Saturday, December 29, 2007

Starthrower Food program, illness update from Cap-Haitien, Haiti

Season's Greetings, Everyone!

Sorry about the hiatus from connecting with all of you. I went back to Dr. B yesterday for more blood work. Typhoid did not respond to first round of antibiotics and I also have malaria. I don't need to worry about lack of appetite as I am filling up on meds.

Sorry to anyone waiting email replies -- working electricity does not [coincide with] my sporadic bursts of energy. Also, the same neighbour had AGAIN (3rd time ) branched into our hydro line, meaning nothing here worked effectively -- computers, iron, coffee maker, toaster.

Both Auguste and Carmen also saw Dr. B. again. Auguste has strep throat and UTI, and Carmene has malaria and gastric ulcer. Jack returned yesterday after nearly 3 weeks absence, still no diagnosis so the folks in Sen Rafayel treated him for everything, Did the same to Marlene. I think next time Auguste and Carmen will take advantage of the offer to see Dr. B here at the expense of the Fondasyon. Everyone is weak and wan.

Took Erzilia to see Dr. B also. Somehow, we must find the money to send the really ill to him, as the clinics are understaffed and overworked thereby making serious mistakes. Erzilia was diagnosed with typhoid and treated with chloroquine, which is used for malaria. I had no energy to go and talk to the clinic staff, and they were on short hours anyway due to holiday. I asked Erzilia not to start the meds and then Dr. B and his lab diagnosed her with tyohoid, intestinal parasites and a fungal infection. She is finally receiving proper treatment but has been unable to work for the last 3 weekends, leaving the load to Dieugrand and Rosenie. Proper diagnosis and treatment the first time could have shortened duration.

Currently, just in Cap-Haitien, we have 8 cases of malaria, 5 typhoid, 12 anemic, 4 fungal skin infections, 6 UTI. I haven't heard from Sen Rafayel yet. We've started distributing potable water from the 5 gallon jugs we buy. Using any gallon container we can find and sterilize.

We're still trying to clean up the storm damage to house as well as storm damage to kids. This rise in illnesses always follows a storm, no matter what it is called.

Gaby and Jean Ricot recovered from malaria. (Gaby needed 3 rounds of meds) They have been working part time helping fill the void created by Jack's absence.

Afraid energy gone again -- headache is back but neck not as sore and stiff. With illness here in Haiti, one does not take to one's bed but works on, with the exception of those who go 'en deyo' (to the countryside) as Jack and Marlene chose to do.

Housing continues to be a challenge. John Charlees is the latest to be put out of his 'ti kay' (home). As of yesterday, we had received 340 visitors asking for help in December alone. Staff were off Monday p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, but the students kept coming as the illnesses are significant.

[Visitor] arriving January 1 till January 15. If I am in good shape in a few weeks, I will head to Charlotte, NC for a fundraiser Jan. 17-22, stopping in Ft Lauderdale on return to purchase house supplies. This will coincide with the Haiti visa requirements as well.

Customs officials at the docks have ended their strike, however they will not begin work until Jan 7th. Supplies I sent Nov. 19 are still floating on a boat somewhere. No idea if or when they will arrive as the Haitian government has changed all regulations for passing customs plus have upped all the prices for all services in order to pay an international debt of several million Euros.

A warm 'thank you' to visitors from New Jersey, North Carolina and Colorado. The vitamins, protein bars and powder, Ensure drinks etc., have all been distributed, meaning everyone has enough for the month of January. Thanks to donations from the USA, the UK, and Canada, we have doubled the amount of food being distributed (meaning more staff also). Have also begun to distribute 'chabon' (charcoal) for cooking. One of our girls (Paulaine) literally danced for joy when she saw the increased food.

Have also begun distributing funds for shoes for second term, which is set to begin January 7 (or in some cases, Jan 14th) Hygiene products for 2nd trimeste were distributed last week with food sacks.

Plis pi ta

Friday, December 14, 2007

Typhoid, Malaria Infect Starthrower Staff in Haiti

[Here are two emails I received from Sharon. When I read the first one, I replied to ask if this was part of an update. This morning, I received her permission to post, along with additional information. Here is the news, in Sharon's words, in the order received.

Message #1

Hello Everyone

Glad to know that the travellers returned safely. Sorry to be so impersonal with the multiple mailing but my energy level and pain level have changed places. Apologies for not getting out of bed when you left. I hope everyone has their shots up to date.

I saw Dr Bell today and analysis confirmed I have Typhoid. The ear (and lip) infection is a secondary opportunistic fungal infection. No wonder I fell over a lot Friday night trying to get to the bathroom.

Interesting here is that I had blood work done a week before I left [Canada] to check my vaccination levels: Typhoid was just fine. So even when one thinks one is covered, one is not. Apparently that vaccine is notorious for its ineffectiveness. I am certain that is what Jack and Marlene have (as Rosenie was just recovering when I arrived -- apparently the prime time for transmission) although I have not heard from them as they are 'en deyo' (in the country), a favourite place for sick Haitians.

Thanks again for everything you brought -- so much has been distributed already -- and thanks mostly for the gift of your presence. You give us all a sense of support and being cared about that is needed to make this journey grow with grace.

Look forward to hearing from one and all

Message #2

Sure, please post the email, if only to deter those who think coming to Haiti is no big deal. Walk a mile in my shoes takes on new meaning, although I still cannot. At least I have a larger roof over my head, a bed, mosquito net etc. Food however is not something tempting. Guess I get to try the Haitian Typhoid diet.

Bad news 'on the water front'. AJ the water expert who came from New Jersey last week did numerous tests on our well. Some results not ready but basically we have human waste entering our well. Difficult to tell if from septics or from the kartye above us on the mountain. Rains wash everything down to and through our property. There is also an old cemetery directly above us where human bones lie within eyesight so should not be surprised by anything.

Water purification system is due to arrive whenever the current customs strike is over, although AJ did not like the one purchased and asked that it be upgraded for a more effective model. Would take more time but with the current strike we have time. We apparently have enough water, flow time was very good, so once clean, we will be able to distribute.

When that happens will find $$ to hire Dieugrand full time. Will also need to find containers in large quantities. He will then be director of Nutrition and water programs. Titles make such a difference.

Customs strike is affecting many. The supplies I shipped in Nov. were scheduled to arrive this Thursday. CASCO office tells me all ships are being sent back to departure port, leaving them holding goods as well as the bill for sending them twice. Also means we go without items needed.

Purchased 20 feet of new wire to replace what had been cut [by the lady next door during the storm] and diverted house line via a new route to deter Mme from cutting it down again. Had to ask another neighbor if we could use his house to re-route. Perfect opportunity for some one else to branch into ours. Our other neighbor had branched in again after I left for Canada end Sept.

Back to bed -- feeling quite [ill] especially the headache. See Dr. Bell again Sat. AM.

3 new cases of Malaria today and one new candidate for eyeglasses. Many finished writing exams so came today for referrals for consults. Auguste, Rosenie and Modeline all working in Direksyon (Education Office)So busy. Thank goodness for the energy and patience of these young people.

Jack's brother Wisky is working in his absence. He is on holiday from apprenticeship as the boss closed the garage for December. Great timing for us.

For information on Typhoid, see the Mayo Clinic (USA) Infectious Diseases pages.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sub tropical storm Olga a Hurricane as far as Cap-Haitien concerned!

Hello Everyone,

This is Karen. Sharon called a few minutes ago to let us know she is okay, albeit ill with an inner ear infection and hoping to find a doctor for meds.

She says Saturday was nice and sunny, then the winds picked up and the clouds moved in, and it's been raining hard ever since. Last night, the winds got very strong, and the storm was fierce from 11:15 p.m. to 5 a.m. today. I said yes, that sub tropical storm Olga blew up very suddenly and parts of the domincan were evacuated. She countered with "Sub tropical? That was a hurricane!"

She says there is a lot of wind damage, with trees down, roofs blown off, and no hydro in Cap-Haitien at all. The house is okay except that there are major leaks where the previous patching was done, with water pooling and coming in to three rooms. Mold and mildew are growing already, and the landlord has been contacted.

Last night, in the middle of the storm, one of the neighbour ladies went out and cut down all the power lines to the nearby houses. There is no reasoning with this woman, nor any likelihood of recovering any damages from her. Sharon is arranging for new wiring to be laid as soon as possible.

She asks everyone who is waiting for a reply to an email from her to be patient and she will answer as soon as she is able.

********FORGOT TO SAY*******
Customs at the dock in Cap-Haitien Haiti are on strike and so any shipments coming in are being turned back, according to the information Sharon has. She has been waiting for goods she sent from Ft. Lauderdale, and likely they will not be allowed in until this is settled.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Cap-Haitien Haiti -- leptospirosis, dengue, typhoid, yellow fever?

Hello Everyone,

FInally, we have electricity. We seem to be in the midst of a medical AND hydro-electric crisis. Whatever is making our kids ill is very hard to detect by conventional analysis. I had a visit from an American doctor yesterday who offered many suggestions -- leptospirosis, dengue, typhoid, yellow fever -- but ended saying the symptoms to not EXACTLY fit any one diease. That's my conclusion as well, after searching web sites (when the hydro comes on at 2 a.m. for 30 minutes).

Our neighbour had again branched into our hydro lines, so we were paying for his family electricity. Again, I had to pay an electrician to take down HIS lines.

I've just sent Gaby, Rosenie and Guilene by taxi, along with Dieugrand, Wisky and Daniel to help them. They will see Dr. Jerome (private practice.) The hospital 'gen grev' (is on strike -- doctors and nurses not paid). Each clinic had tested and prescribed and each patient had gotten worse. I sent them to Dr. Bell, but they learned that Dr. Bell is sick, and his office is closed; His brother, also a doctor, is also sick, and HIS office is closed. I secured a phone number for Dr. Jerome from Soeur Giselle a neighbour, and Dr.Jerome is working today so I have sent everyone off to see him.

Marlene is in Sen Rafayel. We have had no communication since she went last week.

Yesterday (Sunday), we had 46 in for food sacks. Next week, we will add a second distribution, and charbon {charcoal} for cooking.

The boxes Pat sent in July from Orangeville arrived last week. Perfect timing. All of the vitamin C has been distributed. Hopefully it can provide a boost to immune systems in desperate need. We are using copious amounts of hand sanitizer as so many unknowns and seemingly contagious.

Christamene needs glasses and will rendevou with Auguste at Optika next Monday.

Most students are writing exams now and will finish by the 15th. Claudy and Louisena came down from Sen Rafayel on Saturday. The food situation in the village is desperate, as the gardens which has just started again were wiped out when cyclone Noel went through. We discussed the possibility of weekly distribution there as well. However currently that would mean trucking up the mountain. Will talk again midweek.

Visitors due today at 8:30 a.m. It's now nearly noon. Hopefully, they'll arrive before those scheduled to arrive tomorrow get here.

We are trying to add some pizzazz to our birthday box. If anyone would like to send a one of a kind item (a watch. a game of checkers, a game of dominoes, a makeup kit for the girls, a nail kit, a hair cutting kit, a small radio, a walk man, a Brazil team jersey (soccer) etc), so we can offer students one item from the birthday box and also give them a Haitian-made card signed by the staff with 100 gourds in it (just under $3). So many students have no one to remember them.

That's all for now. There's someone at the gate, and Rosenie is at the Doctor. I have been doing her job for the last week.

Pi Ta


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