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

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!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday morning

It's early Sunday morning and the computer is available. I just get started at it is time to switch the power. We have electricity from EDH here in Haiti. That means that it is typically Haitian, quite erratic. Fortunatly we have a back up Caterpillar generator. The EDH electricity is usually off from 6 AM till 2PM on most days but many weekend days it is on all the time. Go figure! So now, with EDH power I can continue.
The rain Friday night was quite intense and almost filled the wading pool that we've inflated to bathe the Haitian children in prior to scabies treatment application. Yes, baths are rare for them. Anyhow, with "water from the sky" in the pool, the Haitians dumped it out and told us that it was no good. Compared to most of the water here in Haiti, that is a joke. We also had a problem that during the storm, the gate keeper for our compound allowed 85 Haitians to come in out of the rain. They were waiting outside the compound in make shift shelters for the clinic to open, as they do every night. We had not planned on seeing that many patients on our last 1/2 day so now what to do? The other funny thing about that is picturing 85 people in Esperidon's house which is small and already filled with his very large family. As it worked out, we managed to see 75 patients and were finished by noon. Inventory in the pharmacy will be easy as we have very little left. We also heard from the family that we treated last Monday from America. You may recall that they showed up late at night with a pregnant lady who was having very painful contractions. She made it to Ft Lauderdale and has been in & out of the hospital twice since she has been in the USA and someone finally diagnosed a kidney stone which was the main source of the pain, etc. We are not equipped to diagnose that properly here. It is a happy ending for all of us. The small girl was back for treatment to her severe burns and they are looking much better. We have shown her family members how to continue treatment and sent home the necessary supplies. Al totaled, we have seen over 22oo patients, Dr Lori has pulled almost 300 teeth, and we feel that we have accomplished our goals.
Our Saturday in town was fun. The shopping crew was successful in their bargain hunting. The 4 PM wedding stared at 4:45PM and that is again, Haitian. The Ambians was totally ours for most of the night and it is always eye opening to watch the people on the streets from the balcony of the Ambians. Our dinner, which was to be served at 5: 30 came out at 6PM and they served the rice and beans last, after most of us were done. The pomfreys (French fries) were cold but tasted good. This year, I tried the goat, after all, and I liked it. The portions of fish (species unknown) was large and filled with bones. Donna had the beef on a stick with vegetables and it was also tasty. Every time we get food in Haiti it is overcooked, but that's probably a good thing. Today, we have lots of people still in bed. Seems a storm came up overnight, again, and drove the roof dwellers inside, soaking wet. Quite a commotion. We also have one person (who wishes to remain anonymous) who kept throwing up all night. Today is another prayer service, a French toast breakfast with bacon, and a day at the nice beach. It's time for others to get on line so I'll close. God bless all of you.

Friday, February 10, 2006

It's a girl

It’s a girl!

Baby Girl Michel was born Tuesday February 7, 2006 at 8:30 a.m.,
weighing 5 pounds and 14 ounces

Mother’s name Jesula Michel
from Raymond, Haiti

Both are doing fine!

This baby was born at the Friends of the Children of Haiti Medical Clinic, in Cyvadier Haiti. Dr. Garron Lukas was the attending physician. He was assisted by nurses Kay Shank RN, and Debi Yandell RN. The rest of the February 2006 FOTCOH medical mission team provided their encouragement and support.

Friday in the rain

Today was crying baby day, terrible scabies day, rainy day, and sadly our last full day. We saw 295 or 300 depending on how patients were tabulated. The day started in the rain, then the sun came out, then the rain appeared, then the sun, then the rain and so on till about 10AM. Again, I feel sorry for the Haitians as they had to endure this and while the Americans were hot and welcomed the rain, the Haitians became cold and began to shiver.
Yes we had screaming babies all day long and it does tend to wear on a person. We have almost run out of suckers which usually quiet them down. I had a very sad task this afternoon. An elderly lady in her 70’s, was seen by Dr Lukas. His station is outside the back door of the pharmacy and I can usually hear him as he discussed the patient’s problem with the interpreter. I overheard him tell the lady that she had severe breast cancer and needed to go to the local hospital for treatment. She left the provider and showed up in the pharmacy line and soon was at the pharmacy to be given vitamins and pain medications. When my interpreters began to explain how she was to take the medications she was given, she showed them the blue referral slip that she was given to take to the hospital so FOTCOH would pay for the treatment. She did not understand what she was to do with the slip or where she was to go. I, with my very limited knowledge of Kreole, could tell that something was wrong so I came out and asked my guys what was the problem. They were as confused as the lady so I told them that I would lead her back to the Doctor for help. Just as soon as we left the pharmacy, one of the Haitians hollered at the lady because she was supposed to exit the grounds as soon as she exited the pharmacy. So I had to tell him that she was with me and to back off. The next encounter was with one of the doctor’s interpreters and we again explained why we were there. The doctor was in surgery and not available but we drug his interpreter out and went over the story 3 times. We thought we had finally convinced her until we passed the waiting line for the doctor and all of the women in the line began to chatter at her. So back to my boys for one more try. I told Roger, my best worker, to talk with her slowly and kindly and explain that she had breast cancer and needed to go to the hospital to have it cared for. We think we have it solved and she proceeds to go out the entrance to the area rather than the exit. We got her turned around and I finally broke into tears. It was so heart breaking. Just one of the many hundreds of stories we could tell but that would take quite awhile.
It has been pouring since we closed and some of the group were out at the bar and just came in, wet and muddy. I’ll bet they will not sleep on the roof tonight because I am sure their bedding is soaked. This is the first year that we have had a good shower of rain. Other years it would only rain in the nights we would try to show movies outside on the upstairs porch wall. The rain is a good thing as our water reservoir ran dry this morning and we need to pump water from the well to the reservoir and then to the tanks on our roof. No laundry today and we were just told we could take FAST showers. Yeah, I am sticky and sweaty. Tomorrow is aour last day, and it is a half day at that. We’ll stop seeing patients at noon. In the afternoon, some will go to the wedding of one of our interpreters, some will go shopping, and the rest will relax and go into Jacmel in the late afternoon for dinner. The adventure is winding down and we will be packing for home on Monday after we take a closing inventory. It will be hard to close tomorrow. It will be very hard for the crowd control people to tell the crowd we are done until May, but that is what is required. There is a great deal of team satisfaction this year, as we have felt in years past. We have made a difference and that is a good thing. Thanks to all of you for your words, support and prayers. I’ll try to continue writing to this for a few more days. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as we have enjoyed experiencing it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rain, UTI's, lots of patients, and sponsored children

The overnight rain drove the roof sleeping team members indoors about 4:30 AM so the day started early for me. It rained lightly till about 7:30AM. That is when we started seeing patients. That means that we saw the ones who were out in the rain overnight. Soon the sun came out and the humidity level rose so it was a muggy day. Today was body odor day from patients and Haitian helpers. First time it has been noticeable. We treated 290 patients today with several hard cases. Lots of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's) today. We could almost call it the daily special. Dr's Lukas & Ufert & Fulk in and out all day as we try to treat with dwindling supplies. We have 1 1/2 days of clinic left and it is getting hard to come up with treatment alternatives. It is also taxing to the mind of this older R.Ph. I am so thankful of the library of resources available here. Thanks to previous pharmacists and others for the great library. We are seeing a lot of asthma this time, some very critical. Dr Lukas has been busy with minor surgeries and he does the best that he can in the poor light and difficult conditions. The boy (11 years old) that Donna and I sponsor came for a visit today with his mother. It was a bad time for me as we were in the middle of about 6 problems and I did not have much time to spend with him. People kept coming up to ask questions and all of our heads were spinning. Donna did get some pictures. Belany, one of my interpreters tried to take several pictures of Donna, our boy Jean Dessin, his mother and me. None of them are centered. That was so funny that he could not take a picture. The boy is Belany's nephew. Finally, Dan Steiner happened by and we do have a picture. Speaking of sponsored children, There are 5 children who, for several reasons, have lost their sponsors and there is about 20 on the waiting list. For $ 25.00 per month the child can attend school (uniform is required) and have some money for food. It was very hard on me the other day to hear Barb Hammond tell a mother that the sponsor for her oldest child had passed away and the money had dried up until someone else could be found. I don't know how to paint the picture any other way. It is bleak for these poor people. One can hope that the latest election will bring some stability to the government, the country, and to the people. We've heard that Rene Preval is the winner but nothing official. Donna reminds me to ask any of my pharmacist friends and those of you who might know of a pharmacist who could come to Haiti on a mission in May, please let them know. A note to some previous team members. Sparky has been on the menu many evenings. For the rest, Sparky is the name of a chicken that a team member purchased and runs around the compound (or his prodigy) and crows all night long. Try as we might, the ***** chicken makes noise... Again, thanks for the comments you are sending me. I'm having trouble posting them so all can read them. Y guess my computer skills were left in Peoria. It's almost time for supper so I'll close and let someone else check their email before supper. God bless you!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Today was a normal day, if you can call any thing normal here. We were swamped from the get go and finished by 4:15 PM. Of Course we start at 7:30AM , stop for lunch at 11:30AM, then back at it till we've seen the last patient. We are getting bombarded by requests from our Haiti staff to see this relative, to provide some medications to this person, atc. One patient asked us repeatedly today for money for tap-tap (public transportation) fare to go home. None of us had any money on us to give her. That was tough as she had a small baby in her arms and clearly needed some help. I have not found out about the count today. I will be getting more information on our new baby from yesterday as I've been requested to search the internet to see if I can print out a make shift birth certificate for the family. I'm promised the baby's name, birth weight, etc so when I finish this I will begin the search. I have programs as home to do this but there is none here. I did have to load an anti virus program and a pop up blocker last night to protect this system. The weather was in the 90's today, warm and muggy. Sleeping is good as it drops to about 70 degrees and there is usually a light wind. We have 2 1/2 days of clinic left and the pharmacy is beginning to run out of some important medications. That is disheartening but not unusual. We were short on money going into this clinic so we ordered lighter than we would have like to order. I hope the fund raising group reads this and continues to bring in the cash. I understand that there is a fund raising event scheduled for Bloomington Illinois some time in March. I'll post details. We will likely have lots of pictures from this trip at that event. Today was crying babies day. It was the loudest and most amount of crying I can recall. I'm happy to sit here in the quiet as I write this. The only sounds are the ocean and the nearby goats. Many have gone to the beach or to the bar. I've got my beer and my internet and it's cool and quiet. Thanks for your continued prayers. We are coming home in less than 1 week....

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Oh no,Its a mother in labor, Oh no, it's a girl

We started of Election day with just a very few workers. None of my help showed up so I drew a new young interpreter. All worked well if I explained it to him 3 times. Thank goodness we were slow until a mother who had been in labor showed up. About 2 1/2 hours later came the news that it was a girl. Made for quite an exciting morning as we limped along. The last of my help showed up ay 3 PM and we were done by 4 after seeing 175 patients. Many team members tired today. It was a hot and muggy day. Still and no breeze. I know that you, in the USA, are having cold weather and you might be wishing for this heat. We have 4 or 5 male team members sleeping outside on the roof to cool off. Jealous yet?? You can always join Donna and I next year. We can use your help! Dentist Lori is still swamped with patients. She pulled 11 teeth on one patient today and will pull more later this week. There is some confusion as to when the May team is coming so I hope we get that settled soon. Phil Luciano is home in Peoria and plans a column on Haiti tomorrow. I hope to read it on line ( Not much else new here. Helpers report that voting was confusing but peaceful, so far. There is still lingering concern. I hear that Karnival will resume next Sunday ( it was not held last Sunday) so we will enjoy our meal and show at Ambiance overlooking the crowd. I noticed that the anit virus has expired on Dick's computer here so I'll close and down load AVG so he has some protection. He also needs a pop up blocker so I'll get off and download before the line behind me gets any longer. Please keep praying.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monday, Monday

Wow. Monday is done. We saw 284 patients and I was upstairs at 4:20PM.Unheard of in the past. However, we start at 7:30 AM so that does make a difference. We are now running out of Colace(a stool softener). That was one of the meds that the mice chose to eat so we started out with less than expected. We are also using more of the Ivermectin(for severe scabies cases) than I had expected. That may run out on Wednesday. We spent Sunday at Cap Lemondue hotel. It was as nice as ever, the pool was a little cool and it was cloudy (it was hot and sunny today as we had to work-figure that!) but warm. Donna and I ate the sauted shrimp. It was delicious. The food came on time and we were done early. Their satellite connection was not working so we had to wait till we got home at 8PM to watch it. Chardonnay, the bus boy that I met on year one and worked with, has been promoted to bartender so Donna snapped our picture. Tonight, our Haitian housekeepers prepared our supper of rice & bean with a tomato, onion sauce and a beet salad. One of my favorite meals here. Tomorrow is the election here in Haiti and we still do not know what to expect. We will have to wait and see. Donna has given me permission to return here in May as that team does not have a pharmacist. Two trips in a row with a Teens Encounter Christ(TEC) team and TEC weekend in between should be interesting and taxing. Not much news from home and that is both good and bad. We are about to enter week two. It is flying by fast. I'll try to write again tomorrow. God bless all of you.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Saturday Night Action

Some of the group went to Son-Son's bar at the hard road. I was smart enough to stay at the clinic. They ran up a large bar bill, there are tales of some one dancing on the tables, tales of dancing in the streets, and one who had to be carried up the stairs. Just the time we got that problem settled, we find out that we have guests. Tina, an American who runs the school nearby had been entertaining that a couple from the USA who had been in Jacmel running an orphanage for the past year and one-half. The wife was pregnant and due to go home in mid February to deliver the baby. There are other side stories here but suffice to say that after watching a friend die at child birth at the local hospital, they opted to deliver in the USA. She had been to her OB doctor in Port-Au-Prince about two Weeks ago. The husband called the doctor on Saturday as the wife had some congestion. The doctor remembered that when she was in 2 weeks ago, a test was taken and the doctor forgot to call her to tell her she had a bad urinary tract infection. When she arrived here last night, the infection was so bad that it was causing labor like contractions. Tina knew this was the place to bring her. Dr Jeremy, nurses, Kay, Debi, and Sue, EMT Josh jump into action. I assisted in drugs etc. They administered IV's and some antibiotics and stabilized the woman. It was decided that she should return to the USA ASAP so on to the computer to make travel plans and pack for the husband while the medical team stood by and continued treatment.This continued till after midnight. It was fortunate that we were here and had most of the things we needed to treat her. Again, to wrap up a long story, they spent the night here, on the ground floor. The husband complained about the 3 mice who paid them a visit in the middle of the night. We had suspected that we had the mice but now had the proof, as poor as that sounds for the distraught couple. At 4:45 this AM, I was up to make sure all made it though the night. The lady was able to walk and most of her color had returned. We put them on the commuter plane to P-A-P with Phil who had to get back to the USA and he will ride with them to Ft. Lauderdale where their family will meet them. Our team mates who had a lot to drink last night and puked all over the place have awakened and the teasing has begun. Shortly we will have a prayer service as we could not get to Mass at 7AM with trying to care for the sick lady. Thank you, Lord for putting us here when the need occurred. Thank you for the team of dedicated professional who were in a celebratory mood but quickly stepped in to help. Had we not been here, she would have aborted the baby due to the critically ill condition she was in. Thank you, my readers for your prayer support. As you can see, it is powerful. We will pray for you again, in just a few minutes.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Saturday afternoon

It was early to bed last night for this tired guy. The wind from the East has picked up and it was a clear night with lots of stars in the sky. The fire on the mountain has gone out, that's a good thing. Today, our 1/2 day, was still busy and we saw 165 patients. Lots of scabies and skin infections. Dr Lucas performed one or two surgeries. Dr Lori, the dentist, sees about 12 patients per 1/2 day and her helper, Mary, and her Haitian helper, Angeline, and my wife Donna keep her busy running from room to room. Dr. Jeremy keeps us all laughing. I had an interesting, 74 year old, patient today who spoke excellent English. He had a sack with all of his medications and we talked about each one. His daughter in New Jersey keeps him in Lantus insulin and Amaryl 2 mg to control his diabetes. I was not buried so we chatted for quite awhile. After lunch, the young man that Father Klamut sponsors came to the clinic with his mother(see picture above). He was healthy and well dressed. His mother tried to speak English and I was rescued by Mario, an interpreter, and Jean Michel, who had brought him to see me. Father sent a soccer ball. I deflated it in the USA and purchased a pump with a needle to reinflate the ball here. Of course, the needle broke off, in the ball, so I again deflated it, extracted the needle with a hypodermic needle, and we found some needles in a drawer to get it reinflated. All totaled, a 1 hour project that attracted every kid in the neighborhood (see picture). Finally we succeeded and his smile was worth all the frustration. I also gave him the pump and needle along with the three tee shirts(Cubs, Cards, Sox) and a patr of shorts. Nice guess on the sizes, Father. They were perfect. Donna was impressed. Today, at the beach, there was no sun and lots of choppy waves. Lots of trinkets and I have pictures of Donna shopping (see picture). There was a young couple and their small child from Madison Illinois. They were on a day at the Cyvadier Platz hotel (above the beach) for her last day in Haiti. She is pregnant and will fly home tomorrow before American Airlines halts flights till after the election. The couple work for a Youth agency and must spend time in foreign countries working with people. Their job has been in a orphanage in Jacmel and also working with the two whore houses in Jacmel. Our founder, Dick Hammel, was unaware of any of those in Jacmel. We'll probably see him next Sunday at the Ambiance when we dine there that night. Today, for lunch, the Haitian girls who work in the living area made a rice-vegetable-garlic dish that was very tasty. We are not starving by any means. Tomorrow is Mass, or a prayer service. Mass is at 7 AM and that presents its own problems with transportation with interpreters. Haitians work on Haiti time which is best described as when ever they feel like it. Time to close and let some one else get on line. I did get a comment on my last posting and I'm having difficulty getting it posted so I'll keep trying so you can all read it. Things still uncertain here about Tuesday, the election day in Haiti. We may be just have a day off due to the elections. No one knows for sure so, we must wait & see. Time on my hands today so lots of thoughts of home and loved ones!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Day three is done, Yeah!

My legs are tired. Too many times up & down the steps and too much standing. Sure glad I wore the compression hose or they would feel worse. Correction, we served 270 patients not 217 yesterday. I did not have my ears on! Imagine that! 270 is a record for me in the three years I've been coming to Haiti. We are having some supply problems. I did not bring enough of the drug "Aceon" due to the weight limits of AA on checked baggage. It is sitting in my basement and would not arrive in time even if we could get it shipped used up all of the Methyl Dopa also. Tonight's meeting will be a disappointing one. The May team will have a lot of patients who will need BP meds. We are reserving our dwindling supplies for severely, out of control patients. We served over 250 patients today but I have not "listened" for the final count. Tomorrow is our 1/2 day and I'll get to go to the local beach. Many team members go each night but I'm usually ready to sit back, relax, take a quiet shower, and rest. Sunday we will go to the nice hotel (Le Mondu) for pool and dinner. That's always a highlight. Tonight we can see a "forest fire" on the mountain. It is rather large and quite a sight to watch. There was another one last night near Jacmel. We had some interesting patients today. One 21 year old girl who has just a few days to live. We tried to make her as comfortable as possible. Very sad, and she is handling it better than I would. One young child had a severe case of scabies all over his cheeks and face. It was very ugly on a 2 year old. We saw another 2 year old who had not developed normally. She could not hold her head up to look at you. I watched as Dr Ufert held the baby and searched for a way to assist the family. I wish we could do something here but there is no such place to treat her in Haiti. She also has a beautiful smile.
And so we try to make a difference, small as it may be, and we will attempt to help as many as we can possibly help. There is growing concern for next Tuesday, the presidential election day. Our workers say they have to vote. The polling place for the Cyvadier ( where we are) is two hours walk away. Will we have workers that day? No one knows. Phil Luciano, our team mate who was to fly home on Tuesday, will go back on Sunday. The workers are full of "gossip" but no one has answers. I did tell Donna that I may have to come back in May as there is no pharmacist for the clinic and it could not operate without one. No explosions from her, yet!
It is very strange. I am not hearing from anyone. I wonder if anyone is reading this? Comments please! Even my email (MSN) is quiet. Wow, that is a first! I did find my missing memory stick that I brought down filled with the FOTCOH files for this computer. I had packed it with my clothes and found it when I did an underwear change. I just had to put that in. Sorry! The sun has set on our hottest day so far, and it is almost time for supper and another early bed time for this tired pill pusher. I'm still praying for you, please pray for us here in Haiti. Thank You! God Bless You!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Second Day, Second Try

Day 2. Where did day 1 go to? I was last in line to get on the internet last night and went to bed instead. Sorry! I am getting older! This is my second attempt tonight. My first atttempt was wiped out by a power outage just as I was finishing and unable to save it. I did not cuss too much.
Day one we saw 107 patients and had limited problems. It is always hectic but loads of fun and adventure. Lots of screaming kids and then a mess of smiling ones. The luke warm water shower last night was relaxing, as it was the same this evening. Today we saw 217 patients. We have two near death from yesterday and that is sad that we can do so little for them. One is a small girl with a bad liver. I did not get to see her and therefore did not cry as much as some others. Much of the group is just returning from the beach now. Donna and I were too tired to go again today. Standing all day wears me out more then ever each trip and who am I to pass up a coller full of beer?
Please do no be alarmed by the news that American Airlines is halting service to Haiti on Feb 6 & 7. It only affected Phil Luciano who was to fly back home on Feb 7. He is rebooked to Feb 5. He did a live satellite radio broadcast from here this afternoon on WMBD radio. I am sorry that I did not know about it earlier so you could have tuned in. It was comical!!
There are a few minor problems with this trip but we will get through them. Donna and I are having a ball, so do not be worried for a minute. We had rain over night. Temps in the high 80's during the day and humid. Lows about 70 so we sleep under a sheet with the ceiling an on low.
It's getting time for supper so I'd better get off and get to chow. Can't miss that today. I did not get time for lunch yesterday but that will not hurt me. Homesickness has not set in. We do not have time for it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Beautiful Sunrise

After no sleep on Monday night and all day Tuesday, the sunrise this morning, a Wednesday, still came too early. Welcome to Haiti. It's morning, the dogs are barking, the goats bleating, and theta darn rooster (Sparky) is still alive. Also, at 6AM the power goes off and my neighbor, Phil Luciano's, he of Peroria Journal Star fame,machine stops working and he wakes up. The day is beautiful, there are some clods and it's 70 degrees.
Our bus was early on Monday night and we made good time. We were so early that we spent 40 minutes at the Des Plaines oasis. Nothing but McDonald's was open. Got to O'Hare in plenty of time to watch the airport awaken. We only moved our bags 3 times this year to get to be able to check in with American. Flight to Miami smooth & on time. 30 Minute walk to the next gate was good exercise but quite a surprise. No plane! Mechanical problems, so we waited. Waited 90 minutes for another plane to arrive so we could continue on. Many of the group ate at the Mexican restaurant so I tagged along. Smart me ordered Chicken Caesar Salad. The rest ordered Mexican food. Bad Mistake. The food was prepared by Cubans and extremely hot & spicy.
Finally to Haiti. Airbus plane was less than 1/2 full, so room to stretch. Usual pandemonium at P-A-P airport. Chinese Fire Drill time. We have narrow window of time to catch local plane. There are no lights at any runways so planes only fly during daylight. We had to get our bags, clear customs, clear the airport, stuff our carry-ons and our selves into a small bus, and drive like crazy to the other end of the airport. At the "commuter" airport we are told that we are too late for the plane. 17 people with no way to get to Jacmel. Lots of talking and we switch airlines. It was a great flight over the mountains. Donna and I are in the second seat and the view was spectacular. Supper ready when we arrive. Relaxed a bit and started to unpack the medications from Europe. Soon, our bags that traveled over the mountains arrive and we finish unpacking. The only breakage is a burst container of salsa, and a container of parmesean cheese. That made a mess in two bags, for sure. At 10 PM, it is time for me to sleep and that brings you to the here and now and it's breakfast time so I'll close off. Thanks for you support and especially your prayers.