Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sullivans on the Scene

John's cousin's daughter, Emily, a newly minted nurse anesthetist, arrived in Haiti a few days ago. She is working at a hospital in or near Carrefour, which was the epicenter of the earthquake. It is also where Frandy lives, and wouldn't you know, he and Emily not only bumped into each other, but correctly guessed who the other person was. "Are you Emily?" "Yes. Are you Frandy?" "Yes." Pretty amazing.

This is Emily's first trip to Haiti. Her cousin Jesse, whom I wrote about here, helped arrange the trip. Jesse is volunteering at the Haitian embassy in Washington, DC, assisting with the tent cities. In her first e-mail home, Emily writes:

Conditions are worse than imaginable. The entire city has suffered distruction. The streets are lined with make-shift tents. Even families whose shelter remains standing choose to live in the streets for fear of after-shock. Recently orphaned children sit blank-stared on sidewalks just lost. As we drove to the hospital, the smells are overwhelming. Many bodies remain trapped under has now been over 2 weeks. My team joined with other Doctors without Borders. We sleep in tents outside the Hope for Haiti clinic across the street from Hospital Adventista. My first night, I was woken up to someone from the hospital across the street calling for the "blonde-hair anesthesia". There are two anesthetists (myself included) to our team. I grabbed my new-found CRNA friend and ran next door. There was a stat c-section at the hospital. The conditions are unbelievable. Make-shift ORs with out-dated drugs that I have only read about. But we have an anesthesia machine!

This morning I worked in a public health clinic. 6 of us assessed over 250 Haitian men, women, and children. Later in the afternoon I went back to the hospital to help with anesthesia.

Tommorow more surgeries. Will try to keep in touch later.

Take nothing for granted.

We have our worries and frustrations

But our houses are standing and

when things go wrong,

there are people to help.

In Haiti a broken world explodes

and the people have to pick up the pieces.

Do You Hear Me Now?

My mom told me she thought, "Do you hear me now?" would be a good title for an article about Haiti, and she's right. Because for so many years, the suffering of the Haitian people has largely been ignored by the world. And the suffering is brutal.

I'll never forget the time we were returning from a trip to Haiti. We were flying from Miami to Chicago, and I sat next to an American who had grown up in Kenya and was making his way back to Africa, oddly, via Chicago, but anyway. I told him where I had been. He actually shuddered and said, "I imagine there should be a sign at Haiti's entrance that says, 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here,'" which of course was what was posted at the entrance to hell in The Divine Comedy. There was so much pain, and suffering, and premature dying in Haiti before and now this.

Our friend Mary who has made her home in Haiti for half of the year for more than a decade returned to Ohio from her recent trip to look for people. Mary writes:

No words can describe the incredible devastation the earthquake and incessant aftershocks have left behind. No words can describe the brutal injuries so, so many people have suffered. No words can describe the agony mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends are experiencing as loved ones continue to suffer and die on a daily basis. No words can describe the distress these same family members are experiencing as they try to determine the whereabouts of love ones. And no words can describe the amazing faith and strength of the Haitian people. Maybe it's because they are already so accustomed to a life of misery that in ten days, I heard many prayers of thanksgiving, but not one whine or 'why us?' It seems like the whole world has responded and much relief has arrived. It's hard to know if it's getting everywhere it needs to. People can so easily fall in between the cracks. Recovery, if at all possible, will take years upon years. I hope the world doesn't forget Haiti again.

No, let's not forget Haiti again. We do hear you now.

Things can't get any worse
And then they do
But the bad times can't destroy hope.

Haitians Helping Haitians

As I mentioned on the Haitian Hearts website, we are going to provide earthquake relief by sending money directly to the people affected. The Western Union offices in Port-au-Prince reopened last week, and we finally were able to wire money to a number of our Haitian friends, all of whom lost their homes and are living on the street and, in one case, in a car. They have been very grateful and a few have thanked us via e-mail or phone call.

Jenny told us that she would use some of the money to help people who are worse off than she is, and we know that she will.

Katia writes: "hi dr john how r u maria and luk i call u to tell thank u. . . thank u very much dr God bless u and your family .i feel me bether only my head ake where the concrete fall in my head." Her English is better than my Kreyol.

Henri told me to, "Have a nice day." For the time being, Western Union is waiving their fee to send money to Haiti.

I borrowed the above picture from Dorothy Pearce an American woman who lives in Haiti and takes in sick babies. She posted it on Facebook. I thought it better shows what is going on in Haiti than the pictures of the looters.
Our little bit of money
That we don't really miss
Helps them a lot.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Survivors Amid the Death and Wreakage

We find out about people in Haiti in bits and pieces from various places. We were very worried about Haitian Hearts' patient Willy Fortune's mom, who lives in the hard-hit Canape Verte section of Port-au-Prince. We were also worried about our Canadian friend Karen Bultje, who lives in Haiti, helping disabled children and really anyone in need. She blogs about her experiences at Coram Deo.

For days after the earthquake, Karen's last post was dated January 11. But then--Eureka!--she began posting again, and when we sent her an e-mail, telling her how happy we were to read that she was alright, she responded saying that Willy Fortune's mom, pictured above, had been by, asking about us. Eureka again!

We often stay at the Visa Lodge, a hotel near the airport, when we are in Haiti. We hadn't heard anything about the hotel until we came across this article in the Boston Globe. Mr. Herve Denis, one of the owners of the hotel, survived the earthquake, but his mother did not. Gratitude mixed with mourning everywhere.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bless the Children

We received the sad news today that 10-year-old Dieula Jean Charles perished in the earthquake. Dieula was one of the people that our friend Mary Hurley travelled to Port-au-Prince to look for.

A few years ago, Dieula came to St. Louis for heart surgery, thanks to the efforts of Mary and her friend Marie. They worked so hard on Diuela's behalf because they loved her and knew that she deserved to have her heart repaired. The operation was a success, and Dieula returned to Haiti a healthy little girl. As Mary's sister who is keeping us updated on Mary's work in Haiti wrote,

"The pain in Mary's voice could be felt across the miles and miles of telephone lines and there really were no words of comfort I could offer her. Her hope is that Dieula did not suffer. I know we all share that hope."

In a later e-mail, we learned that Dieula probably died quickly. Her mother and siblings survived. What grief they are feeling. The enormous suffering that exists in Haiti today is hard to fathom.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Solidarity Than Looting

I am a member of Bob Corbett's Haiti listserv, which has been an invaluable source of information on Haiti before and after the earthquake. I know there has been some reporting on looting that is occuring in Port-au-Prince. I offer the two below reports from people who are currently in Haiti. These accounts were made yesterday, January 17. To them, I would add the following observations: on our trips to Haiti, we have always been amazed at the lack of crime (the gang/political crime, notwithstanding)on the part of almost all people, especially given the lack and incompetence of the police and judicial system. Also, I am afraid that if I were in the same situation as the people in Port-au-Prince, I would be doing what I could to get food and water for myself and my family, even if it meant looting.

First Report

Ciné Institute Director David Belle
reports from Port-au-Prince:
"I have been told that much US media coverage paints Haiti as a tinderbox
ready to explode. I'm told that lead stories in major media are of looting,
violence and chaos. There could be nothing further from the truth.

"I have traveled the entire city
daily since my arrival. The extent of damages is absolutely staggering.
At every step, at every bend is one horrific tragedy after another;
homes, businesses, schools and churches leveled to nothing. Inside every
mountain of rubble there are people, most dead at this point. The smell
is overwhelming. On every street are people -- survivors -- who have
lost everything they have: homes, parents, children, friends.

"NOT ONCEhave we witnessed a single
act of aggression or violence. To the contrary, we have witnessed neighbors
helping neighbors and friends helping friends and strangers. We've seen
neighbors digging in rubble with their bare hands to find survivors.
We've seen traditional healers treating the injured; we've seen dignified
ceremonies for mass burials and residents patiently waiting under boiling
sun with nothing but their few remaining belongings. A crippled city
of two million awaits help, medicine, food and water. Most haven't received

"Haiti can be proud of its survivors. Their dignity and decency in
the face of this tragedy is itself staggering."

David Belle, January 17th, 2010

Second Report

I'm just passing this updated from Sasha Kramer of SOIL along:

"Apologies if these upcoming posts seem unpolished…that is because they are…we barely have time to write and internet is patchy so I will do what I can to get out information but I don’t promise eloquence.

Love to you all and know that we are safe and taking precautions.

Last night we arrived in Port au Prince just before sunset. As we came into the city with our truck piled full of water, gas, shovels and food we got a flat tire. The news reports of looting have been so exaggerated that we were concerned that a mob of people might come take everything before we even made it into the city. I am pleased to report that, as per usual, reports of violence in Haiti are largely disinformation. Yes, we did hear shooting late last night, and yes we did see a fight over a mattress at a camp in the city but our overall impression has been sheer amazement at the solidarity displayed by communities.

We drove into the city past the airport and along Delmas 33. Initially it looked like about 1 in 5 houses had sustained damage and perhaps 1 in 20 had completely collapsed. However as we got father in towards Delmas the damage looked much more severe with perhaps 1 in 5 buildings completely collapsed. I have never seen anything like this, honestly it is hard to even feel. People have not even begun to mourn as everyone is still in a state of crisis. As we drove by the police station on Delmas 33 we saw someone carrying a severed foot of a police officer out of the wreckage…I barely even blinked…everything is so surreal.

We went straight to Matthew 25, a guesthouse which remained relatively untouched by the quake. We went to locate our friend Amber who has been helping to coordinate volunteer efforts. We are so grateful for the way in which we have been received by the guesthouse, they immediately allowed us to remove all of the materials from the car and invited us to sleep in the backyard (no one is sleeping inside as the aftershocks have continued over the past few days). I was so amazed to run our dear friend Ellie Happel at the guesthouse. She flew in from NY the day after the quake to help with relief.

Once we had unloaded the car we all went with Marcorel to see his family in Jake. When we arrived it was already dark and there were people sleeping everywhere in the streets. As we waited for Marcorel to make his way through the camp to locate his family we saw several young men from the neighborhood setting up a large light rigged to some batteries. As light flooded the crowd of people they burst into song. Songs of solidarity, songs of grief, songs of thanks that they had survived. We followed Mako through the blankets and makeshift tents to where his family (8 brothers and sisters and his mom and dad) huddled together on a pile of blankets. They were so happy to see him and we all piled into their bed and Ellie, Paul, Cat and I were each handed a baby. The singing continued in the background as Marcorel’s family told the story of where they each were when the quake hit.

With love from Port au Prince,
Sasha "

Alive! Alive Alive!

We are getting more good news on many of our Haitian Hearts friends and patients. Katie Cesar is alive! Suze LaPierre is alive! Marie Myrtha is alive! Jenny Guilliame is alive! It feels so good to type those sentences. We have also learned that the families of some of our Haitian friends in the United States are alive: Katina's family, Fastina's family, Viviane's family.

They are alive now, but their situations are difficult and in some cases desperate. Their needs now and in the future will be great. We are hopeful that the aid will soon make its way to them. We are also anxious to get money to our Haitian Hearts patients and will do so as soon as the Western Union offices in Port-au-Prince reopen.
Pictured above is Marie Myrtha

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who Should We Blame?

Pat Robertson's comment about Haiti being cursed because of a deal its founding fathers made with the devil is getting a lot of play. Unfortunately, this belief isn't that uncommon among certain Christian denominations, some which have groups that work in Haiti. John has heard it for years (often in tandem with anti-Catholicism). A poster on the Corbett listserv has a page on her blog with links to different groups that espouse this view. I had a comment on this post from someone who seems to be in the Rev. Robertson camp:

If I may state what I believe to be the truth-Haiti is a culture deeply steeped in voodoo. In 2003, the president officially recognized it as a national religion. This is dangerous stuff. IT CHASES GOD OUT. I pray for the people that they will reject all evils that bring the one known as 'the destroyer' (satan) to reign in their country.

With something as horrendous as the situation in Haiti before the earthquake and now with the incomprehensible disaster the shaking ground has wrought, it's understandable to want to try to explain things. And we would like explanations that absolve us from responsibility or guilt, thank you very much. So let's blame it on an alleged pact with the devil that, abetted by voodoo, curses Haiti to this very day.

If you are comfortable with that explanation, here's a question to ponder: Is it the perpetrators of evil or the victims of evil who are cursed?

Now, we don't usually describe natural disasters like earthquakes as evil, but I can tell you that Haiti has had a lot of evil directed its way, evil that contributed to the country's fragile state and making the earthquake so very destructive. Here's a short list:

In short order, Columbus and his fellow Europeans wiped out the Arawak Indians, the original inhabitants of Haiti. This led to. . .

Slavery. The French needed people to work the coffee and sugar plantations. They were so cruel to the slaves, that the slaves died faster than the birth rate could keep up, requiring the French to constantly kidnap more people from Africa.

After the independent Haitian republic was founded, the French demanded millions in repayment for lost profits from Haitian exports. Haiti paid the huge sum, which put the country perpetually behind the financial eight ball. Can you imagine the United States paying England for agricultural profits owed during the American Revolution?

Haiti was founded in 1804 but not recognized by its powerful neighbor to the north, the United States until 1862 when we were in the midst of the Civil War.

I'll stop here and save the rest of the world's sins for another post.

This weekend, Haiti was the subject of much preaching at places of worship. While disavowing Robertson's remarks, my pastor compared the situation to that of the Christian scripture story of Lazarus, the poor man. Lazarus, who suffered miserably on earth, went to heaven, but the rich man who ignored him went you-know-where.

So, who, exactly, is cursed?

A Friend on the Ground

Our friend Mary Hurley, who for years has lived six months of each year in Haiti, arrived there yesterday. As you can imagine, she knows many Haitians and the main purpose of her trip is to find and help people she knows, many whom are very poor. She will also be helping coordinate the efforts of others who want to help.

Mary works with Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity who have several communities in Haiti. The Order was able to arrange jet transportation for Mary and her friend Marie, another Haiti veteran, from Miami to Port-au-Prince. Mary and Marie will be staying with the Sisters on Delmas 31, the site of the Sisters' home for children in Port-au-Prince. Mary usually works at San Fil, the home for the dying that the Sisters run elsewhere in Port-au-Prince. Sadly, now, much of the city has been turned into a place of the dying.

Mary is worried about many people--Kethia and Dieula, to name two. Thankfully, she has heard that Heurese, Guerline, and Gertrude, who runs the guesthouse where Mary usually stays, are safe. The guesthouse has been destroyed, but Gertrude is okay, as is her daughter Rosie who was in a boarding school in Port-au-Prince.

The Internet and cell phones are indispensible in communicating. Ten years ago, phone communication from Haiti necessitated a satellite phone. We have received cell calls from Frandy and Heurese. John has called Frandy on Skype, though he couldn't hear us. Frandy has actually been able to post on his Facebook account. The discrepancy of being able to communicate like this with people from around the world while you are homeless, hungry, thirsty, and don't know what is going to happen next is like some kind of science fiction gone wrong.

Even though Mary is a veteran of Haiti--indeed it is her home--even though she speaks Creole, even though she has spent most of her time in Port-au-Prince helping the most destitute of Haitians, she said to John, "We realize we don't know what we are getting into." It's not unlike a first trip to Haiti she said.
As we hear from Mary, we will keeo you posted.
Above: John in Haiti before the earthquake.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


We found out this morning that Heurese is alive along with her family! Heurese is a 30-year-old woman whom Haitian Hearts brought to the United States in 2008. She had surgery at Cleveland Clinic, which replaced her diseased heart valve with a state-of-the-art Onyx
artificial heart valve. Heurese stayed with us in Peoria for about five months while she recuperated.

Heurese has two young children. Today they are leaving for her hometown of Bainet on the southern coast of Haiti's peninsula, southwest of Port-au-Prince. It typically takes three hours to travel to Bainet from PAP. Who knows how long their journey will be today?
Heurese's mother and other family live in Bainet, and like many people in Port-au-Prince who survived the earthquake, she wants to leave the devastation of the capital.
In the midst of the tragedy and sorrow, we are so happy to get the good news of the survival of some of our friends. But we know many people have lost their children, their families, their friends, and we mourn along with them.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti and the United States

Here are the things I am feeling positively about regarding the United States and its response to the earthquake in Haiti:

The United States has a Democratic administration.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama care about Haiti and are willing to commit American resources to helping the country. They are African-American; their skin color is the same as the Haitian people, which can only raise the esteem in which the Haitian people are held. I know this last sentence seems offensive and politically incorrect, but it is true.

Hillary Clinton, who early in her tenure as an Obama cabinet member, gave a major speech about Haiti, is Secretary of State.

Bill Clinton, who along with his wife has a special appreciation for Haiti, is the United Nations special envoy to Haiti.

President Obama today granted Haitians in the United States Temporary Protected Status.

One of the major tests of the Obama presidency will be our country's sustained response to this Haitian catastrophe.

Here are some depressing features of the U.S. relationship with Haiti:

The reason the U.S. Coast Guard was able to respond to the crisis so quickly is because the ships were in the area to intercept desperately poor Haitians trying to leave Haiti on rickety boats headed for the Bahamas or the United States and return them to Haiti.

The United States has a schizophrenic relationship with Haiti. The Clinton administration restored Haitian President Aristide to power. The Bush Administration escorted President Aristide from power. And now the Obama administration appears poised to make a major investment in the rebuilding of Haiti. All of this occurred in the span of 16 years. Prior decades reveal even worse dysfunction on the part of the United States (supporting dictators, occupying the country, not recognizing the country, etc.)

The United States initial response to the earthquake notwithstanding, the U.S. government has had a definite bias against Haitians as evidenced by our immigration policies: harsh treatment of detainees at Krome detention center, difficulty of Haitian in obtaining visas, reluctance until today to grant Haitians TPS when the citizens from other countries in far less dire straits were granted the designation.

Our tendency is to only worry about Haiti when the country is having an adverse affect on us-- like when Haitians wash up on Miami beaches, looking for the American dream).

Our incredibly short attention span and self absorption. Will we tire of this Haitian crisis?

What now?

This earthquake is an event in the hemisphere of an entirely different magnitude. Will something this major reset the board on U.S-Haitian relations? Will it traumatize Americans--in a positive way--to realize what is important and how U.S. power can be used peacefully to make a positive difference in people's lives?

If the Haitians can remain hopeful, then so can the rest of us.

Good News!

Frandy and his family are alive! John received a phone call from Frandy this afternoon. The call broke up frequently, but John was able to learn that Frandy and his mother and brother are unharmed, though their home was destroyed and they are without food and water. Can you imagine losing as much as they have and considering yourself one of the lucky ones? Such is the magnitude of this disaster.

More good news: we have also learned that Chris and Hal Nungester who run H.I.S. Home for Children Orphanage are okay along with the children in their care. They are having generator problems but are grateful to be alive.

We have friends who will be arriving in Port-au-Prince tomorrow, and we hope to have more updates on the situation in Haiti, including the status of our friends and patients.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where is Frandy?

We are worried about numerous people in Haiti, including Frandy Dejean. A poor boy, he grew up on the side of a mountain in Carrefour. He came to the attention of Haitian Hearts because of a heart problem. We brought him and his mother to St. Louis for medical care. Like many Haitians, Frandy fell in love with the United States, and it is his dream to return.

After Frandy returned to Haiti and with the help of his generous host family in St. Louis, he attended high school and passed all of the necessary exams. Frandy has been studying hard for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). A passing grade on this test would gain him admittance to a U.S. college.

Besides his academic work, Frandy has provided invaluable assistance to Haitian Hearts. He has located patients for us, taken them to medical appointments, helped them get passports. Everything is difficult in Haiti, and one of the above tasks can take days or weeks to coordinate. Frandy has persevered through all the obstacles--terrible roads, unreliable transportation, incompetent government.
Frandy's love for the United States has not always been returned. This past summer he applied for a visa to attend an English-language school in St. Louis. He had a sponsor, willing to host him and pay for his schooling. Nonetheless, he was denied a visa. I quote below from the letter we received from the U.S. consulate official:
Mr. Dejean was found ineligible for a visa under Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. Under this section of the law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas must demonstrate that they have a residence outside of the United States as well as professional, family, financial, and community ties which will ensure their return at the end of their authorized stay.
Let me unpack this for you. What the law basically says is that if you don't have a job or money to return to, you are not eligible for a non-immigrant visa. Or in other words, if you are poor, no visa.
Frandy is definitely poor. It didn't matter to the U.S. consulate that Frandy had worked hard to pass high school, that he had a sponsor for his schooling, that after the completion of this program, he wanted to return to the United States for college. He couldn't demonstrate sufficient ties to Haiti to satisfy the U.S. consulate (i.e. he is poor) and was denied a visa.

Frandy hasn't given up though. Give up isn't part of him, which is why we have hope that he is still alive. We have been watching the news, but their are huge portions of the Port-au-Prince that we know nothing about.

So we pray and wait.

The Work Continues

I've had a few people ask me if the earthquake is going to change the mission of Haitian Hearts. The answer is no. Our focus will continue to be two-fold: to bring young Haitians to the United States for life-saving heart surgery and to support the work of my husband Dr. John Carroll in hospitals and clinics in Haiti providing general medical care and medications to very poor people. Those needs will remain and even be intensified as a result of the earthquake.

We encourage people to donate to the organizations that are providing immediate relief. You can find a list of them here. Haitian Hearts will always accept your contributions, too. You can learn more about us at our website.

Haitian Hearts is committed to Haiti in the long term. We will continue to help Haitians, one at a time, as we have for the past 15 years.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please Pray That They are Okay

I was driving my son Luke to school today. We adopted him from Haiti, so he hears about Haiti a lot. This morning he asked me, "Mommy, why is Haiti always in trouble?" I didn't have a good answer for him.

I don't have any answers. Like many people, we are waiting to hear about those we know and love in Haiti. People like Frandy, a hard-working, young man, who, as a very poor Haitian, is defying the odds, educating himself, studying like mad to pass the TOEFL (Test of English for Foreign Language students) so that he can come to the United States for college. Or Heurese, the young woman who spent five months with us last year as she recovered from open heart surgery. Both Frandy and Heurese live in Carrefour, which was the epicenter of the earthquakc. They are both very poor and I am hoping, however perversely, that this will somehow work in their favor for survival; they don't live in big houses, just little shacks made of concrete blocks. We grasp at straws where we can.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to the "biblical" nature of the earthquake. It's really the only scale that makes any sense. Because a normal day in Haiti is like a natural disaster: lack of water, lack of food, unpassable or barely passable roads, epidemics with no adequate medical response. Add a devastating earthquake to these already impossible conditions and we run out of words to describe the situation. If you think about what happens in the United States when disasters strike--everything from car accidents to N1H1 to tornados--there is a professional, adequate response--ambulances, police, doctors, government bureaucrats--lots of people tackle the problem. When I think about the people lying under the rubble in Haiti: there is no one from Haiti that is going to be coming to their rescue soon, save their families and neighbors. I just heard Anderson Cooper bemoan the fact that he had seen no heavy earth moving equipment on the scene. Welcome to Haiti, Anderson. The existing hospitals are totally inadequate for every day circumstances; there is no military, there is no National Guard, there are no ambulances or road crews, or maintenance people to fix a practically non-existent infrastructure, there is a barely functioning police department. Really, there is nothing at all in Haiti to respond to a disaster of this magnitude.

So we are left asking, "How could this happen? How could God let this happen? What kind of social Darwinistic law rules the universe and insists that the harshest things must happen to the people who are already suffering the most?"

I'm not going to count on answers to these questions; we have to roll up our sleeves and work.
Pictured above, Chris Nungester who along with her husband Hal, runs an orphanage, H.I.S. Home for Children, and one of the children in her care

Friday, January 01, 2010

Medjina Has Arrived

Seven-year-old Medjina got her biggest present ever this Christmas: a trip to St. Louis where she will have surgery to fix her faulty heart valve.

On December 18, Medjina flew to the United States with her American friends and spent Christmas with them in Ohio. They then drove Medjina to St. Louis, where she will be staying with Jim and Jane Ebel, who have graciously hosted a number of Haitian Hearts patients. Medjina had her first appointment at St. Louis Children's Hospital on December 30.

John traveled to St. Louis to be with Medjina and Jane Ebel during the appointment. He was able to provide medical history on Medjina and also translate for her.

Because of her damaged heart valve and the consequent inefficiency, Medjina's heart has gotten huge. She easily becomes short of breath, a symptom that would worsen without the surgery she needs.

Medjina has a huge heart in another way, too. She has calmly come without family to a strange country that is much different from Haiti. John reported that as she sat on his lap when the nurse had to draw blood, she didn't so much as flinch when the needle entered her skin.
We are grateful to all who have made it possible for Medjina to be helped.