After gang violence forced us to cancel a trip to Haiti three times since our last in July, we were finally able to make the trip again last week. We had been keeping an eye on conditions, waiting for an opportunity. One of the safety issues to work through was finding someone we trusted who could drive us from the Port Au Prince International Airport to the General Aviation Airport (where we catch our flight directly to Les Cayes). Although this doesn’t seem like a big deal since the two airports are only on the opposite sides of the same runway, in Haiti, it is. The last several years we have relied on a man in Port Au Prince to drive us. However, shortly after our last trip, a gang followed him home, stole everything he had, and threatened him. He felt lucky to escape with his life and ended up leaving the country. Recently we were given a recommendation for another man who we could trust for reliable information and transportation between the airports. We used him on this trip and now feel that we have another good resource.
There are always risks when traveling to Haiti. We largely determine whether a trip is safe by listening to what those who live there or have recently been in and out of the country have to say. Sometimes though we have no choice but to go, trusting that we are doing the right thing and praying for protection. We are thankful for the Lord’s protection on this last trip. Our worries about travel ended up being unfounded as our trip went very smooth.
When we arrived on Monday, we went right to work with many planned tasks and quickly had unplanned tasks added to our list. However, we found the whole hospital running much better than expected. Our management team (Dr. Moise, Dr. William, Shansley, & Manekens) have done an excellent job. We so appreciate their service and dedication to the Haitian people.
The gangs pretty much have control of the whole country at this point. Highway 2 (a two lane road) is the only road to Port Au Prince and they control several towns along the road – letting them control who/what they let through. Which isn’t much. Very little fuel is being allowed through and as a result none of the gas stations are even open; any fuel being sold is done alongside the road from one gallon containers. No fuel also means no generators that the power company uses to produce electricity. Because of no electricity, none of the area hospitals are open, meaning all emergencies come to us.
Historically, the hospital would have roughly 10 deliveries each month. With Dr. William able to do surgery every day, added with the lack of other facilities, we had 81 deliveries in October and 64 in November, plus 8 or 9 C-sections. It’s been a very busy delivery room! Ironically, the number of orthopedic surgeries is down, which we think has to have something to do with so few vehicles on the road!
The exchange rate went from 100 to 1 in July to 145 to 1 last week. Just another strain on everyone trying to support their families.
All of these situations continue to add stress to everyone’s financial status, and each month the need to use money from the Poor Fund grows. Thanks to all of you who faithfully support this fund!
We have been blessed to have many companies supply us with excess, seconds, and tear-off building materials which we use on home repairs after hurricanes and earthquakes. The home repair process continues and we have plans to install two new roofs on two of our housekeeping ladies’ homes next month. Once again – thank you for your support!
Thanks to your generosity, we collected over $20,000 for the rice and goat fund – our largest year to date. With this money, we will be able to give 136 families some much needed support during this Christmas season.
Times are hard in Haiti – harder than they’ve been in a long time. Yet God continues to bless our ministry. Our staff not only works hard, offering great service, but are also working on making improvements. The monetary needs are great, yet are met through your support. We are so thankful. I wish each of you were able to visit and experience how the Lord is working in Haiti. Please continue to keep the staff, chaplains, and patients in your prayers.
Dan Boerman and Duane Verkaik