Saturday, March 09, 2013

Photos of Feb 2013 Trip

We've just uploaded a photo album of our February trip to our Facebook page.  Head over there and check it out.  "Like" us while you're there!  :) can donate to MSM for free, just by using our website to get to  Use the search box on the left and proceed like normal at Amazon.  Amazon will donate up to 4% of the cost of your purchase to MSM!  It doesn't cost you anything!  You can't beat that!  Come back again and again!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Long wait for Berthony

Months ago we wrote about Berthony, a 30 year old man with staghorn calcified kidneys. Dr. Mark has talked to a surgeon in western Massachusetts who is willing to do the necessary surgery and a local hospital is agreeing to donate services. But we have had one stumbling block after another with trying to get his birth certificate. The earthquake complicated things when records were lost but it seems that his true last name is different than what he's been using his whole life. Amoce has  made several trips to Port Au Prince to try to get it straightened out. Today he and Berthony traveled on the bus with the team and spent more time in PAP. Hoping that he will have a passport soon. Hoping that the money we spent today will produce results.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to pour a concrete roof

Across the street from our house they are "pouring" and a new second floor roof. The process is fascinating. Take a good look at the photo.

A handmade tall ladder with platforms every eight feet or so. On each platform there is one man and they are all facing each other. The men on the the ground are mixing cement from raw materials that were dumped in the road during the past two days.

After it's mixed, a couple shovel fulls are scooped into metal pails about the size of a spaghetti pot. Then each pail is passed up the ladder from one man to the next. At the top it's dumped into a wheelbarrow.

The empty pails are threaded on a rope and slid down a zip line to the ground. They have at least nine pails in motion the whole time.

When the wheelbarrow is full it's rolled along a board to the spot on the roof where they need the cement. This roof is at least 18 feet wide hand 40 feet long.

The men have been doing this continuously for at least the last 4 hours without a break! Each man on the ladder has been bending and lifting over his shoulder for that long!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Zone Seche

Six hours of riding in the bus today for a trip out past Port A Piment. We traveled over roads broken up by Hurricane Sandy last October, over two riverbed separate and around washed out bridges to set up clinic in a medium sized church. Our first patient was an elderly woman with two very badly infected legs from her knee to her ankles. The next was a 3 year old with a vaginal infection from being washed in dirty water. Others were a 49 yo woman who looked 9 months pregnant but actually had a huge tumor growing. A 25 yo with typhoid. A man with diabetic sugar level of 430.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Smooth Clinic at Torbeck

The team was awake by 6 am, made coffee and began unpacking. By 9 am we had finished sorting, packed for the day and were on the road before 10:00.

Set up went smoothly and the new plywood PVC tables worked great. We can break them down, put them in the bus and we're ready for clinic!

The team jelled quickly and we had a good routine going within the hour. We were expecting to see 80 people but saw 99. Some faces were familiar. Father (Pere) Gerard is really good at preparing for us. The Catholic Church we worked in is open and airy.

We saw the typical kind of problems: scabies in children, high blood pressure, head aches, joint pain, hernias. Other more unusual cases were a 17 year old with sickle cell anemia, a 6 year old with rickets, and another 6 year old who was vomiting worms. Her older sister brought her in because she was always sickly... Of course, the worms are stealing all the nutrition!

Obed, Marc Samy Saint Eugene, and Jasmin were translators along with Amoce. We have a great team.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

JFK to PauP

Departure from Massachusetts was on time. We made it to JFK with only a little delay after one member of the team left his/her wallet behind at a rest stop and we had to go back to retrieve it. Thankfully it was still there!

Getting through customs was stalled when a team member made an "x" on the wrong side of the immigration form.

The ride to Les Cayes on Sent Etwal was long and... exciting when we had a blowout in the dark.

Finally got to the house about 7:45 pm.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Early Morning Departure

At 3am our team will be on the way to Haiti. Our plane leaves JFK shortly after 930 a.m.. Everyone is really excited! It's a long ride there and there will be lots of sleepy people.

Amoce and Jean, the bus driver, will meet us at Port a Prince airport and then we will have a long ride to Les Cayes... about 5 hours.

The weather looks great for travelling, especially this time of year!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Three More Houses Approved - Rain on the Roof

We have just approved a budget to replace the roofs on three more houses in Platon.  This will be the 14th, 15th and 16th houses.  It's hard to believe that families are actually living in these houses right now, but they are. 

Mustard Seed's purpose is guided by the need for clean water up in Platon.  At our medical clinics it is clear that health could be improved with access to clean water.

Each of these houses has an approximately 5000 gallon concrete cistern.  When the roofs are repaired and water collection gutters installed, then  people from the local community will share the water that is collected.  Each homeowner signs a pledge to share the water in the cisterns.

There are many houses up in the mountains that look like these.  Hurricane Sandy damaged some of them very badly...roofs that were already in terrible disrepair.  

The Haitian families have little hope of being able to afford to repair these themselves.  MSMs cost to repair these -- for materials and transporation only, is approximately $1000 each.  The average Haitian income is less than $2 per day, and that goes for food.

Once the materials are trucked to the foot of the mountain, the local men (and some women) carry the metal sheets and wooden rafters on their backs up the steep mountain.  Local people all contribute to the building effort. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Kita Nago

Last night we had the unique  privilege of seeing Kita Nago outside of Petit Goave. It was just by chance that we saw this parade coming toward us and were able to see it and videotape it.
Kita nago is a saying that mothers say to their children. It's meant to express how difficult it is to do something ; basically means you can't go from here to there - you can't go from this end of Haiti to the other end of Haiti. 
It's something that's not easy or is impossible so the concept behind this Kita Nago initiative is that people of Haiti can work together and do something that is considered impossible. We saw the parade coming toward us and saw and heard all the really great music. The parade left from the south west corner of Haiti at Les Irois and is going up to the northeast corner of Haiti at Ounaminthe over 430 miles.  There is a cedar pole that weighs 1200 pounds being carried by hand with people marching ahead of it and behind it all the way up to Ouanaminthe.  Once it gets there the cedar pole would become the center of a new park symbolizing Haitian
You can see the video on our Facebook page.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Goudougoudou is the commonly used name for the earthquake. It happened 3 years ago on this date. One author likens it to naming hurricanes. Another says it's from the noise the earthquake made. Another says the people may be ascribing it to a voodoo god and this is its new name.

We landed in port au prince today and it was very quiet around the city. Amoce said it was because most people were at church or at commemoration ceremonies. The drive through the city was very easy.

Some things have changed. The airport terminal has been rebuilt and we are no longer bussed to an old hanger building to go through Customs. The renovated building opened in November and is beautiful, air conditioned and clean. Service as great.

Other things haven't changed. There are still people living in low dusty tent cities. Except when it rains and then they are living in mud. Some of the funds from NGOs or foreign governments have dried up or been discontinued.

We saw large missionary teams on the plane again can tell by their matching t-shirts. Less apparent were contractors, NGOs and journalists. 

Life has returned to a new normal in Haiti.

Our 'normal' was having Robert and Amoce pick us up in Robert's blue bus. That kind of normal feels good. As I write this we're having brake problems as we go down a mountain on the way to Cayes.  Unfortunately that's kind of normal too. Life in Haiti is always a different kindof normal than we are used to.