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New Partners, New Horizons

Late October brought to us a work group from Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. Included in the group were board members Dr. Tim Bedient and Ralph Minor. Tim is a critical care and pulmonary specialist and is my nephew (Katie’s) and Ralph is an engineer who is our information technology consultant, among other things. A few months ago, Tim and Ralph had a meeting with Youth Pastor Sheri Fry from Montview and plans for a visit began to develop. The plans culminated in a wonderful team of 12 who spent a week with us in Jérémie and Gatineau. Their visit required more than the usual degree of tolerance and flexibility, as Tortug’Air, the local airline, was grounded due to a faulty engine on the one plane that is able to fly to Jérémie. As a result, they had to drive both ways between Port-au-Prince and Jérémie, not an easy task on a road that is improved, but still rough and under construction.

The team helped us out in several areas. Physicians Tim Bedient and Stephanie Knudson and nurse practitioner Eldonna Sylvia saw all the patients while I helped out in the pharmacy and did lab tests. It was great to have Tim’s expertise with my asthma patients and Stephanie and Eldonna gave me a break from patient consultations. All the other members of the team spent some time in the clinic as well, some observing what Cherlie and our staff were doing and others spending time interviewing our patients, in order to learn more about their lives and the things that affect them. When not busy in the clinic, we had some painting for them to do in the pharmacy building and residence quarters on the second floor.

Tim Bedient, Gene Rose and Phoebe Bawmann busy painting the outside of the pharmacy building.

Pastor Sheri Fry doing some painting with the team.

There were two new activities that we were able to do with this unique group. First, we were able to offer animal vaccines to livestock that belong to people in the communities around the clinic site. Under the expert direction of veterinarian Nancy Willerton and her husband Craig Mills, the team vaccinated 395 animals (cattle, horses, mules, donkeys, pigs, goats and sheep) in 8 different communities in 4 days. It was definitely a team effort, involving the Montview visitors, who helped draw up the vaccines, change needles and syringes, two translators who registered the livestock owners and collected a small fee from them, Haitian veterinarian techs who helped restrain the animals and our own community coordinator Gemi Baptiste. The communities were extremely grateful for the service to their livestock and we were thrilled to be able to offer a new service to our patients and their families. Assisting with livelihood development goes a long way in terms of improving health in our communities. Kudos for the great teamwork demonstrated by our visitors and Haitian staff during this busy, productive week.

Several animals waiting for vaccines at one of the vaccination posts.

Veterinarian Nancy Willerton vaccinates a pig.

Nancy giving oral anti-parasitic medication to a steer while Vet tech Bruny Chevalier restrains him.

Another activity that the Montview group did as a “first” for us was to hold two Vacation Bible School (VBS) sessions with local children in the area on two days after school. We invited about 25 children and had more than 35 attend! Word got around and the children came marching up the road to the clinic, freshly bathed and clothed in neatly pressed, clean clothes. Little did they know what was in store for them, but come they did! Pastor Sheri and her team led them in craft activities, Bible stories, songs and games. During the two hours they were with us, I think the children smiled and laughed more than they probably had in the past few months of their lives. It was great work on the part of our visitors, the translators and the children.

Children sitting in the waiting area in front of the clinic during VBS.

Children laying out paper “people” on benches so they can decorate them.

Two young girls looking over their beautiful craft items.

All the children showing off their crafts.

Children learn how to play the game of “duck duck goose.”

Getting ready to “go” during game of “red light, green light.”

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