It seems like an eternity, but it was only 14 months, 52 aftershocks registering 4.5 or greater, a tornado, a hurricane and a cholera epidemic ago that Haiti was hit unexpectedly by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. This earthquake occurred approximately one year after the alphabet hurricanes Faye, Gustaf, Hanna and Ike of the summer of 2008.
Before the quake, the IWISH Foundation supported the medical arm of Haiti Foundation Against Poverty (HFAP) and a small group of Haitian obstetricians who were affiliated with the obstetrics residency-training program at the Port Au Prince General Hospital. HFAP had started the Les Plaines and Les Bours schools (about 125 kids each), a women’s support network, a guesthouse for missionaries and a medical clinic at the Les Bours School of Hope outside Cite Soleil. The medical clinic services the children at the school (who are impoverished and for the most part homeless) and their families. The premise for both organizations is: Education is the key to ending the poverty in Haiti and the children can only learn if they are fed, have access to clean drinking water and are healthy. During the years prior to the quake, together we celebrated the sinking of a new well at the school and water filters for each of the classrooms and for local friends! IWISH had contributed one ultrasound to the medical center and another to Dr. Honore for his use in my absence. Surgical instruments and IV pumps as well as anesthesia medications were provided to the hospital for their use. Although the medical student riots interfered with my plans to begin doing surgery at PAP General with my Haitian friends, progress was being made from the perspective of working toward sustainability for the Haitian obstetricians. At the Montana Hotel in Port Au Prince (PAP), business executives and IT specialists from around the world were meeting to discuss how to pull Haiti out of the cycle of poverty into which it had been spinning for the past three decades. The Haitian government was being scrutinized and critically evaluated as a means of assisting them in the recruitment of foreign investment into the country, at the request/insistence of former president Bill Clinton. It truly was a time of optimism.