28 May Still Afloat!
When your ship is caught in a storm, staying on schedule becomes secondary to staying afloat! That’s kind of how it’s been for The Good Shepherd Foundation’s medical clinics in Haiti during the past year.
It’s not an exaggeration to state that TGSF has been caught up in a “perfect storm” of challenges as we have struggled through the past months:
- The global COVID pandemic has not affected Haiti with the ferocity that many expected (thank God!) but it has BADLY disrupted the country nonetheless.
- Though people are not dying in anything like the numbers seen in the 2010 cholera outbreak, fear of a COVID outbreak has effectively shut down the country.
- Our usual source of medications was lost when the border to the Dominican Republic was closed and our pharmaceutical expenses have gone up dramatically as a result.
- There has also been no possibility for any of our board members to visit the country to oversee operations “on the ground.”
- Political turmoil is an ever-present problem in Haiti, but it has worsened during the pandemic as distrust of the government has grown and opposition has become more violent. In an attempt to curtail the smuggling of arms into the country, the government has shut down all of the nation’s northern ports, including St. Marc, through which our staff must travel. The increased traffic and the entailing violence due to anger over this situation has snarled and blocked the highway and made their journey to the clinic cumbersome, dangerous and frightening.
- Gang violence in the countryside has become an increasing threat to both our staff and our patients. It’s a no win situation. If the staff does not make the dangerous trip to the clinic, the patients don’t get life-saving medications and the staff loses essential income. Patients and staff fear leaving the safety of home under these conditions, but lose medical care.
Despite the storm of adverse circumstances which has led many charitable organizations to suspend operations in Haiti, TGSF medical clinics have remained resiliently ‘afloat.’
- When our principal doctor suddenly left the country in fear for his safety, we were able to engage other physicians to conduct the clinics.
- When it became impossible to travel to Haiti to coordinate operations, we have relied even more on the relationships we have established with local Haitians.
- When our plans for improvements were derailed by circumstances, we doubled down on our commitment to providing basic care.
- Despite the fact that our clinic costs have escalated, we have been able to meet expenses due to the generosity of our donors.
- Despite the risk to our patients, who must often travel considerable distances, we have held regularly scheduled clinics and we have ministered to the needs of the hundreds who show up for the care we provide.
This past year has truly been tumultuous and challenging for TGSF. But with the prayers and financial support of people like you, The Good Shepherd Foundation will continue to weather the storms of adversity and provide reliable life-saving medical care for the people of the Grand Saline area.