OTHER

2015 Haiti Medical Mission

Gene Butcher
Author
Gene Butcher

In April of 2015 my best friend Tom and I ventured out into the villages of Haiti to provide some desperately needed medical aid to the citizens.  Since 2010 the population of Haiti has seen the most brutal natural disasters that any human populace could imagine.  A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck just outside of Port Au Prince and caused an estimated 160,000-300,00 fatalities and leveled complete city blocks.  In an already suffering economy this earthquake spelled disaster as critical infrastructure was devastated.  Hospitals had collapsed, roads were gone, what medical aid the citizens needed was quickly overwhelmed as the need for emergency and trauma care was drastically lacking.  

Just outside of the town of Source Matella (pronounced Soos Malla) a small Christian mission had a single doctor on staff to care for the small orphanage that was based there.  A large storage tent that sheltered tractors and farming equipment was turned into a makeshift trauma hospital.  Because so many of the critical injuries were crushed limbs from collapsed buildings it turned grimly into an amputation clinic.  The descriptions of the tent was blood covered ground that ultimately created a small stream of blood that coursed down the hill and into the street.  Crushed and amputated limbs lay in piles outside of the tent as the doctor administered as much pain medication and he could and went from one victim to the next.  

The earthquake was not the end of the disasters, a second earthquake occurred 2 weeks after the initial 7.0 earthquake that registered 6.1 in magnitude.  A cholera outbreak also occurred given the less than sanitary living conditions following both earthquakes.  The outbreak killed over 3000 and sickened over 350,000 Haitian people.  Hurricane Thomas struck Haiti before the end of 2010 further damaging shelters and make shift camps that had been erected following the two large scale earthquakes.  

Tom and I spent over a year raising funds in order to travel to Haiti, we traveled with over 300 pounds of medication and medical supplies in order to spend a week providing care in the villages.  The makeshift tent that served as the trauma clinic in Source Matella still stands and once again stores tractors and farming equipment, its on the grounds of what is now the Mission of Hope.  In a phenominal case of turning tragedy into triumph Mission of Hope has the only prosthetics lab in the country and has fitted almost a countless number of Hatians with prosthetic limbs.  Tom and I joined a Physcian from Doctors Without Borders and translators from Mission of Hope and set out into the towns.   Every morning we would load our equipment into a large 4x4 personal carrier and set up in a village church or other village meeting area and begin to treat patients.   In that week we saw over 600 patients and treated almost every ailment you could imagine.