A team of nine served once again on the island of LaGonave off the coast of Haiti. It was over 20 years ago when I first visited this site. Over the years signs of progress can be seen, but much is still needed. There are few jobs to be found beyond subsistence farming, small shops, and work for one of a number of NGOs. However, in the midst of the need, young people are ready to learn. They proudly wear the uniform of their school and look ahead to better times.
This is the only location where we serve which has a fixed clinic. It feels like we are almost home when it comes to the available equipment. This makes the delivery of care much easier on our backs and necks with adjustable chairs, etc.
During the week we rendered more than 500 procedures to a variety of patients, from young to old. It was encouraging to see a never ending line of patients seeking preventive care, but a bit disheartening when many turned us down when the need for restorative dentistry was presented. Unfortunately, many felt that no care was needed in the absence of pain. Lots of education is needed to overcome this prejudice.
There were lots of highlights for the week, but one was a group of orphans from the mainland who made a difficult journey to come to see us. The director of the group is a lovely lady who lives on James Island, but has not forgotten her home country. She began this particular orphanage to serve the needs of HIV positive kids. We were all touched by her love for the kids, and her determination to get dental care for them, even if it mean a day’s journey by road and boat.
If the Lord wills, we will be returning again in 2018. A trip like this really puts in perspective our need to be thankful each day, but especially this week. Thanksgiving blessings to all.