Monday, January 16, 2012

Remember and Honor By Serving Redux

John has been in Pestel, Haiti the last several days. In my last post, I used the word remote to describe Pestel and its environs. Even though Haiti is only 600 miles from the United States, the whole country can see isolated, given its disastrous infrastructure, its scarce government, its disjointed relief efforts; when you are bumping along a road in Cite Soleil, a slum in the teeming capital, you can feel like you're on another planet. But Pestel takes the remoteness to a new level. Surrounded by the ocean and mountains, the town/area on the northern coast of Haiti's southern peninsula is difficult to get to, and then, once you're there, difficult to get aound. In traveling between Pestel and the surrounding mountains, John said he rode on the worst road he has ever been on in Haiti. That is saying something, as many of the roads there eat tires and axels for snacks, and John has had a lot of opportunities to ride on these roads in his 30 years working in Haiti. People in Haiti who are trying to make contact with John are calling me, at home in the States, figuring I might have a better chance at getting ahold of him.

John gives an excellent account of his trip on his blog at the Peoria Journal Star.

Most of the cholera patients at the small, dirty, and understaffed hospital in Pestel are coming from these mountainous regions, where patients have to walk or are carried in by their families. This journey can take several, arduous hours.
One of the men who was laying with calm resignation on a cot in the hospital said to John, "I'm waiting on God." I'm continually amazed at how poor Haitians, those who we would say have gotten the short end of the earthly stick, at least from a material perspective, those who might have less reason to believe in God, believe with such peaceful strength.
If we could give a good answer to "life's most urgent and persistent question" posed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we could help validate this faith.
"What are you doing for others?"
Pictured above, the crowded port at Pestel.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Remember and Honor by Serving

I heard on the radio this morning that Michel Martelly, president of Haiti, has made today, January 12, the second anniversary of the earthquake, a holiday.
Also today, my husband John is making his way from Les Cayes to Pestel, a remote town on the north coast of Haiti's southern peninsula. Cholera is hitting the Pestel area hard, including in the difficult to reach mountains surrounding the town. A recent report stated that 55 people have recently died of cholera in this area and that there may be more than 300 cases. Because of the difficulties of data collection in Haiti, the numbers are probably underreported.
John will work with cholera patients. He is also going to gather information for public health officials working in the U.S. and Haiti who are trying to limit the deadliness of the cholera epidemic.
Perhaps the best way to commemorate the lives of those who died in the earthquake is to try to help save the lives of those who are suffering from this new disaster.
Pictured above, John working at a Cholera Treatment Center in 2011.