A Safe Trip After a Long Wait

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.

Dr. William Telesma

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.

Merry Christmas,

Dan Boerman and Duane Verkaik

Prayers Needed as Unrest Intensifies

It has been a couple of months since we have been able to visit the Centre. It seems as if we’ve been changing our plans almost daily for the last few weeks.  The unrest in Haiti has recently found its way to the Les Cayes area, creating a lot of problems, and protesting has reached a level we have not seen in a long time. The road from Port Au Prince to Cayes has been blocked for some time, and as a result, no food, fuel, or basic supplies are being delivered.

We have seen a large increase in women needing C-sections as I don’t believe the other hospitals are fully operating because of the fuel shortage. We are especially thankful at this time to have the solar system. Our out-patient and other departments are slow, however; patients are only coming if they have no choice as they don’t dare travel with the protests and fuel shortages.

Our staff is having a difficult time getting to the hospital. There are road blocks everywhere – last week I heard there were 6 blocks between CSL and the airport (roughly 4 miles). Many of our staff live in that direction.

We have been planning a makeover of the operating rooms and have been trying to get the needed material shipped. It is ready to load on a container, but will have to wait until the road is open and safe for truck traffic. We have delayed trips to work on this project, and not shipping a container also means a delay in bringing hospital supplies. Our main, yearly order of medical supplies from a foundation in the Netherlands is preparing to ship and I’m afraid this will be delayed as well.

Please continue to keep the hospital and Haiti in your prayers, that the protests will end, gangs will open the roads, and patients will be able to travel to the hospital. Pray also for our staff and their families as they not only struggle to reach the hospital but also care for their family needs. These are trying times, but we rely upon God’s goodness and trust that he will bring us safely to Haiti in His good timing.

As many of you know, supporting the staff was of great importance to Dr. Bill. One of the ways he helped do this was by gifting staff members a bag of rice and a goat every Christmas, something he began doing many years go.  We are keeping this tradition alive again this year. If you are interested in supporting, please note ‘Rice and Goats’ on your check memo. Needs for the Poor Fund also continue to rise, and support of this important function of our ministry is appreciated.

Some of you may be receiving this email for the first time.  When looking through newsletters Dr. Bill had sent in the past, we realized that not everyone he shared these with were added to our distribution list when we transitioned to the email marketing service last year. If you no longer wish to receive these, feel free to unsubscribe through the link at bottom. We appreciate many of you who pass along these newsletters to your friends and family. They may also join the mailing list themselves by following the ‘Subscribe’ button on the bottom of this email.

Your prayers and support are a great encouragement to us and we couldn’t begin to do this without you. God has been very faithful to us throughout the years.

Dan Boerman with Duane Verkaik, Dr. Jose Dominguez, Dr. Luke Channer, and Tabitha Sheen

May – July Happenings

We were happy to report in April that the solar system project had been completed, and that we no longer had to rely on two diesel generators to power the hospital. Since the installation, the system has been reliably operating and we’ve had 24/7 electric service!  We received many thank yous from the staff during our visit last week. How often don’t we take our electric for granted? – yet for them it is a such a gift. This project will affect the lives of the Haitian people every day. Thank you again for your support!

It has been a little while since our last newsletter, but much has been happening.  Dr. Luke, Evert Bek and Justin Karns (Smucker’s tech) spent a week at the hospital in May.  They had a profitable trip working with the doctors, meeting with staff, visiting patients, completing some maintenance projects, and working through a few bugs with the solar system.  The staff greatly appreciates these trips as time is devoted to work through some of their problems and frustrations.  These trips are important in showing how much we care about them and the work that they are doing.

Duane and I also traveled to the hospital on July 9 and spent a week meeting with a lot of our staff. (Duane absolutely loves these meetings and wishes he could spend more time in them!)

Kurt Vander Loon, the owner of Embroidery House, graciously donated new security uniforms for our guards that we brought down with us. The timing was perfect as we have been working on new procedures for the guards.  They are the first people that our staff and patients see when they enter the hospital gates, and they have been focusing on how best to serve those who enter. This was a nice reward for their efforts.

One of the challenges in Haiti is the absence of a Lowe’s or Home Depot around the corner.  Sometimes we have to make repairs with only things that we have on hand.  The week we were there we needed to fix the X-ray film dryer as it is old and worn out – a hair dryer for the win!  Donations towards a new x-ray film dryer would be greatly appreciated as it really needs to be replaced.

The healthcare that we provide at the hospital opens the door for us to share the gospel with all who come through the gates. The Sunday we arrived, Pastor Zidor was ministering to a couple of young men. He shared that these men had been watching him from a distance during the worship service earlier in the day. He sought them out afterwards, and after spending some time with them, they decided that they wanted to follow Christ. That same afternoon, one of the nurses told Pastor Zidor that a patient wanted to see him. When he visited her, she said she had heard his message from her bed and she was ready to commit her life to the Lord. She passed away two days later.  God’s timing is always providential. We are blessed to have dedicated pastors sharing God’s word every day. Our hope and prayer is that the rest of show forth Christ’s love in all that we do. In June we had 84 salvations – we praise the Lord for his amazing grace.

Inflation continues to increase as the Haitian buying power continues to decline with the exchange rate now being at 125 goudes per dollar. When patients are unable to pay for services at the hospital, we use our Poor Fund to cover the cost. We have a couple of organizations and several faithful donors who regularly donate to this fund. We also use money from our general fund to fill in any gaps. Please prayerfully consider making a one-time or monthly donation to this fund so that we may continue to provide services to those who are unable to afford them.

Thank you for all your continued prayers and support.

Dan with Duane

A Busy Month

Much has happened within the last month to give God thanks for – the safe arrival of a container with solar and medical supplies, orthopedic surgeries by a medical team, and installation of the solar system.

On February 8 we shipped a container that contained the last of the solar equipment needed to finish installation, along with many building and medical supplies. It was troubling to hear that another ministry’s container had recently been hijacked and everything in it stolen. The cost of our container’s contents concerned us. How could we ensure its safe delivery from Port Au Prince to the hospital? We decided to send our container and truck on a barge, avoiding gang areas by moving it along the coast and then driving the rest of the way. Other organizations have been doing the same. With much prayer, we left it in Gods’ hands. The container left Port Au Prince on a Friday and we expected it late that same day, but it was a no show. Saturday was a day of worries as it still didn’t show. Dr. Moise received word from the driver late afternoon that he was broke down and would be there by 10pm. Again, a no show. Another call from the driver and we expected it 5am on Sunday. What a blessing to see the container finally arrive at 7am! Duane had arrived with a team on Saturday afternoon, so they were able to help with the unloading process. Although it was a stressful wait, we are continually amazed at God’s providential timing.

The team with Duane included Tabitha, Dr. Dylan Nugent (who previously came after the earthquake), Emily Hutcheson, & Daniel Bravin. While Duane organized in preparation for the solar team, Tabitha did some much needed work organizing one of our medical storage areas. She also spent time in the pharmacy, analyzing the inventory and how best to order supplies. Dr. Dylan and his group worked with Dr. Lamy performing orthopedic surgeries. We are starting to be recognized as having a good orthopedic program, and as a result we are seeing more serious cases. If you haven’t been to Haiti before, visualize roughly 100 scooters for every car, travelling every direction and on all sides of the road, so it is no surprise that most of these cases are the results of scooter accidents. Our staff desires to learn better skills and procedures, and we are grateful for those who share themselves, coming and working alongside our staff.

A few days after the medical team left for home (with the exception of Duane), another work team arrived, this time for solar installation. I was joined by fellow church members Bryan Johnson and Mark Snyder, along with three Smucker’s Energy techs, Jay, Justin, and Alex. Installation took 5 extremely long days. We had the system up and running on Friday, but unfortunately a major component failed Friday evening. Not what we wanted to happen, but our whole week had gone the same way. Several times we realized we had bought the wrong components or were short on different supplies. Duane had come to the rescue throughout the week and Friday evening was the same when he found a replacement component at another local ministry. Once again, God’s constant provisions are humbling. Saturday morning the system was up and running again, performing perfectly. What a blessing it is to have electricity 24/7, especially as our generators and inverter system batteries are at the end of their lives. Thank you men for your extra efforts! This has been a huge project, and I don’t want to forget all those who have worked and donated funds, preparing for this moment. God has richly blessed us throughout this project and it is a joy to see it completed.

Our home rebuilding program is also progressing. We are providing funds as they become available to repair employee’s homes damaged by the earthquake. After we provide an initial sum, employees must show receipts and pictures of work being done before additional money is given. Duane also did onsite inspections during his almost 3 week stay. John Eddy’s home has been finished and his family have moved back in. If you would like to support this effort, please include a note with your donation.

Life in Haiti continues to be hard. Inflation has hit them as hard, if not harder, as we are experiencing in the United States. The political situation continues to spiral downhill, and the after effects of the earthquake continue. Traveling from Haiti has gone from being as easy as can be expected to as difficult as possible. This trip had many travel adventures, starting on the way down. One of the Smucker’s techs had a flight delay, causing him to miss his original flight and not receive his bag. American Airlines cancelled one of our flights home and rescheduled for the next day. More seriously, a protest occurred at the Les Cayes airport while we there. The protestors broke the fence down, overwhelmed security, pushed a plane into the street, and burned it. The airport closed indefinitely, cutting off our normal means back to Port Au Prince. We have been flying in and out of this airport from Port Au Prince for some time now to avoid the dangerous roads. We purchased tickets to fly out of Jeremy instead (a 2.5-hour drive from Les Cayes), only to find out before we left that a bridge was out and we couldn’t drive all the way there. Our driver, John Eddy, gave us a ride to the bridge in the back of a truck, and another ride was arranged to get us the rest of the way to the airport after we walked over the bridge. The Jet Blue flight out of Port Au Prince that took the Smucker’s guys home was delayed 6 hours, forcing them to drive home to Pennsylvania from Fort Lauderdale once they landed. Duane’s flight was also cancelled and he had a 26-hour layover in Miami. I think I got it all – what a mess!

We are continually grateful to all of you for your support and prayers. We pray that God will continue to bless this ministry and that Christ will be glorified in all that we do. May we be instruments in the Redeemer’s hands.

In Christ, Dan Boerman

Solar Install Begins

Our journey of installing solar began a few years ago when Dr. Bill, Duane and I spent time brainstorming ways to stabilize the electrical system at the hospital. EDH, the government’s electric provider, had been supplying less and less electric and we had to rely on our generators more and more. Solar seemed to be an unattainable option, and yet it was the only effective long-term solution. So we stocked up on diesel fuel and spare parts for our generators, disconnected from EDH, added some batteries, and started researching solar. We did a study of our usage, looked at a few systems, talked to several companies, and ended up getting a couple quotes. The quotes came in seemingly beyond reach, so we decided to proceed with an a la carte approach. Smucker’s Energy, who installed a system at our sister hospital, was our choice to supply the solar system.

We sent a team last week, including a technician from Smucker’s Energy, to install 240 solar panels on the roof that two work teams replaced last fall. The balance of the solar equipment will ship on a container on Feb 7. Please pray for safe transport as we leave this in God’s hands. Once that arrives, another team will go to do the final hook-up, followed by a second team to update the existing wiring throughout the hospital.

We want to give a special thank you to all those who have supported this project. Our fundraising started with a sizeable donation from Dr. Bill, but once our need and desire was known, your generosity enabled us to purchase the whole system without doing the piecemeal approach. We also want to thank all those who have worked on this project, giving of their time and talents. Although we faced many delays – Covid, solar components stuck on a cargo ship, a container delayed in Haiti – God has been so good and has provided more than we could have imagined. This system will allow the staff to serve the Haitian people without limitations every day, not only healing bodies, but through God’s grace, their souls as well.

Back Row: Dan Boerman, Tom Vander Kodde, Micah Baxter. Middle Row: Kelly Grifhorst, Evert Bek, Jay (Smucker’s tech). Front Row: Paul Grifhorst, Dr. Jose.

The hospital has calmed down since the earthquake, although they still have tremors, 3 just this week. We are trying to get back to some kind of normal. The community has learned that we are doing surgery every day, and that keeps our beds full and the staff busy. Please pray for the staff changes that were made as they adjust to their new positions. They are all doing a wonderful job.

Thank you again for your continued support and prayer for our ministry.

In Christ,

Dan Boerman