Visit to Port au Prince and Deschapelle

Haiti – April 12 – 14, 2011

Grapes Global group arrives in Port au Prince, Haiti and are met by Nicolas Atkins, Director of the Philip Craig Arts Program (PCAP). Joining us in the Hospital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) van were Rebecca Rawson and Luci Rawson who runs Friends of Albert Schweitzer Foundation out of Pittsburgh.

The Grapes Global group were driven to St. Damien’s Pediatric Hospital. St. Damien Hospital is the premier pediatric hospital in Haiti and provides all services free of charge. It is funded through donations from benefactors all over the world, primarily in Europe and the United States. The hospital is staffed with 18 pediatricians, 50 nurses and 60 certified nursing assistants, as well as 8 lab technicians, 1 x-ray technician and 3 x-ray auxiliary technicians. The hospital pharmacy is headed by a trained pharmacist, whose work is supported by 22 pharmacy technicians and overseen by an international volunteer pharmacist.

We met with Roseline Paul, the NPH correspondent in Haiti – Roseline has a very special story, she is a former kid of the orphanage and today she is a very qualified professional in the organization with Father Rick Frechette. When Rick Frechette became a Passionist priest in 1979, his goal was to minister to the spiritual health of humanity. . Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity in Haiti encouraged Father Rick to return to Medical School and in 1998, he received a degree from the NY College of Osteopathic Medicine, and became a general practitioner licensed in New York and Florida.

Frechette’s duties include overseeing NPH’s 120-bed hospital, St. Damien’s, which provides long-term care to critically ill children and outpatient services to over 30,000 children and adults each year. The Grapes group was given a tour by Father Rick of the new workshop with a complete CAD/CAM system for orthopedics, i.e. a system including a 3D scanner, digital rectification software and a milling machine.
A little hesitant, we were given a tour of the Cholera Clinic and received a lesson on this dreadful disease and how it is contacted and cured. Because St. Damien’s had ample supply of IV bags, beds and separate bathrooms for each small section, they only had a 2% death rate which is extremely low in Haiti. Poor sanitation and widespread poverty have led to young children being 15 times as likely to die from diarrhea or pneumonia than HIV/AIDS. Nearly 10% of children die before their 5th birthday, largely of treatable illnesses. 1 out of 4 children are moderately to severely malnourished, and 138,000 children die of preventable diseases each year.

We witnessed the construction of the new facilities that will make it possible to help those children 13 years and older, as well as adults. The work they are doing at St. Damien’s is absolutely amazing and we were fortunate to meet Father Rick who gave us a passionate and clear idea of how Grapes Global can help.

At approximately 4:00 p.m., all seven of us crowded into the HAS van for our 3 ½ journey to The Mellon House on the Hospital Albert Schweitzer grounds. By the time, we arrived at the Mellon House, we were very thirsty!!! We were received at the entrance by Ian Rawson, Managing Director of HAS, and son of Gwen Mellon, and Luci Rawson, wife of Ian Rawson, and director of The Friends of HAS. Their home is magnificent and the setting is amongst the most beautiful banyon, fichus and the sacred Mapou trees. We were welcomed into the Mellon House with open arms and treated to a traditional Haitian dinner consisting of grilled chicken, rice and fresh salad with avocados and tomatoes. After sharing champagne and wine, we retired to our rooms. Little sleep was had by all because of the excitement of being in Deschapelle and the sounds of the roosters, bulls, donkeys and dogs. (reminded me of being in Africa).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Up at 5:00 a.m. – walk and hike of the grounds, peripheral view of HAS, a tour of the Secret Garden where Larry and Gwen Mellon are buried and then back for breakfast with Ian, Larry, Nicolas, Eddy and Rebecca and Luci.

We were very excited to see the Philip Craig Arts Program that Grapes Global has funded. PCAP is run under the direction of Nicolas Atkins and supported by Friends of Hospital Albert Schweitzer . We were all blown away by what has been accomplished in just 5 months. Nicolas has done an outstanding and professional job of putting the program together and organizing a special program for our group. We will have photos up on our website from our visit shortly.

We especially enjoyed watching the process for the Silk Screening Program and the making of the paper from banana leaves and sugar cane. It is really unbelievable that this process is so simple yet requires so much expertise. Nothing is wasted in the program. Scrapes are used in other areas of art.

At 11:30 p.m. we visited the Hanger Klinic, a project that GFH Global funded after the earthquake. We had a tour of the Klinic, and met the staff. Everyone was very impressed with the work that the prosthetists are doing and the murals painted by the patients were incredible. (see photos)
Back for lunch at the Mellon House where we were treated to another traditional Haitian meal followed by the now famous and much anticipated Mango!

At 2:00, we walked to the Hospital Albert Schweitzer where we were given a tour of the various sections/buildings in the hospital and the on-going programs.

Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS) serves as a referral hospital for more than 300,000 impoverished people in the Artibonite Valley of central Haiti.  In addition, HAS provides community-based primary medical care and development programs.  An integrated rural health system, HAS is a model for health care facilities in developing countries around the world.

Cholera is a chief concern at HAS, which is providing rapid treatment and prevention programs\ care. Since the outbreak 6 months ago, the Cholera rate has gone down significantly because of the treatment and prevention programs at HAS. HAS strengthens communities by drilling wells and protecting water sources to fight infectious disease.

We were given a tour of the pre-natal, obstetric and neonatal care facility. HAS has significantly reduced the mortality rate by the excellent care these children are given. Of course, for the GFH Global Group, it was heart wrenching to see these poor delicate little babies, but fulfilling to know that they are being cared for.

We were given a special peak at the Nutrition Center, where malnourished children are housed with their mothers. The Center teaches mothers how to feed and care for their infants with the limited supply of food that is available to them.

A quick walk back to the Mellon House for some R & R and then once again, a large group gathered for another spectacular dinner complimented by wine and champagne, new friends and hope for the future of Haiti.

Thursday, April 12, 2011
Up at 5:00 a.m. – during the midnight hours, and at dawn we were entertained by the animals and a group of gospel singers singing in the valley. We savored our last Mango from Haiti, said our good-bys to the Rawson family, and were driven back to Port au Prince in the HAS van.

This was an incredible experience for all of us and we come back with a renewed passion to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

Respectfully submitted:
Arlene Willis