Hard to imagine but true, since we started running the clinic permanently one year ago, it has offered free service to an incredible 28,500 people! This brings the clinic’s total patient count up to almost 50,000! Marie-Lucie and Camio run clinic in two locations in Port-au-Prince area three days a week, as well as taking trips to an orphanage, going to the town of Léogane, as well as servicing another ghetto about 20 minutes by bus from where they usually work. Patients also come from the far reaches of the island by bus. Clinics were very needed as the government hospitals were on strike from December up to July, and all water is still contaminated leading to the most horrible skin afflictions. Many children are covered head to toe with skin sores.
While the political situation seemed to calm down over the summer, there are new severe political riots since September making Haiti quite dangerous, so our dreams of returning to the clinic is on hold again. The corrupt government increased taxes on all basic goods so much that the general population can no longer afford to run a small business or buy food, so now there is a general strike with all small businesses closed, no public transportation such as tabtabs, and wild street riots.
Training our Helpers
We are really impressed with how well it has worked to train Camio and Marie-Lucie, our former helpers, via video and whatsapp. It was easy for them to grasp the concept of holistic diagnosis and prescribing as it is very close to the traditional way of Haitian thinking. Camio says “I feel like I am living a dream. I always wanted to be a nurse, but did not have enough school education to do so. Thank you to all of you and the clinic, here I am now treating the sick which is something I love, and people even call me ‘doctor,’” she laughs. But when expressing their gratitude to all of you for being given the chance to work in such a meaningful way healing others, they both shed tears of gratitude.
People continue to stop by Camio’s house outside of clinic hours for medical emergency service, and we had to ask both to not work more than three days a week (which means seeing about 300 people) so they would not burn out. They were both very surprised when we gave them the total number of how many people they had already seen in the year which passed (28 500 to date), not having noticed the enormity of their work.
Amongst all the good natural remedies we send, homeopathy and essential oils are very popular, and also the dried herbs receive special attention. Haitians call herbalists “docteurs feuilles,” leaf doctors. For them, plant leaves mean medicine. They usually receive a small amount of dried herbs for tea at the clinic and return after some time, saying “please could I have some more of those leaves – they are really efficient! My symptoms are much better/gone.” One such example is Wormwood, a very bitter aromatic tea, for indigestion and intestinal parasites. Julia gave a detailed account of the use of essential oils at the clinic at the IFPA conference in London in September.
The Locals own “Their Clinic”
It is not all bad that we, the “magical,” “rich” people from America and Europe cannot be at the clinic. When we were there, the Haitians liked to be the victims. Since we are no longer present, they are taking responsibility themselves so that the clinic so precious and important to them can continue. For instance, the people at the main post office intercept the parcels we mail from France, put them into their personal bags and thus sneak them by customs when leaving work. This saves the clinic an incredible amount of customs payments – and the post office workers come for free treatment in turn.
The Haitians Chip In
We have always been careful not to create and foster more dependence on foreign help than necessary. Since the clinic has been open three days a week for the last year, more and more locals asked why all service was free? They started to bring gallons of vegetable oil for the aromatherapy blends out of gratitude and some insisted to pay. “I would pay if I saw the doctor – the doctor does not help me and you cured my condition. I should pay you!” So we decided to put up a donation box. The clinic receives all kinds of donations now of those who can afford to offer something, from cash for supplies such as surgical gloves to alcohol for the homeopathic preparations, clean bottled water for the herbs, honey, molasses, and even living chicken. We are very pleased to see that the patients so appreciate the service that they are happy to participate in small ways to keep the project going. These donations help us reduce costs for clinic supplies. At the same time, we have continued to reach out to the desperately poor and street children (these two groups represent 80% of the patients), making it clear that they are seen for free. The street children have the worst of all cases of skin disease, as they have no home, bath, or parents to take care of them. We are grateful to Marie-Lucie and Camio, two compassionate women, who enjoy taking care of these children otherwise so badly neglected.
Seeing more Chronic Diseases
The clinic’s permanence has also shifted the kind of diseases we see – it is increasingly also becoming a clinic for chronic diseases also. As patients with acute disease such as eczema, heart palpitations or insomnia heal, they return to ask for help with their stomach ulcers, liver disease or cancer. Due to junk food, hormonal birth control and environmental toxins, cancer and especially breast caner is now quite widespread. People react very well to the natural remedies we provide, and thanks to the Youtube training videos we continue to make, Camio and Marie-Lucie learning to treat solid tumors, as well. External application of diluted essential oils works very well to combat the wound infections when tumors break through the skin, herbal Pokeroot and various homeopathics helps to shrink the tumors.
Fighting the Lack of the Most Basic Infrastructure
We were very happy to be able to add a small solar panel to the clinic’s minimal equipment, as the constant power-outs made phone contact next to impossible. This is still very much needed, as Julia and Jinpa continue to provide medical advice in difficult cases almost on a daily basis. A very good water filter is on its way (thank you, John!), as tap water is highly contaminated and most bottled water a fraud – that is, it is not clean spring water but contaminated tap water sold as bottled spring water.
Outlook – an Herb Garden!
We have made three attempts before to establish an herb garden, the last of which was destroyed by the neighbor’s scratching hens. We have now found a small piece of safer land (chicken-free!) in which we will try again. Our hope is that the clinic can grow its own supply of those herbs which will grow in a tropical country, such as Calendula. And of course we will continue the video training for our two ladies!
Thank you once again to all the donors as well as to Michelle who has worked very hard packing and shipping mountains of boxes over the last months to keep the clinic well supplied!
Love from Julia, Jinpa, and Michelle