The Haiti Initiative - Reflection on January 2008 Medical Mission by Yvonne DuCharme

The medical team has just returned from another successful week of helping the people of Latiboliere. Our travels went very smoothly through all of the airports and throughout the week. Thank you to all that helped us with the packing, the traveling, and the prayers and donations that support our mission.

We had the honor of meeting the new priest, Father Dante Daniel, of our sister parish. He arrived there only two weeks before we came, but he welcomed us with an open heart and the wonderful hospitality of his new staff at the rectory. The bishop hired an interpreter, who knew Father Dante, to help us during the week that we were there. He was a great help in transitioning Father Dante with the team from St. Mary's.

It had not rained in this area of Haiti for weeks. The water situation is desperate. Cisterns are empty. Many of the patients were very dehydrated and one lady had even resorted to drinking kerosene to quench her thirst. Food is so expensive. The people, including our interpreters, looked noticeably thinner from a year ago. We saw 740 patients in the clinic and 209 people visited the dentist. We treated many patients with typhoid and malaria along with the common illnesses of diabetes, high blood pressure, scabies and worms. One man came into the clinic dragging his twisted feet with a broken crutch and a walking stick. He had broken his feet falling out of a tree ten years ago. His heels were literally worn down to the bones. While we could do nothing to fix his feet, one of the team members gave him a pair of his shoes. I will never forget the look on that man's face as he was helped out of the clinic with so much dignity on his face.

The week in the clinic went very well. The gratitude and love of the people of Latiboliere for us showed with every patient that we treated. I can sum it all up by what one little man told us as he left the pharmacy at the end of his visit, in very clear English: "God bless you all for coming here to help us."