Haiti Earthquake: Two Months On

Hospitals wards made of anything available

It is said that the United States has streets paved with gold. However, you can only see the gold if you were not born here.  After a recent trip to Haiti with Chuck Haupt, MedShare West’s Executive Director,  I (Josh Kravitz, MedShare’s Program Director) can see the gold a little clearer.  The Haiti I saw had little commerce, chaotic streets, and an overwhelming amount of clean-up with a dearth of resources.  As Chuck and I toured hospitals in Port au Prince searching for potential medical aid recipients, we witnessed facilities cogged by international aid workers seeing patients in a maze of tents, hospitals desperately trying to prevent pilfering for the black-market, and medical operations surviving despite the very worst of sanitary conditions.  Outside the hospital grounds, we saw business returning in the form of women selling fruit, grains and charcoal on the street.  Sadly, many permanent structures are destroyed leaving stores almost absent from the urban landscape.  Further hindering the path to a normal existence are the mounds of rubble that fill edges and corners of streets like freshly plowed snow.  The traffic is at a near standstill as vehicles must maneuver these massive piles of rock and debris.  Most disheartening, many told us before the earthquake that Haiti had started on a slow path to prosperity.  Businesses were emerging, educational opportunities blossoming and planning being done for the future.  Now, many have given up hope that their country can overcome what looks like insurmountable circumstances.

Haitians seem to hope for a leader to rise that will put order back to life and fulfill their proud

Line of people waiting for medical attention in downtown Port au Prince

destiny as one of the first nations in the Americas to declare independence from colonial powers.  MedShare, like other NGOs, are standing with Haitians as they rebuild.  We have identified several hospitals with strong leaders, solid missions and needy patients.  Over the next several months, we will ship them medical supplies and equipment that will help strengthen healthcare and communities.  This aid is intended to increase the chances for success of rebuilding businesses, social services and government agencies.  In the end, though, this success must come from the Haitian people themselves.  They must develop their own solutions and work to implement them.  Those of us working in Haiti can give the tools, but lasting results will only work when haitians pick up these tools to form their own nonprofit organizations, nurture responsible leaders and build a nation fitting its true destiny.  Until this happens, the international community -and its supporters- must help in ways that will elevate suffering and stimulate domestically grown answers.

MedShare intends to be part of the effort to rebuild Haiti by working with our hospitals partners that will heal the haitian people and stand as examples of what is possible for their communities.  It is only through true partnerships that are lead by the hospitals and the people they serve will we see success.  MedShare will be part of the Haitian future one syringe, hemostat and pulse oximeter at a time.

Children and their parents waiting to be seen at a pediatric facility in Port au Prince

Wednesdays at MedShare

At MedShare, we sometimes have those days that remind us why we do what we do. Wednesdays are always one of those days and it all comes down to people. People serving people. It’s at the core of MedShare’s mission and radiates from everyone involved…our volunteers, the medical mission teams and free clinics, container sponsors and even our health recipients.

Wed group shots (4)Wednesdays are always good days because it’s the day our weekly volunteer groups come to sort medical supplies. Our Wednesday volunteers have been dedicated to MedShare’s mission for years and loyally come every Wednesday morning to sort medical supplies.

No one’s love of people shows more than from Eva Trepanier. At 92-years-old, Eva still has a lot of bounce in her step. She consistently volunteers at MedShare every Wednesday walking from barrel to barrel placing supplies in the proper location in our sort room. Eva has been through a lot in her 92 years and she claims that her faith and the people in her life have seen her through. She’s a self-proclaimed “people-lover.”

Wednesdays at MedShare also brings the outpatient group from the Shepherd Center. People who have experienced traumatic brain injuries and accidents come to MedShare to sort medical supplies as part of their physical therapy.

Last week, I got to sit down with one of the Shepherd Center patients, Dr. Joe Absi, who is an orthopaedic surgeon at South Fulton Medical Center. It’s unusual to see a doctor as a patient, but after a traumatic bicycle accident, Dr. Absi quickly went from doctor to patient.

On July 13, Dr. Absi was riding his bicycle in his neighborhood as he often does, but this particular day, he used his brakes a little too abruptly when rounding a turn. He flipped over and landed hard on the back of his head and shoulder. Although he was wearing a helmet, the fall still knocked him unconscious and waking up in the emergency room. After several days in the ICU, he spent a week at Shepherd Center and is now an outpatient. He is showing great improvement and hopes to go from patient back to doctor soon.

Dr. Absi had never heard of MedShare prior to volunteering with the Shepherd Center Rehab group and he expressed his amazement at our operations and mission. He also said when he gets back to performing surgeries in the operating room, he will pay more attention to our big blue MedShare barrels.

These are just some of the examples of the people that bring MedShare to life.