On January 11-18, 2014, our group of 15 missionaries went to help at the BeLikeBrit Orphanage in Grand Goave, Haiti. This was during the 4 year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed Britney Gengel, then a 19 year old college student on a Lynn University-sponsored mission trip to Haiti. Her parents subsequently built and run this orphanage in her memory, since it was her last request before her sudden tragic death.
The group consisted of Vicki Kvedar, MD, an ophthalmologist, and her 22 year old daughter, Julie, who graduated from Vanderbilt University and hopes to become a physician some day. The rest of the missionaries helped build a house for a family living in the neighborhood of the orphanage. The family consists of a mother with 9 children, living in a shack made from tree branches and tarps. On each mission, medical personnel must accompany the group, since there is no one at the orphanage to take care of medical problems that occur.
The orphanage currently houses 38 children, but the goal is to open it up to a total of 66 children by the end of 2014. There are 40 adult employees, most of them Haitian, who work in various capacities such as cooks, laundry, janitor, child care, social work, security, bus driver, plumber, teachers, soccer coaches, etc.
While the rest of our group was building a house, Dr. Vicki Kvedar and Julie did complete eye exams on every child and adult in the orphanage. We also spent 2 mornings in the Mission of Hope medical clinic down the street from the orphanage. There we came across some interesting eye and medical problems such as glaucoma from hypermature cataracts, high fever from malaria or typhoid, pterygia, bacterial conjunctivitis, abdominal masses, irritated eyes from garbage being constantly burned throughout the country, neurofibromatosis, and many people with a need for something as simple as a pair of glasses. In the orphanage, we discovered several people with glaucoma, including the 3 year old child of the family who we were building the house for. We were able to figure out who needed glasses and what prescriptions they needed. Then we fit them with used, donated glasses that we had labeled and brought down with us.There were many cases of scraped elbows, blisters, colds, fevers, etc. that are bound to occur during any week with that many people around. They were treated with donated supplies from Henry Schein Cares Foundation. Unfortunately, the most severe cases requiring surgery could not be properly treated because we did not have an operating room available. We did the best we could do with what supplies were donated and available to us. For the glaucoma patients, that meant giving them eyedrops that would hopefully lower their eye pressure.
At the Mission of Hope clinic, Haitians waited hours in line in the 90 degree sun to see us, and when we ran out of time, they came back the next day. They were most polite and appreciative of whatever we did to help them. When we took a picture of the people waiting patiently in line, many of them ducked their heads because they are afraid someone will perform voodoo on them if they have a photograph.
We received hugs and thank yous and smiles from the appreciative patients. Most of these people had never been seen by a physician before, and certainly not an ophthalmologist.
Articles about this trip appeared in the January 29, 2014 issues of Lynnfield Villager and Melrose Weekly News (Massachusetts).
We would like to thank Henry Schein Cares Foundation for their most generous donation of medical supplies to BeLikeBrit orphanage. Although not all the supplies were used on the week that we went down, they are now filling the cabinets of the new medical clinic in this new orphanage, which has only been admitting children for a year. There is no doubt that all the supplies will be used and appreciated by those living in BeLikeBrit orphanage over the coming years.
“When we gather up what remains of our worship together, we prepare to go out into the world beyond the walls of our sanctuary. We are a community of faith that believes that when our worship together ends, our service truly begins.”
On December 28th through January 4th I traveled to Haiti with a group from Danville First Baptist Church. The team consisted of 39 volunteers including medical doctors, midwifes, RN’s, pharmacists, and many students. During the course of a week we treated 670 patients, 170 were children under the age of 5. We were treating patients for hypertension, various infections, and malnutrition. Approximately 200 fluoride varnishes were performed to children ages 7-15 to help prevent decay.
The most distressing case that we saw was a little girl (supposedly about 2 1/2 years old) who looked to be about 6-8 months old. She was so malnourished, she could hardly move. We supplied her mother with whatever supplements and vitamins we could to get this child to good health. Haiti is filled with many more people just like this little girl who need our help.
I would like to sincerely thank Henry Schein for their generous donation of dental and medical products as well as all of the volunteers who donated their time for this worthy cause. They provided us with the tools needed to serve an indigent population that otherwise would not have received the care that they so greatly need including oral hygiene kits, medical equipment and supplies, medicine, fluoride varnish, and wound care.
This past week (February 16 – February 22) I had the pleasure of participating in a medical/dental mission trip, with emphasis on dental treatment, to Jeremie, Haiti with Haitian Health Foundation led by Fr. Tom Seivel.
We visited five surrounding villages served by HHF, but stayed in the clinic guest quarters in Jeremie. It is a very impressive operation of services provided to many very poor Haitians who otherwise would not be able to afford medical/dental treatment. Each day we would load up three HHF all terrain vehicles with portable dental equipment and supplies, many of which were through the generous donations of the Henry Schein Cares program for which I and the people we served are most grateful, and head off to villages such as Lassise(Jeremie county) and Mie Kerotte(Moron county). There were 14 of us on the trip including three dentists, one APRN, one RN, myself, a dental hygienist, and many interested others. I was able to do much oral health education with helpful translators, and many, many fluoride varnish treatments! The dentists worked very hard getting people out of pain by extracting decayed and infected teeth.
This was my 14th trip to Haiti with HHF and I hope to make next year my 15th anniversary
. Many thanks to Henry Schein for all their help and support.
It was really encouraging going back this holiday season to Haiti with a small team consisting of four dental students, one premed student and two dentists. The young people in this group were a particular gift for me as a very senior health provider since they all have a heartfelt interest in missions and public health. They and the young woman dentist in our group (who just completed a tour in our US military) joyfully worked long hours with little break and always with a smile.
There also appears to be more substantial improvement in the areas in Port au Prince that we managed to see- drainage ditches running properly, newly lined with stones, rivers with much less debris, the people residing in tents reduced, with new homes being built. More local people working on these projects. Perhaps the new President will be more helpful to the people. There is still much protest by the people and a long , long way to go to improve the quality of life.
Our patients as previously had many of the same issues, severe untreated hypertension, dental pain, chronic coughs. Since I personally triaged this year, I became aware of another problem. Many patients taking aspirin for chronic stomach pain due to hunger! It is a vicious circle sometimes. We were able to refer some cases to Dr Jen, from the University of Minnesota, who was coming to Haiti shortly after after us. She has done so much for the Haitian people as she works with Heartline Ministries .
The patients, as always , were gentle and sweet , waiting long hours, and after that if they were not seen, patiently returning the next day. We were able to see slightly more than 200 dental patients at triage, several being referred to medicine for more pressing issues. Dentally there were extractions , prophys , restorations and many fluoride treatments. We treated patients both in Port au Prince and in Seche Ravine a tiny coastal town.
The plan to establish the local school Fl rinse program is on track with the manager from Heartline in Port au Prince now returned to Haiti. Several NGO’s will be participating after Heartline’s program is established. The state of Mass. generously agreed to share its teaching materials so that we could properly train people in Haiti.
Many thanks to Henry Schein Cares for supplies and its encouragement to this program and others like it. You have made a great difference and we appreciate it!← Older posts