Saturday, January 29, 2011

A long overdue update!

Dear Friends and Family,
Please excuse me for my negligence in updating you as to the goings on here. It’s been a very busy few months and there are many things to tell you about.
As you all know, we have been working hard here to treat the cholera outbreak that reached our region in November. Ebenezer Clinic decided when the first cholera patient showed up at our door that we would act as a treatment centre, while many hospitals and clinics were refusing to treat cholera patients out of fear and ignorance. There was and still is much education to do about how cholera is spread and treated.  Many health professionals were afraid to touch and care for those suffering from cholera, and that unfortunately resulted in many unnecessary deaths. At Ebenezer Clinic, people knew they would be treated with dignity and respect.
Since the outbreak began, Ebenezer has treated over 2,000 patients with only 20 dying. We were able to do this with the help of many partners and volunteers including: the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada, Medical Ambassadors, Covenant World Relief and Baptist Mission USA and several other individuals and groups. In addition, our biggest support came from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors without Borders. In early December they arrived to help with logistics, provide medical supplies such as IV fluid, and provide human resources (doctors and nurses) to staff the Cholera Treatment Centre. Without their help, we would not have been able to treat as many patients as we did. Cholera is still here, but the numbers are continuing to decline and we are praying that it remains that way. Thanks to all of you who have supported us through prayer and financial gifts.
Haiti has also been the scene of much political unrest in the past few months. The presidential elections that were held at the end of November have been considered fraudulent. The preliminary results that were released put the current presidents’ party candidate, Jude Celestin, in the top two which resulted in violent protests by supporters of the number three candidate. Runoff elections were to be held on January 16th, but the results of the official recount had not yet been released, so this did not happen. This past week, Celestin took himself out of the running which should ease the tension. Runoff elections are set for sometime in March.
Amidst all this, Haiti’s former dictator – Jean Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) decided to return to his country after being in exile in France for 25 years. Initially he stated that his reason for returning was to help his country that is still suffering from the effects of the earthquake and cholera. However, it has now been revealed that his intentions are to recover money that he hasn’t had access to as he is broke. He has been charged for the crimes he committed during his rule, but it will be several months before we know if he will go to trial.
It’s been a busy and tiring few months for me personally, however I have found some time for rest and relaxation. At the end of November I was able to go to Orlando, Florida where I met my family for a week’s vacation. It was great to unwind there and spend some good family time together. The week following, my good friend Shauna arrived for her wedding to Ben, one of the clinic accountants. It was great to share in that celebration and spend time with her. Christmas and New Years were very quiet around here, and a cold kept me mostly at home resting.
In October and November we hosted two groups here – one from Breton, Alberta and another from Minnesota. The Breton group was able to help finish tiling and painting the hospital just 2 days before we received our first cholera patient! The Minnesota group arrived here in the midst of the first wave of riots against the UN, but were able to provide some much needed help in the cholera centre as well as help construct shelves and a driveway for the clinic. We’ve also hosted a few smaller groups of doctors and nurses in December and January. They have been a great relief to the clinic staff who have been working above and beyond the past few months. We are looking forward to some groups in the coming months to continue work on the clinic and hospital.
And finally, in case you haven’t heard – I’m engaged! Calvin Christolin (another Ebenezer Clinic accountant) and I got engaged in November and will be getting married April 23 here in Haiti. Calvin grew up in Haut Limbe, attending primary and secondary school here before studying economic sciences at a state university in Cap Haitien. He’s been serving as one of the clinic accountants for the past year and teaches chemistry part time at the local secondary school. As you may have guessed, I’m extending my stay in Haiti past this spring. We intend to continue to live here for the next one or two years to continue serving in the clinic and community. We are very excited to begin our life together.

As you can see, there are many things to pray for here and I’m greatly appreciative of all your support in that area. Please continue to pray for this country and its leaders, this community, the clinic and staff and for Calvin and me as we prepare for our marriage.
Janelle Peterson

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just when you thought things couldn't get any stranger...
Last night, shortly after 6 while I was eating a delicious supper of pizza with Calvin, news came over the radio that Jean Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier had landed at the airport in Port au Prince. Baby Doc had been sent into exile 25 years ago to France. Read the story above for more background.

Nobody knows what this means or why he is here. What is more fascinating to me, is to hear people talk about the "good old days" of his dictatorship. They remember having electricity, good roads, schools, no inflation and "stability". How sad it is that democracy has driven this country into more despair rather that pull it out.

Haitians will be watching closely to see what happens. I'm praying that things will remain peaceful - especially since I'm planning a short trip to the DR on Wednesday to do some wedding preparations!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011