To read this blog in chronological order you must start at the bottom. Most recent posts are at the top. Sorry for any inconvenience. Hope you will find it worth the effort though.
"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give".
Kahlil Gibran, Philosopher

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Great News! Farmega was able to get her Student Visa on her second attempt at the Embassy. We had assistance from Senator Jeff Sessions office and letters of recommendation and a promise of a job for Farmega in Haiti after graduation. She is now enrolled at Calhoun Community College and is doing her prerequisite course work before being accepted into the nursing program. Farmega seems to be adjusting to life in the USA and our household well. I am learning that "life is hard in Haiti". Farmega seems to be adapting to the modern conveniences we have here that she was not familiar with in Haiti, such as dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, electric stove/oven, microwave, vacuum cleaners, etc. Although she never had the opportunity to swim in a swimming pool before, she likes getting in and cooling off in ours during these 100+ degree days we are having. She is currently studying the driver's manual in hopes of maybe one day obtaining a drivers' license, but for now is content to be driven where ever she needs to go. We continue to support Loudna's family and I receive e-mails from the aunt (Lovely) periodically thanking me for the continued support of her family. Ironically, I discovered that Farmega and Lovely are related. Both of their last names are Innocent. I'm not sure of the exact connection, but think they are cousins.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Out of the Rubble Comes a Nurse

It has been almost two years since I was in Haiti. When there I had the pleasure of meeting a young lady named Farmega Innocent. Farmega was assigned to me as my Haitian translator. I now think we were brought together as a mutual blessing. Farmega was by my side day in and day out. She not only translated the words being said to me, but she also filled me in on the cultural meanings of what was behind the words. She was patient, kind, and God's love was shining through her to others in so many ways. She took notes of what treatments we used for different ailments in order to continue to serve when no more "help" came. I think a graffiti picture on a wall said it best "Don't forget us". That seemed to describe the feelings I seemed to uncover in a lot of the Haitians. They were afraid the rest of the world would forget their plight. I too am afraid the world has forgotten them.

After returning home, I continued to think of Farmega and the life that lay ahead of her. She had planned to go to college, however, during her first semester there the earthquake quickly changed her plans. The University and many of the faculty were destroyed and killed. When I asked Farmega what she would do now, she replied "I will wait until they rebuild my University, then I will go to school." I knew that this dream would not be fulfilled in her lifetime.

Farmega and her situation lay heavy on my heart. One day I asked my husband, Tom, what he thought about the possibility of our bringing Farmega here to live with us and attend college here. Surely, God must have softened his heart to this because without hesitation he said, "Sure". I didn't have to use any of the prearranged arguments I had prepared in my head on him!

I sent Farmega and e-mail and asked her if she would be interested in coming to the U.S. and attending Nursing School here. She didn't respond for a couple of days. I think she thought it was a joke or something. When she did respond it was a resounding "Yes, when can I start?"

So began an almost two year process of hurdles and hoops to get Farmega's paperwork in order for her to travel here to study nursing at Calhoun Community College. Getting the paperwork from the school to her has involved month long waits between posting and receiving packages of needed paperwork. One time in order to mail a paper she needed to take to the Embassy in a timely manner, it cost $100 to have DHL deliver it to her home. Fortunately, we discovered we could scan and e-mail a lot of the paperwork she needed and she could print it on her end from a borrowed computer and printer. She has had to take an English proficiency exam. The first time she did not pass by about 2% points. She passed with flying colors the second time, however, it is costly to take the exam each time. Her perseverance has proven to me her commitment and desire to obtain her nursing degree.

If all goes well from this point forward she will have an appointment at the Embassy in December to obtain her student VISA, she will arrive here the last week of December, and she will begin classes at Calhoun on January 9, 2012.

Farmega's father, Atonic is a carpenter. Her mother Clemene is a homemaker. Her older brother, Abraham is still in high school. Her older sister, Christlaure is still in high school. All of her grandparents are deceased. Her family is very supportive of her coming here to study and will help support her as they can. It is an exciting adventure she is about to embark on, however, I'm sure she will be anxious as she has never traveled outside of her home town of Pernier in Haiti. I hope if you meet Farmega, you will make her feel welcome. Please pray for Farmega and Tom and I that this will be a blessing for us all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Letter from Loudna's Aunt to me.

Hello mom Berta
How are you? I would like to thank you because you are very be honest with me it's a blessing for me. I always tell you that everytime you are a blessing for me,I going to tell you how throuth this testemony:

Before I met you on my way my home was like a hell for me in all matters my husband was straggle me telling: ''you need to do something,it's really hard for me I work so hard for taking care everybody and everything I can't keep doing like this'',and he says the bad words on me.I was not have peace in everyday,

Every moment I go before god I cry out, I call him and say god I can not support that again please save me help your daugter.
I wanna telll you mom this is my heart since I meet you in my life,my home has peace my husband love me and respect me,my kids does not souffering from hunger cause god and you I got peace and joy,jesus it's so good to me.

The last thing I would like to say you it's about my english course,I was receiving that from god it's a long time ago since god says me go learning english but cause I had no oppotunity to go and I suffer about that before I met you.throut your blessing I obey and I begin to go,Now it's very difficult because the chief ot school asks with all of us anyone need to have a computer if is not that you can't keep going because it's really emportant for practicing.I already buy some books with DVD player.So I really realllly neeed your prayers and your appreciate help to have one.
love you so much mom,keep praaying for you deaar.
and remenber that after god it's who gives peaace and joy

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Life for Loudna in the orphanage in Haiti

I have been fortunate to receive updated photos and information about Loudna after her move to the orphanage. I would like to share these photos with you. I worried that maybe assisting her into the orphanage, away from her family would be a hard transition for her. Looking at these photos only affirms to me that God had a hand in our meeting. I am told by people who have visited her that she is extremely happy in the orphanage and seems to have adjusted well. Judging by the photos, I'd say she is eating better than she ever has. Appears that she has gained some much needed weight! Continue to pray for Loudna, her family, and all Haitians.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

"Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth." Shirley Chisholm

I e-mailed Yanick at the clinic the week after we returned to see if the aunt had brought Loudna back and if they decided to let her go to the orphanage. The response I got was as follows:

Yes, she did come back, she is now with Bobby at the orphenage. She was happy to go, and her family, specially her aunt and her so call uncle, grand father, they are all agreed that she needs the change. She is happy, her aunt told me, God please let them come for me, I want to go.. Her prayer has been answer. God take cares of his children.
God bless you. Stay in touch.

I received an e-mail from Greg Roberts, our host in Haiti that read:

As for Loudna,we saw her yesterday and she is happy to be at the orphanage. Michelle and I spent time with her while we were there. As promised, I sent my first month's food check for $100 with a promise to send monthly for the next five years.

"In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."
Mother Teresa

I may not be able to change the whole world, but hopefully I changed the world for one little girl in Haiti.

Heading Home

Our trip originally was to be from Friday, April 16 to Friday, April 23. However, Regions Bank changed their flight schedules and we were the transition team. We would be heading home a day earlier than anticipated. It was a blessing to me to have the opportunity to come and serve the people of Haiti, but I am ready to get back to the comforts of my home and the security of my family, friends, and community.

We got up at 5:45 am. The sun was well up in the sky, a few roosters were crowing, cows were mooing, birds were chirping, and doves cooing. Ezekiel, the hired man, was outside washing the trucks for our trip to the airport. For a country with such water issues, there is a tremendous amout of car washing that goes on here. There isn't a shortage of water, but there is a shortage of potable water. Either people buy water in little bags, jugs of water like for a water cooler or go to a community pump station and carry it to their homes in gallon or five gallon buckets. The pump station water is "clean", but still may not be safe from bacteria. Others are seen dipping water from streams of free flowing water that runs down the hillside - over trash piles and land where animals scavenge for food and also leave behind their waste products.

Driving through the streets to the airport was saddening. No one on our team spoke Creole, so navigating through the airport was somewhat of a challenge. Once through all the security we were told to stand at a window and wait. What a disparity between our luxury corprate jet with all it's amenities and what we have seen this past week. From an out house with no seat to a toilet with a leather seat. All men may be created equeal, but not all men have the opportunity to live equal.


I slept well when I slept last night, but I woke up several times. I walked out on our balcony about 3:30 am. It was quiet and cool. I kept thinking about Loudna Lambert, the little girl who was molested. I'm considering making the aunt an offer that if she will let Loudna go to the orphanage and be adopted, I will buy food for her family for the next five years. I keep thinking of the movie, "Sophie's Choice", I hated that movie. Sophie was a Jew. She and her two children had been taken in by a German officer. In the end the German officer told Sophie she had to choose which of her children would live and which would die. I can't decide if my offer would be like that to the aunt. Will she have to choose food for her family at the sacrifice of Loudna? Really, is she sacrificing Loudna, or offering her a better future? I questioned my team members as to whether this was an immoral offer. I was reassured it was not. I asked the host missionary if it was wrong for me to ask the aunt to choose, and he said, "no". When we got to the clinic, I again asked Yanick, the clinic director and she said she thought the aunt would agree to it. I asked about how much she thought it would cost to feed a family of six a month and she told me about $100 a month should do it.

The aunt and her four year old daughter came to the clinic before Loudna arrived from school for her medication. Yanick, Earla, and I took the aunt into an exam room to talk privately with her. I was surprised at the aunt's responseafter we made her the offer. She said this was an answer to her prayers. She said she would be 100 percent for Loudna going, but she had to talk to her husband first and to Loudna's father and grandfather. She said the grandfather was fond of Loudna and had wanted to "keep her for himself". Loudna had told her grandfather, "You are old, if you die who will take care of me? I want to go live with my aunt". The aunt told us she would have an answer by Friday. Our team members had collected food items they had brought for their lunches and we made a food care package for the aunt to take home. We had collected $85, but decided to wait until she came with her answer to give her the money.

Loudna arrived at the clinic after school with her 9 year old cousin (a daughter to the aunt). We gave her an injection and medication to take by mouth. One of the medications we gave her was for diarrhea, because all of the other medicines will probably make her have diarrhea. During her injection she flinched, but never whimpered. She and her cousin both said "I'm hungry". After Earla and I fed the girls from our backpacks the 9 year old cousin kissed Earla and I both on the mouth. I tried to turn so she would kiss my cheek, but she moved in front of me to plant the kiss square on my lips.

We saw about 15 - 20 patients Friday when we first arrived before the clinic was officially open, about 250 - 300 patients Sunday in the mobile clinic at the church, 102 patients on Monday, 97 on Tuesday and 70 today.

One young boy I saw today was about 14 years old and appeared to have hepatitis. I had Doc Eric come see him to confirm my diagnosis. His abdomen was tender and his eyes were very yellow from the jaundice and his liver was enlarged twice the size of normal. His urine looked like molasses it was so dark. The only normal indicator on his urine dip stick was his glucose. We wrote out a request for laboratory tests to be done. He was to take the request to a local independent lab then return Friday with the results to see a member of the team that would be replacing us.

A young mother came in with her 7 month old. She had conceived this child while she was breastfeeding her first baby (now 2 years old). Her complaint today was she was 17 days late for her menstrual period and wanted a pregnancy test. She did not want to be pregnant, but her test was positive. Such a look of sadness came over her. She said "This is not good." She had her other two babies by cesarean section and knew she would have to have another with this baby. I told her to be sure to tell the doctor she wanted to have her tubes tied with this surgery if she didn't want any more babies. I tried to encourage her by telling her "babies are a gift from God. Maybe she was carrying the next President of Haiti"! She smiled briefly.

The people of Haiti seem so gentle and appreciative. Most are very atractive and have beautiful smiles and teeth - despite a diet low in dairy products and calcium. The scarcity of sweets could contribute to their lack of cavities and the fact that they all breastfeed their babies could contribute to good teeth alignment.

It seems obvious to me that the government is not helping it's people. The way to make a change is not from the top down, but from the bottom up, one person, one community at a time and allowing it to spread.

Woman after woman told me today she dipped water out of the sewers because the pumps were too far to carry water. A few people have wheel barrows which halps them transport more water at a time. Every day begins as the day before, searching for food and water. Until their daily basic needs of clean water, food, and shelter are met, no one can move forward to plan for tomorrow.