This has been too long in coming and we admit to feeling somewhat helpless over the last few weeks as we've watched and searched media for news about the crisis in Haiti. We've prayed and consulted with coworkers and prayed some more about how to respond. We've watched as the international community (UN) struggled with how to help as well--whether to become involved or to let Haitians try to find their own solution. Gang wars have escalated in Port au Prince, and the movement of gasoline and food and supplies to much of the country blocked. This means that transportation on our island is minimal now with gas at $45 a gallon and food becoming scarce and very expensive. People who have often not eaten daily in good times are suffering, more children are malnourished, and some are starving.
Thanks to those of you who have given, we have been able to respond to some of the greatest needs by sending funds to the accounts of three trustworthy individuals in Anse a Galets. They then have been able to buy from local merchants and use a well developed system to distribute the food in small quantities as in the photo above.
Though we couldn't travel down with the medical supplies we had planned to bring, some were shipped to Missionary Aviation Fellowship and some of our Global Partners coworkers are planning a way to have several suitcases of supplies and payroll money brought in in the next week.
We have felt so strongly that we cannot just sit by in our plenty and watch while this happens. We know that many of you have felt this way too and are praying with us for the situation to change. In the meantime, we have worked with Global Partners Health Network to set up a simple way to give for those who want to help.
If you do you may use this link and specify for food relief on La Gonave.
We will keep you updated as we stay in touch.
Thank you so much for your continuing prayer.
Marcia and Bob
p.s. We have traveled to and settled in in Kamakwie and will send more news about that soon.
Today again we mourn with our Haitian brothers and sisters and in an abrupt shift, we’re not on our way to Haiti. While we long to be back there, recent events have forced a delay.
Saturday night we were ready: tickets to Port-au-Prince, passports in hand (that’s a whole other story that some of you are privy to—thank you for your prayers!), the car packed with our four 50.4# suitcases stuffed with medical supplies and gifts for our Haitian friends (Dr. Ferdinand turned 74 years old Saturday!). But with the latest exacerbations in demonstrations over high fuel prices ($20-30/gallon on the black market), and soaring food costs (inflation over 30%) we sent out some last-minute messages to friends on the ground in Haiti to get their advice. Yesterday morning the replies from both North Americans and Haitians were in: Don’t come! Even though the island of La Gonave is calm and we might get there safely, tensions are high as people are hungry and there is no fuel on our island. Lord, have mercy. When will it end for these our friends, our colleagues, our brothers and sisters?
While we have been so privileged to spend the last weeks here in the Midwest with beautiful weather, fruitful gardens and orchards, great biking, and wonderful friends and family, we mourn that so much of the world reels with war and floods and prejudice and injustice. Everywhere is brokenness, loss of relationship with God and with each other. God, while we enjoy your gifts, teach us, your people, how to bring shalom, true flourishing!
If we don’t feel we can safely travel to Haiti very soon we will postpone our travel there and make plans for returning to Sierra Leone. Bob’s Sierra Leone visa needs some work that can hopefully happen quickly so that we might work at Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital until we can go back to Haiti.
That’s what we know for now. We’ll fill you in with details as we know more. In the meantime, please continue praying for Haiti. Friends in Port-au-Prince and St. Marc report this morning that they are staying in their homes to avoid the violence in the streets. Dr. Ferdinand says that fewer people are coming to hospital because they can’t afford to do so. Pray for our brothers and sisters there, for their safety and that they might “shine like stars in the sky as they hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16) during a dark time. Pray for the United Nations (the General Assembly meets this week with Haiti apparently early on the agenda), the United States and other invested countries to have wisdom on how to respond. There are no easy answers and we’re sure that any proposed solutions will have lots of pros and cons that will make them difficult to accept and to implement.
To those of you who so faithfully support this ministry with prayer and emails and money and ideas, thank you again and again and again! For those of you who want to support the work or respond in new or different ways to the need, below is an updated giving sheet that explains many ways for you to support the work at La Gonave Wesleyan Hospital and Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospitals and their communities. To address the immediate need that many have for food on La Gonave and to support the hospital there in a time of economic downturn we would suggest the best ways to give at this time would be to our personally directed distribution via our PayPal or Venmo accounts or to Global Partners Health Network Click here and scroll down for giving options.
Waiting, praying and working toward the next steps,
Bob and Marcia
At the end of June, when we left Sierra Leone, we experienced one of the most difficult goodbyes we have had to say. Leaving Haiti was hard but necessarily quick. Leaving the Kamakwie staff was slow and hard. Such an appreciative group of people, eager for our (our and your) continued involvement in their work! It means a lot to them to know that people care.
Returning to the US, there have been Global Partners’ meetings and a retreat, family time, and a reunion with our kids near Paul and Claire’s place in Germany to celebrate our anniversary, jet lag X2, and some great discussions about vision and roles.
As we wait for Bob’s passport to be renewed—even expedited is 6-8 weeks--we are praying and recounting God’s incredible care and leading in the past year: healing for Paul and return to family life and the Air Force in Germany for Paul and Claire and Jonah (little Jude is due in September), the prayer and other support of friends and family, the privilege and opportunity of working alongside amazing people in Sierra Leone and Haiti both, and even the gift of pondering uncertainty, wrestling with what loving well (representing you) in two places could look like.
Bob continues to consult in Kamakwie via WhatsApp with Mary, nurse in Pediatrics, and to hold conversations with Edwin in surgery and the National Superintendent of the Sierra Leonean Wesleyan Church, who is the chairman of the hospital board. We again are impressed with the importance and urgency of the care given by these hospitals, in Haiti and in SL, both far from other inpatient medical facilities.
Thanks to many of you, we have been able to continue to send assistance to a few people on La Gonave as we have received requests for help with food insecurity or medical or educational needs. We were also able to share $6000 of gifts with Kamakwie Hospital and a women’s development project in a nearby village. The hospital gratefully sent an accounting of their planned use of it, and we received photos of the women who are attending meetings to organize an initiative for them to increase skills in tailoring and business:
The SL hospital administration sent these plans (which we have encouraged them to proceed with):
- We plan to replace all twelve wooden windows and four doors with metal materials and glass work on both women's ward rooms.
- Fix the damaged ceiling of one of the wards
- Repair and replace wall tiles in the ward
- Paint the entire interior of the women's wards.
B. Drugs and Medical Supplies
- Procure 500 X-RayFilms and 1000 suture materials
- Procure drugs.
- Procure Lab Reagents
C. Budget Estimates
- Replace wooden windows and doors and glass works......NLe13,500 ($975)
- Replace ceilings, tiles and interior painting.........NLe12,500 ($900)
- Procure 1000 Films and 100 sutures..................NLe16,000 ($1150)
- Procure Drugs....................................................NLe 23,000 ($1650)
So, THANK YOU ALL! For caring about our/your Haitian and SL family! And for your prayers. We’re staking our plans on a God who guides.
Gang warfare and violence continue in Port au Prince, but La Gonave and the route to the island remains calm. If this holds, we hope to return there in September for at least a few weeks with a plan for assisting the doctors with their mission and providing connection and support (education, supplies???) in the future.
In October our hope will be to return to SL. Please pray with us for a clearer vision for our role, and a new, on site, skilled hospital administrator. Also for plans for a possible medical team visit in November/connections with specialists with hearts for service in the developing world and teaching medical professionals. If you know some, send them our way!
In both Haiti and SL we pray for a sustainable, ongoing way to support and encourage brothers and sisters, to love them well.
We are here for the next several weeks and would love to see you and get your reaction to our plans! Please call the church for our contact information.
Marcia and Bob
In Krio, one of the many languages spoken here in Kamakwie,
one way to add emphasis is to repeat the word.
Fayn Fayn! Ad ad! Very beautiful and very hard is how we would describe our time here in this community and at the Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital. We have been surprised at how quickly we have come to love people we work with, and at how critically needed and difficult their work is. We have learned many things we did not know about peaceful and supportive relationships between Muslims and Christians, and about how many children die of malaria every day. We have been impressed with the passion and excellence with which many do their jobs and their desire to learn, and dismayed at the meager salaries, staffing and administration problems, and the physical condition of the hospital buildings here.
We knew when we came that three months would not be long enough. Three months is too short a time to understand all the dynamics and certainly too short a time to give much advice. As in Haiti, our goal has been to come alongside and encourage. We hoped to grow in understanding enough to connect those with great need with those who have compassion for the poor in a place with few material resources. So, we’ve prayed and wrestled—in another great place for wrestling with God about our response to a world that groans with illness and death and need. Kamakwie Hospital has given us heavy hearts, but with great hope for God’s way to come, for things to be made better, for Christ in us to help make all things new!
We certainly have been made aware of and have been approached with many needs. Opportunities for charity/love are everywhere, and so we ask how we can love well. What is our role in the future here and in Haiti? How do we look to the needs of others and not only to ourselves? We can’t tell you how important your support, encouragement and prayers are to us and to our coworkers here and in Haiti. Knowing you are not alone and that someone is praying is huge. Every day they literally come to work with the resolve to make a difference and a sense of the importance of the work with little material reward.
We have five weeks left here. When we return to the US, we plan to meet with Global Partners to talk about options for returning to Haiti and/or for returning here. Feeling a draw to both places now, we are praying and trusting that the way forward will be clear. We look forward to talking with many of you for you impressions of what we have passed along to you as our partners.
Several of you have asked how you can help the hospital and people here in Sierra Leone, and we would love to be part of an active love project, done in a way that will encourage. When we’ve asked about their greatest needs, here’s what they’ve said: (Warning: It’s an overwhelming list of pretty basic things!)
- Fuel for the generator (Repair of the solar system could help.) We've had no electricity at times and been unable to give oxygen.
- Funds for medications Having money for basic medications is an issue monthly.
- Mattresses and covers for 120 beds including the pediatric ward. Many that they have are falling apart and unable to be cleaned well, stained with...well, we don't need to go there :-).
- Lab equipment—Digital Xray machine This would be a game changer for good X-rays. (We've asked the government health system to help with this and are waiting a response, but we're not holding our breath.)
- 4 Computers --for the Finance department, Pharmacy, Lab and Director of Nursing
- Repairs for the KVA generator
- Bulbs for the Operating Room
- Fencing for the Hospital Compound—300 meter perimeter wall. With so little control over people and things crossing back and forth from the hospital to the street, this seems like it could be a major help.
- Training for 10 more staff
- Solar Battery replacement (24) within 1½ years
- Increased funds for the Indigent Fund through Global Partners (click the link to give)
- (our addition) a paint job for the whole place!
And, constant prayer for the
administration and staff. For example, Chaplain Michael
(pastor of a new local church) is functioning as the temporary administrator,
working very hard in a job he's not trained for while continuing in the daily
chapels to encourage the staff, both Christian and Muslim, to follow Jesus
Christ. And for all of us, discernment about how to come alongside the poor
with compassion and respect.
Please let us know if you are feeling nudged to help in any of these things. We're working on specific ways to give financially for these items, but in the meantime you can give support through the link above or giving via our Paypal account (email@example.com), just like many of you have been doing for Haiti) and letting us know what the gift is for.
We continue to receive news from Haiti about the violence and warfare of the gangs and continued kidnappings in Port au Prince. Two ministries (we know of) have had their work disrupted and found the people in their areas endangered. La Gonave remains calm, but there is an ongoing need for food assistance as prices rise and hunger increases. Please pray for God's mercy! Meanwhile, the plans and fundraising for renovating and improving the medical work there, spearheaded by World Hope (click the link to give), are pressing on and the actual projects should begin very soon. Please pray for this to succeed and to be done well.
Your faithfulness in Partnership is amazing to us and spurs
Thanking God for you!
Marcia and Bob