APRIL 19, 2010


As one drives up the coastline, between Port-au-Prince and St. Marc,  the journey traverses a wide, desolate plain between scrub-covered mountains and the sea. A  mile before the  bustling peasant market of Teteyan, which fills out both sides of the road, is a large scar on the otherwise grey-green landscape.   If a traveler looks closely  he will see a cross on the hill overlooking this football field sized area.  This is the burial site for over 50,000 Haitians lost to the January 12 earthquake.

A giant pit was filled with bodies brought in dump trucks.  Many foreigners have faulted this action but the critics have never been faced with the reality that existed, in those terrible days when the nation fought to save the living. The dead were already gone.  There is not a single Haitian who is not related to someone buried in the Teteyen site.

They had no Hope as 43 seconds changed the face of their nation forever.

A mile past the market, also on the right side of the newly built highway, is The Mission of Hope which stands as a monument to what good will, supported by concrete actions and skilled management can do.

The Mission of Hope is what people refer to as a  Faith-Based operation, without being obviously so. The MOH, as it is known, leads by example and freely shares whatever its supporters send them from the States. MOH director, Brad Johnson, has created a loose federation of other like-minded charitable groups under the banner – HAITI ONE – believing that a coalition of this type can have a multiplier effect throughout the nation. This has been proven to be true.

Immediately after the January 12 quake the MOH hospital facility found itself as one of the few surviving medical units in Haiti. Volunteer doctors from the States worked 24 hours per day and carried out hundreds of  operations. MOH ambulances collected victims, families carried loved ones in hope and desperation, as military helicopters ferried others back and forth – sometimes to the University of Miami hospital on the international airport.

In a nation where death is the only option for most seriously injured people, the MOH saved many. In doing so some lost arms and legs to injuries that defied the best efforts of American and Haitian orthopedic surgeons. Others, throughout the disaster area, simply lost their limbs to pressures and necessities of doing the most, for as many as possible, within the limitations of an emergency system that didn’t exist before January 12.

Some suggest the total number of amputees might be more than 50,000 in a land where those without limbs were always the rare exception. Haiti is a land where the handicapped face challenges of survival unlike those in developed countries like the United States. This reality must now be faced.

The MOH has taken the first small step to meet an overwhelming challenge.

The MOH has created a small unit that will deal with each amputee on a personal basis, fitting a locally created prosthesis.  Specialists from the States are here to initiate the process and train Haitians to do much of the work under supervision.

It is hoped that this preliminary unit will be expanded to deal with a larger volume of needy Haitians. Perhaps this pilot project can be replicated in other areas of Haiti to deal with the thousand who require this service in order to maintain some sort of life in a challenging environment.


Author: `


Comments are closed.