Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Health Care Mission -- Haiti 2009; "GOD gives, but does not share" by Dr. T.R. Shively

There is a Haitian proverb that goes like this:
"Bondye konn bay, men li pa konn separe."

Literally translated, it means: "God gives, but does not share." That proverb came to me in reading Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains; the quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who would cure the world.

The more I thought about that proverb, it became apparent that I would need to find out for myself. Soon, as the Holy Spirit would have it, Ted Gaiser, a good friend whom I'd met through the Global Episcopal Mission Network, informed me that he was planning to be a part of a Diocese of Massachusetts health care mission going to the mountains of Haiti and they would like to include a dentist. I knew then it was a part of my calling. I contacted him, and we began to communicate and plan.

On September 28, 2009, I joined the team in Boston. We flew to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and then motored out of the capital city in a van and truck to Loegane. We stayed overnight at a guesthouse adjacent to the Hospital St. Croix.

The next morning found us heading to the mountains. We transported several miles in the truck and van to the end of the road. The infrastructure in Haiti is very devastated. At Fondwa, we began our hike on mountain trails to Lazile. This trek took nearly three hours to reach our destination, the homestead of Madame and Monsieur Dezire. There perched on a mountain ridge, we began our clinic, in "mountains beyond mountains."

The dental "office" was set up in a gazebo fashioned of branches and bushes. There, we treated patients for several days.
The people were all very polite and pleasant. The gratitude was expressed verbally, but also by the wearing of their "Sunday best" when they came to see us.

During this entire experience, I continued to think of that proverb. Even in the makeshift bed, located in the chicken coop, in which I slept. After sharing and living with these gracious people, the clarity of those words came to me.

God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, but he's not the one who is supposed to divvy up the bounty. That charge is laid upon us. Of course! Our baptismal covenant.

Tout moun se moun = We are all human beings.

Yours in mission, Dr. T.R. Shively