Big News

21 08 2010

I have most recently been working at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Carrefour. As you know I came back to work directly with them until December 20th.

I went to Fond Parisien to work with a group that Foundation for Peace (FFP) was hosting. Doing this gives me a chance to work with Pastor Valantin who has become one of my most cherished friends and cultural mentor. I also get to see many of the patients that I worked with in Jimani at the Buen Samritano Surgical Center (BSSC). Checking up on their recovery and knowing that there is continuing PT care with them is helping to bring closure to that initial experience. Walking around the ARC Refugee camp and seeing all the need that is still so evident is difficult.

Before I left the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital (SDAH) to go on this last trip with the FFP I was struggling with finding my place at the Hospital. I have found that as the relief stage is ending and the recovery stage is starting, many of the crisis moments that we faced are starting to progress and as we are coming to identify the long term systemic problems that were here before the earthquake, I find myself ill equipped to deal with these issues and I began to wonder what it is I could do here. Why did I feel so strongly that God was calling me back here if there wasn’t anything I could really do?

As I was preparing to leave that morning I was thinking about one of the major issues that we are having in regards to exonerating patients. As a mission hospital in Haiti, in order for you to function you have to charge patients who can pay and exonerate those who cannot. Before the earthquake our exoneration rate was 10% of the patients, (as 10% of the population in this area had no income). Now after the earthquake the hospital is facing issues with the fact that it has been documented that in this area over 50% of the population is without income. This bumps our exoneration rate up to 50% of our patients. As of right now for the most part all our Orthopedics is free, which makes up for more than 50% of our patient load. But other specialties like emergency medicine, pediatrics, and gynecology we are unable to evaluate which patients can and cannot pay, which translates into refusing care to people who ‘refuse’ to pay. This puts us in a very difficult spot. One of the things that we really need at the hospital are social workers. At the same time we also need community health workers who are active in the community communicating their needs to us here at the hospital.

As I was getting ready to leave the hospital to get a tap-tap (local public transit), I decided that I would focus my energy on developing a proposal and training community health/social workers. That was the need I identified and that is what I wanted to do. As I was doing my best to identify how I was going to do it I found that with no background in social work (other than identifying and placing un accompanied minors at the first hospital I worked at) and no background in Community health, I had no idea what I was going to do. Here was a need that God was placing on my heart and I didn’t know what to do first.

As I was pondering this the first two days with FFP’s group I ran into an old friend whom I had worked with when I was at my first hospital the BSSC. He works for the University of Chicago and with Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), and he was one of the disaster relief experts who came down to work at Love a Child’s and HHI’s field hospital (the place where most of the patients from my first hospital were transferred to when we closed). As we were catching up I shared with him about how difficult it still was at the current hospital I am working at (SDAH), how things seem to move so slow and funding in general just isn’t coming through. As we were both busy at the moment he asked me to come up and see him later that day.

That day we were working on benches for the school that FFP built near the refugee camp. As the teams were sanding and getting them ready for the classroom, I had a chance to slip away and visit him. As we were chatting he shared with me what was happening now with the love a child’s and HHI’s projects as their field hospital also closed down. He also shared his frustration about the lack of donor’s willingness to fund national staffs (a trend that is being felt at most hospitals). Then he shared with me about the two projects he is doing now. One of which just happened to be a project training 6-7 community health workers in disaster response. As he shared more and more about the project I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was exactly what I wanted to do at the SDAH.

As I learned more and more I couldn’t help but get the chills as he asked me to be his in-country project manager. This would entail being a communicator between the different groups involved and helping the 6-7 national staff with logistics and communicating back and forth to the states. It also meant that I would participate in their trainings and I would be learning right alongside them. I would also be learning how to manage and develop a community health curriculum. I was completely blown away. I told him I would sleep on it and that I had to talk with some people first. That night as I was sharing with Pastor Valantin and talking about future plans and the community health aspect of the vocational school that FFP was planning on building we couldn’t believe how everything was working out. Not only that but he had several people who are perfect fits for the program.

I couldn’t believe how God had prepared my heart for this, and how the doors opened up right in front of me. After chatting some more with my friend and talking with other people I accepted the position and will be going to work at Love a Child, in Fond Parisien. As I was sharing this with the assistant administrator from the SDAH he said to me “hey, we are really sad to see you go, but I can tell that this is a God thing and we are really excited for you.”

As the job will cover my expenses in country and the fact that I still have donations coming down for my work at the Adventist Hospital I feel really strongly that I would like to have that money go to fund much needed social workers at the hospital. Many of the patients don’t have family and as the hospital only serves one meal a day many of them don’t get the nutrition they need. And they really have nowhere to go after they leave here. We have a translator who has stepped up to take care of these patients but the hospital has no funds to pay him (they don’t even have enough money to pay the nurses and the doctors). As this is something small and tangible and can really have a large impact on people I would like to support him. I know that this money is being sent down to support me and the work I’m doing here, but as I am now funded I would like it to go to a much needed job and funding Haitians. I am also hoping that in the near future we will be able to find funding for community health and social workers at the hospital.

Your brother in Christ,

Luke D. Davies





A Scandalous Wedding and The Death of Pride

17 07 2010

Last Saterday I had the opportunity to join my friend Valantin for a wedding. He picked me up at the hospital and we went to watch the world cup and have lunch at the house of one of his wife’s friends. As I enjoyed a meal of goat, chicken, rice, and boiled plantains, I was able to join the family in the world’s most televised event.

I couldn’t but help feel strangely at home. Sitting in a 94 degree house, eating strange food, with strange people who speak a strange language, I felt as if I had always sat at that table, eaten that food, and been a part of their family. I found the peaceful familiarity of community.

Finishing up the meal and washing up before the wedding we had to rush out during second overtime. As we hopped into the car, I heard cheers roaring through the neighborhood and shouts of “GOOOOAAAAALLLL” could be heard repetitively on the radio.

We quickly drove to the Delmas area and pulled up to this unfinished church. Looking up at this large three and a half story high building without a ceiling still under construction, you could see where small cracks had occurred during the earthquake. With the churches equivalent to the boy scouts and girl scouts seating all the guests, we quickly found a place and waited for the service to begin. Looking forward you could see a raised area where the choir sat under a cathedral like quarter dome.  I was struck at the contrast of the bare wooden supports and raw concrete with the beautifully dressed Haitian men and women waltzing (yes they were waltzing) up the aisle.

Two days shy of the six month anniversary and I’m surrounded by symbols of new life and hope. Young people promising themselves to one another while the community cheers them on oohs and aahs (as if they’re love is a precious scandal that the community gets to be apart of). I sit and watch without understanding. I pray to God that this young couple will have a bright and beautiful future.

As I look around the room I spot a few blans, but for the most part it is just smiling and laughing Haitians. I see no amputees, I see no suffering, I see no pain, but I can’t help but wonder at the stories all around me. Six months… Is not very long, the scars are still fresh, the rubble may be a little more organized, but it is still there. Fallen buildings now serve to remind us of the mass graves they have become.

Coming back to Haiti after my initial time here has been challenging. Now that the trauma is finishing up, it is almost like the wind has died down and the sails lie slack with everyone just sitting and waiting for whatever is going to come next. For the first week, without the constant flow of patients and volunteers, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. I would finish most of my work in the morning and then go around asking people if they needed help.

Without the emergency I began to feel useless. I started questioning why I had come back. What if the hospital doesn’t need me? What if Haiti doesn’t need me? I had gotten lost in what I had been doing. My pride was starting to wear on me, telling me lies. I was reminded that God did not call me back to save Haiti, that was not what he had in mind for me. That is not and never could be my job. God did not call me back to save this hospital, that was not what he had in mind for me. That is not and never could be my job. God did not call me back to save the Haitian people, that was not what he had in mind for me. That is not and never could be my job. What he did call me here to do was to love people. To humble myself and die to my wants and worries, so that I may be free to love him, and those around me.

Ask any Haitian, and they will tell you that “Only God can save Haiti.” Yes they need help, yes they need jobs, but what they don’t need is an American who has come to save them.

My good friend Valantin who now works for Foundation for Peace and leads short term American groups said to me one day “Luke, I love my job, because we get to help Haitian people, and at the same time, we get to save Americans.”

Maybe it is Haiti that is saving me. Maybe it is the poor that are calling to all of us… They are calling us out of our affluent poverty to join them in their wealth of community, laughter, and joy. Maybe it is not Haiti that needs saving…





Arrived in Haiti

8 07 2010

Hey Everyone,

I arrived in Santo Domingo on July 5th and was able to visit with my friends and Dominican Family. I then drove with Valentin to Port au Prince and arrived at Hopital Adventist d’Haiti the evening of the 7th. I have settled on to a cot and have started just about where I left off. I have had a warm welcome and am really encouraged by the progress the hospital is making.

For everyone who fed me, housed me, and clothed me while I was still at home. THANK YOU!!! It was so good to spend time with friends and family and become rejuvinated before I came back. A special thanks to my Grandma, my Mom and Dad, my cuz Danny, Uncle Doug and Aunt Nancy, the Rummley-Wells, My little brother, Rudy, and everyone else.

Driving through the Port au Prince yet again it’s a stark reminder at how slow everything goes. Four days will be the 6 month anniversary and yet the streets are still filled with rubble, with little evidence that anything is getting done. New traumas come in, people who were trying to repair old homes that need to be torn down. People who have been crushed when rain’s make unstable buildings collapse. While we are not in active crisis mode right now, for many people there is nothing more.

On a good note, our Prosthetics container is in Port as I am typing this. It should be out with in the month. Foundation for Peace is moving forward on a Vocational and Language school where Haitians and Americans will be able to come together to learn English, Creol, and French. Project Hope and Christian Blind Mission are partnering well with us and we are hoping to be see the fruits of our labor soon. Groups are coming down to organize all our supplies and our “Junk for Jesus” (Breast implants and old hospital equipment that doesn’t work, and can’t be fixed are just the beginning).  Long term patients have smiles on their faces and are glowing.

It’s amazing how much Hope I feel coming down here. I know that things are going to be a little crazy, but it looks like I will be able to start my language training soon (as long as I am able to meet the fundraising needs).

I hope this finds everyone well, and please keep me and this hospital in your prayers and thoughts. There is much more work to do, and I only have 6 months.





Financial Needs and Updates

8 07 2010

 

Financial Needs as of the 5th of July

 

 

Money raised over this initial amount will go to projects around the hospital that will employ local Haitians.

Please make Check Payable to Foundations and attach a note designating the funds to Luke in Haiti. Please also designate if you would like to contribute to my general needs and/or my personal needs.

Foundations Ministry

C/O Carrie Schneck

PO Box 2281

Wenatchee, WA, 98801

 

You can also Make a donation online at http://www.foundationsministries.net/modules.php?name=Content&pid=5

Will be keeping this post updated when Money comes down.

Thank you for everything and God Bless





5th of July Support Letter

8 07 2010
Dear Supporters,

First of all I want to thank you for all of the support that you have given me over this last year. It has been full of incredible growth, as well as incredible difficulty. As many of you who have read my blog know I have been through a series of difficult and growth-filled events. 

In summary of my time in the Dominican Republic before earthquake, I spent most of my time working with the Foundation for Peace. I had a wonderful experience, working with communities around Santo Domingo, helping with water systems, teaching first aid, organizing their warehouse, helping foster community, and coordinating between Cure International’s hospital in Santo Domingo and Foundation for Peace. 

I also worked closely with a young man who was severely injured in a motorcycle accident, acting as his advocate and helping him with daily dressing changes and clinic appointments. I had the wonderful opportunity to become a part of a new family in Santo Domingo. 

Lovely, Luckson, and Luke

After the Earthquake I went with our team to the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where I received a crash course in hospital administration and disaster management. From January 16th th until March 2nd I worked at the Buen Samaritano Hospital in Jimani, Dominican Republic. As the hospital closed down I took a break and went back to the United States. At the request of a good friend of mine I went back to Haiti for a month to work at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Carrefour (Hopital Adventsite d’Haiti). Now I have come back home to prepare for my next step. 

 

As my original plan was to start applying for medical school this spring, I found myself exhausted and at a crossroads of opportunities. I could go forward with my formal education, or I could continue on in the capacity that I found myself in, coordinating disaster relief and learning about healthcare issues from the people themselves. Needless to say the need is great, and, as I have made many contacts and built strong relationships, I decided to take another 6 months to continue my work in Haiti. 

Hopital Adventiste d'Haiti

Going back on July 5th I will be working at Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti in Carrefour, which is the main medical center for about 400,000 of the poorest people in the Port au Prince municipal area. It is also in one of the areas hit hardest by the Earthquake with building collapse at 50-60% (Most of the buildings still standing are not suitable to be lived in and have not been evaluated by engineers). I will be raising general support for food, transportation, language tutoring, and emergency needs. I also have college loans that several close friends and family will be helping me cover. The hospital will be providing housing in the form of giving me a place to pitch my tent. Adventist Health International will be covering my travel insurance, and I will be working directly with them, coordinating American medical volunteers, and pitching in with whatever needs to get done. When I am not working I will be studying French Creole and French, as well as preparing for the MCAT’s and GRE’s. 

My plan for my return on December 20th is to apply to masters programs in Global health and to medical school. Having spent time in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Haiti, I have learned that the health needs of each of these countries is immense. Even though Seattle Pacific University prepared me well for life after undergrad, I find myself at a loss in the face of all the need that is here. There is so much that I can do now, but there is still so much that I need to learn. Spending this initial time in the Dominican Republic and Haiti is giving me the base and the context so that I can finish my education with a perspective that will best enable me to return to serve the developing world. 

Working with the Foundation for Peace was a great experience, and having the support of family and friends back home has been invaluable. All the prayers and support enabled me to reach people in ways that I never thought possible. Even with all this support I still found my experience to be extremely difficult without a home support organization that could help coordinate my logistics when I return to the United States. 

Foundations Ministries is a local Wenatchee discipleship ministry. Mike Rumley-Wells, the director, has been a mentor for me for the last 12 years. One of the things that I really felt was missing from my first 8 months of working in Latin America, was a support organization. As much as I was sent by family, friends, and my church, there were times where I was seeing so much that I didn’t really have anyone I could share it with. I needed guidance and feedback and even more so a sounding board. Mike was that for me informally. As I have been back I’ve spent a significant amount of retreat time with him and his family in the mountains above Wenatchee. As I have been getting ready to go back it just made sense to have support from my sending community in a much more tangible way. I will be raising my money through Foundations Ministry and they will be guiding me through discipleship as well has helping me with financial accountability. 

The situation in Haiti after the earthquake is still extremely dire. While everyone now has shelter in the form of tents and most people have access to some form of aid, much of the rubble remains where it initially fell. A few days before I left in June, we had a young boy come in whose leg had been crushed when the weight from the rain caused a wall, weakened by the quake, to collapse. Six months after the earthquake we were still seeing fresh earthquake victims come in. The day before I left, 70% of the patients in our orthopedic clinic were earthquake victims, several of which had fractures that had not been treated yet. 

As hurricane season is upon us and the rains are becoming heavier and heavier, I can tell you that I leave again with a little apprehension. I do not know what the future holds, and I do not know what the next six months will be like. I do know that I need your prayers, thoughts, and support more than ever. So I please join me through my blog and updates that I send on Facebook. If you would like to make a general donation to my time there you can send a check to Foundations Ministries (see attached page), all of which will go to my support. If there is money that comes down above my general expenses, it will go to the hospital to help create jobs for local Haitian workers. 

Sincerely, 

Luke D. Davies 

WEBSITES TO FOLLOW: 

Blog: www.lukedaniel.wordpress.com 

Foundations Website: http://www.foundationsministries.net 

Adventist Health International Website: http://www.adventisthealthinternational.org/ 

Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti Blog: http://www.haitibones.org/ 

Foundation For Peace Website: http://www.foundationforpeace.org/ 





Bursts of Flame

30 05 2010

Sitting on a balcony in the unfinished wing of the second floor, listening to the constant rattling of rain on tin I couldn’t help but wonder how different my life is now. Last year I was a college student, cramming for finals, finishing up four years of a good education. I was so happy and sad. Happy to be done and moving on, but sad that I was leaving my friends. I was normal, I was young…

I couldn’t help but think tonight what an oddity my generation is. With this gaming revolution, most of my friends (and myself) spent hours playing through post apocolyptic adventures, computer generated wars, sci-fi worlds, and on and on. Not only did we play them, but some of us became addicted to them. We have this sick fascination with violence and competition. We want adrenaline, we want adventure, we want meaning, but without the sacrafice.

Looking up from my spot, I watched as a building across the street shot up in flames. The lights of the connected complex surged higher and then went out. I walk along the streets that are actually rivers, constant flow of water, cars, and people (The other day I watched, in the pouring rain as a small street boy with rags for clothes wept and screamed in the middle of the street at  the security guard who had just hit him).

If you walk into our E.R. it looks like a hospital out of “Left for Dead” (no Rudy there are no Zombies in it. We have to create barriers out of beds so that the doctors don’t get overwhelmed by patients). Going by houses, and trying to help people day after day, I see images out of movies like “The Book of Eli” and “Independance day.”

Everyday we hear about riots (although I’ve never been in one or seen one). Our friends at the General hospital hear rubber bullets bouncing off their building, and watch as the police fire tear gas into crowds (I get the occasional call asking if we treat gunshot victims).

The other day a car crashed and all of the 8 passangers had complex pelvis fractures.

I can’t help but feel that when I’m at home in the states I’m so insulated, so suffocated by safety that I crave danger, whether in the form of video games, movies, or just riding my bike. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t need movies or video games anymore to get my fix of “adventure.”

There are enough balls of flame around the world. I wonder what would happen if young men and women chose to utilize videogame time differently. What if instead they dedicated it to learning new langauges, or maybe working another job to pay for a trip to serve in another part of the world. There was something very special about my grandfather’s generation, I feel like they really understood what it meant to sacrafice. Those of them looking for adventure, either found it or died trying.

As I start nodding off to sleep and begin to make less and less sense, it is time for me to go to bed.

A few last minute updates, my running shoes have been stolen (I’m sure they needed them more than I did). I’m still a little short financially for this upcoming month, but I do have a good idea of how much it will cost me to live down here for 6 months. I will do about 45 hours a month of language school (creol for 4 weeks, French for four weeks and on again off again until I have mastered one or the other). We are also investigating off campus housing, and a possible stipend for myself, to help ease some of my financial burden.

I thank everyone for their prayers, and I will see many of you soon for Eric’s upcoming Graduation.





Lessons from a History Teacher

23 05 2010

Luckson Jean Baptiste is a 28 year old history teacher. He speaks very good English, and he is a passionate vegetarian (Somehow our conversations usually lead to food and how he wants to be fat and strong like me, but animals are our friends, so he asks me for protein powder). He is engaged to Lovely who is 21 and looks like her name.

January 12th, 2010 Luckson’s right tibia and fibula were crushed by a cinder block, leaving an open fracture. He then made his way with Lovely to Jimani, Domincan Republic where he received an external-fixator. He stayed in the large brown circus tent that was given to the Buen Samaritano by World Vision. Every time I walked into that tent, with my little black book, census papers, and usually a rushed manner, he would always be wearing a smile.

In late February Doctors at Buen Samaritano replaced his external fixator with a rod. On February 27th he was transferred to Love a Child Disaster center run by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and University of Chicago, where he was discharged to the a joining refugee camp. With little supplies, and few medical supplies he used the scant resources to change his dressings. Stuffing his almost healed wound with cotton balls, he was placing foreign bodies into his wound, that inhibited the healing process.  In tandem, he developed an infection in the bone with the rod. When HHI and University of Chicago Field hospital shut it’s doors due to lack in funding, they referred him to a hospital in Carrefour.

May 4th he came to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Carrefour looking for someone to help him. With no Orthopedic doctor there at that time he was asked to come back the following week. On May 13th I found him sitting, waiting for ortho clinic. After hugs, warm greetings, and much laughter I went about my business, feeling lucky to have another friend here. That night we got him settled into Pre-Op. The next day I would walk by him and Lovely and assure them that everything was going to be okay. Not knowing his prognosis, I waited with Lovely during his surgery that night. After three hours I began to become concerned. Was my friend okay?

Coming out of surgery, he now had a new External fixator. Puzzled I asked Dr. Nelson about it and he said that the leg was definitely salvageable, but that he would have to shorten it and it would take another 6-12 weeks to heal. Everyday I sit with my friend a little and we talk about life. He asks me questions about being white, Michael Jackson, and how a young professional like me doesn’t have a girlfriend. He also shares history lessons with me and lets me know that Obama was not the first black leader of our Nation (Still not sure who he is referring to, but it was someone before Washington… or so he says). He asks me for things like peanut butter, and a digital camera. He calls me a good man.

Luckson has already spent about 5 months in and out of hospitals. He will still have another 6-12 weeks of doctor appointments, and (hopefully) one final surgery. He will walk again, and with the help from some orthotics, he’ll be able to take me on one on one in soccer (Like he needs the orthotics, he could probably beat me with his legs tied together… okay I’m not that bad, but Haitians play a lot of soccer). It’s hard to think that still 5 months 11 days and 6 hours after the earthquake, Luckson is still trying to get better. Not only that, but everything he owns is in a leaky tent, in a dusty field, with no clean drinking water (Love A Child Orphanage in Fond Parisien is not doing an adequate job filtrating their water for the refugee camp, and have not been very transparent about it). He has no job, because there are few schools that can pay. Day to day he and lovely get just enough resources to feed themselves, whether it’s by selling donations or gifts that they receive from family. They are joyful, but their future is so uncertain. I share what I can with my brother, but feel overwhelmed. There are so many people like Luckson here at this hospital, in the streets of Carrefour, and All over Haiti.

The Earthquake is still claiming victims. Last night I helped with a surgery of a 7 year old boy whose leg was crushed by a cinderblock that fell from a leaning structure. As the rains come heavier and heavier, more and more unstable buildings collapse and fall apart. Construction is slow, money and job opportunities are almost impossible to come by. At least 3-4 people ask me for jobs a week. Keep praying, keep supporting, and don’t forget people like Luckson. Don’t forget about the thousands of amputees living in tents with no beds or cots. Don’t forget the men and women who are barely able to shelter and feed their children.

As I fall asleep tonight in my comfortable tent, under the shelter of the hospital, I begin to wonder if this is really a sacrifice that I am making. My belly is full, I may not be making any money, but my expenses are somewhat being taken care of (still need to do a bit of fund raising). I have good health (for the moment). And I can go home in an instant if need be. People like me are not hero’s, were not selfless beings striving for the betterment of mankind. Were not saviors coming to bring people out of darkness. Were not shining beacons of hope. We are human, nothing more, and nothing less. By the grace of God we are here, with our baggage, our pride, and our brokenness. Some of us are called, some of us were shoved, but none of us have it figured out. The most we can do is keep going day by day. Little thing by little thing. Whether it is playing games with “Belly-ache” (the nickname I gave to a little boy who plays outside the hospital) or taking the time to break an already broken T.V. (in my sad attempt to fix it), or to just sit in silence watching the rain pour over millions of displaced people and praying that they find a safe place to sleep. It’s all the little things. Maybe some of these little things will bear fruit someday, maybe the little seeds that died yesterday will sprout tomorrow. Only God knows these things, but we must keep loving people, for that is the only way life will flourish.








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