Thursday, March 25, 2010

Haiti Presentation

On Saturday, March 27th, 2010 Jennifer, Desiree, and Patricia will do a presentation at Cedarwood Waldorf School in Portland from 4-7pm. We will do a slide show and discuss our trips to Haiti and what the future work looks like with Mama Baby Haiti. We would love for everyone to come. I will post more information as it becomes available.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Let's not forget that Haiti isn't the only place in crisis...

MSF Top 10 Humanitarian Crises of 2009

New York, December 21, 2009 — Civilians attacked, bombed, and cut off from aid in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), along with stagnant funding for treating HIV/AIDS and ongoing neglect of other diseases, were among the worst emergencies in 2009, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported today in its annual list of the "Top Ten" humanitarian crises.

Continuing crises in north and south Sudan, along with the failure of the international community to finally combat childhood malnutrition were also included on this year’s list. The list is drawn from MSF’s operational activities in close to 70 countries, where the organization’s medical teams witnessed some of the worst humanitarian conditions.

View the Top Ten Humanitarian Crises of 2009.

Three distinct patterns dominated in 2009: governments blocked lifesaving assistance to trapped populations, including in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Sudan, where aid groups—including some MSF teams—were expelled from Darfur; respect for civilian safety and neutral humanitarian action further eroded, such as in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, DRC, and Somalia, where people—and in some cases aid workers—were either indiscriminately or directly attacked; people suffering from a host of largely ignored diseases were again neglected by the international community, and those living with HIV/AIDS saw their chances of receiving life extending therapy further diminished.

“There is no question that civilians are increasingly victimized in conflicts and further cut off from lifesaving assistance, often deliberately,” said MSF International Council President Dr. Christophe Fournier. “In places like Sri Lanka and Yemen, where armed conflicts raged in 2009, aid groups were either blocked from accessing those in need or forced out because they too came under fire. This unacceptable dynamic is becoming the norm. Our teams on the ground are witnessing the very tangible human consequences of these crises directly, either in war zones or in the AIDS and nutrition clinics in which they work,” he said. We’re therefore compelled and obligated to speak out.”

In Sri Lanka, tens of thousands of civilians were trapped with no aid and limited medical care as government forces battled Tamil Tiger rebels in the spring. Aid groups, including MSF, were banned from entering the conflict zone. In Somalia, civilians continued to bear the brunt of a vicious civil war. More than 200,000 people fled the capital, Mogadishu, in just the first few months of 2009 and aid workers were increasingly targeted – at least 42 relief workers have been killed since 2008, including three MSF staff.

In Yemen, civilians and hospitals were heavily affected by fighting in the Saada region in the north of the country as government forces fought rebels. The fighting forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and compelled MSF to close the only hospital serving an entire district after it was shelled. And in a glaring case of abuse of humanitarian action for military gain, civilians gathered with their children at MSF vaccination sites in North Kivu, DRC in October, came under attack by government forces. The attack threatened to severely undermine the trust necessary to carry out independent medical humanitarian work in conflict settings.

In Pakistan, where tens of thousands fled fighting, hospitals were struck by mortar fire and two MSF workers were killed in Swat Valley, where the organization ultimately suspended its operations due to the violence there.

On the medical front, years of success in increasing treatment for the numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS was threatened with punishment in 2009. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced plans to reduce or limit funding.

“Just when more and more people were accessing crucial medicines and medical experts were acknowledging the need to put people on treatment sooner, patients will be turned away from clinics because the funding just won’t be there,” said Dr. Fournier. “The timing could not be worse.”

The neglect also extends to childhood malnutrition, a treatable disease that is the underlying cause of up to half of the annual ten million preventable deaths of children under five each year. Global leaders gathered at the World Food Summit in Rome in 2009 failed to commit to combating the disease, which groups like MSF have shown can be prevented and treated by providing growing children with proper foods that meet their nutritional requirements.

Right now, international assistance to fight malnutrition amounts $350 million dollars, while the World Bank estimates $11.8 billion is required to adequately combat the disease in 36 high burden countries. Additionally, most food assistance is made up of costly and inefficient in-kind donations containing products of poor nutritional value that must be shipped overseas. Resources could be better spent on obtaining nutritionally appropriated foods closer to their source.

Other diseases, such as Chagas, kala azar, sleeping sickness, and Buruli ulcer continue to be neglected, with very few new commitments to expanding access to available treatment or carrying out research for much needed newer and more effective drugs.

“The tremendous resources devoted to the H1N1 pandemic in developed countries illustrates the response capacity for global health threats when the political will exists,” said Dr. Fournier. “Regrettably, we fail to see the same commitments made to combat diseases claiming millions of more lives each year.”

MSF began producing the "Top Ten" list in 1998, when a devastating famine in southern Sudan went largely unreported in U.S. media. Drawing on MSF’s emergency medical work, the list seeks to generate greater awareness of the magnitude and severity of crises that may or may not be reflected in media accounts.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

And we find beauty and light in even the darkest of places....

More of Jennifer's words...."Today we went to a village to care for 200 people. Just four midwives (Patricia, Carrie, Kalia and me.) Three translators. There were 200 patients lines up for hours. Se set up three stations and consulted with families one by one. We handed out herbs, vitamins, antibiotics and more for many things such as scabbies, fungal infections, parasites, anemia, ulcers, skin staph infections and malnuturtion.

We did prenatals on about 40 women and gave them prenatal vitamins. One mother we diagnosed with twins, her 6th and 7th babies. Many people with high bp (220/120 seems so common, and the highest I took was 300/150).

We patched up burns and cuts. We saw a sweet man who was having s&s of a heart attack (also high bp) and told him he needed to go to the hospital (I wonder if they can help?). We referred several people out for more care at the hosptial (a 13 year old with seizures once a week and no glucose in the urine we dipsticked, a baby who was 3 months old, 5 pounds and covered in little spots… I will post a picture when I get home. I could not stop the tears from streaming down my face as I weighed him and we gave the parents money and a medical order to go to the hosptial.)

We are all very tired but feel very satisfied with how much we have done today. Saturday, we go to another village to do this again. Everyday I am welling up with tears at the suffering and the gratitude for my help, and the spirit I feel while serving.

Helped 1,200 People today!!---

Today was an amazing day, we are all on a high.

Started at 6am in the hospital. Got 4 hours of sleep but we aren’t tired. Helped many people during rounds (people in pain are so, so grateful for a couple Tylenol). Fed bread, pb, raisins and gave water to two rooms at the hospital. ( I have given up on feeding the whole hospital, so we do a couple of rooms each day.)

assisted at a cesarean at 10am (mom was syphilis positive). was needed by mom AND doctor. Hels moms hand and calmed her until I had to sterile up and help with the suctioning during the section. I was very immpressed with the doctors skills. He was fast and good.

Stopped by to nurse my Haitian baby on my walk home.

Showered and ate a great lunch of salad, rice, beans and goat meat.

Driver came came to get us to go to Joseph’s Village. We rode in the back of the truck on bumpy dirt roads (no need for amusement park rides in Haiti). We stopped at the gas station to pump gas. You will have to check out the pictures when I get home and post them! The gas is hand pumped from a barrel then hand poured into the tank.

We arrived in Joseph’s Village and were warmly welcomed. Saw about 8 sick people and then got down to the business we were there for. We met with the 9 members on the village council. They took us to their homes and they showed us what they bought with the $500 Desiree and Donna gave them two weeks ago. We took a picture (wheelbarrow, garden tools, PVC piping to get water to their garden plots).

I will write more in a different post about Joseph’s Village, but for now I’d like to say that they are a community of hundreds of families who have banded together and created a council to run their village. They live on 52 acres they have homesteaded for many years, and the government gave it to them a year ago. They have a school (palm fronds), a church (cinder blocks with metal roof) and very small, one room homes that are pretty much shack status (I’ll post pictures when I get back).

They have lovingly accepted hundreds of Port Au Prince earthquake victims into their homes, so they are very crowded. Joseph (their leader) lives in a two bedroom 500 square foot home with 14 other people (his aunt and uncle and their 8 children and 4 refugees).

We were happy to give them $4000 dollars (money we and other people donated) to work towards their goals of having a goat herd, chickens and water to irrigate large gardens. They promised to show us in 3 months what they have accomplished with this help.

All the council was present when we gave the money. We said our goodbyes and drove off into the country to find the water falls.

The ride to the falls was rugged and longer than I expected (an hour?). We bounced around in the back of the truck, soaking in the sights of Haiti: the two children on a donkey, the mom on a horse with a 6 month old in front and a 3 year old in back, families bathing in the rivers while wash is being done at the shore, motorcycle taxis honking past us with 3 or 4 people on them.

We crossed a river and went up a steep incline that I was surprised we made to the top. Finally stopped to walk the rest of the way. Men and children joined us until there was a crowd walking with us.

We walked forever and then came upon a beautiful site. Water cascading down the rocks. A pool of turquoise water below. The walk was so long that by the time we got there it was too late to swim. We snapped pictures.

We then headed to the top of the falls and realized why the crowd had followed us. We were taken by each had by a man and child and helped up the steep, long hill. Some of the boys had no pants, some had no shorts, none had shoes. One had a pair of boxer short underwear with so many holes in the butt that he was quite exposed.

We made it to the top thanks to our friendly helpers. We paid them all, and by their excitement, I am sure it was more money than they had seen in a long time (even the adult men were barefoot and in tattered clothes).

We rode back to town in the moonlight singing a Haitian song.

When we got to town we were dropped off at the central plaza where hundreds of people were praying and singing. Children on the swing set. A group playing soccer. There is no electricity, but at night, all gather to the central plaza where a generator lights the square. The excitement is infectious.

We asked Santos if there are any restaurants in Hinche so we could treat him to a meal (he had joked that other employers fed him, but we are always at the hospital where there is no food and everyone is so hungry and poor). A couple blocks away was a “night club and restaurant”. We were the only ones there. We sat outside around a rickety table on plastic chairs by a cement dance platform with a roof. Hanging from the ceiling as decorations were plastic bottles that ha been cut open into spinning flower designs.

We were asked how many plates and answered four (Kalia and Rayna are at the hospital tonight).

There is only one dish on the menu, so no decision making necessary. We were brought grilled chicken, fried green plantains and cabbage slaw with lime and hot peppers in it. The chicken was the longest, skinniest leg you have seen with very little meat. I took the tiniest nibble and then gave it to Santos. Carrie gave hers to him as well. Patricia ate hers (I hope she doesn’t get sick). The four pieces of fried plantains and cabbage slaw were delicious. I also had a soda (my first since arriving in Haiti). It was even cold!

At 8pm the music started and about 8 people showed up to dance. Wonderful Carribean music and some amazing dancing going on. Talented dancers Cha Chaed and twirled. I tried to get Carrie, Patricia or Santos to dance with me, but they were too shy. I couldn’t stand missing this opportunity to dance to my favorite kind of music, so I got up and asked one of the best dancers if he would dance with me. Everyone was very surprised and there was much laughing at the white lady dancing cha cha with the Haitian. As soon as the song ended, I thanked him and sat down, when another Haitian asked me to dance. By the time the song was over there were many dancers on the floor and large crowd of about 30 people had gathered to watch, as many people from the street had been pulled in to see the show.

We grabbed our things and left laughing (I didn’t want to get asked to dance again as my feet were so tired after our five mile hike plus all the other walking we had done just to get from place to place).

We stopped by at 9:00pm to nurse my Haitian baby, then arrived home to the orphanage to find brother Mike had been fretting over our absence.

We apologized for worrying him. He said we are the first group to come that goes out at night to work the hospitals and that gets around so much. He said, “You are the most active group I have had.” We took that as a compliment. We love being out with the people and working at night. However, tonight we sleep for tomorrow we have to visit the village, Pan de Azul to do medical care on many people. I am told hundreds will show. Today was a very full and beautiful day. Our “vacation day” in Haiti."