Hurricane Matthew Aftermath

Cite Soleil flooding 2016

Flooding in Cite Soleil; neighborhood just adjacent to Lamp clinic

Ruined home in Cayes

LES CAYES, HAITI – OCTOBER 14: A girl stands in her destroyed house on October 14, 2016 in a small village near Les Cayes, Haiti.  Some regions are still cut off from the rest of the country. In some cities 80 per cent of the houses are destroyed or damaged. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

Oct. 19, 2016     Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti two weeks ago, but the damage that it caused will take years to undo. Right now, more than 175,000 people are without a home, and the UN estimates that at least 1.4 million people are in urgent need of clean water, food and medicine. The southern edge of Haiti was worst hit, but the destruction was very widely spread. Friends living in the mountains, 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince, report a total destruction of crops, huge livestock deaths and hundreds of homes, schools and churches destroyed. In the south, massive relief operations by the UN and other large agencies are underway, but the need is very great.
In Cité Soleil, where the Lamp clinic is located, the damage caused by the storm itself was multiplied many times over by what took place next. Cité Soleil is a flat piece of land on the edge of the ocean, perhaps a foot above sea level. The storm surge caused the sea level to rise, flooding large portions of Cité Soleil with up to 3 feet of water (photo above). Open canals passing through Cité Soleil carry the sewage of all of Port-au-Prince to the ocean, so the water that has flooded all of these homes is deadly. We anticipate a great rise in bacterial infections in the days ahead; we hope that a major cholera outbreak will not occur but are making preparations for this far-from-unlikely eventuality. Smaller cholera outbreaks are already occurring throughout the South.
In an earlier bulletin (“Jim’s Message” on the home page) we mentioned that our clinic was spared any damage. For some reason – perhaps the presence of nearby sewage canals that channeled the storm surge further inland – the area immediately next to the clinic did not flood. It is a mystery and a great blessing. We mentioned, too, that the safety of staff families was uncertain. Happily, this fear has also resolved itself in a positive way. The roof of our driver’s home was torn off but his family is safe and are living at a neighbor’s home. The home of a former nurse of the Lamp was completely destroyed but she too is safe. In that portion of the southern arm of Haiti (called Nippes) the destruction was extreme; virtually every home is damaged or destroyed. All crops and livestock have been lost, and many wells and other water sources contaminated by the storm surge.
At least 500 people were killed during the storm itself, but it will be a desperate year for many, many people. The rainy season is nearly over; there will be no more crops planted this year. The storm toll will very certainly rise in the months to come. As always, then, keep Haiti in your heart. Please give generously — to the Lamp or any other reputable organization that is making a difference. Remember, as the Lamp byline says: we are one human family.

 

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Pharmacy Expands — Organically

New pharmacy location!

Lamp nurses: Ms Saillant, Ms Astrude and Ms Saint-Fleur

The Lamp “campus” in Bwa Nèf, Cité Soleil has come a long way since 2008, when we first moved to our current location.  The first Lamp clinic was established in three small residential buildings in the middle of a maze of tiny cement block and corrugated tin houses.  Now the clinic boasts a new two-room building (for women’s clinic and x-ray), a public toilet, two covered seating areas, various store-rooms and a surrounding wall.   Those three original buildings, however, remain the core of the clinic – they house the primary exam rooms, the lab and now, the pharmacy.

The pharmacy you see pictured was once a leaky tin-roofed house, where we originally conducted initial triage and public education sessions.  The building has been expanded and the tin roof replaced with concrete.  Tile floors and new cupboards complete the picture.

The pharmacy represents something of the philosophy of Lamp itself: starting with local resources and gradually, organically, building strengths in response to local needs.

The cement roof, by the way, is already showing its value.  Hurricane Matthew did not strike Port-au-Prince directly, as it passed this week, but even relatively high winds and rain can cause dramatic damage to flimsy tin roofs.   Although our clinic was spared any damage, we know that thousands of homes have been destroyed in the worst hit areas.  Please keep Haiti in your thoughts!

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Long Public Hospital Strike Ends

Tremendous news arrived for all Haitians last week, and especially those of modest means.  A massive hospital strike that had gone on since March of this year was finally resolved.  Physicians, medical residents, and nurses had been on strike to protest low wages, poor working conditions, and inadequate funding for public hospitals.  The strike had extended to more than a dozen hospitals, including all of the largest ones.  Only a few accepted any patients at all during this very long period.

Medical residents who were earning approximately $120 per month now hope to receive as much as $460.  Hospitals that had been functioning with faulty equipment and without basics such as anesthetics and even water have been assured that these conditions will be improved.  For the ordinary person, however, the key fact is that the doors are open.

Nonprofits in Haiti are sometimes criticized for their fragmented services, for failing to integrate with the public health system.  This criticism is not without validity and the Lamp for Haiti has always sought to collaborate as closely as it can with the Ministry of Health.  In the case of this strike, however, nonprofits like the Lamp were the only option for the poor.  The demand for health care has always been intense but the level of need during the strike was heart-breaking.  We are affirmed in the desperate need for our services, but we can only celebrate the re-opening of these critical institutions.

 

Photo: Miami Herald.  Emergency room at General Hospital.  To read the full Herald article click here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article99382447.html

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A Shipment of Good News

To our delight, the Lamp clinic in Port-au-Prince yesterday received a large shipment of donated medicines.

As a medical organization with a permanent clinic, the Lamp is eligible for medical donations of this type.  Nevertheless, the struggle to keep medicine costs down is a constant one.  The Lamp provides all of its patients with free medication and this can be costly for us.  Medicine donations from large pharmaceutical companies are usually limited to specific types of drugs.  We must purchase the remaining items on our list of necessary drugs.  This shipment, however, will have an exceptional impact on our ability to lower costs.  Not only that, it is the first in a continuing series of donations that we expect from a brand new collaboration.

Direct Relief is a nonprofit that links with the pharmaceutical industry to provide medical donations, and we are very happy to say that we have become a “preferred partner” of this organization.  The shipment yesterday was the first substantial donation since we acquired this status and we are looking forward to a long and mutually satisfying relationship!   Direct Relief promises a minimum of four shipments of “essential medicines” each year.

Note that these medicine donations have always been a key way in which we can multiply the impact of our donors’ contributions.  Until now, every dollar that a donor contributes leverages an additional one to two dollars in medicines and medical supplies.  That proportion can only go up with this new partnership!

It may not look particularly neat, but this is high quality material!

It may not look particularly neat, but this is high quality material!

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Daniel Tillias comments on Lamp health services

Daniel Tillias is the Director of Sakala, a community organization that seeks to inspire the youth of Cité Soleil to greater and higher things.  For the first four months of this year, the Lamp provided daily health clinics at Sakala, due to political disturbances in our own part of Cité Soleil.  Here he comments on the impact of that stay and the perceptions of people in his neighborhood.  Sakala is located on the border of two neighborhoods; one named Three Babies (Twa Bebe) and the other named City of Light (Cité Lumière.)  

This article is from the Lamp’s latest newsletter.  For more, click here! June Newsletter

 

Registration at Sakala

Young patient

Dr. Severe and patient

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The blessing of the city of light in Cité Soleil was to host the Lamp clinic for a few months.

When I received the call that it was too challenging for Lamp to continue operations in Bwa Nèf, I was in shock. I knew that Cité Soleil could not bear to lose one of its last remaining opportunities for health services.

I suggested: “What if we host the clinic in the meantime so that Lamp can continue to be in proximity to Bwa Nèf, to those who need it the most?”

I was not expecting a yes, but when I got the yes it was a dream come true as the neighbors have been pushing me hard to convince Lamp to provide a new mobile clinic.  My staff was very excited too, because it was the plus that was needed to complete the list of services that we provide in this community, a community that needs many supports, but who see health care as a top priority.

The day the clinic opened was a dream come true for Sakala.  People behaved so well.  As we say here in Haiti, they were as dry soil waiting for rain.  Many more came than could be served, but they knew that, because the clinic would stay, they could have their chance the next day. Around this time I could easily have run for office with the smiles I was getting from these pregnant women, these elderly people who received not only health care but dignity and respect from the very qualified service and staff.

This community was spoiled. People were praying that the clinic never leave. What about if we keep them forever in Sakala someone said. My answer was why not, but why?  Because I know that the Lamp’s purpose is not only to serve the poorest but the poorest of the poorest.  Sakala is poor, but it is just 5 minutes from the main road and it makes it less difficult for us to struggle ahead when there is no other choice than to pray for healing.

The day arrived when I got there and there was no clinic.  It was a terrible blow but I know that the Lamp staff were very excited to go back to serving the area that needs the help the most.

Fair enough, Lamp is still in Cité Soleil.  I need to have full confidence that the mission will remain, that this clinic continues to serve those who would not have healthcare if it were not for the brave ones who dare go where many stop going or decide to never try going.  As the elderly person who cannot walk too far a distance said, “Fine, yes they can go, but nothing should stop them from stopping in Sakala once in a while because there will always be a smile of satisfaction for the one who cares about making us feel better.”

 

[Note: The Lamp will certainly continue to provide mobile clinics at Sakala! We are working to establish a regular schedule for these visits.]

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Serious Fun!

DJ Mav

Toby in action!

Toby in action!

Dr Morgan and Toby

Dr Morgan and Toby

Playing for a cause doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play hard!

The weekend saw an amazing event take place.  Toby Baer, a 6th (!) grade student at St Cassian School in Montclair, NJ, decided to organize HOOPS FOR HAITI – a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in support of Lamp for Haiti.  He had learned about Lamp for Haiti a few years earlier, when Dr. Morgan was named St. Cassian Alumnae of the Year.  Toby felt he could do something to help and he backed up his good intentions with some rather amazing action!  He wrote sponsorship letters (“Dear sponsor, Have you ever felt as if you have nothing?  Imagine living in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere…”), created registration forms, and publicized the event at his school and church, among his fellow Boy Scouts, at his extra-curricular activities.  And people responded.

Inca Kola provided all the food and beverages for the event. The New York Jets donated tickets and signed Jets gear as raffle prizes. Montclair Char-Broil and Johnson & Johnson were additional sponsors. And 14-year-old Michael Valentin, aka “DJ Mav,” spent the day spinning tunes for players and supporters alike.

In the end, Toby – with, of course, his parents’ assistance — raised over $4,200 (after expenses for pizza and trophies)!  The event drew 12 teams and nearly 40 players ranging from third grade to adults.

He’s already thinking about how to make Year 2 of HOOPS FOR HAITI even bigger (making it a family, all-day event with an art room for little kids, merchandise and a silent auction…)  It’s a lesson in what one person can do!

Serious, inspiring, fun!

Killer Whales

The Killer Whales

The struggle

The struggle

The Shining Red Stars!

The Shining Red Stars!

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Letter from Haiti

By Lamp founder Jim Morgan MD

Dear Friends –

I write this from my apartment in Port-au-Prince, following an arduous but gratifying week. As is typical I am struck by the courage and dedication of Lamp staff, as well as local residents who meet incredible adversity each day and still persevere, and make progress.

During his visit Jim also provided checkups at a school run by partner organization Edeyo

During his visit Jim also provided checkups at a school run by partner organization Edeyo

In Cité Soleil, where our Lamp clinic is located, there was, until about five weeks ago, a gang war between two neighborhoods. Bwa Nèf, our section of Cité Soleil, was one of them.  Many were killed. The gangs have dispersed following a truce, and it has calmed down a lot since those skirmishes. Local residents who had moved away because of the violence are coming back, and the regular rate and rhythm of each day is now beginning to return.

On Tuesday morning our vehicle, which safely transports our staff each day to work, and which can also double as an ambulance, turned down Impasse Chavanne, a narrow dead-end street.  Past the water station where an old woman was filling up her 5 gallon bucket I noted three relatively new graffiti messages. They were clearly written, on three different buildings, in three different “spraypaintmanships”.  They messaged “Adieu Jackson” “Adieu Sandra” “Adieu Proc”. They are a final good bye to friends, someone’s sons, someone’s daughter.

I read them with a mixture of sorrow, and I must admit, a bit of fear. They are a stark reminder of the tenuous grip residents here have on life. My own grip is a lot stronger in part because of dumb luck, as my father told me more than once.  We pulled into our usual spot on the sloppy, semi-flooded mud (it’s the rainy season), and after about 25 bonjours to the cheerful staff and hopeful patients — hopeful that their maladies would be treated, as is the rule, with respect, and with quality care — and with further bonjours to the maintenance staff and their children, the x-ray tech, the lab tech, we were finally inside the walls of our center seeing patients.

When we are seeing lots of patients, and they are moving through efficiently, getting the medications and testing and care that they deserve, I feel complete. I feel like Ron Guidry, a Yankees baseball pitcher from my youth, must have felt in the middle of a game, his arm still strong and his delivery crisp, in some sort of ethereal groove that no scientist or guru yet seems able to explain, as he was mowing down batters, with a 90+ mile an hour fastball, a pitch he rocketed low and inside.  At these moments I feel like I am in the exact place that I am meant to be.

But of course such moments tend to not last.

After a few hours, the pace changed on a dime as a woman came in holding her son, 3 years old. He was lethargic, looking quite ill with his arms splayed outward. In the tropics, of course, there’s a whole lot longer list of infectious and other problems that one is susceptible to compared to North America. Poverty seems to exponentially lengthen that list. After deciding it was not cholera, I sent him to our lab, where he had some blood testing done, and we found him to have malaria. I was happy to have a firm diagnosis, and happier still that we have the medication to treat it quickly.

I asked the boy’s mother if she had any other children. No just him, she told me. His brother died at age 5 from a fever. She told me that God is protecting her, and her son, which she reasoned was why she had come to meet me today. She also said that she remained sad about the loss of her other boy, but takes solace in the belief that he is with Bondye (Bon Dieu in French).

Later in the day Claudy, a young man who had been in a motorcycle accident about 6 months ago, asked me if I wanted to visit his mother’s house again. I’d been there once, when he told me that his mother and sister were both ill and couldn’t make it to clinic. A major reason that Lamp has been successful in such a tough area is our willingness to insert ourselves into the community, and so I said yes, and off we went through the serpentine and marshy alleyways of Cité Soleil. He still walks with a crutch to steady his gait due to a fracture that healed imperfectly, but he’s walking and will soon be able to work again.  I entered the wooden and rusted tin home where his mother greeted me with a bright smile.  Her pneumonia that we diagnosed accurately on that initial house-call last Fall, with a good physical exam followed by a chest x-ray, and which we treated with quality medication, was fortunately behind her.  It was heartwarming, almost embarrassing, as she quickly put a fancy white dress on one of the youngest children because I had arrived. I became conscious of how I would feel if my own son showed up at my front door unexpectedly with my doctor, the kids not yet bathed, and the place not ready for guests. But Claudy’s mother handled it with a grace that would have made the Duchess of York proud. Claudy showed me the bed where five of his siblings sleep. His sister, whom I had seen last year for a fracture, from that same accident, slept with her mother until very recently, when she left the family for a job in one of the provinces quite far away. Claudy pointed to the holes in the roof, and the buckets they use to catch the water and prevent the bed from getting too wet. I felt the bed and suggested they find more buckets.

I asked Claudy’s mother how she was holding up, with her son, the breadwinner, out of work due to an injury. She pointed to the heavens and said “Bondye pwotege nou” (Good God protects us).

Regardless of whether one believes in God or not, the challenge for us is stark. But the impact of our efforts are even more dramatic.  That young boy with malaria is alive today because of collective efforts — yours and mine. That’s dramatic.  Claudy is walking today in no small part because of Lamp facilities — digital X-ray — and staff. His sister is able to send money home because she improved with treatment from Lamp for Haiti. His mother survived bacterial pneumonia because of Lamp for Haiti.

As ever, it’s good to write this to let you know that Lamp for Haiti remains a positive process. It’s a process that’s simple really. It’s people from different walks of life working with and for each other to make the world a better place.  It’s time to pat yourself on the back. It’s working!

Best wishes to you and your family  –     Jim

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Difficult Times, Powerful Response

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Dr. Hyppolite sees a patient at Sakala

 

 

Update from Bwa Nèf:

The Lamp’s primary and urgent care clinic is located in the Bwa Nèf section of the notorious Cité Soleil slum on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.  Even within Cité Soleil, the Bwa Nèf neighborhood is seen as a dangerous place.  Unfortunately, this notoriety is not entirely undeserved.  For the past six months, the gang that controls the area has been battling a gang from a neighboring area.  There have been many deaths, including those of many innocent bystanders.

The Lamp did not choose to locate in this neighborhood because of its notoriety; it chose to do so because the residents are desperately poor, desperately in need of the services that we offer.  The young men that make up the gangs do not represent the vast majority of the population.  Still, working here requires an ongoing assessment of the security threat to our staff.  In this case, we made the decision to provide services from an alternative location.

Luckily for us a marvelous community organization named Sakala provides programming for youth in a nearby area of Cité Soleil.  In the past we provided one-day mobile clinics at Sakala, but now we asked if it was possible to use their facilities on a daily basis.  Daniel Tillias, the director, readily agreed and fully supported our activities, even as the period of our stay grew longer and longer.  It was, however, clearly a mutually beneficial arrangement: it was immediately evident that the people of his neighborhood were also in desperate need of health care.  Our two doctors ended up seeing many more people than they would have in Bwa Nèf, several times seeing more than 50 persons (each!) in a single day.

Six weeks ago our Medical Director, Dr. Barrère Hyppolite made the decision to resume services at our health center in Bwa Nèf.  It was our fourth effort to return – each previous time, we had been able to stay for only a day – but this time the staff was determined to remain.  Our care for chronically ill patients, and our programs for women’s and children’s health had suffered and needed to be taken up again.  We needed access to our x-ray and full laboratory facilities.

The situation remains tense but we are back where we belong!

The Lamp has been providing health services in Bwa Nèf since 2006.  The past six months have been the most challenging in all of that time, but our staff have responded with a powerful affirmation of commitment.  This is our chosen work and we will continue to find ways to accomplish it.

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Makeshift pharmacy!

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Registration at Sakala

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Message from Jim

It has surely been another successful year for all of us involved with Lamp for Haiti.  Our continued hope is that you consider yourself as an integral part of that success.

Lamp for Haiti is about addressing healthcare as a means to build community. It’s no secret that when one feels healthy, spirits are lifted, work gets done, families are fed.  Our work with and for the marginalized poor, is necessary.  It is a work born out of an epiphany of sorts, an eye opening experience that recognizes the huge economic gradient that exists between our country and our neighbors 90 miles off of Florida. It is a work that takes that recognition of existing despair and channels it enthusiastically and shines a lamp.

As we approach our ten year anniversary, all of us can take pride in what together we’ve accomplished from those early days when we provided care in alleys and empty buildings. Today our professional primary and urgent care health center sees more than 1,000 patients each month. We have established a women’s health program. We provide nutrition to malnourished children. We are utilizing an electronic health record that is providing us with hard data, data that not only is helpful for tracking patient trends, but also in staying transparent to oversight organizations and to donors.

Our courageous staff has weathered hurricanes and earthquakes, civil unrest and political turmoil, and continues to provide care with a smile. They can do so because of your continued support, and your continuing confidence in this project.

Our very best to you and your families this holiday season. Stay warm. Thanks again for helping us to keep the Lamp shining bright.

Jim

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Supporting Lamp for Haiti’s Community Health Workers Initiative

Supporting Lamp for Haiti’s Community Health Workers Initiative

Thank you for your support. Your financial and promotional contribution to this campaign will help us improve the quality of care for hundreds of residents living in Cite Soleil, Haiti.

You can help our campaign by:

  1. Donating

You can donate to Lamp for Haiti’s campaign by clicking on the campaign link on our website at www.Lampforhaiti.org, going directly to https://www.crowdrise.com/thelampfoundationinc, or by going to www.crowdrise.com and typing “LampforHaiti’ or ‘The Lamp Foundation” in the search bar.

  1. Sharing this campaign on your social media

CrowdRise allows users to directly share this campaign on their Facebook and Twitter pages by clicking on the links provided. To share this campaign on other social media outlets, such as LinkedIn, you can copy the following text onto your page

 Hi Everyone,

Please help an organization I really care about raise money to provide health care services in Haiti. You can check out their crowdfunding campaign here:

https://www.crowdrise.com/thelampfoundationinc

  1. Forwarding this campaign via email to your contacts

Cut and paste or forward the letter included in this tool kit in the body of the email to your contacts

 Starting or supporting a Lamp for Haiti (The Lamp Foundation) team fundraiser on our CrowdRise page

 Starting a Fundraiser

Scroll to the bottom half of our page and click on ‘JOIN THE TEAM’. This option requires you to sign in using your Facebook page. Please Note: Lamp for Haiti will not have access to your Facebook page this way, and CrowdRise does not use your Facebook account to solicit you or post anything on your page, this is just an option to easily sign into CrowdRise.

The second option is to sign up for CrowdRise which you can do by providing your name, email address and a password you created. Once you sign up you will be considered a team member of this specific campaign and you can use a photo of yourself to represent your page and write messages to your team. Please Note: If you choose this option, Lamp for Haiti’s description of the campaign will automatically populate onto your page.

Supporting a Team Member’s Fundraiser

Go directly to https://www.crowdrise.com/thelampfoundationinc, click the donate button and select the team member you would like to support from the drop down option on the donate page.

 

NOW LETS ROCK!

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