On April 15, 2010 a fellow missionary and I (Maria) took Susana to the main hospital in Jacmel, Haiti. After stumbling with our limited creole God showed up and sent us help through an English speaking Haitian man. We managed to have nurses and lab techs and doctors take a look at Susana in an attempt to figure out what was wrong with her. It is a day I will never forget.
I will never forget it because it was the day I experienced what so many Haitians experience on a day to day basis. You see, I went through the whole thing. There were no hoops to jump just because I have lighter skin color. I had to stand at the registration table and wait my turn. I had to go the lab and get blood work done and wait my turn. I had to see a doctor as he was available to see Susana. I had to come back for lab results later. And then I had to wait my turn to see the doctor again. And of course, I went to the pharmacy to get Susana’s medicines.
All this sounds like a simple process, but in Haiti it is not. There are a lot of things that are lacking in a hospital in a fifth world country. And coming back to the United States to find out my little girl has a stage four childhood cancer has made me realize how much we have and how much we have to be thankful for. Not only was Susana misdiagnosed in Haiti, but there was no way she could have possibly been correctly diagnosed at all. And so is the case with many many Haitians today. They don’t have all the fancy equipment we have here to check to see if other things or anything is wrong.
A month before Susana was diagnosed with cancer another hospital episode happened. Our house help, Melitha, needed to take her mom to the doctor. Her mother, a very old lady, was having chest pain and was not doing good at all. Melitha’s mom lived with her and five other family members in a half built one room small house. One day, she asked us if we could help her with her mother. So we told her to take her mother to the clinic and whatever she was billed we would pay for it. The next day, Melitha came to work with some prebscritions which we offered to buy for her. I was the one who went to the pharmacy to get the medicines for her. And I was the one to experience the shock when I found out that the doctors apparently thought that vitamin E and aspirin would take care of her problem. It didn’t. Melitha’s mom died a week later.
In Haiti, thousands of misdiagnoses are given daily. Resources and training are not available to the people and care for common illness is very limited. Treatable illnesses such as malaria and others are deadly. I was even surprised that some illnesses that are common in the Caribbean, such as dengue fever, are not well known in Haiti, yet they are a reality. It is even hard to try to explain cancer to a Haitian. Yet, it is not as if cancer was an American only problem. Cancer is a reality everywhere.
My heart breaks for the people of Haiti. I am sadden by the reality that many died for the lack of care. Their of lack of knowledge leads to lack of care and lack of care leads to lack of prevention. Family members of those who died without a proper diagnosis never known how to protect themselves or prevent what can be prevented. I am sad. It breaks my heart.
I thank God for the resources that we have here in the United States. I love our nurses. I love our doctors. I love everyone who makes sure that Susana, and our family, is well taken care of. I love having a clean hospital with food to eat and clean water to drink and walls and doors and windows. I know. That sounds like such basic stuff and pretty obvious to have. But in Haiti, they sometimes don’t have walls or windows or doors. Food is not the norm in a hospital and clean water almost impossible to get. So, yes, I am thankful even for those very small insignificant things.
Here is a picture of Susana’s medical card from the main hospital in Jacmel:
This card may not reveal much, except the fact that even simple little things, such as the paper we use in hospitals, may not be the norm in Haiti. Paper is not the only thing lacking. Equipment and training and care and clean facilities are a huge need for this people. This card was handwritten on a small piece of a file folder.
Let’s not forget Haiti. Let’s not forget the poor. Seven hundred miles outside of Miami live a group of people that can use your love, prayers, and support. Among those who are hurting the children and the elderly are at a higher risk. If all you can do is lift them up in prayer, then please do that. God is faithful to provide for all of us and for them. All we have to do is ask.
6“Is not this the fast that I choose:to loose the bonds of wickedness,to undo the straps of the yoke,to let the oppressed  go free,and to break every yoke?7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungryand bring the homeless poor into your house;when you see the naked, to cover him,and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,and your healing shall spring up speedily;your righteousness shall go before you;the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’If you take away the yoke from your midst,the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,10 if you pour yourself out for the hungryand satisfy the desire of the afflicted,then shall your light rise in the darknessand your gloom be as the noonday.11 And the Lord will guide you continuallyand satisfy your desire in scorched placesand make your bones strong;and you shall be like a watered garden,like a spring of water,whose waters do not fail.12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;you shall be called the repairer of the breach,the restorer of streets to dwell in. –Isaiah 58:6-12