Asheville’s Haiti connection: MissionMANNA’s medical-support project unfolds (Days 3-4)

Today’s report covers MissionMANNA team members’ experiences and activities in Haiti yesterday, and as they prepped for today’s effort.

This past Saturday, a group of Asheville doctors, nurses and volunteers from Mission MANNA flew to Haiti, as they do twice yearly, to provide ongoing medical assistance to more than 1,000 kids in need. This narrative is assembled from twitter messages relayed by @missionMANNA staff member Todd Kaderabek, who’s staying home in Asheville this time. The team will remain in Haiti this week until this coming Saturday, when they return to Asheville.

Monday, Oct. 19:
Morning is beautiful in Haiti. Off to first clinic today. Team well prepared & organized, reports Asheville’s Dr. Derek Dephouse, at about 9 a.m. “The order of our stations: height/weight, docs, deworm, vitamin/AK1000, pharmacy. Each member has a specific role. The smoother the flow, the more kids we can see,” he adds.

An explanation comes from Todd, in Asheville: “If you’re wondering — with the time so short — why don’t we start earlier? 8:15 is early start in Haiti. Only mountain clinics start earlier.”

By afternoon, Dephouse reports: “Today was the 1st clinic in Shada (down the road from the yurt clinic). Many sick kids.”

And this: “One girl, we diagnosed with AIDS; tested positive today. And she is in our feeding program. We are now taking her to St. Marc Hospital to enroll her for treatment.”

Todd replies, “That is sad news indeed. Haiti is a heart-breaker. Won’t be much joy amongst the Asheville docs tonight.”

By evening, word comes from another team member back at home in Asheville, @Bournemedia, who tweets, “There are a bunch of little Haitian kids appreciating your Tweets right now. Thx!”
A few minutes later, this tweet from @melindayiti in Haiti:  “Listening to low thunder rolling down the mountain to the north… on its way out to sea. The patina of Haiti.”
Then Todd reports, “The Haitian kids are thrilled to be reading the Tweets arriving Asheville-based cellphones. Fun is good for their souls.”

Dr. Dephouse reports that 7-year-old Briana, who tested HIV positive “will be seen by a specialist tonight and a plan will be put in place. Her mother died 4 years ago. After getting an HIV test at the St. Paul clinic, we drove her to the St Marc hospital for consultation. Eddy and Givenaud, our community health workers, will follow up on her care and progress.”

“We also saw a 1-year-old child with hydrocephalus,” Dephouse adds. “Last year we were successful in getting neurosurgery for one of our patients with hydrocephalus in Port au Prince. We will try to do this again!

Todd tweets in explanation, “Note that Asheville pediatrician Dr. Dephouse is staying upbeat despite a depressing day. This is key to working in Haiti. There’s lots of joy in Haiti, lots of sadness. Docs, nurses & lay-people need to strike a balance and maintain focus. It’s tough.”

Word comes from team-member Dr. Becca Carchman of Asheville: “This is the first time at Mission Manna for me. My first impressions of Haiti are beauty of landscape, despite poverty, spirit and expressiveness of the Haitians. Mission Manna is an incredible program. The Haitians that live in Montrouis and work for Mission Manna, and the returning Americans are like family. There is a bond between Haiti and Asheville: That is wonderful to witness.”

Carchman adds, “I worked at my first clinic today. There were hundreds of people waiting to be seen. Each child would rotate through a station; height, weight, physician exam, evaluation, de-worming, vitamins, medicines. We saw many children with “normal” tropical pathology, as well as some with severe disease that would have been detected and treated acutely in the US. I cannot wait to see who we will see for the next four days. Stay tuned.” Oct. 19, 8:55 pm

Todd, relaying the reports from Haiti, forwards this: “The photo of Briana’s arm, that’s one of the ways that we track malnutrition, via arm circumference. Using WHO standards.” To which, @HeatherBakker tweets: “She’s 7 with no mom. I have a child that age. It is indeed, “a mean old world; try living it by yourself.”

Tuesday morning: Good morning!
Dr. Dephouse reports in at 8 a.m.: “Roosters have us up at 6am. No daylight savings time here. Dark by 5:30 or so.” He then sends a photo of streetstyle fashion, Haitian style: “Ingenuity — without a belt, this child keeps his pants on with Christmas light wire.” 

He sends a Briana update: “Last night, Givenaud drove back to pick up Briana to find out that the pediatrician kept her overnight at the Hospital St. Marc. The doc plans an extensive exam today and will let us know. Her aunt stayed with her last night.” Oct. 20, 8:14 am

A few minutes later, in a tweet from Todd: “Remember that you can support Mission Manna by buying pumpkins at Grace Episcopal on Merrimon.” Take a look at their Pumpkin patch on Merrimon.

Here’s a picture of the Shada Clinic, cleaned up, new paint, says Todd. “We’ve moved out of the yurt clinic & into more amenable digs.”

Also reporting in this morning is Tom Plaut, the coordinator and detail guy for the trip, who says, “Nicholas Errico and Hayley List are our youngest volunteers and fast learners. Here they are doing heights and weights for children entering the clinic.”  Clinic gathering. Plaut adds, “Haitian worker Merio Dorsanvil is recording the measurement data. (Merio is the son of Mission MANNA co-founder.)”

Sandy List, a retired Family Nurse Practitioner from Marshall, N.C., is also part of the team, Plaut says, adding that “Nicholas is here with his dad, Asheville pediatrician Robert Errico. Hayley came with her grandmother.”

Todd tweets at 9 a.m. that “The Asheville-based medical team is off to the mountains today, always two tough days with a camping overnight in between. Hopefully they’ll be rewarded with a sunset like this in Fond Baptiste, noting that yesterday’s Shada clinic “is the lightest day. Lots of need.”

And with that, the tweets stopped, as everyone turned to the demands of the day. Stay tuned for the next installment of the ongoing MissionMANNA project in Montrouis and surrounding mountains in Haiti — or keep up with the tweets as they come in, either via the MXNow news feed of tweets on the homepage, or by searching the Twitter feed itself for tweets marked with the hashtag #AVLHaiti.

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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