Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: Small Medical Team going to St Vincent's Oct 9

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Small Medical Team going to St Vincent's Oct 9

This was not SUPPOSED to be a medical team visit.  This trip was intended to have a small group visit the school, see our friends,  have a Governing Board meeting, and fly  home.  Then came Hurricane Matthew.
Of course, nature has her own ideas and now we are flying into Port au Prince 5 days after the massive storm. Winds of up to 230 mph they say.  How is that even possible?
I have read, as many of you have done, every news clip I could get to, trying to get accurate information.  The news reports seem to photograph every disastrous scene, with people walking in water up to their necks.  
News this AM from Jeremie, further west along the southern coast of Haiti, looks very bad. 80% of the town was damaged, they say.  Mango groves decimated. Homes washed away in the mud.
Yet, our friends at St Vincents tell us they are safe and unharmed.  Port au Prince had high winds and heavy rains, but none of the children or staff at the school were injured in the initial storm.  Their main problem now is getting food and clean water.  The water pump system at the school is damaged and not functioning properly.

Yesterday John Mutin tried in vain to get medical supplies from our usual source; we typically order these SIX WEEKS IN ADVANCE for our medical trips. Hoping to get a last minute supply of first aid items.  Let's say they politely declined (laughed at) us. Before our readers rush to send me boxes of bandaids, let me say I found another source and now have a suitcase full of ace wraps, bandaids, gauze rolls and diapers.  (Diapers?)  Think about the school with rooms full of handicapped children who are incontinent.
As is common, people are quick to be kind and offer support.  Two people handed me wads of cash yesterday, "use however you  need it".  One gave me a (big) check to buy a suitcase full of granola bars and peanut butter crackers to take to the children.  Such generosity.

Our team is Sherye Fairbanks who will interpret for the deaf children, Alicia Groce and Kelly Varney, both optometrists from Southern College of Optometry (SCO), and myself.  We will be joined by  Jennifer Wickham, new Director of Development for St Vincent's Governing Board.  All except Kelly have been to Haiti before; all have met or emailed this week to share anxieties, worries about the children, what to bring in our suitcases, fears from our families and our own insistence that nothing could keep us from going to Haiti tomorrow.    Drs.  Groce and Varney are bringing 75 pairs of eye glasses.  Why eye glasses after a hurricane?  Back to the original plans for the trip which were made months ago. A team from SCO went to St Vincent's in May, and over the summer SCO has made all these prescription eyeglasses for the children they saw.  Some of them, Dr Groce tells me, will no longer be "blind" when they get their eyeglasses.  Each pair has the name of the child and a photograph, all carefully prepared when the team was at St Vincent's in May.  Each pair potentially life changing for a handicapped child.

May/June 2016:  15 people plan to make a medical service trip in Oct. to St Vincent's, flights booked
July/Aug  2016:  plans to open the school are in question, residents will be temporarily housed elsewhere while new construction is underway, there will be "no school in the fall"** and no students to see, so medical team/flight plans are cancelled.
Aug 2016:  Susan and Sherye decide to go as a pair, Governing Board plans to meet at Hotel Montana Dr Groce is invited to come along to distribute the eyeglasses that have been made.
Sept 20, 2016:  **School opens
Oct 4, 2016:  Hurricane Matthew.  Board meeting cancelled, team prepares for disaster relief instead

Such is the typical litany of working in Haiti.  Plans made, changed, changed again.

I sincerely appreciate the support sent to me through text and emails this last week, and apologize for not answering all of them.  It has been a whirlwind.  I take all of your love and prayers with me to the children and staff of St Vincent's.  They know they are not forgotten.

Susan Nelson 

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