Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hi everyone! Thought I would give you a little update about the past few days - they've been busy!

First off - we finished preparing the house for the group! I was doubtful during the process, but by Sunday night, the upstairs was completely finished being painted, the stairs were smoothed and squared and the shower was fixed! Phew - just in the nick of time!

Yesterday morning we picked up a group of 9 eager folks from Faith Covenant Church in Breton who will be here for one week. They are doing great and survived the night of barking dogs, roosters crowing and bugs in their rooms! Yesterday we did a little tour of the clinic, hospital and area, let them rest, eat some great food and play with the neighbour kids. This morning, they are hard at work at the clinic tiling and painting.

And now about Cholera.... we have no reported cases in Haut Limbe as of yet, but the clinic is preparing as we expect patients will come here eventually for treatment. Sunday morning in church Dr. Manno and Dr. Joselie were given some time to provide some education on what Cholera is, how to prevent it, and how to treat it. Prevention and education is the key right now.

Please keep praying for Haiti.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cholera death toll jumps in Haiti


The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Haiti has leapt past 250, officials say.
More than 3,000 people were infected, said Gabriel Thimote, director general of Haiti's health department.
Five cases of cholera were detected in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but UN officials said the patients had been quickly diagnosed and isolated.
Around a million survivors of January's earthquake are living in tents near the city with poor sanitary conditions.
But Mr Thimote expressed optimism the outbreak could be contained.
"We have registered a diminishing in numbers of deaths and of hospitalised people in the most critical areas," he said.
"The tendency is that it is stabilising, without being able to say that we have reached a peak."
Quick killerHealth officials have been trying to contain the outbreak in areas north of the capital.
The five victims isolated in Port-au-Prince had become infected in the Artibonite region - the main outbreak zone - and then travelled to the capital where they developed symptoms, the UN's humanitarian affairs agency said.
This meant Port-au-Prince was "not a new location of infection", it added.
Aid officials have described the prospect of a cholera outbreak in the city as "awful".
Those in the camps are highly vulnerable to the intestinal infection, which is caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food.
Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting leading to severe dehydration, and can kill quickly if left untreated through rehydration and antibiotics.
The worst-hit areas of the outbreak were Saint-Marc, Grande Saline, L'Estere, Marchand Dessalines, Desdunes, Petite Riviere, Lachapelle, and St Michel de l'Attalaye, said the UN.
A number of cases have also been reported in the city of Gonaives, and towns closer to the capital, including Archaei, Limbe and Mirebalais.
'Contaminated' riverMany hospitals have been overwhelmed, with patients at the St Nicholas hospital in Saint-Marc being being forced to lie outside in unhygienic conditions, hooked up to intravenous drips.
The aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres has set up a cordon around the hospital to control exit and entry to try to contain the spread of the outbreak.
Dr John Fequiere told the BBC that his hospital in Marchand Dessalines was also struggling to cope, and that he had seen dozens die.
"We are trying to take care of people, but we are running out of medicine and need additional medical care. We are giving everything we have but we need more to keep taking care of people," he said.
Some patients said they became ill after drinking water from a canal, but others said they were drinking only purified water.
The Artibonite river, which irrigates central Haiti, is thought to be contaminated.
Haitian Health Minister Alex Larsen has urged people to wash their hands with soap, not eat raw vegetables, boil all food and drinking water, and avoid bathing in and drinking from rivers.
This is the first time in a century that cholera has struck the nation, which has enough antibiotics to treat 100,000 cases of cholera and intravenous fluids to treat 30,000, according to the UN.
Haiti - the poorest country in the region - is still reeling from January's devastating quake, which killed up to 300,000 people.
Seismic experts say that quake may have been caused by an unseen fault, and that pressure could be building for another tremor.
The journal Nature Geoscience has published two papers which both conclude the fault originally blamed for the quake was not the real source, and that it remains a threat.
"As the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault did not release any significant accumulated elastic strain, it remains a significant seismic threat for Haiti and for Port-au-Prince in particular," concluded one report written by Eric Calais of Purdue University in Indiana.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Update

Dear friends and family,

Greetings from Haiti!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 11 months since I arrived in Haiti. In some ways I feel like I just arrived here yesterday, in other ways, I feel like I’ve been here for years. So much has happened in that time – some good and some bad – no matter which, I’ve learned so much about myself, my faith, my God, and I feel like I’m just starting to really learn about Haiti. Just when I think I’ve mastered some revelation of why Haiti is the way it is, I stumble upon some other fact or truth that just opens up the door to more questions. I’ve been doing a lot of processing in my head – I’ve meant to share more of it with you on my blog, but sometimes I just can’t put it all into words on a screen. I’ll try to get better at that!

That being said, things are going well here. Summer vacation is over – kids are back in school and life is getting back to its regular rhythm. Things at the clinic have been steady. Dr. Manno was particularly busy during August and September as Dr. Joselie was on vacation. There is still work to be done on the new hospital and a lot of planning to be done before it can open.

We have a couple of groups lined up to visit in the next month. The first is a group from the Covenant Church in Breton. This is the first time for this church to visit Haut Limbe so I’m very excited to show them around and have them experience this community. They will be working on some more tiling in the hospital as well as some painting, cleaning and organizing. About a week or so after they leave, I will be hosting a group from a Covenant Church in Minnesota. They will continue the work on the hospital as well as assisting in the clinic as they have a few medical professionals coming with them.

Before that group leaves, I will be flying out to Florida to spend a week with my parents, sister and brother-in-law and their children. We’ll be going to Disneyworld, Seaworld and just spending time together as a family. There is also a rumour that we will have a Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner too!

My original plan was to return back to Canada after our vacation, but I have decided to stay on here in Haiti longer. Right now, I’m looking at staying until the Spring of 2011. I feel like this past year was such a learning experience, I want to put all I have learned to use for hosting the upcoming groups.

To do this, I am humbly asking for your continued prayer and financial support for my ministry. I am so grateful for all the support you have shown me in the past year – it is so encouraging, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to be here without it.

There are a number of ways you can support me in prayer:
• For me to stay healthy and strong to fight off any illness or fatigue;
• For me to continue to learn and understand more Creole;
• For me to have patience and understanding when dealing with cultural differences;
• For me to find ways to continue to find ways to be spiritually fed (I’m beginning to understand Creole sermons, but it is still a struggle)

If you would like to continue (or begin) to support me financially, you can do it a couple of ways. All donations can be made through the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada and are eligible for a tax receipt.

If you would like donate by cheque, please download a response card, complete and mail to the address given. Please make sure my name is does not appear on the cheque.

If you would like to donate online, you can through CanadaHelps.org. Please designate your donation to Haiti Clinic and in the comment space indicate your donation is for Janelle Peterson.

I would also encourage you to consider supporting the ongoing work of Ebenezer Clinic. You can do that the same way as supporting me; just indicate your donation is for the Haiti Clinic.

Thanks again for partnering with me in this ministry. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.


Janelle Peterson

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The week before...

The week before a group comes is always busy. We're making sure that the supplies are purchased for the work project, arranging transportation and there always seems to be some project going on at the house.

Last winter, it was amazing what could be done in the few days before a group came. A whole bathroom was tiled, painted and given new fixtures, new doors were installed, new screens were put in windows, rooms were painted, etc. This week is no different. Currently, the inside stairs are being fixed - they were previously very uneven and steep and frankly quite dangerous if you were not used to climbing them, especially in the dark! Today paint is being purchased which will give my room a face lift and hopefully the common area upstairs. Who knows what else will happen - I'm learning not to be so surprised!

Monday, October 18, 2010

If you build it, they won't come?

Usually I attend the local Baptist church here in Haut Limbe every Sunday. It's a fairly large church in structure and attendance. I have a really hard time estimating numbers of people, but I would say there are regularly 5-600 people that attend and fill the whole church. It's not a fancy church by any means. It's full of very uncomfortable, falling-apart, squished together wooden benches the fit 8 or 9 Haitians comfortably, (maybe 5 North Americans comfortably). Usually, I bring my own plastic patio chair to sit on in a aisle at the back. I do this for a couple of reasons - so my butt won't fall asleep, so I can limit the sweat that I create, and so I can change positions more than once during the 2.5 hour service. All in all, it works well.

The church has 2 main pastors as well as many visiting pastors who come to preach. There are many choirs and singing groups. There is a worship team and there is a "sound system" that somewhat works. As my Kreyol improves, I'm beginning to enjoy the service more and I'm getting a bit more out of it.

Yesterday however, I wanted to experience another church. I had met a pastor of a nearby church and I thought it be interesting to check it out. So, my friend and I took a motorcycle to this little church about 5 minutes away. It was a very small building in comparison to ours, and probably had about 50 people inside worshiping. When we got there, we found out the pastor wasn't there yet. We weren't sure if he was still coming or wasn't coming at all, so we decided to drive a little farther down the road to another church.

We drive up to this church which is in a compound with a school and medical clinic. The service had already started when we walked in. As we walked in, I felt like I was in a North American church (except for the metal roof above). It had ceramic tile on the floor, a sound booth at the back of the church, tons of very nicely stained, comfortable benches (I might even dare to call them pews), the platform was raised at the front with beautiful flowers on it, a worship team with drums, guitars and a keyboard, a communion table, and the kicker - a power point projector!

I was a bit overwhelmed, to say the least. But as I looked around, the pews were over half empty and the service was already started. I thought of how crowded things were in Haut Limbe. Very interesting.

Obviously this church and compound were heavily supported by a North American church. And I learned later, that really this church didn't really exist before the N.A. church built it. It wasn't it a partnership between a Haitian church and a N.A. church, it was basically a N.A. church plopped down in the middle of Haiti. It's been there for 10 years, and it's still only half full on a Sunday morning.

When we left after the service, I could say that I enjoyed it - it was familiar to me and I was physically comfortable (lots of ceiling fans). We walked around the grounds a bit and saw the Pastor's very new looking white, shiny extended cab truck which he will get in and drive back to his comfortable house in Cap Haitien. You see, he just planted a church where there was some land. The people didn't ask for a church, someone in North America thought it would be a good idea to build a church in Haiti.

It made me sad and made me appreciate our over crowded church in Haut Limbe all the more. It may not have a lot, it's certainly not perfect, but it definitely is an integral part of this community's life, which is what every church should be - in my opinion.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My double life

Sometimes I feel like I lead a double life here. Let me explain myself.

When I made the decision to come to Haiti, I knew that I didn't want to live like a traditional missionary in Haiti. Haiti is full of missionary compounds where a lot of times American and Canadian missionaries can live a very secure, comfortable life with luxuries like 24 hour electricity and running water. Sad to say, a lot of times (from my limited observation) it would be easy for these missionaries to refrain from engaging in daily Haitian life. I'm not saying that is how all missionaries live, I'm just saying that some can and do. That's not how I wanted to experience Haiti. If I was going to come to Haiti, I wanted to experience Haiti as much as I possibly could.

Fortunately, Dr. Manno's mom was willing to let me come live at their house which is not in a compound, but in the "town" surrounded by plenty of neighbours and a mountain to climb behind it. By Haitian standards, the house is very comfortable. Most of the floors upstairs where I live have ceramic tile. There are 3 washrooms with running water (when the town water system is working which is most of the time). The electrical system is hooked up to the clinic's generator so we have electricity during the day when the clinic is open. There is always food available to eat and everyone eats twice a day (except me - I get three meals a day). Yep, it's pretty comfortable. It's not all rosy though. I've had my encounters with rats, ants, cockroaches, no water, noisy neighbours blaring their music,

However, everyday I see my neighbours who do not live as luxuriously as me. I see children bathing outside from my bedroom window. I see the holes in the roofs of their houses when it rains. I know that only the eldest boy of 4 children (with another on the way) of a single mom next door is going to school this year because that's what the mom can afford. I see his little sisters wear the same 2 dresses everyday.

While I see these harsh realities around me everyday and I try to interact with my neighbours, I know that I can never fully understand what they experience. You see, because I am a "blan" (foreigner), I know that I will always be able to find food. I will always have money to buy gas to put in the truck or motorcycle. I will never have to decide if I will eat today or send my child to school or to the doctor. I can plan a vacation and get on a plane or a bus within a day and leave this country simply because I have a Canadian passport and access to money.

I'm usually uncomfortable when I'm given special treatment because if my skin colour - like being offered a chair at a futbol match when everyone else is standing. But sometimes I like it. Like when I get to sit in the front seat of the truck instead of being squished in the back, or I can walk into a fancy hotel to use their washroom and know that no one will question my presence there, or when I can walk through "security" at the airport with no problem, and so on.

I don't know how to reconcile these two lives. I don't know if I ever will be able to. And I'm writing this from inside a nice, missionary house where I am currently house/cat/bird-sitting with 24 hour electricity, internet, running water and a North American kitchen - and I like it and I am thankful that I have the opportunity to stay here every once and awhile.

I don't mean for this post to be judgmental in any way - it's just thoughts that I'm trying to process.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Etiquette and Manners

I've been in Haiti for just over 10 months now and I'm still trying to figure out the Haitian system of manners and etiquette. It's funny how I thought Canadian norms of manners were universal - silly me! While there are a lot of things that are the same, there are a lot that are different. Here are a few of the things I've noticed.

  •  As a well-trained, polite Canadian, I say "please (souple)" and "thank you (mesi)" all the time. Only recently have I begun to notice that "please and thank you" are not always required. Often times when somebody wants you to bring or pass you something, they simply say "Ba'm ________ (fill in the blank) which translates to "Give me __________". This is not considered rude. I still always add a "souple" afterwards. Don't get me wrong, Haitians are very polite, it just all depends on the situation and context and how you interpret it. What may seem important to a Canadian just might not seem important to a Haitian - or it is and is just shown a different way.
  • Forming lines does not come naturally here. The only place I've seen it work well is at banks where they actually have those roped mazes to follow, otherwise, it's a free for all! Whether it's a counter at a fast food restaurant or cashier counter at a store you have to do your best to be heard or seen to place your order or pay for your merchandise. I am not good at this. Maybe there is a system of how things work - I have not learned it yet!
  • Time. Punctuality is usually not important here - but sometimes it is. Most people are early for church - I suspect this has something to do with being able to find a seat. But for events like weddings, graduations, parties, it is acceptable to start and/or show up 1, 2 or 3 hours later. I, of course, am still usually 5 minutes early from the set time. I'm also learning that many people just do not have a good concept of time. A friend may be going to Cap Haitian, I'll ask what time they will be back, they reply that they will be back in 1.5 hours. Now, this is impossible as it is a 1 hour drive to Cape and a 1 hour drive back and then you still need time to do your errands! 
  • Haitians don't like to ask questions or say no to someone who is their elder or superior, even if they ask you to do something that will completely affect your plans for the day or require more work for everybody. They will just do it even if there is a better option - which I have often pointed out! Also, if something isn't as it should be, they don't seem to investigate. Example. The clinic has been waiting for a number of money wires to come in the past couple of weeks. Several times we have sent the signatories to the bank to check if the funds were received. Each time they came back and reported that they were not there. So, I started sending some emails to see what the problem was. I was told that the funds were indeed at the branch. So, on Monday I go to the bank with the two accountants myself to get to the bottom of this. We ask the teller if the funds are there, it takes a little while, but eventually she tells us that 2 have been received, but not the one that I had been told by the main bank was there. So, I asked some more questions, she started investigating and found out there had been a little problem so the account had not been updated correctly. The money was there. I can only imagine how long we would have "waited" for the funds if I had not gone to ask questions. My friends here think I'm crazy for asking so many questions - but you have to here. If you don't all you get is vague answers and perhaps misinformation!
  • Haitians are patient. They will wait and wait and hardly complain. I used to think I was a patient person, but being here, I've learned there is a whole other level of patience that can be achieved. An example, the neighbour kids will often sit on the steps outside my door waiting for me to come home or to leave the house so I can help them with their English. They don't call for me - or if they do it's so quiet that I can't hear them. If when I get home I have something else to do, I tell them that, and they still wait for me until I have time for them. 
These are just some of the things I am learning and understanding... very slowly! 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Just a little reminder.

Source: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/09/11/2216179/with-fraction-of-rubble-cleared.html

With fraction of rubble cleared, Haiti looks little changed since earthquake

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti | From the dusty rock mounds lining the streets to a National Palace that looks as if it’s vomiting concrete, rubble is the most visible reminder of Haiti’s devastating earthquake.
Rubble is everywhere: cracked slabs, busted-up cinder blocks, half-destroyed buildings that still spill bricks and pulverized concrete onto the sidewalks.
By some estimates, the Jan. 12 quake left about 33 million cubic yards of debris in Port-au-Prince — more than seven times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam. So far, only about 2 percent has been cleared, which means the city looks pretty much as it did a month after the quake.
Government officials and outside aid groups say rubble removal is the priority before Haiti can rebuild. But the reasons why so little has been cleared are complex.
Heavy equipment has to be shipped in by sea. Dump trucks have difficulty navigating narrow and mountainous dirt roads. An abysmal records system makes it hard for the government to determine who owns a dilapidated property. And there are few sites on which to dump the rubble, which often contains human remains.
Also, no single person in the Haitian government has been declared in charge of the rubble, prompting foreign nongovernmental organizations to take on the task themselves. The groups are often forced to fight for a small pool of available money and contracts — which in turn means the work is done piecemeal, with little coordination.
Projects funded by USAID and the Pentagon have spent more than $98.5 million to remove 1.2 million cubic yards of rubble.
“There’s not a master plan,” Eric Overvest, the Haiti director for the U.N. Development Program, said with a sigh. “After the earthquake, the first priority was clearing the roads. That was the easiest part.”
Leslie Voltaire, a Haitian architect, urban planner and presidential candidate, says his country needs a “rubble czar.”
“There should be one person in charge,” he said. “Resettlement has not even begun yet, and it can’t until the city has been cleared.”

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/09/11/2216179/with-fraction-of-rubble-cleared.html#ixzz11D7rmP2h