In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Back In Haiti

I made my way through the chaos of the Toussaint Louverture Airport on Monday, heaving two large suitcases, a heavy backpack and a portable oxygen concentrator. All of the supplies I was carrying were needed to enable us to care for critically ill infants who require CPAP and those who need to leave the orphanage for medical care or investigations at a time when they are dependent on oxygen.

It was nerve wracking having to transport the $3000 concentrator all the way from Pennsylvania, and I was relied that nothing was lost or damaged en-route from the States. It was hot and humid inside the airport hangar where Immigration, baggage collection and customs have been temporarily located. The arrivals terminal was badly damaged during the earthquake. As our plane taxied into the gate area, we saw a partially collapsed balcony and deep cracks in the recently refurbished, freshly painted terminal building.

The flight had been full of foreign aid workers. It was disappointing that the Haitians on board did not applaud when the plane touched down in Port-au-Prince. That is what usually happens. I wondered what this change signified. Had the hope, joy and pride they had for their Haiti been crushed?

Making my way out of the hangar, my eyes fell on a porter. His left shirt sleeve hung limply over a stump above the elbow. They say that there are thousands upon thousands of amputees in this country - earthquake survivors who sustained severe injuries to their limbs. Knowing how negatively Haitians view disability, it was a great encouragement to see this man and know that he was in work, supporting his family through these difficult days. It is my hope that men like him will influence the mindsets that underpin these prejudices.

A few days before, I had been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of a Pennsylvania hospital. It had been a very productive shift. I had had the opportunity to shadow a Neonatal Nurse practitioner and had received information and guidance from the nursing staff, a respiratory therapist, a physiotherapist and a Neonatal Pharmacist . Together, they gave me a holistic picture of CPAP and the care and attention that is needed to provide this breathing support safely and effectively. I practiced setting up the system, I heard about the best way to position infants receiving this breathing support, the problems they may experience and the level of care they are likely to need. I was actually able to see the difference that it made to a premature infant we collected from the delivery room that day.

It was exciting to be back in Haiti, armed with this new knowledge and all of the tubing and the accessories I would need to provide CPAP to Haitian infants.


nicnacpaddywac said...

Susan - what an amazing experience to have - i can't wait to hear about you using your new knowledge and equipment to help your little ones.

(And i've been checking your blog multiple times a day for the last week, anxious for an update - *blush*)

stephanie garcia said...

As a blessed mom to two NICU babies, I am so thankful for God's provision in this way and your willingness to be His instrument to His "littlest angels." God bless you!

Cheryl said...

Welcome back home Susan. Thankful that you were able to spend time learning how to better care for your babies.

Twinsplusthree said...

I have been thinking of you and wondering how your trip to PA was. My five year old prays every night that the orphanage will get their "equipment."

Cathy said...

Oh how this warms my heart so much!