Hello friends, both near and far! I am so excited to give you some updates about some things up ahead for me in 2017. Those of you who have been following my blog likely remember my trip to Haiti last year. I am very excited to let you know that I will be going back again this year! And I need your help!
After my trip last year, I was given the opportunity to join the Advisory Board of Directors for the International Mission Foundation. IMF currently partners with ministries in five countries, including Haiti, to provide support and resources to various ministries already active in those countries. Though the Foundation itself is relatively new, the people involved with IMF have worked for years building partnerships and alliances with various ministries in each of the countries.
I am on the medical advisory board committee, and one of our goals this year is to set up a school-based primary health care program for the children in Chambon. IMF has a long relationship with this community and has worked with them in the past on other community development projects.
Over the course of time, the community of Chambon has expressed an interest in having medical services more accessible to their village. It is a very rural community, without easy access to a health care facility. Our goal would be to help this village develop a community-based health program.
For the first phase of the program, we are going to start with the children enrolled in the Valley of Hope School. Many of these children receive educational sponsorship through IMF, and we hope to have more sponsored in 2017. (If you are interested in sponsoring one of the children, you can learn more here.) Our team will set up shop for a few days at the school and offer well-child checks, preventative health teaching, and treatment of simple health problems (like minor infections, anemia, de-worming medication, etc.). If we identify any complicated health problems or chronic illnesses, we hope to help families get referred or make connections locally for ongoing care.There are several underlying principles that are guiding us as we undertake this project. First, we believe that the community of Chambon is its own expert on its needs and local culture. As such, we think it is very important to co-create a sustainable project with them, rather than administer health services to them. We believe it is vital that the community be involved with each step of the process. It is easy at the outset to think that we have so much we can teach them and do for them. But we really want to approach this carefully, knowing that we also have much to learn from our Haitian friends. Second, we are committed to handing this project back over to the community. We are starting with the children, but we hope to expand the program in the future to include adults. We hope to make some good connections with some Haitian health care providers who can partner with us to take care of the needs of this community in a culturally sensitive manner. This community has expressed a desire to eventually have a free-standing health care facility of its own. This is a big dream that fills my mind with lots of questions about logistics! But we will take it one step at a time, with God at the wheel.
So, how can you help?? If you are interested, there are so many ways you can get involved!
- Travel with us! We especially need pediatric nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physicians. Since this phase of the program involves working with children, pediatric or family medicine experience is required. If you are interested, or know someone else who would be interested, please let me know! Our trip will take place July 1-7, 2017.
- Sponsor a child at the Valley of Hope School. A sponsorship of $47/month covers the cost of educating a child, including tuition, uniform, shoes, school supplies, teacher training/salary, and a daily meal.
- Stay tuned! We are in the process of applying for some grants that will hopefully help us to collect the medical supplies and medications we hope to take with us. There will definitely be opportunities as the trip gets closer to donate either supplies or money to put toward supplies.
- Last but not least, pray for us, and for Chambon. There is a lot of work to do, and July will be here before we know it!