • Situation Overview – Three months after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January, killing over 200,000 people, humanitarian partners have reached the following milestones in the response:
    • Over 3.5 million people have received food assistance
    • 1.3 million people have access to potable water through the installation of water points
    • Over 1 million people have received emergency shelter material
    • Some 510,000 people have benefited from hygiene kits
    • More than 500,000 people (adults and children), have been vaccinated against common diseases
  • The main priorities for humanitarian assistance in Haiti remain: Emergency Shelter, Site Management and Sanitation.
  • First lady Michelle Obama and Dr Jill Biden visited Haiti on 13 April to see first-hand the progress of relief efforts. They met with President René Préval to reiterate the support of the United States in assisting Haiti to build back better. Both ladies visited a camp for displaced people in Champs de Mars and a school which offers children a sense of normalcy during this relief and recovery phase. They recognized the effort of humanitarian actors and the global commitment to assist Haiti.
  • Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) - Figures from the latest camp management mobile monitoring (Displacement Tracking Matrix or DTM) identifies 1,325 sites (excluding sub-sites) in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, Leogane, Petit and Grande Goave. This makes a total displaced population of 401,688 households and 2,088,107 individuals. Of these identified sites, only 273 have Camp Management agencies registering an overall coverage rate of 21%.
  • Shelter/Non-Food Items (NFI) - The cluster is on target for delivering 2 tarpaulins per family by 01 May. Cluster members have reached 96% of the known caseload (of 1.3 million instead of 1.5 million people as mentioned in earlier reports) with emergency shelter materials. However, constant rain over the past weekend has revealed that some tents are not waterproof, requiring additional plastic sheeting.
  • Agriculture - WFP and FAO are planning to carry out a “Food and Crop Assessment Mission (CFSAM)” in Haiti. The primary purpose of a CFSAM is to provide an accurate picture of the extent and severity of crisis-induced food insecurity. The CFSAM also examines existing or expected food crisis in the country (or in specific areas) so that timely and appropriate actions can be taken by the Government and the international community to mitigate the impact of the crisis on affected populations. A CFSAM is a focused exercise to prepare and present clear estimates for crop production, the overall food supply situation, and the food security situation at household level.
  • Food - WFP started distributing meals to school age children during the last week of February and is now using the already established school feeding network as an emergency safety net for children affected by the earthquake. WFP is currently working with the national school feeding programme (Programme National des Cantines Scolaire) and NGOs to extend coverage to children of school age progressively, incorporating schools that will re-start educational activities in April, and in some sites children who are not enrolled in school. WFP has currently reached approximately 550,000 school children nation wide and plans to reach 800,000 by the end of June.
  • Nutrition –
    • About 494,600 children under five and 197,840 pregnant and lactating women were affected by the earthquake. They are all considered to be at risk of malnutrition and are being targeted for blanket supplementary feeding.
    • About 28 stabilization centres for in-patient management of severe acute malnutrition with medical complications are currently functioning throughout the country. While 126 out-patient therapeutic feeding centres (OTPs) for the out-patient management of severe acute malnutrition without medical complications are also functional.
  • Health –
    • A general study on neonatal care in various health facilities is underway. The objective is to develop a national strategy for care of newborn babies at risks of acute health threats such as malnutrition and disease. The study will take into consideration the health needs of pregnant women.
    • A mapping of referral centres for pregnant women, including those in settlements is underway to identify needs and gaps.
    • Maternal health facilities need qualified health professionals and appropriate equipment. Meanwhile, care for amputees and individuals with other disabilities needs to be increased. There is a lack of specialized facilities outside Port-au-Prince.
    • Sites without health care coverage are still being identified. This week Isole and Terre Noir were added to the list of areas in need of health care coverage by partner agencies. Health gaps also exist in mental health, psychosocial support, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, and rehabilitation.
  • Protection - Reports have been received of displaced population in the Provinces making their return to Port-au-Prince. In Grand Anse, the Jeremie municipality indicates that an average of three buses leave the town everyday towards Port-au-Prince. Population interviewed explained that their return is justified by the lack of humanitarian aid, the poor quality of education in the region and for better economic opportunities. Displaced population in other Provinces express similar concerns. In Plateau Central, for example, the MINUSTAH Human Rights section identified displaced population in spontaneous settlements which have never been reached with humanitarian assistance since their arrival.
  • Education –
    • According to the Ministry of Education, there are 4,700 damaged or destroyed schools in the affected areas.
    • The Ministry of Education has officially reopened schools in the regions most affected by the 12 January earthquake. UNICEF has supported the reopening of 40 priority schools benefiting 34,000 children; Save the Children supported a further 50 schools. A survey of 70 schools revealed that approximately 75% of children enrolled prior to the earthquake have now returned to school.
    • Gaps & Constraints:  Inspection and certification of school buildings safe for re-occupation has been slow, and the Ministry of Education has stated that children should not return to unsafe structures. Therefore, there is likely to be a great need for temporary and transitional learning spaces until the certification process is completed.
  • Logistics - Road Status Monitoring (RSM) has begun and is intended to inform the humanitarian community about the accessibility of all major supply routes in Haiti. The first publication of an updated RSM map is expected on 13 April.

Highlights and Statistics from USAID Earthquake Fact Sheet (April 16, 2010)

Highlights from the USAID Earthquake Fact Sheet (April 16, 2010)
Please see the USAID Earthquake Fact Sheet #50 for the full update on developments on the ground. 

  • Since January 13, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed more than $574 million in earthquake response funding, including nearly $373 million from USAID/OFDA (Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance), $110 million from USAID/FFP (Food For Peace), $35 million from USAID/OTI (Office of Transition Initiatives), more than $53 million from USAID/Haiti, and $3 million from USAID/DR (Dominican Republic).  In total, the United States Government (USG) has contributed more than $1 billion in earthquake response funding for Haiti to date.
  • Figures from the latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey identified more than 2.1 million displaced individuals residing in more than 1,300 spontaneous settlements throughout Haiti.  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) notes that the significant increase over previous displacement estimates could result from returns to Port-au-Prince for the reopening of schools and relocation to settlements to receive assistance.  IOM has attempted to cross-check settlement population figures where possible; however, estimates retain a significant margin of error.
  • According to USAID/FFP officer discussions with WFP staff, approximately 110,000 earthquake-affected individuals have sought shelter in South Department, the majority of whom reside with host families.  According to informal discussions with beneficiaries and project staff, many locations in South Department are experiencing unusually dry conditions, potentially affecting beans, maize, peanut, and other crop production.
  • In Grand Anse and Nippes Departments, WFP highlighted school feeding as the top priority.  WFP is currently conducting an assessment of public schools in the two departments and plans to implement school feeding in schools with adequate water and sanitation facilities, as well as a high concentration of children displaced from earthquake-affected areas.
    You can contact USAID's Haiti office at When emailing, please choose one of the following seven subject lines in order for us to process your email most efficiently:

    • Operations (logistics and technical)
    • Feedback (eyes and ears on the ground)
    • Good News (share your success stories, metrics, anecdotes)
    • Strategy (ideas for improved NGO coordination)
    • Innovation (ideas for rebuilding Haiti – We are especially interested in innovative and sustainable solutions to build a better Haiti.  From mobile banking to LPG stoves, USAID knows that the long-term development of Haiti will depend upon your creative ideas.)
    • Medical (If you are in need of Creole-speaking health professionals, please email with “Medical” in the subject field and we will share additional information.)
    • Add Me (to be added to the list)
    Other Noteworthy Documents and Websites for the International Rebuild Haiti Efforts include:

    ReliefWeb provides links to major reports on Haiti; The Logistics Cluster lists local transporters in Haiti

    ReliefWeb – Several NGOs and other entities have recently published reports looking back at the last 3 months since the January 12, 2010 earthquake and summarizing the priorities and challenges for the work ahead.  ReliefWeb is a one-stop website for these Haiti reports as well as reports from OCHA, the World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF, and USAID.  It is a continuously updated website with links to updates, reports, maps, and background information on the Haiti earthquake as well as job vacancies at agencies working in Haiti.  Each document or map is dated and listed chronologically so you will know you have the most recent publication.  ReliefWeb ( hosts similar sites for emergency situations and natural disasters in other countries whenever they may occur.

    The Logistics Cluster has assembled a list of local transporters in Haiti that may be of use to your NGO if you are sending goods to Haiti and need to transport them within the country.

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Tour Port-au-Prince

    On April 13, 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden toured Port-au-Prince to reinforce the United State’s commitment to help Haiti recover and rebuild and to send a message of thanks to all of the men and women that have contributed to the global relief effort.  To see pictures and read more about their trip on the White House Blog, click here and here.

    A Historical Perspective on "The Future of the World in Haiti"

    The Haitian Blogger has re-posted a piece by Melanie Newton, a Barbadian and an Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto, which looks at the current post-disaster situation within the framework of the historical, political problems of Haiti.  While the piece may not be of interest to all of our readers, we are providing a link to the article for those who wish to read a condensed explanation of the complex and troubled past of Haitian government and the relevance of past failures the current crisis. 

    As a soon to be history major graduate of Rice University, I am taking a course on Caribbean Natural Disasters (it actually began one week before the earthquake in January!), and I find this perspective important to those who wish to understand the deeper problems, difficulties, and politics of recovery, relief, and international involvement during this crisis.  In attempting to improve the lives of the children at St. Vincent and Haitians in general, we with the WTN Haiti Partnership and in the United States must be aware of the past in Haiti, both its rich cultural history and its troubled political and economic legacy.
    Stephen Nelson

    (2010) Link to Haitian Government's Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) Report

    The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report was prepared by a joint team composed of representatives of the Government and members of the International Community, under the direction of the Government of the Republic of Haiti.

    "In order to respond to a catastrophe of this scale, this assessment has been designed to go further than traditional post-disaster assessments. The objective has been to lay the foundations for a fresh start in the country’s development efforts, as well as to reconstruct the damaged areas and contribute to a longterm national strategic development plan, in order to begin rebuilding Haiti."

    "The work accomplished by the teams of experts now enables us to present (i) a multi-sector review of damage and losses incurred following the earthquake on January 12, 2010 and an estimation of the impact of the earthquake on each themed sector; (ii) an action plan for the identification of needs for recovery and rebuilding the country in the very short term (6 months), short term (18 months),  medium term (3 years) and long term (10 years)."

    Jean Max Bellerive
    Prime Minister
    March 2010

    This report should provide in depth information about the situation in various sectors of the relief efforts in Haiti.  Furthermore, it displays the amount of work that the International Community and the Haitian Government have accomplished thus far. Several hundred experts collaborated on collecting and analyzing the data within. The major contributors include the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations system, the European Commission
    and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.  This also shows the large degree of international coordination and cooperation that has gone into assessing the damage and planning for recovery. We applaud the efforts that went into this project and hope to see aggressive, coordinated efforts continue to address the multi-layered troubles of Haiti's post-disaster situation.
    Stephen Nelson 

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Medical Team going to Haiti April 24-May 1

    We are taking a team of 9 members to Haiti on April 24 and travelling to Montrouis to see the children who were evacuated out of St. Vincent's School for Handicapped Children after the earthquake of Jan 12. The team members are:
    Susan Nelson
    John Mutin
    Amy Bonk-Chanin
    Debbie Hooser
    Lauren Coleman
    Kelvin Pollard II
    Drew Woodruff
    Allie Russos
    Margaret McLaughlin

    We are taking all our medical supplies with us since we don't know the status of the pharmacies in Port au Prince. We will get to see the community of St. Paul's church in Montrouis as well, which is a parish some folks from the West Tennessee Haiti Partnership have visited in past years. The community is on the coast of Haiti, so I am looking forward to swimming in the ocean at the end of a hot day!

    Our group in Memphis has been studying Creole, so I am hoping to speak to some of the children in their own language. I am sure they will laugh at my mixed up words, but it will be great fun.

    I ask your prayers for the safety of our team, our medical supplies, and especially for the children and staff of St. Vincent's and St. Paul's.

    Susan Nelson

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Amanda's Tremendous Haiti Experience, pt. 3

    Editor's Note: This is a continuation of Amanda's story from inside Haiti.  Amanda is a young nurse from the Baptist College of Nursing in Memphis.  We are presenting here messages as received, except in a few cases where typing errors were corrected for the sake of clear meaning. The messages are divided into three parts.  Although these messages are from two months, ago, I know that they communicate a lot about the situation on the ground in the aftermath of the earthquake. They also speak about the overwhelming feeling of attempting to make an impact in that place and the feeling of being changed more yourself. Please read and enjoy Amanda's letters and leave your own thoughts as comments. We will attempt to pass on any comments on these posts to Amanda in Memphis. We applaud her for her work in Haiti and are proud to present her memories here.
    Stephen Nelson

    Last one!

    Yesterday was a busy busy day. The next team behind us arrived on Friday night so Saturday morning we oriented them to the hospital and all of the surroundings.  It seemed like I have been here for 6 months when I was teaching them about the hospital and where to find the things that they needed.  I officially won the award got most hours worked on the team.. They added it up and I worked 108 hours in 7 days exactly. WOW!! I won the "Haitian SuperNurse Award" award for the group. Ha. One thing is for sure... I am absolutely pooped. I'm going to need a knee replacement from bending down to change dressings on peoples legs for sure.

    We then got to leave and drive in towards the epicenter... I cannot describe in words how the destruction was so much greater even than that that we had already seen. I thought that the other was bad. The best way that I can describe it is to imagine the twin towers collapsing and the mess from that and multiply times 200... It went on for miles and miles. Roads were blocked still, people fighting in the streets, digging for bodies in the rubble, etc. It was unimaginable!!

    I honestly do not see this city rebuilding for decades to come... They should just pick up and move out to the country side and move the city on the map... The destruction is just too much.

    One interesting thing that we have been seeing more and more of is post traumatic stress type situations.  Also, the government (or someone) is telling the people that there is going to be another quake on feb 12 that is even bigger than the 1st. They are so stressed out trying to pick up and move, run away, etc. They are also all hungry and thirsty and things are getting worse. I wouldn't be surprised if there is an uprising of the people against the government within the next month or so... Of course.. This is my little prediction with all of my non-news watching, naïve self. If you know me very well, you know that I know nothing about everything such as world/ current events.  The only reason that I even knew that there was an earthquake in the 1st place was almost 48 hours post quake and one of my patients in the ICU told me! I don't know much about governmental things especially..

    We also have felt 3 aftershocks over the last couple of days.... Definitely something that I will never forget. Its not like they make it look on the movies at all. (But what is really???) Almost like standing on a boat and feeling the ground unsteady under your feet.

    We are on the bus now and back in the DR [Dominican Republic]. We are going to dinner tonight and then flying out tomorrow. I arrive back in Memphis I think around 9ish tomorrow night.

    I can't believe that I have already been here as long as I have and that it is all over... I'm definitely planning a return trip... As soon as I can save up some more PTO [Paid Time Off]... I'm on it.

    Thank you all so much for all of the love, support, and most importantly prayers!! I am finding more and more that I don't know a lot of the people getting my emails. Many of you have emailed, texted or facebooked me and I apologize for not getting back in touch, but as you can see, I've been very busy.

    If anyone is interested in a trip down, let me know!

    Thank you all!!


    Amanda is from the Baptist College of Nursing in Memphis

    *Hibiscus is the national flower of Haiti; 
    photo used under FREE USE License from  

    Amanda's Tremendous Haiti Experience, pt. 2

    Editor's Note: This is a continuation of Amanda's story from inside Haiti.  Amanda is a young nurse from the Baptist College of Nursing in Memphis.  We are presenting here messages as received, except in a few cases where typing errors were corrected for the sake of clear meaning. The messages are divided into three parts.  Although these messages are from two months, ago, I know that they communicate a lot about the situation on the ground in the aftermath of the earthquake. They also speak about the overwhelming feeling of attempting to make an impact in that place and the feeling of being changed more yourself. Please read and enjoy Amanda's letters and leave your own thoughts as comments. We will attempt to pass on any comments on these posts to Amanda in Memphis. We applaud her for her work in Haiti and are proud to present her memories here.
    Stephen Nelson


    So I'm 2/3rds of the way through of my 36 hours... I'm pushing through.. I did lay down for maybe 30ish minutes on a patient care area in the emergency area... I woke up to a child being carried into the area in which I am the "doctor" for the night. WAY OUT OF MY SCOPE OF PRACTICE to say the least. Here recently, we are starting to see a lot of nausea/vomiting and mass dehydration... Combined with fever and such- we are thinking that it is virus-like but not sure. It could be something infectious starting to make its way in the door.

    Last night, we delivered 3 babies so that was always fun. The babies that keep coming through the door are making it all so much more bearable. Life is so precious.

    Yesterday during the day, we delivered a baby to a woman who had had both of her arms amputated... To think that just days and weeks before your child is born, you lose all ability to hold it.

    We have seen I think 7 cases of tetanus- crazy!! The symptoms are definitely interesting. I'm interested to go home and read more about tetanus and see how what I have seen fits into clinical practice.

    I'm feeling like today is going to be a crazy day... I'm emailing because I'm scared of falling asleep between patients but they are starting to roll into the door.

    Because of the area of town that we are working in, we are seeing a lot of destruction but we are not near the epicenter. Part of your group made a wrong turn and ended at ground zero if you will. Their report was: they were driving and the streets were packed with people and cars and then all of a sudden they were the only car around at all. They entered into a point that was so dead. There wasn't even military presence at all... There were dead bodies in the street and random few and far between people searching through the rubble... Tomorrow afternoon we are going to travel in closer to the epicenter. They said that it takes what we have seen to a whole new level... And at this point in time, I can't even imagine that.

    This is my plea: if you are a doctor, there are way too many of you hanging out down here, if you are a nurse, you are in desperate need!! (Hence the 36 hour shifts) if you are physical or occupational therapy, you are needed even more that the nurses. There are only 2 here at the hospital and they are working nonstop! Security guards for the hospital are needed. Also, good organizers and sorters (that is anyone!!) Are needed to sort through and inventory all of the medical supplies that we have been receiving.. Please consider coming and helping this country. Talk to me... I know where you can plug in!!

    If you want to donate a helicopter to the cause or know someone who would, I know where to plug you in... Medical supplies? I have lists of things in great need at the hospital. Email me if you are interested. The list of supplies needed is updated daily as the needs of the patients are constantly changing.

    I'm so sad that my time here is coming to an end, but I am really feeling the effects of the hours and strenuous work on my body...
    Talk to you soon!

    To be continued.
    Amanda is from the Baptist College of Nursing in Memphis

    *Hibiscus is the national flower of Haiti;
    photo used under FREE USE License from

    Amanda's Tremendous Haiti Experience, pt. 1

    Editor's Note: We have received a journal-like collection of emails from Amanda, who traveled to Haiti at the end of January, now more than two months ago! I can hardly believe it's been that long, and I can only imagine how that time feels to the people in Haiti.  Amanda is a young nurse from the Baptist College of Nursing in Memphis.  We are presenting here messages as received, in journal format, except in a few cases where typing errors were corrected for the sake of clear meaning. We will be posting the messages in three parts. Part 1 is sent with time and date stamps, either from her email client or BlackBerry. Part 2 and 3 are single, longer messages.  Although these messages are from two months, ago, I know that they communicate a lot about the situation on the ground in the aftermath of the earthquake. They also speak about the overwhelming feeling of attempting to make an impact in that place and the feeling of being changed more yourself. Please read and enjoy Amanda's letters and leave your own thoughts as comments. We will attempt to pass on any comments on these posts to Amanda in Memphis. We applaud her for her work in Haiti and are proud to present her memories here.
    Stephen Nelson

    Sat, 30 Jan 2010 20:50:50

    I'm with the drivers  and we are the way to meet the rest of the people... Safe. 

    Hot Hot Hot... But safe.. I went from 19 to 95 degrees in just a few hours! 

    It was so crazy being on a a huge flight where every single person on it was going down to do relief work... Such a cool feeling. I still haven't slept at all... Of course you know me, I was chatting with all of the passengers on the flight and making new friends!! 

    We are getting food together and packng up tonight to head over early tomorrow morning for our 14ish hour drive into Haiti. I will be in touch later. 

    January 31, 2010 12:33 PM
    We have just made it through the border between Dominican Republic and Haiti. Passports stamped, bus and supplies approved. Discussions of shifts and work to be done have been in place. We are still finding out about the hospital and such. They are going to be needing us for all shifts. So who knows when I will be working... I'm the youngest of the team so I'm guessing that I will probably get nights?  For now, the roads are bearable and cell phone service is available.  We are already seeing tents all over the place. A lot of people here have shelter but they are afraid to go back into their homes for fear of more aftershocks... Apparently, they are still feeling them daily. 

    There are military helicopters all over the skies that appear to be bringing in supplies and such... 

    More to come, 
    January 31, 2010 10:01 PM
    So we made it here in supposedly record time!! As soon as we got here, they called and needed nurses for the night at the hospital.. Me and 3 other ladies left immediately going in knowing that it will be a 24-36 hour shift!! They have been working 36 on and then 12 off... So I'm here in the icu for the night. The patients are all so critical... Lots and lots of crushed bodies and limbs. All for now. More later. Its almost like I'm a doctor... We are just giving the meds that we can to control their pain and making due with what we have.. I've already had two patients die and I've been here for only a couple of hours.. Its an absolute madhouse... 

    All around, there are military helicopters delivering supplies and US and UN soldiers.

    There is a definite nursing shortage!!! More importantly a definite warm and willing body shortage...

    The buildings are all crumpled down-- I didn't imagine the amount of devastation. I mean I planned on it in my head but just really couldn't prepare myself. There are tent cities all over this city. They almost look like concentration camps from the movies with tent after tent lines up and all running into the next.  I have not seen any violence since we have been here... The compound that we are staying at belongs to global missions and we are sharing it with some American soldiers and Sameritan's Purse! They have moved in and taken over-- its amazing the great things that you can do when you have money... Their equipment is impeccable! 

    I need to go check on the patients... 

    More later! 

    February 2, 2010 1:54 AM
    So I'm still at the hospital... Heading up towards hour 36 of work... I've been awake for 68 hours straight... Wow. Heading home tonight shortly for some sleep and then back tomorrow!! 

    Amazing day! 

    Miss yall, 
    February 2, 2010 12:01 PM
    So we are now headed to the hospital again... We had a huge delay!!! But it was a nice naptime for me... I got a whole extra hour in!  Just wanted to mention a few things:  We are staying out in the country a little north of port-au-prince.  On the road on the way to the house, we pass by several mass graves. They are all covered over now, but you can sure smell it... Smells even at where we are staying. This morning they started burning bodies- 8 at a time.  I want to clarify that some may believe that this is in-humane but at this point in time it is a matter of survival and keeping others safe around.  The blunt of the devastation has passed but many are still dying and bodies are being uncovered. There are still many aftershocks... We felt one yesterday.   

    There are piles of rubble all over the place...   

    The people are so sweet. They are grateful.   

    US military is all over, unicef, united nations, actually haven't seen a ton of red cross though.  Need to get off of the phone so that I can take pictures... Please excuse any typose... On the phone on a bumpy bus ride.   

    February 2, 2010 5:38 PM
    We drive pass the US embassy to and from the hospital. It is very nice but also very heavily protected by soldiers.  The line of Haitians packing into this place daily is unnerving.  Lots and lots of people waiting in line to get in.   

    I'm trying to take lots of pictures but each time my eye is moved to another spot, it is a photo opportunity. I simply can't capture anything to relay the state of this county. I wish that my brain was a video camera.  

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
    February 3, 2010 7:29 PM
    Hello family and friends,

    Haiti sends her love.. She is beautiful and hopeful and healing.

    Today was a good day at the hospital. Lost some and gained even more! There were 7 beautiful births today at the hospital.  It is so refreshing to see new life amongst such devastation and destruction.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that I delivered a baby today... The baby delivered itself while I surprisingly witnessed its entrance into the world... And yelled even louder for the only American OB/GYN in the hospital who was in surgery.

    I've worked a good bit in the hospital ICU which has been exciting yet eventful. The people are sick sick sick and there is NO technology. No iv pumps, no ventilators, no monitors. I'm learning just how dumb I am...

    I have been working mostly in the emergency area. We are still seeing so many injuries from the original quake.. People are just waiting to come in or it is taking them a while to get out of ground zero out to get help.  Fractures, dislocations, more fractures, infected wounds, rotting limbs, you name it.. Its coming in by the handfuls all day long. One thing for sure is that my dressing changing skills are going to be jam up when I get home... I've also gotten pretty decent at looking at my patients x-rays while waiting on the orthopods to leave surgery and come see what I've got going..  I've also developed a new IV skill of chasing extremely dehydrated veins. For those of you who know what this means, I had a pt yesterday who had a hemoglobin of 3.3 and a hct of 10.. Yes. She actually walked into the clinic... Wow! These people are so strong...

    Emotional, sad moment of the day: a man brought a baby in today and handed the child to me in the ED. I honestly thought that the baby was dead.  She was the smallest little premie... Then I saw her take a breath.. I ran back to the laboring room/ nicu area with this precious child. She was a baby whose mother died in the earthquake which means that this baby was weeks old instead of simply days or hours as I had thought. After we got back, we realized that she had a heartbeat and was breathing.. Another nurse started an IV but it didn't look good. Next thing that I know, a Haitian nurse is singing Hosana Hosana Hosana in the highest... Things come to a halt in the room. We all started singing together- even some harmony going on.. Next thing I know we are singing and a man prayed over this baby. At this point, there wasn't much to do besides pray. We sang and prayed and without a dry eye in the room the baby passed away so peacefully. The baby's mother was a Christian!! They are now both together in God's house. This might be one of the most powerful moments that I've experienced.  I don't mean to be depressing, but it was a peaceful, beautiful and impactful death that I wanted to share with ya'll. 

    On a different note, I got a lesson from a optomologist today and got to look at some cool eyeballs that had been injured by falling objects...

    Probably my favorite thing about this entire experience is the global feel. There are medical teams at my hospital from Italy, Korea, Sweden, etc... I am always meeting new people.. However, I did realize quickly that just because they are white, doesn't mean that they speak English!! Swedish people are the trickiest of all-- (in scrubs, you can't see the fashtion differences between the cultures)  For example, I was in the pharmacy today looking for some meds that I needed and I saw the drug metoprolol (a common blood pressure medicine) I found metoprolol in probably 10 different written languages... It was amazing to see how countries all over the world had donated so much-- people with such different backgrounds are all coming together for a common cause-- maybe the coolest feeling ever. I feel so privileged and honored to be here. It is such a huge humbling and learning experience. Thank you all for your prayers and support!!!

    Tomorrow morning starts the start of my next 36 hour shift... Pray!! I did it once before, but I was fresh then... I'm starting to get tired, worn out. Ill go in early tomorrow (Thursday) morning and be there through Friday night straight through... No sleep.. Its busy, hot, tiring, and stressful. But it's so much fun at the exact same time!! I'm pumped and super excited about it!!

    Ok-- more updates later and I apologize about the length of this email!! Hope that all is well in Georgia and Memphis... I hear that Duke is doing well and making good friends at the doggie resort so he is well taken care of!!

    Love ya'll and see you soon!!   
    To be continued.
    Amanda is from the Baptist College of Nursing in Memphis 

    *Hibiscus is the national flower of Haiti; 
    photo used under FREE USE License from