Helping in Haiti|Editor’s note: Elizabeth Mullet, a Hyde County resident and a licensed practical nurse who works at Pungo District Hospital, recently traveled to Haiti on a mission trip sponsored by Christian Aid Ministries. The following is her accoun

Published 2:10 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Special to the Daily News

I’m praising the Lord to be home again safely from Haiti, and I feel like my experience there was a blessing. It was nowhere nearly as bad as we might have expected.
We served people from tent cities and devastated areas, but most appeared relatively healthy and most serious injuries had already had some care. In fact, our team was the last one scheduled by Christian Aid Ministries, since we weren’t finding the overwhelming needs expected. We had men driving around looking for unserved areas and asking for referrals, but they didn’t find very much.
The CAM compound is out in the country with rolling, brown hills to the north and the beautiful Caribbean Sea in view to the southwest with lovely, blue mountains on the other side of the inlet to the south. One can observe the ships and planes as they go southeast to the city of Port-au-Prince, visible to the left.
The buildings are pleasant and modern, with electricity and running water. I won’t say hot water because most of the time there wasn’t any for showers, but that was no hardship because it was hot enough that a cold one felt good.
The “girls’ dorm” was even air-conditioned! The cooks used it for sort of a secondary refrigerator sometimes!
We were warned to expect long hours and no bathroom facilities, but the hours weren’t as long as I usually have to put in for a day of work, and somehow with sweating so much one can actually manage not to even need a bathroom.
But at one place we had a clinic, there was actually a flush toilet, though it had no seat (and no T.P.) and had to be flushed with a bucket of water. And there was a large puddle of some sort (I didn’t try to analyze it) one had to avoid in the hollows on the cement floor.
Another place by a tent city, I went scouting around a little and found an outhouse that was partially collapsed but still usable. (It even had a native broom to sweep it out.) That was certainly better than attempting to be discreet with a yard full of patients on one side and a whole hill of tents and houses on the other.
Every place we held a clinic had pavement and shade.
So, we didn’t feel at all overworked or underprivileged.
However, I struck up conversations with several people in the airport on the way home that led me to believe that there really are a multitude of very serious needs, but we were unable to find most of them.
Those women told me that they had way more patients than they could possibly handle, with children with hardly any clothes and who were hungry, thirsty, sick. They said there were hundreds (maybe thousands) of sick babies. They were thoroughly traumatized by the suffering they had seen, but felt like they could hardly leave because the need was so great. This was in the city of Soule.
They just gawked when I showed them the pictures of children we encountered in our experience at tent cities. Ours looked so much healthier and better clothed than the ones they had encountered.
The man I talked to was working in Liagon. He said they had been the first medical team in to that area, and the needs were dire.
He found a young girl who had been cooking when the earthquake hit and a block had pinned her hand in the fire. When they pulled her out, it pulled her finger off. She had been walking around like that without medical attention for two weeks.
So, although to the flesh our situation was more pleasant, I have to feel sad that we weren’t able to get to those who had the worst needs. The women said that, even before the earthquake, Soule was rated as one of the worst cities in the world for violence (and poverty?) and they had United Nations guards escorting them. So maybe with our nonresistant stand, that is not something CAM feels comfortable with.
What those other people saw was more like what I had expected to experience when I went down there.
I didn’t really feel any tremors, but it seemed like most of the natives (and some missionaries) were still sleeping outside.
Almost without exception, the people we saw were clean, polite and appreciative, and even the children usually waited their turns, respectfully.
And even though I was unwise enough (not thinking much about it before hand) to go into a dusty, tent city wearing sandals and with a sore on my bare toe, the Lord healed it promptly anyway.
Thank you so much for your prayers. There were not many times that I was actually exhausted from lack of sleep, although I got that weird rash and swelling of the face that no one can diagnose (I call it my travel allergy.) It’s happened about four times in 10 years, and toward the end of my stay I started coughing more; in general, my health was good.
I met many nice, godly people and had very pleasant working companions (though I was the only woman on my team).
I had never worked closely with any German Baptists before, and I really learned to appreciate them.
Thank you, to all of you, for your friendship, too.