A Little Inspiration... Healing Hands for Haiti

by Aly
Am I overly affected by the tragedy in Haiti?  I feel affected, and more so than during other natural disasters.  I think perhaps because the people of Haiti were suffering even before the earthquake.  I try to imagine how difficult it would be to create some sort of order out of the chaos that began with chaos.  Those people were not prepared in the least to deal with this.  No food storage, no modern amenities, no infrastructure, no government emergency plans, no National Guard to fly them to safety.  

My parents have a friend who in 1989 founded Helping Hands for Haiti, Dr. Jeff Randal.  He is returning from Haiti right now.  My dad sent me the link to his personal blog wherein he chronicles his experiences in providing medical care to the Haitian people.

He says this of Haiti, "Why did I come to Haiti? I knew it was going to be heart wrenching. In the best of times Haiti can be completely exasperating. You plan things, review the plan, make contingencies and when you step off the plane the “reality of Haiti” throws an ape sized wrench right into the middle of your well laid plans. You can only imagine how much worse a natural catastrophe has made it."

There are so many amazing stories on his blog.  The most recent is about his companion, a medical student, who received a message from his wife to go to a certain orphanage and get their daughter.  “'Go and find our daughter' were his instructions and she gave him a description of what she’d look like."

Dr. Randal likens helping the people of Haiti to the story of the boy and the starfish.  A boy throws starfish back into the ocean one by one.  The beach is full of starfish and even as he throws more wash up on the shore.  "A man comes by, looks at the thousands of starfish strewn up and down the beach, and tells the boy, 'Look at all these starfish! You could stand here all day throwing starfish into the water and it wouldn’t make a difference'. The boy picks up a starfish and throws it into the water. 'I made a difference for that one,' he replies."

They made a difference for one four-year-old boy.  As a mother of a four-year-old boy myself I couldn't help but picture my little one in this situation... "Oresto Oclor was a 4 yr old whose father had fashioned a device with two sticks and a little wicker and wood child’s chair. He and his sister had carried Oresto down the mountain for the past two days in Cleopatra fashion. He didn’t know where to take Oresto and had been sitting outside the church for an hour or two to rest. Oresto’s face was covered with dirt and dried tears. We unwrapped his blanket and saw that his ear was nearly torn off. He had a large chunk of skin torn out of his forehead and another larger chunk from his under his arm over his ribs. We unwrapped a dirty bandage from his hand and saw that it was dead. The quake had killed Oresto’s mother, and trapped Oresto under some concrete blocks. His father told us that another child who died in the quake was found lying on little Oresto’s hand. His wrist was infected and dying and the bones of his hand were sticking through the skin and had already turned black. Liz our nurse, cradled Oresto in her arms and cried as he screamed in pain while she bandaged his wounds. His forehead was burning and we could tell that he was septic and had bacteria coursing through his blood. This child would die if we didn’t get him immediate treatment. We packed up our clinic in a rush, and explained to Oresto’s father that they both had to come with us right now. Liz wrapped Oresto in a blanket and tried to shield him as best she could from the rough bumps in the road. Oresto was brave but cried out each time the car was jarred.  

After what seemed like hours we got to the general hospital. We bypassed triage and were led to the pediatric tent. The Swiss were taking care of the pediatric trauma, and a world renowned pediatric orthopedic surgeon saw Oresto within 10 minutes. I don’t think anyone can save Oresto’s hand, but I think that we saved his life. Oresto’s father doesn’t speak any French and we tried to explain everything that was going on and what to expect. He only had one question. 'Please, when the doctors are done, they will give me back my son won’t they?'" 

If you would like to give to Healing Hands for Haiti, please visit their website.



corinne said...

great write up aly. i loved reading a few posts on dr. randall's blog. that man is a saint and his stories made me cry.

Hall of Fame said...

A good friend of mine, Jeremy Johnson, from St. George just got back from Haiti and there is a donation site you can go to and donate directly for their next trip in a couple of weeks. Here is the link:


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