Thursday, June 15, 2006

Haiti Mission Trip Part V

Day Four: Borde

Day four breaks and our team is ready. If nothing else, Borde is closer which means less time on the spleen-rupturing roads. We ready ourselves to run a clinic at another church. This one is run by another of Haiti’s amazing Pastors, Pastor Marius.

Pastor Marius has an incredible story. This young man works with two churches, the one in Borde and another in Cap Haitian. He travels via motorcycle, the best mode of transportation over these roads. He is by any Haitian measure a successful man and someone genuine in his faith. However, not everyone celebrates the success of their neighbor, even if he is a pastor.

On Carnivale Night in 2005, Pastor Marius’ car broke down. He sent his wife and five children home and began working on his car. As he did, he was shot in the back at close range by a man he knew, a neighbor. The reasons are unclear. The bullet sliced through Pastor Marius’ back, destroying his spleen and puncturing a lung. The damage was immense. It should have been a fatal shot.

Pastor Marius lay there on the ground, presumed dead for some hours before anyone missed him. On finding him, deep in shock and laying in a pond of his own blood, his family contacted Wilbert who quickly found a surgeon who came back to Haiti for Carnivale. They operated and though he had a small chance at survival, this man of faith pulled through. He still requires additional surgery for which they have spent a year trying to arrange his passage to the United States.

Pastor Marius still lives in the same neighborhood with his family, as does the gunman. The police were not interested in pursuing the matter.

It was a particularly humbling to be visiting this man’s church to conduct a clinic. We set up quickly after seeing the number of patients. The sickest is a patient seen by our obstetrician. The patient was in the middle of a "septic miscarriage," in which the uterus is severely infected. It can easily be fatal for the mother. We arrange for her to be brought to a rudimentary hospital in Milot, a nearby city. Though minimally equipped, the hospital offers more than we have at Borde. The patients at Borde are very sick, though we did not understand why. On a brighter note, the school associated with the church asks us to give checkups to the students, so we are able to see some healthy children.

One the ride home we stop in Milot to visit an historic site. We are not welcomed by the people in the street, and I cannot help but think twice about our decision to come here.

A frustrating thing happens as we head back through the town. We see the young woman from the clinic suffering from the septic miscarriage walking home. They refused to do the necessary procedure and, instead, had given her some antibiotics and sent her on her way. At home, as doctors, we would have lit up the staff of our hospital for such a thing, but here we held no authority. I do not know if she survived.

We make it back to the compound and settle in for the night. It is around 8 p.m. when we hear an enormous popping sound, almost an explosion and the lights dim for a moment. Things remain a little tense until we discover what happened. It turns out that a man was trying to throw a metal pole with a hook over the power lines and steal electricity. While he was unsuccessful, he did manage to destroy the transformer outside the compound, so that was the end of our government-supplied power. While electricity was only available every other night, it was still nice to have the ceiling fan going to move some air around. Once the mission generator went off at 9:30 each night, there would be no more power.

Lacking remorse, the man waves at us, smiles and walks away, leaving his pole behind.


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