Tracking Ed Monroe as he travels to Haiti and other exotic(?) places

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Home from Haiti

It is so nice to be back home and with my wife. It was a fun adventure and I am glad that I went on the mission but I am very happy to be home.

Thursday evening went great. We packed up the tubs and bags for the return trip. If you recall, each team member was assigned two pieces of checked baggage. It was either a large tub or a canvas bag. These were filled with food and medical supplies. We need them back in Peoria for the September team. They were useful in bringing back souvenirs but still a pain to transport, to wait at baggage claim for, a struggle to move through customs, but they all made it home. At 5:45 M on Friday, Papa Dick drove the tubs and me to Jacmel airport. I stood guard as he returned to get the team to the airport by using his truck, and for some, a last ride in Son-Son’s smoking tap-tap. We waited about 1 hour at the airport for the Haitians to get there, set up, and check in our bags. The team was split into two airplanes for the return trip to Port-Au-Prince. I was on the first plane and it was a beautiful ride. From where I sat on the plane, I could watch the altimeter and we flew at 3.500 feet over the mountains. The small airport was very crowded so we waited outside with our tubs and bags for the other part of our team. Then we split up again to ride another truck to the main airport. I was on the second trip on this one and witnessed the confusion outside the main airport departure area as we off loaded our stuff and passed through the first of 3 security checkpoints. We stood around in a group waiting for American Airlines to check us in. That was accomplished by giving our leader, John, our passports and letting the AA people do their thing. It seemed to take forever and that part of the airport was extremely hot. Next we passed through Haitian immigration to get our passports stamped. There was just enough time for me to purchase some Haitian rum to be auctioned at the upcoming golf outing. A few lucky ones tasted a Haitian hot dog. Remember, we had not had our big oatmeal breakfast. Then it was on to the plane and off to the USA. Arrival in Miami was on time. Passed through immigration and on to baggage claim. Our tubs came out after all the bags had cleared and we moved trough customs and had to lug our checked bags to the next AA area so they could follow us to home. We had about two hours in Miami so it was off to the food courts for some grub. Our plane to Chicago was on time and we had a fairly smooth flight to O’Hare except when we picked up turbulence from a plane ahead of us. O’Hare was a sad time. Lisa lives in Chicago, John, Linda, and Audra were being picked up by Audra’s family. We had time for a hug and a quick good bye. There was a 3-hour layover here and AA did not have our gate posted so we hung out at gate G 2 with our bags. This allowed some to have some food at Chili’s or other of the many food vendors in the area. Things looked good for our 8:30 departure. Our plane was in, our crew showed up, we boarded early, and then the fun began. The stewardess kept calling out names of people who did not seem to be on board. We told them 4 times about how we had checked in as a group in P-A-P and that it was likely tat there were luggage on board that bore the names of group members who had left us in Chicago. Finally they closed the doors and we had a nice flight to Peoria. We encountered our last problem here waiting for the tubs. AA chose to keep them upstairs and not put them on the belt but failed to tell us so we stood and waited. Finally, Bill went to ask and we repositioned the cars to the upper arrivals level and loaded the baggage. The team members who did not have checked bags were the lucky ones to get home early. Soon, we will have our team picture part at Bill & Keri’s home in East Peoria and the trip will be recounted to the last detail once again.

In reflection, it was a great team. Each person contributed to the best of their ability and then 50% more. When you have 20 diverse people in any situation there are usually lots of conflicts but this team bonded and none of the conflicts were anything more than minute. I thank them all for serving with me. They taught me a lot. They put up with me a lot. They made me think and grow a lot. They became good friends of mine and I am very proud of them and honored to have served with them. The mix of old and young got along very well and I would be happy to serve with any and all of them again, soon. Perhaps I will get the opportunity to serve them once again.

I want to thank all of my readers for their prayers and kind words. I apologize if I offended any one with some of my humor. I did appreciate the feedback from those who chose to comment. I did not post the comments to protect the innocent. Please keep the Haitians in your prayers. Please consider sponsoring a child. Please be generous to our organization, FOTCOH, if you can spare a donation. Please consider going on a team. We can use you no matter what your talents may be.

So I’ll leave you with a little Kreole:

Mesi! Thank You

M’ale orevwa Good Bye

Bondye beni ou May God bless you.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Last Day

Here is Betty!. There were some complaints because I had forgotten to include her in the previous postings and I have apologized to her.
The next picture is the child that we sponsor here in Haiti. His name is Jean Dessin and he is 12 years old and now in the first grade. His ear shows an injury from a fall according to his mother. It looked more like a bite so I had Sara Baysinger look at at, treat it and dress it. I sent him home with vitamins till February and for his mother also. The soccer ball that Donna and I left in February is still holding up. Yes, I cried after he left and even now as I write this.

The next picture is with hs mother, myself, and Jean Dessin.

The last picture is our team photo, without Jan & Bruce. I have heard from both of them and they are recovering well and that make us happy.

Most of the team is at the beach. I have finished inventory and will place it on the computer so that we can reorder medications next week for the September team.

Tonight, our last night, is the lobster meal that was so delicious in February. I have been waiting for this one. We also must pack and be at the airport tomorrow at 6 AM. We MAY get back into Peoria around 9:30 or 10:00 PM on Friday so I will not be posting again till I get back home.

Thank you again for reading this blog. Thanks, especially, to those who commented and let me know that it was being red.

I have joked with the team about some one's wet front and hot__ and perhaps I will reveal more secrets when I am out of their range.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Audra & Lisa

Ed & Katie

Jan & Christine

Who did I miss??

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Ambians dinner shots

Justin, Bill, John, Dick Posted by Picasa
Christine & Bill

Linda and Barb Posted by Picasa


Dr Bill

Josh Posted by Picasa

Team Photo 2


Papa Dick Posted by Picasa

Team Photo time

Dr Bill



Sara Posted by Picasa


There are 40 children that have no sponsors. Could you consider sending $25.00 per month to FOTCOH so these kids can have food and go to school? The boy that I sponsor is 12 years old and now that I am sponsring him, he is in First Grade. That just tears me up.
There is more information at

Thanks. I had these pictures and wanted to share them with you.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Quick Update.

This morning we sent Jan Lundeen to PAP and on to the States because she was in severe pain. We sent Bruce Steiner wit her as a guide and companion. When they arrived in the USA they went to a hospital and the dianosis is a kidny stone. They are now on their way to St Louis and on to their homes in central Illinois. Thanks for all of the prayers. I am sure they helped. Due to a full airplane this morning, Boyer was forced to drive them on the 3 hour tip to PAP rather than the 13 minute flight so those prayers for their safety were heard.

I plan on posting pictures today to previous blogs before I write more here.

God Bless You!!

Please pray

I will not give details yet but we have two team members that we are sending by plane to Miami for medical care that we cannot do here in Haiti. Please pray for them today. Later, when their families have been notofied, I will give you more details.

Please pray. Thank you

Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday morning

The day at the beach was wonderful. The water was warm, the sun was not too intense, and there were quite a few people enjoying the surf & sand. The place where we hang out is still under construction but the second floor is now complete and the scaffolding has come down. When a second floor is added, holes are punched into the first floor walls to place the stabilizing boards of the scaffold, and I think that is hilarious. The holes were plugged this trip but obvious to me. Some of the wiring is roughed in and, in Haitian fashion, there are two RED wires leading from the house next door to the new building.

We enjoyed lobster, fish, rice & beans, pickly (a spicy cabbage salad), fried bread fruit and fried plantains. We gave the left-overs to the children who hovered over us. Some of the team brought inflatable balls & rafts which they gave to the children. That was nice,

My wife’s buddy, the grouchy artist, seemed to remember me. Perhaps it was because we made several purchases in February. He scored a few sales this trip but none from me. The most controversial picture was the pregnant nude which we labeled nude on Rogaine. I leave that for your imagination.

When we returned, the younger team members went to the Bee club from 7:30 to 10:30 to listen to the music and dance. Boyer, one of our main helpers, owns part of the club and Franz, another valued helper, went along to guide. I DO not think they got back at 10:30 as I was not wearing my watch.

Last night was my night on the hot seat. Jody, Jan, Christine, and Linda had questions on drugs, doses, side effects, and “What is the brand name of?” So I got out the popcorn, in loving memory of the February team, and we had a popcorn bull session. We also teased Jody about her hot ___. The inflammation is SLOWLY going down and most of the itching has stopped. Yes, I do get teased about looking at Jody’s ___. Neff said there!

Dr. Bill shared pictures with me so I hope to finish this and go back to add pictures to previous blogs. I am up early so it may happen. The weather is very hot and humid, especially early this morning. That is not a good sign for a Monday. No, we will work in celebration of Memorial Day, and remember our loved ones by our service.

God bless all of you. Thanks for the notes that you send to the blog. I get them right away.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sunday AM

This morning we ate bacon & pancakes, what a nice treat for a late breakfast. Most of the team slept in this morning. I did not get up until 6:30 AM. One hour extra felt good. The overnight rain, and we had a lot of rain but no thunder, dropped the room temp so that we had to pull up the sheets to keep warm. That is the first time on this trip that I have used the top sheet. For most of the nights I just lay still and try not to sweat.

Justin used my camera and we have made progress on the ID badges for the Haitian helpers. With my Kodak Dock, we could download them into Dick’s computer and print the pictures. No, I have yet to solve the wireless problem. Lisa’s mom sent us a tip but it did not work. The lap top is connected but IE will not display the page. Hey Chris, do you think you could take time to call Tim Flynn at American PC Solutions and see if he has any ideas?? Thanks.

We had a nice prayer service this morning for about one hour. Justin played and he and Audra sang. They printed out the words to the songs so we could all join in. Bruce led the service and surprised us with a short homily. Papa Dick and I did our Agape part and we had some sharing to close. This group likes to pray before meals and that is nice. At noon we will be off to Ti Moulage and the beach party. There are some clouds in the sky but not as threatening as in February. Girls are packing their beach bags and the guys are stocking the coolers. The young ones are gathered around a table playing some sort of a number game that I can’t remember how to spell it’s name. I’m NOT tired. HA!

Last night at the Ambians, we had the place to ourselves. The team members who went to town earlier encounter a large group of blancs (whites) from central Florida. The name of the group is “Without Borders”. They travel the world and experience other cultures. There is no other purpose to the group other than that. To us, that is a sad waste of money when there is no great a need here. Maybe by the things they purchase here, they will at least enhance the economy. Oops. Time for the tap-tap ride to the beach. I will try to download pictures tonight for tomorrow’s post.

Praise the Lord for a day of rest!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday afternoon

Saturday and all is well. We got done about 1 PM after a very busy day. For those who like numbers here they are. Day 1 was 89 patients, day 2 = 304 patients, day 3 = 267 patients, day 4 = 248 patients, and today 175 patients. This team, especially Bruce in crowd control has no mercy. HA! He is getting back at me for some of the evil deeds I have done to him.

We had an earlier dinner last night and I got to bed by nine. I did not stay up for the movie and got some rest. I did, however, fall asleep here at the computer earlier this afternoon and Papa Bruce made me lay down for a quick nap. I have yet to solve the laptop connection mystery. It shows me that I am connected to the network but Internet Explorer nor Mozilla will reach out to the net. My next idea is to check my firewall settings. Bother bother for all of us who brought along laptops. I emailed a February team member who successfully connected then but he had no tips.

This afternoon, as we served our last patient, a young boy of about to 10 years old fainted in the pharmacy waiting line and went into convulsions. With help from Dr Bill and others we carried him into the surgery area and started an IV. He responded slowly so we found some diazepam to inject and he did better. We ended up taking him into Jacmel to the Sister’s of Charity hospital and we will check on him this evening when we go in to town for dinner.

The bracelets that I brought along and the cars are a great hit. I get MORE smiles than ever when I put them on the children. Yes, I cry, a lot. I am a softy for these people. When I see these families with so many medical problems and financial problems it hurts. There is so much scabies again. I did get to see one of our February patients who got an Ivermectin treatment then and she was scabies free. That was a JOYFUL moment to know that what we did then really worked on a severe case. Praise the Lord!!!

Sounds like we will have a prayer service tomorrow morning and I am assigned to do the Agape service with Bruce and John. Justin will play the guitar and we have some CD’s for a sing along.

It’s getting about time to leave for town so I will be brief today. Sorry. There are some juicy stories to tell. Nancy & JC are you reading this??
You will be in our prayers.

Friday, May 26, 2006


TGIF Something is wrong. I got done at 4:30 PM. Unheard of with this team. Guess we only saw 250 or so patients today and 268 yesterday. There are no new babies to report. There are lots of kids, lots of worms, lots of scabies. The new human form of Ivermectin is easier to work with. Thanks to John Preckshot at Preckshot Professional Pharmacy. You are a hero here to the pharmacy team. Our order from Illinois that we sent about a week and one-half ago came in and we jumped on the quinapril and docusate. We also got the shoes that Betty Schlacter mailed to Lynx air before we left.

I am forbidden to discuss Lisa’s wet spot and Jody’s hot ___. It will be up to them to explain how I got in the middle of that mess. I am an innocent participant who somehow got caught in the middle, but ask them to explain more of the details. I am trying to exit myself from me. Yes, my face is still RED!!

No major problems today but lots of patients and some unusual quiet periods when all of the providers gather around an unusual case and do not see patients. CJ is getting more medical experience than he may have bargained for but, again, I leave it to him to explain to whomever it concerns.

Everyone here is getting along well. Lots of fun and laughs. We do eat and meet later than February. Brice falls asleep in the meetings before I do so I have yet to get caught napping. No MAJOR out of stocks at the pharmacy but we are low on Benadryl and children’s cough syrup but we have 6 gallon of BB Sirop to use (UGH) and limited containers to dispense it in. My helpers are terrific and I am very happy with them. Lots of kids today and I am so happy that I brought the bracelets. I love placing them on the kid’s arms. I am working to get CJ to visit the high school next week and MAYBE I can duck out and visit Jean Dessin at his home. Tomorrow night, we go to downtown Jacmel to the Ambiance and Sunday to the beach at Ti Moulage. We had goat for dinner two nights ago and tuna noodle last night. Tonight is mystery dinner. I found out that the Mac & Cheese boxes got soaked with some sort of liquid and are unsuable. CJ is still crying about that. I did get my two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and have emptied one in 2 days and the other is in the refrigerator chilling. Big rain storm last night and lots of water to clear off the second floor deck. HOT and HUMID today. I just showered and I am already sticky.

I have to find my Memory stick so I can transfer this to the main computer and post. I am still hoping to hear back from some of you.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday's post

Thursday PM

The almost end of another day in Haiti. Our weather has been WARM and HUMID. We now have a temporary generator as our main one is not fixed yet. You feel sticky and sweaty all day long. The evening shower before dinner is delightful. This is the rainy season but we have only experienced a sprinkle last night. We are grateful for the generator as our Haitian power is off between 6 AM and 2PM (Haitian time so somewhere in that area). The electricity powers the fans and the fridge. This team has LATE suppers and LATE meetings so we do not get to bed before 10 and are up at 5. The nights are short nights, but restful.

Speaking of that, the rooster who was such an annoyance in February has yet to make a sound. I wonder? Did Donna really do something to that chicken? I don’t think so because Mama hen has a new brood of chicks that are about 1 week old. I saw them this morning when I had to go out to the crowd to talk with a patient about her medications that she wanted us to refill based on her prescriptions from Jacmel. I had NO idea what she was taking by the names. And she had no idea so I had her let in to the clinic as a patient.

Numbers? This crew is crazy. We saw over 300 patients yesterday. No wonder I am not getting done as early as February. And, yes, it’s a boy! His name is Gregory and he weighs 7 lbs. Mama showed up at 10AM and delivered at 11 AM. She brought along her two young girls. Dr Bill and Nurse Jody did a wonderful job. Baby Gregory is bright eyed and beautiful. His two older sisters had to set in the pharmacy for over 5 hours. I brought them suckers at first, the water, then breakfast bars (they did not get to eat lunch e=when everyone else did and Grandpa Ed was upset). Then I h=gave them the bracelets that I had brought along. The irony is that they had medical problems and were the LAST patients to be seen tonight. Damn. We should have seen them earlier but Mama was a little busy! Oh yes, I did get a present today from Suzette, one of my pill packers. She brought in a necklace and placed it around my neck. That is new!

Ed did cry a bit today. I have seen or heard of some problems but when they come in to me and I have to deal with them, that is a different story. I will not detail the problem but I spent quite a bit of time outside trying to help as bet I could and finally I had to get back but I broke down as I entered the area and it was very obvious to the three providers who were waiting for me to answer their questions. A good cry never hurts, and they gave me a little space.

My two team members who are helping me in the pharmacy are amazing. They are fun to work with, very cautious and conscientious, cheerful, and most helpful. It is fun working with them and they are doing spectacular work. I am blessed to have them but I told them that they are free to work in other areas to gain that experience also.

CJ was not feeling well last night, as his stomach was upset. We think he had not drunk enough water. He also did not care for the meal of tuna noodles and carrots so he ate some of the food he had brought along. As I had warned him, he would have lots of people to mother him and, you know what? He did. Today he is fine so not to worry. He has been helping out lots all over the campus. He went to town with Christine Meyer today and brought back some nice white wine for me. Yeah!

Our shipment from Illinois, that we sent here two weeks ago, came here today. We do not know how long it may have been in country and Lynx air did not notify us. I checked on it today and there it was. It arrived intact. Thanks, Mark Purcell!

The computer is free, the team is at the beach, and I can send this out right away. Thanks for the notes I got this morning. I had fun with Lisa Merry by telling her details of her sister that I discovered via her email address. I have not heard much from the folks back home so messages are most welcome. Thanks to Chris and nursekay. Oh. we miss cook Larry. We ARTE spoiled in February.

Life is good here, the days fly by, and the people are so appreciative of our services, the team is GREAT to work with, and the only problem is missing YOU at home. The wine should be chilled by now and supper is still quite awile off ( it is 6:43PM now) so I will have s glass or two and say a few prayers for you.

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hello, finally. from Haiti

Hello from Haiti
Today is Wednesday and it is 6:15 PM. We just finished the pharmacy line and the team is relaxing (?) in the kitchen area. From the sounds of it they are having a wild time

I need to start at the beginning. On Sunday evening, at 6 PM, I started with dinner at the Fish House, my favorite place to eat. Donna and I were joined by Harold & Emma, our guests from Arizona, CJ Ray, my 16 year old team mate from Missouri, his mother Nancy, and another team mate, Bruce Steiner along with his wife Carol and their son, Dan. Dan, Carol and Bruce had been on the February team with Donna and me. We had our usual great meal and at the end, Donna drove the company to our home. I failed to hear that I was to follow so I stayed quite awhile at the Fish House before I realized that something was wrong. No matter, we car pooled to Bloomington, and after two times missing the street where I was supposed to turn, arrived at the team leader’s home around nine. Funny, we were the only ones there. Did I forget to listen again? Every one arrived by 11 PM and we held a brief prayer service lead by the pastor of john’s church. It was a nice thing. Ext we reweighed the totes and bags and redistributed the items to other bags for those weighing over the 50 lb limit. We ended up with two over weight bags and paid the extra $ 25.00 at O’Hare. Around midnight, we car pooled up to Chicago’s O’Hare airport and arrived at 2 AM. We reweighed the bags on an American Airlines digital scale and reconfirmed our weights. At 4 AM, we were the first in line at the International ticketing counter, where we were supposed to check in. That was a first as we usually show up at the wrong counter. Check in was a breeze and we were to gate H 8 and got that needed cup of coffee. We took off from Chicago, right on time, in a very full plane. We arrived at the A concourse at Miami and would be leaving from same. That was strange. No 3 mile walk this trip? After a nice lunch at the Mexican restaurant, we went to our departure lounge to wait for 2:25PM to come around. Well, it came and went. Suffice it to say that we did not leave until 4: 30 PM which was the time we were to arrive in Port-Au Prince. Oh, No. That is not a good thing. As we sat in the lounge, being the only Blancs (white people) on the plane, some of the Haitians engaged us in conversation. One of them, a girl from Port-Au-Prince, is a student at the University of Notre Dame and I shared my World Youth Day experiences, my Haiti experiences, etc with her. It was neat. Her parents run a factory in PAP. She offered to help us as it was likely that we will be stuck in PAP this night until I told her that there were 20 of us. She did not have that much room but the offer was most kind. When we arrived in PAP, it took a very long time to get through customs. It was exceptionally SLOW. Our bags had just arrived when run through the next customs check. Some of the newbie’s got caught, but passed through okay, and we finally got through and we collected the carts and began to to race for the small airport. Never mind, we are too late, the planes do not fly at sunset as there are no lights at Jacmel airport and a trip over the mountains in the dark would be risky. So we took a bus to Wall’s Guest House. It is run by a Canadian organization and it was clean and comfortable and we had a simple meal and some Prestige beer. I had been up for almost 36 hours, so the passing trucks and pedestrians barely disturbed my sleep, Up at 5 AM, we are off to the small airport to be on the first flight. It finally takes off at 7:15 AM. Cabintair (the airline that hauled us in February and the same pilot). Dick is waiting for us at Jacmel and soon we are at the clinic. Seems that the bags have arrived so, after our oatmeal breakfast, we started to unpack and get underway. Around noon we are ready to go(???). We set up 3 stations, John at one, Sue at the other, and me at Pharmacy. We sent the newbies through in groups and explained what happens in the areas and what was expected of them. So, after our beef log lunch, we start. I have two employees helping me, Justin Locke and John Meyers. They have been on previous teams but never in the pharmacy but they are brave and do not complain. It was herem that it was evident that I was Not ready to be open. We were in a state of catch up all day long. We saw 87 patients and did not get done till 6:30PM. Our line was full al day long and it took awhile for us to find our groove. I am so pleased with my two helpers. They listen, they are cautious; they learn well, they are fun to work with. I miss Carol Steiner, but these two are the best replacements I could have asked for. Most went to the beach after the clinic and the on to Son Son’s bar. We did not get dinner till late, then our team meeting afterwards. Yes, it was after 10 when I finally hit the bed. I am in the early riser’s room, on the bunk that Larry Shank usually takes. It is very comfortable. Thanks Larry. UP this morning at 5AM. Bruce has the coffee ready. The electricity shuts off at 6AM and the generator is broken so we need to get it brewed. Oatmeal breakfast. Papa Dick cooked. Wow!
Down to the pharmacy at 7: 30 AM for another busy day.

First of all, this is a FUN team. There is no tension or politics. It is just like the February team and that is Wonderful. I love it when people can work, play, eat, and recreate together.

A note to CJ’s mom, He is quite a great young man. He jumps in when ever anything is needed, is praised by everyone, and I am most proud of him. I have been so busy in the pharmacy; I really do not know all that he has been doing so I will leave it up to him to detail it. WE are glad he is along!

Today we saw around 200 patients and it was smoother (??) than yesterday. We are dealing with a baby issue at the Jacmel hospital and I can now report that the baby will be able to die with some dignity at the Sister’s of Charity hospital. The baby had been dropped of at the Jacmel hospital by the police and NO ONE was caring for it. The people who run the orphanage next to Tina’s school got us involved. Dr Bill, a pediatrician, went to see the baby yesterday and we arranged the transfer today. You do not want to hear the medical problems with the baby because I cry when I try to write about them, as does the team. Suffice to to say that the baby will ‘die with dignity” sometime before we leave for home but will have been cared for and loved for at least a part of her short life.

I apologize that I have not written. No one’s wireless is working at that makes us mad. We have tried and tried. Our cards connect but our computers do not. I wrote this on a Word document and will carry it to the main computer to send to you. It is open for the moment so I will do a quick spell check and move it out/

I miss all of you, especially Donna and my family. I am safe, sound (?), happy. And tired but so full filled.

Please keep us in your prayers as we are praying for you. God bless you, Ed

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Haiti At A Glance

From Maimi Herald 5/18/06

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. The U.N. Human Development Index ranks it 153 of 177 nations.

Poverty and Income Distribution:

75-80 percent of Haiti's 8.3 million people live on less than $2 per day.

The poorest half of the country survives on average on $0.44 per day.

The wealthiest 20 percent take in 68 percent of the nation's income.


Half the population has no access to safe drinking water.

Life Expectancy at birth is between 49 and 51 years

More than 5 percent is estimated to have HIV/AIDS.

23 percent of children suffer from malnutrition, 13 percent from acute malnutrition.

Under-five mortality rate is more than 12 percent.


Half the population is illiterate.

An estimated 500,000 children do not have access to primary education.

Less than 60 percent of children are in primary school.

Only half of Haiti's 45,000 teachers have a 9th grade education


Only 10 percent of the population has electricity, often for just part of the day.

In a 10,667-square-mile territory, there are only 380 miles of paved roads, most in terrible condition.

In the capital, only 20 percent of households have piped water.

Only 20 percent of the capital's inhabitants have telephones, much less in the countryside.

Economy and Land

Only 45 percent of adults are employed, two thirds of them in informal jobs.

Nearly 25 percent of household income comes from remittances from Haitians living abroad.

97 percent of the country's forests have been cut down.

80 percent of farmers -- half the country's working population -- cannot satisfy the basic needs of their family.

Government and Justice.

80 percent of prisoners in Haiti have not been charged with a crime.

4,500 under-equipped, under-trained police officers patrol a country with the population of New York City.

The national police chief has estimated 25 perce

Friday, May 12, 2006

Packing for Haiti once again

The Friends of The Children of Haiti team for May 2006 is about to leave for another medical mission to Cyvadier, Haiti. The political climate in Haiti is less volatile than we encountered in February so we may not get stuck there on this trip. The weather promises to be hot and humid. Here in Peoria today it is cool (45 degrees) and windy. Not a very nice spring. This team has 20 members and Dick & Barb Hammond are already in country. We will have 9 medical providers so I will be busy in the pharmacy. I am returning on this trip as no other pharmacist was available to travel at this time and I would have sat home and worried about the team instead of relaxing. Yes, I do not seem to be able to say no most of the time. I will have the pleasure of escorting a 16 year old young man on this trip. His father is a business colleague of mine and he lives in Missouri. He plans to be a church missionary. This will be an experience for him, working in a poor third world country. This is a 10 day mission trip so it will be shorter and faster than our 14 day February trip. I will take along my laptop so I can hook into the wireless network there and publish to this blog. That is fun and, with the laptop, I will not have to wait so long in line to get a terminal. I plan to take my web cam so I can connect with Skype phones and I also plan to take the good digital camera and try to attach photos as I write.
Please keep us in your prayers. Please write back. I enjoy hearing from you. God Bless You!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Home, sweet home.

Yes, we finally made it back to Peoria. Safe and tired. Many of the team were awake all night and ready to leave. I was up at 4: and the coffee was ready. We left the clinic at 5:30 for lovely Jacmel airport. We were told to be there for weigh in. In typical Haitian fashion we stood around until 8:30 AM before our 7 AM plane showed up. We were able to load all of our bags and tote boxes on the plane. I had my doubts but we managed. Since our group was down to 14 that made it somewhat easier. We got to the small airport and loaded gear and us on a very nice bus and off to the international terminal. That was the usual zoo with crowds and impatient people. We finally got us all checked in and went to the snack bar/gift shop/rum store for the traditional purchases of a Haitian Hot dog. Souvenir t-Shirt, and case of rum. They were out of the 15 year rum so we got a case of 5 star for FOTCOH fundraiser. Our plane was nearly on time and full. We arrived in Miami and our luggage followed son. Debbie had checked her carry on and her digital camera was missing. That was heartbreaking. We shoved our checked baggage through customs and breezed through that. Now we have 5 hours to wait, eat, read & relax. Around 5 we arrived at the gate area. The Miami airport was very crowded & busy so we chose to pass through security early. At the gate area, since we were split into two flight 1 hour apart we stayed together because our gates for departure were next to each other. American was over booked so the early 6, (Donna and I included) chose to get bumped to the later flight with the rest of the team. Donna and I were finally hungry but the nearby snack shop was almost out of food. That reminded us of our recent Haitian experience of toilet paper and food shortages. Fortified with a warm Cuban sandwich we got on the plane which was late but we could not change that. At least it was there and we were 1 step closer to home. We arrived in Chicago sometime around 10:30 pm . Some of our bags and boxes were on the earlier flight and the boxes were in baggage claim. The rest of our luggage came, except Debbie's carry on. After a 1 hour search and confrontation with the lost luggage counter, she found her bag about to be put into the lost luggage room and we headed for the charter bus. We had lost the driver's cell phone so we played telephone tag for awhile as he was driving around and around the airport. We again managed to fit it all on to the bus and took off. We made a rest stop in Dwight Illinois at the McDonald's and it took 45 minutes for that sleepy crew to prepare some food. We arrived in Peoria sometime around 2 or 2:. I never consulted my watch. We were home, showered, and ready for bed at 3:30 AM. Up at 7:30 AM and tired all day. We downloaded our pictures and I plan to post them here this weekend., so please stay tuned.

I sincerely want to thank you for your many prayers and for your support. As I said, I plan to post pictures soon and also after the picture party which has not been announced. I still plan on going in late May as there remains no other available pharmacist. Perhaps you can include that in your prayers. Thanks for putting up with my mis-spellings & poor grammar. I know there is a nun somewhere in Heaven who is reading this with anger.
God bless the Haitian people with peace and prosperity. May God bless all of you.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saturday night, is this really our last night here?

We are just back from dinner at a nearby hotel. It was great. Good food, California wine, a pool for Donna to swim in. We could not ask for more here in Haiti. We were forced to go to the hotel for dinner as we have eaten all of the food reserves and some of Dick's stash of food. We are out of toilet paper- a major crisis, for sure. We were up at 4 AM today to see the lucky 5 who left today. They had a 3 1/2 house wait at lovely(Ha!) Jacmel airport. They got to watch 2 planes come and go before theirs finally came in. They made their connections in P-A-P and we just heard that all are on their way home or where ever their destination was. They were very happy to get to the USA.
Much of the group went on a hike today up the mountain. My knee decided to act up and Dr. Jeremy checked it over and we concurred that my Birkenstocks were the problem. As soon as I switched shoes the pain went away. That's a good thing as we have quite a hike at the Miami airport tomorrow. Tonight the TV is broken again. Someone switched channels and messed it up again. Dick will be so happy when we leave. So no Olympics tonight and no report from Daytona. We are to head for the airport at 5:15AM so it will be early to bed and hope we can get some sleep. We did get many phone calls today and everyone is having problems with the delay in transmission. All have a tendency to speak and not wait for it to go back and forth, me included. We will likely hold a prayer service at the Jacmel or P-A-P airport as we will not be able to go to Mass on Sunday. We are all on the same plane to Miami but on two different flights from Miami to Chicago. Our bus is supposed to be there at 10 PM Sunday night so it will be a long day. Donna and I finished our Bible study today and we both finished another book. Yes, we are bored..
I will try to finish this on Tuesday or Wednesday when I am back in Peoria. I plan to include some of our pictures on this site so you can experience part of our trip to this beautiful country. I do want to thank you so very much for all of your prayers and support. It has kept our spirits up. This team has been amazing. We have had NO team fights or raised voices or even minor disputes. Everyone has gotten along so well and it will be hard to say goodbye. This morning was rough to wish the five farewell. Your forecast in Illinois will be hard to adjust to from this 85 degree weather. I hope our house is warm when we finally get there. Keep praying. We may be home, safe and sound soon...

Friday, February 17, 2006

School days and I am in trouble

Many of the group watched movies and the Olympics last night to see Peoria's own Matt Savoie skate on the ice. The Haitians girls made us a wonderful Haitian meal with beet/potato salad, rice & beans & red sauce. It was great. I will miss some of this food.
This morning Barb Hammond and I ventured up to Tina's school. It is located on the main road about 1 mile from our compound. We visited all of the grades from the smallest to the largest. It was very much fun. Each class sang us a different song and it was neat to see who would sing, who was shy, who were the rebels, and so on. At one of the higher grades, I estimate our 7th -10th grades, there was a young man who spoke excellent English and had some of the American lingo added in. It was fun to talk with him and tease him in front of his peers. Smiles everywhere. Brought tears of joy to my old eyes as I thought of family back home, my little friends in Holland, etc. It brings tears as I write this. Thankfully every one but Donna, our sun goddess, Courtney, who is under the weather, and me, the sun recluse are here at the compound. The rest are at Ti Moulouge, the nice beach. We chose to stay back. I need to clean up some files (temporary internet files) off this computer and do a defrag to try to speed it up a little. I am in trouble with the group however. When I tried to read the Haitian's handwritten information about the VOIP telephone number I misread one digit. What I took for a 7 was a 2 so for those who need our phone number it is: 309-329-5014. We are getting incoming calls now that I have that corrected. I am not yet sure what punishment the group will inflict upon me. Probably many lashes with a wet noodle! As of the writing all is quiet in P-A-P and 5 people may get to fly out of here at 7 AM on Tortug Air or Carbintair flights to P-A-P. At P-A-P, they will spilt up on two flights, at 11AM and 1PM, to head to Miami. We have asked them to call us back from Miami so that we know they are safely in the good old USA. It was good to hear my son's voice when he called. I cheated and sent him the number with a request that he call me back to make sure it was working. I suspect that the phone will be busy tonight. It is a little hard to get used to the delay caused by the phone signal going from the computer to the satellite to the ground station and through the hard wires to the person on the other end. I have not timed the delay but it seems to be about 20-30 seconds so conversation is jerky. Also when someone is on either or both of the computers it is even longer. I am told that is due to "packets" of information that are transmitted. It also knocks out some computer email "sends." It's all way over my head, for sure. I hope to write more tomorrow with more news of our USA prospects. We are still wondering if there was a concluding episode of Gilligan's Island so we know how we will get back. Someone, in an email, said they would contact Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie to come to our aid from the Dominican Republic. What do you thank the chances of that are? There is also a rumor that an article is in the current Peoria Journal Star about our plight. We were hoping to avoid that as it might cause people to worry unnecessarily, cause people not to volunteer for future missions, cause people not to contribute to FOTCOH for our important work here. That reminds me. This morning a small baby from Marigot was brought in by her mother and father. She has a severe cleft palate. We had treated her for scabies and they were not going away. I mixed up another batch, added som anti fungal cream and antibiotics for her skin infection. Mom, of course, had to show me her skin rash all over the trunk of her body. With Mario, the interpreters help, I showed her how to apply the cream to the baby as she was just gobbing (hello Bob Hoy-I hate that word) the cream all over the baby and often not where it was needed. I also showed her how to administer the antibiotic to the baby. I found that we have a picture but I had to email it to myself and I'll publish it here when I get back to Peoria. Perhaps God did have a reason that we were to stay here. Only He knows. Thanks for the many emails today. They help us a lot. It's starting to cloud up so I'd better go find Donna and sit with her. We are reading, reading, reading. With our chaperone Courtney, we can't do much else... Keep on praying, please.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I just wish you could have seen this yourself

Today was spectacular. It is very hard to put into words what we have seen. If one were to go to any of the travel guide books and look up Jacmel, Haiti you would read about a waterfall. Well today, we got to go there and again, words do not describe it. We drove through Jacmel to the west side of town and took a sharp left turn to cross the far end of the city dump. Next we encountered a river bed where hundreds of people were washing clothes and themselves in the “clean, clear water.” We forded that small river, water up to the tires, and climbed the river bank. Mind you our truck had 5 people inside and 6 on the outside. Next we encounter a road (?) that had ruts that could swallow a small car and ruts filled with mud and water. The 4 wheel drive held on and we went really slow as we bounced from side to side and up and down. This went on for about a mile and we cam upon a rocky steep trail that seemed to go straight up. We passed huts, through a small town with about 20 stone huts and continued up the mountain. I estimate that we reached an altitude of 15, 000 feet and a spectacular view of Jacmel harbor from the west side awaited us. Of course we were cheered along the way by several small children in various stages of undress who shouted “ Blanc, Blanc.” Next we took a sharp right, on this unmarked route and began again to climb another mountain. This whole trip from town to the destination was about 5 miles but it took about 1 hour. We arrived at a series of houses and were greeted by about 30 people anxious to assist us, for money, of course. We got out of the truck and followed them on a trail, if you could call it that, about one mile. Along this way we crossed 3 streams, with slippery rocks, and lots of rock climbs and hills. How old am I? And what have I gotten myself into now? After climbing over the last 5 foot rock we stopped and were told to take off our shoes. We had been advised to wear tennis shoes. Here we are at the ROPE. Okay, the drill is to hang on to this rope and rappel down. You have to be kidding me!. No, I am not. Luckily there are hand holds cut in the rock for feet and hands and there is someone behind the women (discrimination) as they descend. Now it is another trail and it is slick with wet moss and some drop offs and a big hill to climb. Where oh where did my breath go? I am getting winded! Only for a while as we are now at this pool of rushing water at the destination. The walls are about 8 to 10 stories high and were cut out of this volcanic rock by the water from a spring higher on the mountain. The opening is about 30 foot wide and the water races down the far side. The Haitians urge us to ford the small pond. We get there by swimming, of course, and climb up on this large rock in the middle of the small lagoon. The water is cool but not cold and very refreshing. We get on the rock and there is the 75 foot deep pool. Some of the brave souls swim to the waterfall and climb along it. There are 3 levels, one under the falls, and another about 10 feet above with a rocky overlook and about 30 feet higher and another point from which to dive in. Me? I took pictures for awhile till Donna’s camera ran out of digital memory. I should have checked it before we left the clinic. I have a 1 Gb card that is blank to put in to it. Again, several brave souls choose to dive off the two lower perches and we witnessed one Haitian dive from the highest perch. I was talked into the water and enjoyed myself. Donna was in heaven with swimming around and we constantly had to warn her to clear out of the diver’s way. Another Blanc joined us and we spoke briefly. He had a French accent to his English so I suspect he was from Montreal, Canada. Now it is time to go back and we are helped along the way by Haitians. They make sure we do not slip & fall. It was harder going back that coming and again I had problems catching my breath. Fortunately there were others behind me in case I was unable to make it, but I managed to complete the trip, The Haitians, of course, asked for money and we told them that Boyer, our man translator, would be paying them. That was a free-for-all when he pulled out the cash and we reloaded the truck for the return trip. On the way back, the view was again wonderful and glorious. When we got to the river bed, we encountered a large truck that was stuck in the muddy hole in the middle of the road and we could not get passed it. So we backed up and found another road to town. This time, we are in the middle of the city dump. Can you imagine the smell of burning garbage? Can you picture people living here? Going here for water? Bathing and washing clothes in the water? Imagine the types of strictures they call home. I can’t begin to describe them. But through them we pass and into the city of Jacmel on the poor side of town. We are in the area where the Sisters of Charity, Mother Theresa’s sisters, hospital is located but we did not pass by it. As we get to the middle of Jacmel, there is a Caterpillar road grader and a large Cat end loader blocking the main road. This is road construction, Haitian style. So we have to detour, no signs to assist, through back allies to get back on the road to Cyvadier. We were very fortunate as very few teams have been able to have this experience. So here we are, back at the clinic and checking emails and conditions in Haiti. It still looks like we will leave, some on Saturday, and the rest on Sunday if American flies as indicated. We are now, officially short on water so laundry is banned, flushing is for condition brown only, hand washing of clothes with bottled water the only way to get clean underwear, etc. Food is another issue. I found last night’s rice dish wonderful but others are tiring of rice. Magazine ads with steaks and other American dishes are posted all over the kitchen. The game of Uno Hearts has finally been learned and the card games are boisterous. As I write this, the TV is on the third movie in a row to pass the time and I am enjoying a book a day. Sunrises are still spectacular and the full moon rises about 8 PM and is still visible at 5 AM. We still have microwave popcorn and oatmeal left. It has been said that we are the 2006 version of Gilligan’s Island. That may be close to the truth. Rene Preval has been declared President and there is celebration, not riots in P-A-P. That is good news. Otherwise we sit and wait. We hope that you are not too worried about us. We are safe, as for sound, you know that is debatable.. You already figured we were not of sound mind to travel to Haiti during and election. Thank you for your emails of prayers and support. They mean a lot to all of us. Please keep it up. We hear that there is a 9” snow storm to greet us on Sunday night when we reach O’Hare. We needed a topper.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Haiti politics

It seems that our problems stem from alleged voter fraud form the election last week. There is talk of several thousand ballots found burning in a P-A-P dump. Preval seems to have the majority and some group of international politicians are hoping to declare him president fo the country can move foreword. Meanwhile we wait. The American embassy has been notified we are here. A request, in jest, was to get The Donald (Donald Trump) to come and get us in his helicopter. We have way to much time on our hands to think of these ideas. We now have a new phone with a 309 area code. It is a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) but the signal still goes to the satellite so we are weather dependent. Tomorrow we will go to the main tourist attraction in this area, a waterfall and a clear mountain pool. It is reputed that we will have to climb down, via rope, to get to it. We will see who is brave and who is not. Some have flights out on Saturday. Donna and I along with the rest are to leave on Sunday. We have chartered a Peoria Charter coach to come to O'Hare to pick us up as there are not enough seats on American from Chicago to Peoria and our crates and bags will not fit into a large van. Friday we will again try to go to the Ti Mouloge beach that we enjoyed on Sunday. One bit of good news: if we are still here on Sunday night the Karnival will be big and exciting. When I rode to town today, all the streets were filled with people. It is hard to describe in words, the small crowded streets teeming with people. The market with the narrow aisles and food of every description. The dominates here are excellent. We had a native dish with rice and vegetables for dinner this evening. Some are getting tired of rice. Donna and I are enjoying it. We also have fresh baked bread that is very tasty. Tonight there are millions of stars in the sky and a gorgeous moon rise in the east so I am off to star gaze before I hit the sack. You are in our prayers.

Wednesday and we are still stuck

Okay, whose dream was it to be stranded on a tropical island. Don't everyone raise their hands at once. It wasn't me, thats for sure. By now you know of our plight. We are being as patient as we can. Donna is holding up very well. She is working on her tan. Everyone is getting along. We just got out of an update meeting but nothing much new to report. We are looking into going to the Dominican Republic to fly out but we may still have to go through the international airport in P-A-P. We are not getting much in the way of news about the airport but the roads to the city are closed. We would, of course, fly from Jacmel to P-A-P and then on to Santo Domingo, and then on to the USA. That is presently a dream and not a reality. No one is in danger and the weather is nice so we will just wait it out. We used Congressman LaHood's office to notify the American Embassy in P-A-P that we are here and in no danger. We just wanted to be on their radar, in case of emergency evacuations and they were not aware of our plight. There is a joke circulating that the Peoria Air guard will fly in a C-130 to Jacmel. Word is they were the first to land a C-130 here in the past. I presently doubt that will happen. Some bad news, some one messed with the TV and we've lost the signal to it and they can't watch Dr Phil & Oprah, or the Olympics. Lots of books to read, games to play, ocean to watch etc. We may go to the scenic waterfall tomorrow and back to the nice beach on Friday to pass the time. I went to Jacmel to market today and it was very crowed and busy. Donna wanted more wine, so we went to 2 stores to get some. One of the reds was bottled in P-A-P and cost $ 3.00 USA bottle and all so it may be really great? stuff.. Ha! OOOPs, a UN truck just pulled up and I'll need to go.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Help! We are stuck in Haiti!

Nothing is ever easy. We learned late yesterday that American Airlines had canceled all flights to and from Haiti on February 14, the day we were to fly out. Then we found out that all flights on February 15 are full. We MAY leave on February 16 to at least Miami. Then we will have to stay over night, in $259.00/night rooms, and fly to Chicago on Friday. There we will have to split up on separate flights to get to Peoria some time in the afternoon. Our travel agent, at Suzi Davis travel, worked late last night and most of today to assist us. We owe here big time. As I write this at 5PM EST. American will be flying tomorrow, if there is no further civil disturbances in P-A-P. All we can do here is sit, wait, and pray. We have stayed close to the compound just in case of problems. People have found out and a few have come to us for medical problems. There is a beach close by. Donna and I completed the Bible study that we'd put off and did not have time for. Josh & I set up the wireless network and with his laptop and wireless card we now have two very busy computer terminals for emails. Our service is via satellite and when the rains come we loose our signal and our TV. There is a small library here and everyone's spirits are remaining positive. This has been a wonderful team and everyone gets along very well, in spite of conditions. We are short on food but we may break down and purchase more Haitian food. They did restock the beer, soda, and found a few bottles of wine. All of us do not have a reserve supply of our prescription medications so tomorrow, I will improvise some alternate therapies. Maybe I'll consult the voodoo doctor for assistance. Ha!
I ask for your prayers. The meeting that I was to attend on Wednesday night will go on with out me. Donna's hour at perpetual adoration will somehow get covered. Simply put we do not have to put ourselves in harm's way just to get home. So help us with your prayer support, as we continue to pray for you.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Our last Monday

Strange. Here I am at 1:30 PM with computer time and, hopefully, all my work done for the day. But that is getting ahead of myself so I'll go back to Sunday. We awoke several times on Saturday night and early Sunday morning due to high winds and loads of rain. It seemed to have passed over as we awoke and we got through our prayer service and a great breakfast before the rain again began to fall. Boo Hoo, we are supposed to go to the nice beach today. The closed it got to time to leave the rain would start and stop frequently. As we left for the 10 mile ride in an open Tap-Tap, it began to rain again. I was standing at the rear and luckily had on my swim trunks and t-shirt as I soon got soaked. Along the route, in Cayes Jacmel we were stopped by a UN policeman and several, black-hooded men carrying what looked to be guns. As we got closer and were stopped it was all a part of Karnival celebrations and the roadblock was fake except that the Karnival people wanted money from us. The guns were PVC pipes taped to wooden sticks. They though that the roadblock was entertainment and that we should pay for the show. All it did was scare some of the team so we ventured on. Near the beach, the sun began to shine and we had a wonderful time on the beach, complete with the tiki hut and native food (beans & rice, pickily (a spicy cabbage salsd), grilled lobster, grilled fish, Prestige beer, and rhum. We took walks along the beach, spoke with the UN men who were also relaxing, met a Haitian family from Ohio who came to Haiti for Karnival, and of course, were pestered by all sorts of t-shirt vendors, artists, hat vendors, and about 20 kids. The water was warm and the undertow was not too bad for wading but too strong for any swimming. The current washed all westwardly and they had to go to shore and walk back to our sight. Great exercise!! We did feed the kids some of our food and as soon as one was fed he or she sped to the end of the line so it was quite a circle of kids wanting food. Our Tap-Tap came at 5:30 PM and we rode home and viewed the rain in the mountains. Very Pretty. The full moon came out for awhile and we sat in the moonlight for about 1 hour until the rains came again and stayed all night. This morning we took inventory of drugs and supplies and buttoned up the clinic till the May team comes. This afternoon we are packing our treasures and dirty laundry for the trip home that will begin at Jacmel airport at 6: 30 AM. We are hoping for good weather. smooth rides, easy connections, timely arrivals and anything else to make the return trip go to our advantage. There is some concern today as the country of Haiti is again on strike to protest the election results, so we could be trapped here for the duration. There is never anything else to worry about. Ha Ha!. So this will be my last post from this beautiful place. Thank you once again for your prayers and support. I'll write a wrap up if & when I get home. God bless you!!!