Bringing Medical Care to Sous Savanne, Haiti

May 22, 2011

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Veterans of 30 years of involvement with International Aid initiatives, Rene and Marianne Lako spent the better part of 2010 in Haiti spearheading efforts to provide much-needed relief for the country's earthquake victims. Trained as a registered nurse, Marianne has fulfilled numerous roles overseas as a medical administrator. She joined the recent deployment to Haiti in April as a Hope Force Reservist. Following is her perspective on the dynamics involved with running our first medical clinic in Sous Savanne and the Community Health Education initiative:

After breakfast and our devotional time together, we spent the first half of Monday planning and getting organized for our first day in Sous Savanne. There definitely was excitement in the air. Upon arrival in Sous Savanne we were met by the community leaders Mr. Joseph, Mr. Badin and Mr. Fritz. They were very excited that the team had come back.

When we arrived in Sous Savanne that Monday morning we were all gladly surprised about all the activity that was taking place in the village; we saw people building and some transitional houses being erected. The partnership with World Relief had been established in HFI last visit to Sous Savanne and it was great to see that fgpeople are getting a proper roof over their heads before the next rainy season will be upon them. Although we realize that this is only the beginning we are thankful to see this development; many more will need to receive a house and we will continue to pray about resources released to bring this into a reality.

Our first two days would focus on Community Health Education (CHE). Our team consisted of Barbie, Melanie, Marianne and Elsie – our wonderful Haitian translator. We visited different compounds to use colorful illustrations about clean water and nutrition, using the illustrations to give the families a better understanding of how to take care of their loved ones, as well as sharing with them the love of God for each one.

The CHE team visited five compounds on Monday teaching 34 people. Besides the visits to the compounds we had some great times with the children under the trees, singing, sharing laughing and dancing. One of the community leader's little girl was sick with fever and cough and we visited the compound several times that day to treat her. By the time we left the village her fever was a bit down and we continued to pray that she would not worsen during the night.

On Tuesday, the CHE team started with a visit to our sick little girl's compound and it was great to see she wasddd doing a little bit better. We continued with home visits and had wonderful times at four different compounds. In total we taught 29 adults this day, of course there are always some little ones in the area as well.

We also started to plan for the three clinic days. We had managed to arrange for a Haitian physician to join us for the following three days. This definitely was an answer to prayer and we were looking forward to meeting Dr. Ady. Jack Minton and Pastor Samuel Metelus went to Port-au-Prince to collect needed medical supplies.

The village of Sous Savanne has three voodoo temples and as far as we can tell not a strong church presence; there are two churches but only a handful of people will visit on a church day. We do however have a very good contact/relationship with a Haitian pastor, who has agreed to work alongside Hope Force and has a heart to reach out to the village and we trust that over time we will see God's presence manifest in this region and that many will accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

sdWednesday was our first clinic day and we saw 19 families. In total, 55 people came for a consultation/doctor's visit. In the afternoon I managed to spent some time with the children outside the "triage" house and besides singing some songs, shared with them the teaching on healthy nutrition "building a strong/clean home" using the analogy between a strong home and our body being "strong/clean" for Jesus.

On Thursday we saw another 19 families – 43 individuals seen by the doctor. More time was spent with the children/teens and more teachings on clean water as well as balanced nutrition given. On Friday, the last day of the clinic, we had 19 families show up again!

In total 133 people participated in the CHE education on clean water and nutrition. Coincidentally, 133 people also came for medical consultations – 57 families in all.

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Rene and Marianne Lako currently reside in Brentwood, Tennessee and are spearheading an initiative to establish a permanent base of operation for Hope Force in Haiti. Their threechildren were raised in the midst of overseas service and have each devoted their careers to service or medicine. Mariska currently works as an M.D. in Holland, is married and has three children. Sandra, also an M.D. has spent the better part of her working career in Sierra Leone, West Africa and is now Medical Coordinator at Welbodi Partnership. Stefan is married with one child and works in Colorado while pursuing a degree in International Studies and Teaching.

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