Monday, February 8, 2010

Help for Haiti - 4th & final

The final post on my friend Charlene - an ordinary woman (well, I think she's pretty great) who decided to fly to Haiti a few weeks ago to help wherever she could. She has no real medical training (though she is a mom!). These are her final emails back to the states during her trip.

I don't even know where to start about today. The day started out by going to the "central dispatch" to get more supplies. This place was amazing. This is where all supplies go to and where they are distributed. It was just so totally amazing to see this room filled with so many supplies from band aides to orthopedic screws! Amazing at the good of mankind to give so much to even the least of these.

Then we went to the our hospital and began our morning rounds of cleaning wounds and traiging patients for surgery. It was cool though, this morning, because as we started our rounds on one side of the room The doctor from this hospital that we "invaded" asked if he could help.
Now this was the first time he had asked to participate in the care of these patients. So I think that by watching us for several days they gained some understanding of how to take care of these wounds and they wanted to jump in and try it for themselves. So this was really exciting! Volunteers are not going to be here forever and ultimately these patients are under his care so this was a big step! One of our concerns, as we think about leaving, is the care for these patients that we have invested so much of ourselves into. Who will do their
follow-up? So this was a big step for us and for them!

After our morning "rounds" we then helped with the surgeries scheduled for the day. We did more bone setting, casts, mandibular surgery and even an orbital bone surgery! Yes, I retracted the inside of an eyeball while the surgeon did whatever it was that he needed to do inside the eye socket. I am telling you, This is just the most SURREAL experience.
I feel as though I am just kind of walking through a dream and I am going to wake up and all this was just the most unbelievable dream.

As the day came to, what we thought to be, the end.... alas it was not. There was a little 8 year old boy who came in today with injuries that had absolutely nothing to do with the earthquake. He fell and hit his head so he was brought in to the hospital. One of the surgeons on our team is a neurosurgeon. He was called into service. And things were fine until 5:00 when all of a sudden this little boy was listless and non-responsive. So he was rushed into one of the operating rooms and he was in really bad shape. He was in a comma and totally non responsive.

A few of us did pray for him as the neurosurgeon tended to him. This boy was literally dying right before us. We took turns sitting by him as the anaesthesiologist was medicating him with the drugs he needed. I sat by his side humming songs and stroking his face. Within moments all the volunteers at the hospital worked together and went into emergency mode and before we knew it, there were like 20 of us on cell phones, satellite phones and blackberry's and before you know it, people were on the phone with different countries looking for helicopters to air lift this boy out, calling the UN, calling the White House, contacting the US Navy, etc. Long story short, this boy suddenly got woke up and his eyes were tracking and he could respond to commands, etc. So he is in the hospital tonight with a nurse watching him overnight. Tomorrow we will see how he is doing.

Speaking of tomorrow, it doesn't sound like we are going to getting out of here tomorrow. The plane that is expected to come in with some cargo, is not able to get here until late in the day and you can not fly out of the airport after sunset. We also are most likely unable to make it home in a military plane as they are not flying in and out as swiftly as they were a week ago. So, we will most likely be leaving here Wednesday morning to Florida and then need to get home from there. So we will keep you posted.

There are many ortho surgeons who have committed to come down and continue helping these people. Right now this organization has a group of 19 ortho docs committed to coming in shifts for several weeks. What is really going to be needed is Rehab Therapists and occupational therapists to come down and work with these people. So many amputees and so many people with broken bones in casts that need to learn how to walk on crutches and need to move limbs to stay ambulatory, etc.

Again, thank you for listening to me. This is just a great way to "unwind" at the end of the day and to try to begin processing things.

Au Revoir,

Well, it is Tuesday and we are still here! We completed our morning rounds and some surgeries. Then a new team showed up a the hospital from a church missions team from Nashville, Tennessee. It was a group of 10 to 13 people which included doctors, surgeons and Pastors!!! What an answer to prayer they were as we were uneasy about leaving our beloved patients. We worked 1/2 day at the hospital and then left for the airport. The plane that was coming in for us to fly out was a private plane that was flying in to delivery orthopedic supplies. Well, the plane didn't arrive. Planes can not land in the Les Cayes Airport after dark because the runway has no lights. So, we are truly here on faith and hoping to make it home tomorrow. We have two options with two separate flights coming in tomorrow and we are praying that we get on one of them. The question is where they will be flying to from here on their return flight and how to get home.

Many of the patients were able to be discharged today. We finally received some crutches and Bob did some OT with them on how to use the crutches and then they could be discharged as long as they had a place to go. Many of these people do not have a place to go but do have family who will take them in. One of the young girls apparently lives 50 miles or so away and, in the mountains, so it is impossible for her to go home so we have no idea how long she will be at the hospital.

The little boy who was struggling to live last night had a miraculous recovery and this morning was doing much better. By this afternoon he was talking and smiling and had made progress that can not be explained in any other way than purely miraculous .... and you all made the difference! Thank you for your prayers.

At this point we are totally exhausted -- as much emotionally as physically. It has still seemed like this amazing dream and that we will wake up at home and it will all be over. I am sure, however, that once home we will have alot to process for months to come.

Hoping to see some of you as early as tomorrow,

Au Revoir,

My friend, an office worker, retracted the inside of an eye ball during surgery!! A week or so after she got home I asked Charlene to write down her thoughts after processing this whole experience. Here's what she had to say:

A friend of mine asked me to do a follow-up email to share some of our thoughts and feelings now that we are home so here goes…

Home on American soil once again. I have had the blessing of traveling out of the country before on a few mission trips and it is always good to be home but this time it is vastly different. I was ready to come home. I was ready to leave the long days of being on my feet and working in the hot humid air. I was ready to leave the sight and smells of such despair and pain that we faced each and every day. I wanted to be home and “be normal” again. Don’t get me wrong, I was so happy and blessed to have the opportunity to go to Haiti and do the little part I could to help these dear children of God but you know the saying, “there is no place like home.” The only problem now is that since being home, all I do is think about the people in Haiti. I am always thinking about the patients that we cared for and wondering where they are now, how they are doing, are they feeling any relief from their physical pain, are they getting any relief for their emotional and spiritual pain? Bob and I find that we are drawn to the television whenever we hear the work Haiti – to catch a glimpse of what is going on there and even scanning the pictures to see if we recognize anyone from the small hospital where we worked.

I have learned many things from this trip. I have learned what it is to put your own feelings aside and be drawn by God to help even the least of these. I am not the person ANYONE would have thought to be working in a hospital on such traumatic injuries. I am the most unlikely person to be able to keep my emotions in check to be able to function at all under these circumstances, yet God chose me for such a time as this. I am humbled at His calm and peace that surrounded us as a team and me personally. I saw God more in this week than I think I have ever seen in my life. This was a Spirit-orchestrated trip from the time we said yes until we got home and even now continues.

I have a quote on my desk at work that kept coming back to me while in Haiti… “the will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you”. WOW just think about that for a few minutes. That makes me want to sing out a verse or two of the song “what a mighty God we serve”!

When we were in this small airport waiting to leave Haiti we had time to kill so I was just walking around. I wandered outside the airport to the parking lot and stood by the street just taking in the sights and sounds of the normal day living in Les Cayes, Haiti. All of a sudden I was struck that I was hearing a sound that I recognized but couldn’t put my finger on it immediately. Then it came to me, that was the sound of the theme music for Focus on the Family. A few minutes later I heard a song on the radio playing in English… “I stand, I stand in awe of You” I just stood there and sang the song softly in a moment of worship to God for the tremendous opportunity He had given to me during the week. Even that was a gift from God.

Don’t wait for the time to be right and everything to be just perfect…if God brings an opportunity to serve Him, grab it … even if you are fearful, and best of all if it takes you outside of your normal confines and surroundings. Change is good and being stretched by God can bring amazing results. He can and will do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or think…there is no better place to be than where God is and where He is moving powerfully.

Thank you for your prayers --- they made the difference.


If you've read through these 4 very long posts, thank you. Thank you for caring. Thank you for allowing your heart to be pricked by the suffering of others. A soft heart is pleasing to God.

Can I ask, have you done anything to help with the great needs in Haiti? I realize we can't all fly to Haiti for a week like Charlene. But we can give, enabling others to go and meet needs in the Name of Jesus. You can follow this link then click on the blue Compassion International banner at the top of the page, and look for the word Haiti. May God's love pour through us - through me and through you - into Haiti.

Thankful for those like Charlene who answer the call.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing these posts. I was scheduled to be in Haiti this past week, but our trip was postponed due to airline difficulties. The founder of the mission I have been privileged to serve with said, "You will go home and leave Haiti...but Haiti will never leave you." They are wonderful people, joyful despite their circumstances. I truly LOVE them. God bless you, Charlene, for being stretched for God's kingdom. I'm sure you'll be back again.


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