Saturday, 30 January 2010

Last Day in Haiti

Today we got to see Jacque Edouard Alexis, the former Prime Minister. His university, Quisqueya, the best in Haiti, was completely flattened by the quake. 22 people were killed, including the vice-chancellor. Mr. Alexis said that it was lucky that it was at a time when most people were gone. There was a group of educators in front of his house this morning sitting on chairs having a meeting about getting schools started again.

We then went to he and his wife Frederika's old residence, which is where she has moved her woman's center, which was also flattened. She was in the building at the time, but survived. We introduced her to Dr. Bob Hilgers, a gynecological oncologist from Louisville, KY. He was planning to come here with me before the quake hit to meet her and discuss starting a cervical cancer screening pilot project in her woman's center there. Bob is so keen on getting this going in Haiti that he came down anyway to join me here. He presented his recommendations to she and Michelle, who runs the center for her.

The program in Gonaives will be a trial. If it goes well, Bob thinks in about a year it can be started in other cities in Haiti. Bob will come down personally with others of our team to help train the midwives and nurses. He suggests starting with three. He said "this needs to be a woman's project, carried out by women for women in order for it to be successful".

From Kentucky, Dr Hilgers can read the digital camera pictures of the cervixes to advise who to treat and who not to. The women were very excited. I think it gave them hope today to have him paint such a positive picture of something in the future for Haiti to get their minds off the despair at hand for a minute.

Another 16 folks came in from Chicago today, one Orthopedic surgeon, 11 fire-fighters from Denver, 2 providers from Ohio and 2 from Pennsylvania. We organized them into 4 outreach teams and they spent the afternoon at our 'command house' going through the supplies we scored at the USAID warehouse the other day putting it into kits for them to work from. We plan to deploy them tomorrow to new sites around the city.

Interestingly, the two from Ohio had a contact in Mirebalais (up in the mountains toward the central plateau). They called him (he is a minister there) when they got here and he came down to PAP to talk to them about whether they might want to come there. It turns out that their little church clinic has 56 refugees from here to take care of. They had a doctor from Ohio who went back yesterday. I asked him if he would like us to send one our teams there for the week. He was quite pleased. They will be getting more doctors on Monday, but this will cover them over this weekend. A new partnership has been forged. The two from Ohio went with him along with two of the Denver fire-fighters this afternoon. We have fielded our first team outside the city.

I turned over my Airline Ambassador team managing duties to Greg Gourgue and Dave Rivard tonight.

Tomorrow I will return on the United flight bringing in our next group of 17 doctors and nurses and return to Chicago. Hopefully home Sunday.

More from there...

Jim Smith

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