Liz Clarke joins a medical team on a trip to some of the most impacted areas of Haiti from the hurricane, to bring medical relief and hope.
At Many Hands, our hearts are heavy for the enormous loss and great devastation Southern Haiti endured during Hurricane Matthew. Please keep praying as the destruction only continues. Over the weekend in Les Cayes, more rainfall aided in the death of 9 people and there are still many people without clean water and food and who remain homeless…Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew
A week after the hurricane, my friend Doctor Roberta and her husband Neil invited me to take a trip south with them. Our mission: set up a mobile clinic in the city of Les Anglais. With Sabrina, a nurse and Les Anglais native, we cruised over 500 miles (827 kilometers) in 72 hours, we completed our mission.Team Clinic on the road!
A few days before we left, Many Hands Staff and friends were able to pack over 150 care bags to be handed out to the patients at the clinic.
Each bag contained a set of clothes, shoes, toiletries, and packets of Meals from the Heartland. Two more suitcases of Bundled Bottoms diapers, baby blankets and baby clothes that were given to the women with infants. As well, we made up 50+ bottles of SWIM chlorinated water treatment. All of these items were the donations of many incredible supporters and trip participants over the last year. We are grateful these items could be used for those who need it most.
Although our kick-off was delayed due to mechanical issues, we left Pignon in the peace of God’s Providence. All of us agreed, “The Lord is watching out for us”. My thoughts drifted to those we were traveling to serve. Could I still believe this if my home and all of the things I owned had been swallowed up by the sea?Girl walking among the rubble
In Gran Goâve the footprint of massive flooding was everywhere. Heaps of tree branches, other organic matter, and mud covered trash, lined every street.
On through Miragoâne, Fond de Negres, Aquin, and Saint-Louis-de-Sud; I see many houses missing sheets of tin, one house with no roof at all, power lines down, and more broken trees than not. As the sun begins to lie down (as they say in Creole) we arrive in Les Cayes. We’ll spend the night and in the morning make a visit to the Minister of Health of Southern Haiti to get approval for the mobile clinic.
We hit the road around 9 the next morning with permission granted and a box full of meds we will share with the local clinic. From here, it’s 75 kilometers (46 miles) to Les Anglais but it will take us 4 hours. Through Torbeck, up a mountain, down and around to Port Salut, headless houses become the norm. Depressed and decapitated palms dominate the desolate landscape, arching above the broken banana trees as far as the eye can see.
This is the first Autumn I’ve ever been away from Iowa and right now it’s easy to feel natural amongst the leafless trees and overcast skies. I keep having to remind myself I’m still in Haiti and this is not what any of this looked like a week ago. As well, this isn’t what this is supposed look like!
But it does…
Eeeeeeeeschkkkk the tires belt as Neil slams on the brakes. The left side of the road is washed out. The ocean came up and took a big ol’ bite right out of it!
Washed out roads Bridges down
Further up the road in Roch-Au-Bateaux, we pass a ¾ mile stretch of empty beach that I’m told used to be full of houses. “Tout net”, she said. Totally full.
My mind races, where did all of these people go? Did they evacuate in time? If they did, where are they living now?
The conditions were similar in Corteaux, Port-au-Piment, and Chardonnieres. Yet in comparison to what I was told to expect: hungry, hopeless mobs of people, waiting to attack our truck full of supplies; I saw only Haitians. Hardworking Haitians, putting up new roofs, washing clothes, gathering the pieces of their lives and rebuilding the rubble into something useable.
Once in Les Anglais, we spent the next 24 hours administering two “pop-up” clinics where we saw 130+ people. What a challenge. What do you say to someone whose entire life was just torn apart by an “Act of God”?
Smiles and hugs were frequently used in placement of words. Yet the Spirit did impress some words on my heart to share His people; “I will use this for good” and “I love you”.
Words of Hope. I ask the Spirit to pray because I cannot understand. I hold on tightly to trust.
There are 33 reported cases of cholera in Les Anglais, but thankfully there is a fully functional Medical Clinic where people can receive treatment. Neil is the water specialist so he of course checked out the local water sources. One of the water sources has damage he thinks can be repaired fairly easily. In the meantime, water is accessible but just needs to be treated. He also talked to a local shop owner who was expecting a large amount of rice and other supplies later in the day. The roads have been cleared so commerce is possible. The village sits on the ocean where people can find fish, lobster, shrimp, and other sea life to fill their bellies. It will of course take time to rebuild the hundreds of homes, businesses, and schools that were destroyed and years for the Mango, Avocado, Coffee, and Cocoa trees to grow back, but Neil says the bananas should be back in 6-8 months!
As we head east toward home, tarps came out left and right as the overcast and ominous sky threatens rain. I think about the villages farther west. What are they looking like in comparison? Do they have access to medical care? How many are cholera infected and injured? Have their roads been cleared? Do they have food and supplies? How many will have to sleep in this rain tonight? The still, small, voice reminds me that those people aren’t for me. I cannot do it all. There are others stepping up, even now to extend their hands in love.
I again cling to trust and lay my head against the window, watching the rain come. Despite the looming darkness my vision turns a lively green! On our way in, my brain was in shock, on overload, confused, unable to comprehend. Honestly, that hasn’t really changed but now going out, I can clearly see the life sprouting in the leaves of the banana trees.
Amidst the rubble, Hope is rising!