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.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Pita - Until Later

Over the past few weeks, I have done lots of thinking, and lots of praying, and lots of talking with the people close to me. Still, I can't seem to find the words for what I have to tell you.

Friends, I left Haiti at the beginning of July. With great sadness, I have to tell you it has been decided that I will not be returning to God's Littlest Angels, not because I don't want to return, but because it has been made impossible for me to do so. I know that this news will come as a surprise to a lot of people.

So many of you have such a stake in what I do in Haiti. Some of you have prayed for me and my sickest 'angels', some of you have given money and raised funds to provide supplies and equipment for the Neonatal  Unit, others provided specialist medical advice and therapies for the babies, and, when I was very ill earlier this year, some of you quietly donated to cover my medical expenses. Those expenses were covered in full. I am thankful, beyond words, for each one of you, however you have come alongside me.

Many of you tell me that you are so grateful for my blogs and for the stories and insights I have shared about my work in Haiti. Many of you recognise that I built something at the orphanage, specifically at their neonatal unit in the Kenscoff mountains - I built on the capabilities of the unit to provide excellent care to prematurely born and severely malnourished infants, that is true. The bigger truth though is that without all of you, and without God, none of it would have been possible.

There are two main concerns that the people seem to have when they hear my news: I would like to reassure you all that although I have had very significant health problems this year, I have had excellent medical care in Scotland. Although I have some ongoing medical, issues they are not serious enough to prevent me from returning to Haiti.

The second area of concern people have is whether I will continue my medical ministry elsewhere in Haiti.

Believe me, I am grieving the loss of  many many things. I have lost Haiti, my work there, and my relationships there. I would never have chosen to leave so abruptly, and I want nothing more than to be back in Haiti. My nursing expertise, though, is very specific, restricted to the care of infants and children, and, in Haiti, particularly to the care of very young, severely malnourished, sick and preterm babies in a very resource poor, but relatively privileged environment. Yes, I did a good job, but I did it with clinical haematology analysers and monitoring equipment. In another setting, I might well be lost. So you see, as much as you appreciate what I did near the mountain village of Fermathe, there won't be any non-governmental agencies beating my door down and bombarding me with offers of paid work.

I hope that one day, I will be in a position to return to overseas medical missions in a full time capacity. Maybe, short term opportunities will open up for me. For example if anyone wanted to introduce a low technology bubble CPAP to their neonatal or Paediatric unit, clinic, hospital, orphanage or medical centre in Haiti or elsewhere, I could certainly provide advice and ongoing support with that.

For now, I ask for your prayers as I continue to heal and adjust to some massive changes. Pray for me as I try to find a way forward that will strengthen my nursing capabilities. I fully believe that all babies and children, whether they are in Haiti, or in Scotland or anywhere in between deserve the very best nursing care. Excellence is what I have always aimed for. I will continue to actively pursue excellence, I promise you that.

A pita (until later) and with love and gratitude



Kristin Vanderwell said...

Praying, Susan, that God will continue to heal your heart and provide you with opportunities to use your gifts of nursing to serve His children in need, no matter where they may be. Thank you for all you have taught me about providing nursing care to children from hard place.

Jennifer said...

I will send prayers your way. For now I will miss your beautifully written posts about the babies and children you so carefully and kindly take care of. I will miss reading as I am sure the children in Haiti will miss you. I will pray that in time another orphanage will find you if that is what is meant for you. I am definitely shocked by the news as I read every new blog entry as you post them. I hope you will still write. With love, Jennifer.

lori moise said...

I thank you for your life, your example, your willingness, your sacrifice, your giving, your time, your expertise, and your service unto our Marvelous Savior. Your work has been a blessing to many Haitian and American families. You have left an impact not only on the lives you saved and the the families that are more complete because of that little life saved, but on me and others working here in Haiti to believe that expert and wonderful care can be given in a difficult environment. I will always strive to follow your unwavering belief that these little ones deserve the best and stop at nothing less. Thank you for everything that you have done, but more importantly thank you for being you. Thank you for your heart and spirit, though presently crushed, will be renewed and eventually dream and hope for brighter days. Hugs to you, my sister. May the Lord hold you close and comfort you as you continue serving Him and caring for His children. Lori

Anonymous said...

Susan, you gave everything and more and so many babies and children survived due to your professionalism and unconditional care and love. I will be praying for you in whatever route you decide to take and ask just one thing, remember how much you are loved xx

Kelly G said...

Wow! Such eloquence and humility in your words. I can only try to understand what tremendous heart-wrenching difficulty you have had and in making this decision. I am so thankful you are healing! I am simply a volunteer of a one-time visit in late 2007 who has dreamed to adopt from GLA for years... or even just return in some longer-term capacity. Truly, my heart yearns to return there daily. Give wish it were easy. I have accepted that whatever God's plan for me is, I must trust. I can never fully explain this connection/pull to Haiti (G.L.A.)...but He knows...and I know He has done amazing work thru you. Thank you for your hands and heart...and may you feel a blessed contentment as you enter the next season of this beautiful adventure!
Blessings with the kindest of regards,
Kelly Gierat

Susan Westwood said...

Unfortunately, this has not been my choice, and peace is a very long way off.

Nancy said...

Hi, Susan.

I am so very sorry to learn of this unwanted change in your life. I 'm praying for you and the work -- and community -- that undoubtedly will come to you in the future. I am just very sorry for the pain you are going through now.

I started reading your blog after the earthquake, and you are one of the most powerful writers I have *ever* read. I just printed out your post about Donley, because it is so powerful.

Please, will you keep the blog up for the time beiong? And, has an editor or publisher ever contacted you? Have you ever contacted one? You have a voice for the helpless and suffering. You make them real and present. I wish I knew something useful about getting you in contact with a publisher who would jump at the chance to work with you.

At the very least, I can pray about it.

(I'm sorry if this is a duplicate -- I just tried to post but got lost in the thickets of Google and my original post disappeared. I think.)

Tim Franklin said...

Susan, we are very grateful for your good work in Haiti at GLA. In particular, thank you for all that you did for Berlancia and Gedeleine. We will always remember you. We are praying for you during this difficult time. Know that you always have friends in Vermont and that a little girl who is happy and healthy owes you so much. Thank you for being willing to minister in the name of Jesus to the most fragile children at great personal cost. May the God of peace be with you.

Ninabi said...

Susan, you shared with us your work with precious,tiny children, work so many would find overwhelming. You have a loving heart and the hands of the holy that saved so many.

Thank you for all that you did for the children in Haiti and thank you for the many well written blog posts. You will be missed. I pray that things improve for you.

Lois said...

I'm so sorry to hear you are no longer at GLA. I will very much miss your stories of the children. Thank-you for giving of yourself and touching all those little lives.

I pray that though this change is unwanted, God will bring good out of it and that eventually peace will come to your heart.

Giancarlo said...

Tutti hanno diritto alla sanità, nessuno escluso!! purtroppo non è cosi ed è una vergogna!! buona giornata a te...ciao

Twinsplusthree said...

Susan, I echo all the thoughts of thoses above. you gave a sense of real ness that those of us who have never been to GLA could understand. I have cried with you and rejoiced with you. Praying your future pathi is clear and the heartache you have experienced in Haiti heals quickly.

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,
I was shocked to read about you leaving GLA, I'm so sorry. I cried for you and for the children as I can't imagine how hard this must be for you all.

Please know that no matter where your path takes you in this world,you will always be needed and loved. You truly are an inspiration to all. If only there were more people like yourself,
the world would be a much much better place.

Your compassion, kindness,and love is evident in all that you do for orphans and in your wonderful way with words.

Every blog you post, evokes emotions in me like no other. I look forward to reading your posts and will continue to follow them.

You are a natural writer and a humanitarian who will continue to make a difference in the lives of those you surround. God bless you in your journey ahead. May you have all the blessings of life each and every day.

Thank you for all that you do and have done for children who can't speak for themselves. You are their voice and strength, please continue to nurse them back to health and guide them as you have always done.

You are an amazing woman Susan Westwood. I look forward to reading your future posts. You
are in my heart, thoughts and prayers.