The country of Haiti, by all standards the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has been beaten over the past 4 weeks by four hurricanes back-to-back-to-back-to-back. A devastating month for a country with poor infrastructure and ability to handle natural disasters.
A UNICEF press release dated Monday September 8, 2008, before the affects of Hurricane Ike were known, reads in part, “ Flooding caused by rains that lashed Haiti after a recent series of back-to-back hurricanes has affected an estimated 650,000 people, of which 300,000 are children. The aftermath of Hurricanes Fay, Gustav and Hanna, which have passed through the region in close succession over the past three weeks, has forced thousands of people to flee to their rooftops.”
Forward in Health will be sending a medical team of 18 from October 5th-12th, 2008.. The trip has been planned for several months and includes doctors, nurses, and various non-medical lay personnel. Among those traveling will be Dan Moen, CEO of Heywood Hospital in Gardner, Ma. and Lisa Piehler, CEO of The American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts.
Members of Forward in Health have had a presence in Les Cayes, Haiti conducting pediatric clinics for a week at a time since 2001. Currently FIH is working to build a permanent medical clinic near Les Cayes for a permanent, not sporadic medical presence. Traveling to Haiti 2-3 times per year has taken a toal on the hockey bags Forward in Health (FIH) has used to bring medical supplies down to Haiti. After the last trip in July many of the bags were held together by duct tape and hope.
The Worcester Sharks have answered an appeal by Lisa Piehler for hockey bags. The Sharks have generously agreed to donate 20 new hockey bags. Each will be packed with 50 pounds of medications and medical supplies. Sharks President and CEO Michael Lehr and Sharks Director of Youth Hockey and Community Relations Michael Myers represented the Sharks in their donation, which was made possible by Mary DeFeudis, Chairwoman of Sharks Charities. Chuck Thuss of Southern Sports Supply and Vinny Ferraiuolo, were instrumental in accomplishing this charitable effort.
John mulqueen, M.D., president of Forward in Health, spoke for the organization. “We have always been grateful to those who have donated their used hockey bag. They have been used until they could not be used any further, usually 3 or 4 trips. We are indebted to the Worcester Sharks for donating new hockey bags. Without the support of the people of Worcester county, we would not be able to do the work that we do for the poorest of the poor in Haiti.”
During the week long medical mission FIH will conduct 5 clinic days seeing 200-250 children each day. Most will be children without medical care except for when FIH travels to Les Cayes.
While in Les Cayes Lisa Piehler will be meeting with the International Red Cross in Haiti, along with working at the pediatric clinics.