Thursday, 25 August 2016

Fev - mobile clinic

On Saturday our NI team along with a team from the clinic headed to Fev to do a mobile clinic.  The church at Fev has been there for just over a year and the pastor is a graduate of EBS. The church and surrounding field was set up for the clinic, basically we went wherever there was shade!!

Pastor Walnique had been in Fev the day before giving out tickets for the clinic which made the morning very smooth.  We had various stations, dossier, BP, consultations, Lab, Pharmacy and evangelism / prayer station.

Were we able to see over 200 patients who probably wouldn't have otherwise been to see a doctor.  The day started with some education sessions.  We brought  a team of people from our HIV clinic, one of the nurses explained what HIV was, how you can get it, how it can be treated and how you can protect yourself.  At the end of her talk she asked how many people had never heard of HIV / AIDS,   I was shocked to see many of the patients put their hand up. Dr Rodney then did a session on cholera, he finished his session with the question ' How can you protect yourself against chlolera?'  again I was shocked to see only a few people knew the answer to this.  Fev is only a 15 minute drive from the seminary, its not way out in the country or way up in the mountains yet there was a huge lack in knowledge about medical care.

 Bethany was taking blood pressure for older people and she thinks over 90 % of them had high blood pressure putting them at a huge risk for a stroke. The highest she found was in an old man whose BP was 290 / 220 (If you don't know the average is 120 / 80).  A lot of this is diet related as Haitian's cook with lots of oil and lots of salt.  Most of these people didn't know they had a problem with blood pressure.  We were only able to give them a month's supply of medication but they were advised to continue to attend a clinic to control their blood pressure, however this is difficult for many people as they simply cannot afford to go the doctor every month.

The lab team were carrying out HIV tests for whoever wanted them.  If anyone was found to have a positive result they would be told to come to our HIV clinic at Bethesda where they can get treatment for free.

Our NI team worked alongside Pastor Walnique praying and sharing the gospel with the patients, we were able to pray with a lot of people who were already Christians.  We also got the opportunity to pray with 3 people who wanted to accept Jesus as their Saviour.  One of the ladies explained she understood the gospel and was ready to ask Jesus to forgive her, her husband then came over and said he would also like to become a christian.  We shared with another lady and at the end of the conversation she wanted to accept Jesus as her Saviour.

A few more stories from the day.....

Lewis & I spoke with a man called Joseph, he lives with his girlfriend and they have nine children together. We were able to explain the gospel to him, he knew some things about the Bible but not a lot.  He told us he wants to be saved but he runs a lottery business and if he becomes a christian he cannot do that job anymore. If he has no work he doesn't know how he will provide for his family. We prayed with him and as we were praying  he was wiping the tears away from his eyes.

Another lady we met also said she would like to become a Christian but her husband is a witch doctor and if she did he would throw her out.  She would be alone with no one to provide for her.

A few people said they want to accept Jesus but they are not ready yet.  There is something in their lives which is stopping them.  All we could do was to explain that the bible says come to God the way you are, you don't need to sort your life out first.

It was eye opening for us to see and hear the struggles people have.  It seems many people are open to talking about God, they want to become Christians but most of them feel they need to get themselves ready before they can come before God to ask for forgiveness. Thankfully this is not what the bible teaches.  If it was it would never happen, we would never be good enough to have a relationship with God.  It is only through the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross that we can have our sins forgiven.  And the bible  tells us today is the day to come to God and to come the way we are.  We don't have to get ourselves ready.

Here in Haiti life is hard, in more ways than we will probably know.  But for those who put their trust in Jesus,  they can look forward to their hope, which is in heaven,  where there will be no more crying, no more death, no more suffering and no more pain.  That is the good news we were in Fev  to share with people.

At first glance this it looks like this little boy is playing with a balloon.........However we were running an HIV clinic and teaching people how to protect themselves......I'll let you figure out what it is!!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Northern Ireland team

Our Northern Ireland team have been here for almost a week and have been busy painting here at EBS.  Phil's plan is to repaint all the buildings different colours so they look more Haitian using Caribbean colours.  Our team has completed the library and it lovely.

They have also been touring the OMS ministries here and we spent some time listening to Dr Rodney's testimony, visiting the clinic, radio station and meeting with the every community for Christ church leaders.

On Thursday afternoon we spent the whole afternoon counting and bagging tablets for a mobile clinic we are doing tomorrow in a zone called Fev.

 Here is some more info about Fev....

We hope to see 150 - 200 patients tomorrow........please pray for the team for both physical and spiritual healing tomorrow.  Will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Why Physiotherapy?

I have been working on organising  a group/ network in the north of Haiti for anyone involved in PT and I was thinking well why should physiotherapy be so important in Haiti? Surely there are much bigger problems in Haiti how will PT help anything??

The reason I wanted to be a Physiotherapist was because I wanted to do something medical but not medicine, so PT was the next best thing. I have worked in Haiti and I have worked in the NHS (in Northern Ireland) and often working in the NHS is frustrating. Patients don't do their exercises and then don't get better and then decide physio doesn't work. (this is a generalisation you do find some people who do what you ask!!)

I had a completely different experience in Haiti, I found very simple things worked very well. One of my first patients was an older man with arthritis in both knees, he was struggling to walk and was holding onto his wife in order to walk. I gave him some very very simple exercises to strengthen the muscles around his knees and told him to do them 3 times a day, everyday and come back in two weeks. I almost couldn't believe when he walked in two weeks later, unaided, a lot faster and visibly in much less pain. When I asked him how he felt he said the pain had gone and he was able to walk much better. Without the physio the scenario would have been go to the doctor to start on pain medication (which you have to pay for every time!), his joints would have got stiffer and stiffer making walking more difficult until eventually he couldn't weight bear anymore. Living like that is difficult in our culture, in Haiti its 1000 times harder.

Due to the lack of education in Haiti, especially health education the Haitian mindset is, if you are feeling sore,  or you have hurt yourself, or you have had a stroke you stay at home, often in bed until you get better.  This is the complete opposite to what PT does.

Imagine you live in Haiti and you fall and hurt your back and you work in construction.  You can't go to work and there is no sick pay from your employer or the government. After a while  you will probably lose your job, you also won't get any better making it impossible to work anyway. You will have also spent a lot of money going to different doctors and clinics, perhaps even a witch doctor to try to get better so now your at home, with back pain and no job and no money.

So how can PT really help people in Haiti?

I think the most important way is education, education regarding what PT does and how it can help.  Trying to change the mindset of staying in bed when you are sore or if you have had a stroke. Using exercise and rehab to regain function so people can work. Not only for work but for general life, most people have to walk to collect clean water for their house, they cook everything outside, cooking  from scratch, they wash all their clothes by hand, there is no electricity at home and you have to go to the market almost everyday for anything fresh.   Imagine trying to live like that if you have had a stroke which hasn't been treated or you suffer from back  or knee pain.

Another big area where PT is really needed is in paediatrics. Children with Cerebral palsy and other physical problems are kept at home often in bed, they develop contractures in their joints making it very difficult for parents to wash, dress and toilet them. PT aims to gives these children the best quality of life and reach their full potential. We also teach their parents how to best look after them. If we can we will also try to find a wheelchair so these children don't have to be indoors all the time which helps take away the stigma associated with children who have special needs.

Your probably thinking I have left out the obvious what about actual PT treatment which of course can help, especially when patients do what you ask them to do. Also being able to give out equipment such as crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs can help a lot.

So I feel having PT services in Haiti can really help Haitian people who need those services.

I recently met with a Haitian PT who has no formal training but has been doing some PT in Haiti for about 20 years! Which I was really shocked at as it seemed when I was first here in 2008 no one knew was PT was. It was good to meet with her and see what has been going on and she has lots of contacts who we can invite to the first meeting of the group. Now I have to set up a meeting, work on a name and clear objectives for the group / network.

In other news........we have a small team from home here at the seminary this week. Its so nice to hear some Northern Irish accents again! They have been painting here at the seminary and visiting OMS ministries. One of the girls is a midwife and was at the ante natal clinic in the Bethesda today. Tomorrow we will be going to an ECC meeting to meet the pastors involved in church planting and spend the afternoon counting pills preparing for a mobile clinic which we will do on Saturday in an area called Fev.  Our seminary students have been working in Fev for over a year, one of the graduates is the pastor of the church plant there.  There is no clinic in their zone and we will also be doing some evangelising and praying with people from the village.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Physiotherapy / Physical Therapy / PT

Heads up first..........for easiness sake I am going to start calling physiotherapy / physical therapy PT that way it doesn't matter which country you are from when reading this!!

When I first came to Haiti in 2008 there was no PT at all here, Gavin used to joke I was the best PT in the north of Haiti mainly because I was the only one!!In 2010 there were a lot more visiting PT's because of the earthquake and it seems since then there is a lot more awareness of what PT is and how it can help people.

Haiti now has a Haitian Physical Therapy Association however from what I can find there are only around 35 members serving a population of about 12 million people. Most of these have people have trained outside of Haiti and have come back to work here. Now Haitian's are able to study physiotherapy in their own country for the first time in a University in Leogane.  Since I have been in Haiti I have been trying to talk to other people who are involved in PT in and around Cap Haitian. Just down the road from us is a physiotherapy technician school where students can go and study for 2 years to become a PT tech. They will have 40 students graduate this year.

It seems there is a lot more PT going on since 2010, however most of those who are working are PT techs. I am currently working on starting a PT network in the North of Haiti and the idea behind this is to improve communications between PT's, to create a referral system, to increase knowledge and skills through education sessions and to make best use of equipment which is sent down to Haiti. For me this will involve meeting with other PT's and clinic's in the area. I hope to eventually set up a meeting and invite anyone who is working or qualified as a PT / PT tech to discuss what exactly this will look like in Haiti.

In Bethesda we hope to build a purpose built room  physiotherapy department. Over the next two years  I plan to work with someone, probably be a local PT technician who I can train up and can take over the PT service at Bethesda. Dr Rodney feels it is important for Bethesda to offer this service long term. However we do need some extra funding for the building and if you would like to donate to this please get in touch with me.
The old PT room, just a bit of space with a few beds which is now used as an emergency room

For any physio's reading this who have any ideas or want to be involved I would love some input as to what you think is essential for a physio 'department'. I will be pretty much treating anything and everything joint pain, back pain, strokes, CP, amputees, fractures etc. Or if you think there would be a possibility of setting up some sort of partnership between your place of work and Bethesda then get in touch, I would love to explore those possibilities.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Leah's visit

Leah has been and gone and it was good to have her here. Sam enjoyed having auntie Leah stay in his room with him. It was much easier to take the boys out with Leah here. Its difficult to take them out too far on my own as Sam doesn't want to walk too far and I can't use a buggy for Joel as there are no footpaths!

We did a lot of visiting with people I knew from before. We were able to spend time with Junior who lives just 5 minutes away from the seminary. Quick update on Junior, we are going to send him to get a CT scan here in Haiti but the hospital is about a 6 hour drive away. He would need to stay somewhere there to so he is trying to figure out how to get there and home. It is a great hospital run by partners in health ( and hopefully there he will get some answers as to why he is paralysed and if there is anything that can be done.

We visited Alynx, he was a patient of mine who has microcephaly. He is now 10 and has come on so much in the past 5 years. In 2010 he was unable to sit up and could only say mama. Now he can sit up by himself and is talking a lot. It's great to see how much he has come on but also sad at the same time to think he has so much potential and because of the lack of therapy in Haiti he is probably not reaching his full potential. His parents are good friends of mine, Alix & Astrid and I have seen them every week since we arrived. They have two other children aged 5 & 3 and neither Alix or Astrid work. Please pray for them, Bill & I are trying to think of a way which we can help them start some sort of work so they can provide for themselves.

We also went to visit Mano, another patient who I saw almost every week, he has Cerebral palsy. He is now 16 and is so much bigger than 6 years ago. He still does his exercises and has been doing ok but is not very mobile now. He isn't able to leave the house much as he can't walk far and his parents don't have a wheelchair for him. They are difficult to find in Haiti and I would really love to try to find one for him.
in 2010

Sam had his first sleepover too! Dr Rodney & Vedane's kids had been asking when they could come out to play at my house, so we brought them out to play and sleepover. They played all day and watched a film that evening, Sam couldn't handle the pace though and by 7.30pm he was asking to go to bed. It is great to spend time with the kids again they have grown up a lot over the last 5 years.

We were also able to take Leah to the local tourist spots which are the pool and the beach! There is a hotel with a pool about a ten minute drive away and it is Sam's favourite place to go, he loves swimming! We also went to the beach one day where Joel had his first play in the sand which ended up as a face plant!

Supporting the glens all the way from Haiti 

Bill is continuing his language study Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday mornings. He is taking every opportunity to practice his Creole. The rest of the time he is preparing for teaching, his first course is an intensive which starts on 5th September. He will be teaching OT wisdom literature.

We would appreciate your prayers for the boys (including Bill!) as they all have coughs for almost 2 weeks. We have been taking it easy over the past few days to try and get better. I am also working on something exciting for physio in the clinic which I will tell you about next time.

Thursday, 14 July 2016


I have been visiting Junior every week and we took him for an Xray last week. His X rays are normal and we still have no idea how Junior went from being able to stand alone & walk to now being completely paralysed. The next stage for Junior is to get a CT scan to see exactly what is going on in his spine then we will know whether anything can be done for him. There are two options for a CT scan, there is one CT scanner in Haiti, its in a hospital in Mirebalias which is close to Port au Prince around 7 hours away. The other option is to go to the Doninican Republic however Junior does not have a passport.

We are not sure what costs would be involved in either option or the logistics. Please pray for wisdom as to what to do next and how that will work out. I really feel we cannot just leave Junior as is he but we need to find out what has caused his paralysis and if there is anything which can be done.

Junior & Magalee in 2010 after months of physio Junior was able to stand unaided

Junior, Magalee & Abigail now 

Sam & Abigail love playing together.....even though they cannot communicate!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Auntie Leah is here!

My sister Leah arrived into Haiti yesterday for the next two weeks and I think its fair to say Sam is excited that she is here. He talked the whole way home from the airport and I think I have heard him say 'Auntie Leah' about 100 times in 24 hours! She was able to bring us out some of his toys from home and a few things we can't find here.

Its interesting to try to figure out what is going on in Sam's head, when he got his toys he said ' They aren't in Bangor.' then he said to Leah ' Your not in Bangor anymore Auntie Leah.' I think he was trying to figure out why she is here! We took a drive down to the other OMS compound this afternoon to see Dr Rodney and his wife Vedane. Sam loves playing with their kids too.

Last week me and the boys spent a bit of time with the team that was here from the states. On Friday morning we visited a place called Streethearts. ( its a safe house for boys who live on the streets. They can come and stay, or they can come for the day or they can come just to sleep. I was talking to a few of the boys, they all have sad stories and many of them have been abused or abandoned. One thing that struck me was the age of a few of the kids, there were about 4 boys who were under the age of 10 and many of them were just in their early teens.

 The team were there to spend time with them playing sports & games then running a VBS type morning. They sung some songs, did a drama based on a bible story and one of the team gave their testimony. We also did a craft where the boys made a prayer chain, they were asked to write some things which they can pray for. At my table I asked the boys if they want to write one to say thank you to God and one thing they can ask for. Here are some of the things they were saying

'Thank you God because you gave me life'
'Thank you God for streethearts'
'Thank you God for food you give me'

Its amazing that even though their lives so far have been so difficult they are very quick to answer what they can thank God for.

It reminded me that sometimes even living in Haiti we have no idea of the depth of suffering that is happening all around us.

The boys were loving Sam & Joel, they are used to seeing blancs but there are not very many 'ti blancs' (small white people!) around.

I was just about to leave and one the guys Sony, who works there came over to talk to me, turns out he worked as a translator in Milot hospital where I worked in 2010. I didn't recognize him because he used to have long hair and no beard! Anyway it was great to see him again,it was him along with an Amercian girl Lindsey who set up streehearts and they are doing great work for those boys.