Tuesday, 21 March 2017


I have read statistics about voodoo in Haiti, one even said Haiti is 70% Catholic, 30% Protestant and 100% Voodoo.  It is also commonly said to be Haitian is to be in voodoo.  It's  hard to describe exactly what voodoo is and how it enslaves so many people but on Saturday Stacey (our next door neighbour) had an opportunity to visit a witch doctor and you can read all about it here.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A few patients

Things have been busy in the clinic and I thought I would share about a few patients and our long term plan for PT in Bethesda.

At the beginning of January I saw an older man in the clinic who was using 2 crutches to help him walk so told him to come in for physio.  His explained to me ' I had an accident just over 3 years ago and broke my hip.  I went to the big hospital in town where they put a metal rod in my femur, 6 weeks later they discovered the rod hadn't done anything so they took it out and sent me home and I have been walking with crutches ever since.'

I gave him some basic strengthening exercises and told him to do them everyday.   I told him that I had no idea if the exercises were going to help because I didn't know what sort of shape his hip joint was in now but trying them won't do any harm. Fast forward one month and Denny came back for his check up extremely pleased with himself, he came walking in with no crutches at all!! This       was the first time in over 3 years he had been able to do           this!

I have been getting a few babies coming, who are all over 1 and are unable to hold their head, sit up or stand on their own.  I really enjoy working with babies but I really hate the first appointment.  The knowledge of special needs among people, including medical professionals is minimal.  Many parents come with their kids thinking that I will have a cure and be able to make their child better.  In these circumstances it is my job to explain that their child has permanent damage, that they will most likely never walk or lead an independent life.  That bit is hard.

My last patient I saw where I had to do this was a 2 year old girl, unable to hold her head up. She is the youngest of 7 children and her mum is on her own as her 'husband' has other 'wives' and children.  When I first saw Evlinda a month ago she could not hold her head at all, she was completely unresponsive and unengaged in anything I was doing.  At that stage I actually thought that she had a problem with her eyes because she could not focus on anything. I gave her mum some exercises to do, give her some advice about changing position and showed her how she can help Evlinda in different ways.

When Evlinda came back for her first check up, I was shocked.  She was focusing on me, engaging in everything I was doing and smiling throughout the whole treatment session.  She had much better head control and had even started to roll over at home.  I asked her mum if she saw a big difference in her as I thought maybe she was just having a bad day the last time she was here.  Her mum responded ' yes, before I didn't know what to do with her so she I just left her but now I do, she is even starting to misbehave!'.  When they were leaving Evlinda even put her arms out to me to stay!

Here is my other little patient who comes on the same day and has pretty much the same story.  His mum is only 17 and still at school, he is 17 months, pretty unresponsive with very poor head control and unable to sit up independently.  Again I gave his mum advice and exercises and after just one month he was much more engaged, holding his head up, rolling over and learning to sit.  I love this picture of him!

Five weeks ago I had a new patient who had suffered from a stroke just 3 days before, he was completely paralysed down his left side.  I always get a bit nervous treating a new stroke, I have no hoists and am using family members to transfer the patient to the bed.  I teach the family what to do at home and ask them to come once a week for treatment which is much less therapy than they should be getting.   Last Thursday during treatment Joseph stood on his own, moved his left hand and walked with assistance all for the first time,he (and I!!) was so pleased!

Our long term plan for Bethesda is to build a new purpose built space for PT,  the space I am in at the minute is very small and limiting especially with those stoke patients.  Once we have the new building we will employ a Haitian PT technician who can work alongside me while I am here who can then take over once I leave.  I would also love to start some group exercise classes for patients. which would include a time of education and give people some support.

If you would like to be involved in helping Bethesda treat more patients like Evlinda, Denny and Joseph you can donate to the new building through OMS.  Seeing half our readers are from the UK and half are from North America, I'll have to explain two different ways to give! Please bear with me......

In North America -  You can donate online through the OMS website here,  just add in 408213 as the project number.

In the UK -  You can send a cheque to the OMS UK office along with a note stating 'Physio project 408213' or you can donate by BACS please email me (julieedler@hotmail.co.uk) for the OMS bank details.

1 Sandeligh Avenue, Manchester, M20 3LN

Thursday, 2 March 2017


Last night we arrived home from our annual spiritual retreat in the Dominican Republic.  We left home at 6.30am on Saturday morning and travelled to Vaudrieul where we met with the other OMS missionaries and got on the bus for the 6 hour journey to Sosua.  We had just arrived in Vaudrieul when I realised we had forgotten teddy.....Anyone who knows Sam knows teddy is very important! Teddy is an international traveller and has been in Canada, America, Scotland and England and he wasn't going to miss out on this opportunity to go to the Dominican!  Bill and I were not looking forward to bedtime with no teddy so asked Phil to go to our house and bring teddy, 15 minutes later teddy arrived on the back of a motorbike ( I wish I had a photo of that!!) and got a big cheer when he did! Then we were able to get started on our journey. 

Our speakers were from an organisation called Soul Care whose role is missionary care.  They focused on how we can work better as a team to understand each other and work towards a common goal which is to share the gospel here in Haiti. 

The rest of our time was spent swimming, going to the beach and for us getting to know the other missionaries better.  We live at EBS which is in a village called Sakenville, most of the OMS missionaries live in Vaudrieul which is where the clinic, we only see them once a week so it was a good opportunity for us to spend time with the rest of the team.

We saw how God worked things out and gave us a good restful time.  We have many things to be thankful for and here are just a few, a smooth quick border crossing, no cooking, no dishes, time to rest, speaking English (not strictly true we did meet a couple of Haitian girls on the last day!), fellowship, worship in English, the boys travelling great, Joel sleeping in until 8am (well past his usual 5.30am wake up!!), time to read a book, the beach, God's beautiful creation,  eating ice cream, eating strawberries, shopping in an actual shop, calmness, time to read the bible, going to sleep early and the boys having a great time swimming all day! I'll leave you with a few pictures....

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The big 50!!

This year is a big year for Emmaus as we celebrate 50 years of existence.  That means for 50 years Emmaus has been training men and women to be Christ like leaders for the transformation of Haiti.  Emmaus was founded in 1967 by missionaries Eldon Turnidge, Dave Graffenberger (who is still here in Haiti) and Marilyn  Murphy (now Shaferly) along with Gaudin Charles.  Emmaus was initially opened as a vocational bible school and in 2001 changed to teaching theology exclusively.

Dave Graffenberger - one of the founders

Celebratory events kicked of in January with a service in the Vaudrieul church, a couple of the founding members were there, along with alumni, current students and staff and many people from the community in Vaudrieul.  It was a service of reflection of God's faithfulness, looking back over the past 50 years at what God has done in EBS and looking forward to the next 50 years with anticipation as to what God will do.

Last Friday was the next event, a football (soccer for my North American readers!) match in the Cap Haitian Stadium, against the Local Cap Haitian professional team.  Emmaus had a team consisting of staff, students and alumni, to say they were excited would be an understatement!!

It was a great afternoon, there were loads of people from the community in Vaudrieul and from the other OMS ministries who all came out to watch.  Its fair to say Haitian people  love football so it was a great atmosphere and we didn't even lose (it was 0-0, which is pretty good considering!).

I think Joel has inherited a love of football from his bampa & Auntie Leah  - he actually sat and watched some of it!!

It's exciting to be here this year and be a small part of what God is doing through our staff and students at Emmaus.

Thursday, 9 February 2017


Bill doesn't get much of a say on here, he's not a blogger......... but if you think of it say a prayer for him tomorrow (or today if your in the UK by the time you read this).

His first class is tomorrow and he is teaching revelation and New Testament eschatology and is going to teach in Creole.  I am not even sure I could  do that in English never mind Creole! So he is all prepared to teach in Creole and will have Leme (his co worker & translator) on hand just in case. Class is from 8 - 11 then he will preach in English Chapel at 11.30am.

That was short and sweet and to the point and anyone who knows Bill will know that is exactly how he talks. We will let you know how it goes!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Community Fridays

Friday has turned into my day of community physio visits.  I leave Sam to school at 8 then Joel and I head off to people's homes to do their physio.

This past Friday began with a visit to Alex & Astrid, my friends who were in Milot hospital (you can read their story here).  After almost two weeks of sleeping outside the hospital but not able to leave the grounds because they haven't paid their bill, they got home.  The surgeon who performed Alex's surgery saw them outside and told them he would pay the bill so they can leave, he took their electoral cards and now they owe him the money.  It is a much much better situation for them to be in, they still owe the Doctor the guts of $300 (US) but at least they are sleeping in a bed and are with their kids.  They are staying with family who will look after them until they are back on their feet.  Alex really needs the physio and Astrid will need hers once her cast comes off.  It was so good to see them at home much more comfortable and to see their two kids happy as they hadn't seen their parents for over a month.   The only thing Astrid had to say was how thankful she was to God.  She was getting desperate and could not see a way out of the situation.  They had exhausted all means they had of getting money together and could not see how they were ever going to leave the hospital.  They (and us) were praying and praying that God would provide a way for them to get home and he did.

Next we headed to another patients house in a different area.  This little girl is 12, she is unable to walk or use her arms well.  I first went to see her last week where it was very difficult to get a good history and figure out exactly how she ended up the way she is now.  It seems she was able to walk then about a year ago she fell and hasn't walked since. So we are trying physio to get some strength back in her legs, to prevents contractures and see if we can get her a bit more mobile.

If you remember please pray for this little girl  (I can't remember her name, next week  I will write it down).  To have a child who in unable to walk here is so hard, they don't have any of the equipment we would have at home like a wheelchair, a hoist, splints and the list could go on.  Her mother carries her on her back to sit outside most of the day.  Last week I had the opportunity to share the gospel with the family too.  Please pray that physio will help and that the family will come to know Jesus as their Saviour.

While I was there a young guy about 30 came in, he had broken his leg last year and it was put in plaster for a month.  When they re X rayed they saw the bone did not heal properly,  He was told he needs an operation but he has no way of paying for that.  He showed me his X rays which were taken 3 months ago and wanted me to do some physio to try to help which I can't do.

I would appreciate any advice from doctors /orthopaedic specialists who are reading this!!

Our last stop was Mano's house.  Mano has cerebral palsy and probably epilepsy, he has seizures  once or twice a month but has never been diagnosed or given medicine for the seizures.  I used to go and do physio with Mano once every couple of weeks when I was here in 2010 so its great to have the chance to go back.  He has done really well with keeping his mobility and is able to walk about the house as he needs to.

Mano in 2010
Joel loves being out and everyone loves Joel so our Friday mornings work great and once were finished we go and get Sam from school.  

 I love getting out and treating people in their homes but I usually have to go because it is so difficult for them to get to the clinic. The other side of this work is the pressure which I feel. Often people have been to many doctors and have given up on getting any answers.  It feels like people expect me to have the answers, to know why that person is sick and for me to be the one to make them better.  With no neurologists, pediatricians, MRI scanners and other diagnostic tests, I often don't have a diagnosis, I just treat the problems and pray that the physio will help.