2013 has gotten off to a great start for FIH and promises to be the year that the dream becomes a reality! The decision has been made to open the first wing of the clinic, a little less than half of the clinic space that has been built so far. This will require finish work; doors, windows, paint, medical equipment, etc. This is what we can afford to do and will provide 4 exam rooms, an area to check in and check out, and a pharmacy. As excited as everyone associated with Forward in Health is for this historic opening, the people of Fondfrede are both excited and yet holding their breath. I imagine that it is difficult to completely believe in something happening that has never been done before. We promise it will.
February has been a busy month for FIH. A medical team of 15 nurses, doctors, and lay people spent the first week of February in Haiti. Five different clinics were held and over 700 adults and children were seen. There were many highlights and patients seen who touched our hearts as we provided badly needed medical care. However it is always the patients we were unable to help as well as we would have liked who we cannot stop thinking about. All of the doctors and nurses had a few patients who reinforced the truth that the permanent medical clinic cannot come soon enough.
February has also seen FIH take a long stride toward sustainability of the clinic. FIH now has a guest house in Les Cayes which will be open to anyone or any group traveling to Les Cayes. It will be able to sleep 20 guests, so tell your friends! The building has been unoccupied for 2-3 years. The owner has refurbished the inside including updating electrical and plumbing. FIH co-founder Paula Mulqueen has already been the first guest. Our dedicated contractor overseeing construction in Fondfrede, Hal Seifert, is in Haiti until the end of April and is staying in the guest house along with our right hand men Evens and John. The medical team saw 30 children at the guest house on the last day of the trip. All of the children live in the neighborhood. The man who helped set this up gave us 2 thumbs up as we drove away and then yelled, “When are you coming back for the adult’s clinic?” As the Sisters of Charity tell us each time that we leave, “Your time is done, but the work remains.” Amen sister! We shall return. This is now our neighborhood too.