This story like many others, is filled with a cast of hopefully interesting characters. A story containing intrigue, mystery, villains, heroines and of course the village people. No not the 70’s disco band! The people of a very proud little village helping bring this story together so that you the reader may understand this particular villages plight. Now before you get excited and start rubbing your hands together proclaiming; hurray Betty is going to tell another great story! Well my children, it will be a great story but let me warn you right from the go, this story is a tad bit sad. Now I am sorry for that, but it was not of my making. It is a story of truth told through me, by me, and also consists of witness accounts, recollections, and facts. Personally holding the hands of desperate people who want nothing more than the ability to awaken and see the sun shine another day! People who need to know there is a future for themselves and their children. Living with these people, working alongside this wonderful cast of characters and being given the ability to tell this story to you, my readers became an almost overwhelming responsibility. But God has provided the means to purchase a laptop and I ten fingers to type with and for that I am thankful.
Where to start? Hmmmm, I guess from the beginning?
Mission work is not for everyone. When I went forward on my first mission at the ripe old age of 45 it was an enormous step in my growth as a human being. It took me a month after returning to realize the impact that trip made upon my life, but an impact it did make, for you see I never wanted to go, I felt mission work was for the liberal, we must take care of all, granola eating, bunny huggers of the world. Not the gun-toting, you want it you earn it, it’s all about the money, capitalist that I was and to a small extent still am. My wife (god bless her resilience) hounded me to go after returning from her own mission trip to Haiti. Citing personal growth, perspective and a regeneration of feelings towards humanity as a whole, she told a wonderful tale and I was interested for I felt an empty void in my life.
Our dear friend John G. leaned on me a bit as well for you see he was going to be the co-leader on this latest expedition and felt my presence would be an asset to this particular team. Finally after much prayer, and some introspection, it became very clear that I needed to go. I was empty inside and was looking for something, anything that might explain this empty feeling. It turned out to be an amazing trip, with a group of wonderful human beings who will forever be bonded to my soul. After arriving back home it quickly became apparent my life had been changed forever, my position in regards to our self-indulgent society reversed and empathy for those in need doubled. I felt as though I had been reborn. The emptiness gone.
The downside to all of this personal growth; my temper became much shorter in regards to the needs of us selfish Americans. I look at our lifestyle with a bit of disdain and my opinion about the current generation of sniveling whiny adults is negative at best.
After returning from that first mission trip there was a great feeling of accomplishment, a joyous moment where the human race in my world could work as one for a common goal and I felt as though I had seen, looked straight into the eye of what true survival during adversity was and had ultimately become for human beings in an impoverished country. From my perspective it felt as though recovery was on its way and having been just a small part of that was amazing. When I flew off the island of Haiti there was hope for her people, hope in a new regime, hope in personal recovery for individuals, hope for a growing economy and hope for a country to recover and put behind it a tragedy that changed the face of a nation.
I was right and wrong all in the same breath.
Like I said; Mission work is not for everyone and I almost didn’t make this 2013 trip. I signed on then off more than a half a dozen times. My flip-flopping was worse than a cornered senator trying to save a failing career! I had come full circle and was back to a selfish American way of thinking! My only care was in regards for our children, house, animals and belongings, it wasn’t about doing my part as a human being, or using many skills God had blessed me with for the betterment of others. No it was all about my little world. My little bubble and how this would affect me! Right here, right now! Finally my wife who signed on as team leader this time, explained to me the importance of having me alongside her while making this journey. Very humbly and quietly I conceded, tickets were purchased, our children were informed of our dual departure and my destiny was before me waiting to be written.
Today June 15, 2013 I am writing this on an American Airlines flight heading back to Miami. My heart and mind are filled with emotions that over the next couple of weeks I will try my hardest to explain through word. This was a much more difficult journey both physically and emotionally than last year so please be patient as my writing may ramble. My hope being when it is done I have taken you someplace you have never been. Allowing your mind to visualize things you would never see but always wanted too or could never see out of fear or reluctance. Sometimes we see more when our eyes are closed then when they are open staring right at a moment in time. Hopefully with a little luck when it is all over and you close the last chapter of this story, you feel what we felt and that moves you.
Please enjoy, and please ask any questions that may come to mind. The best question at any given moment is one that is asked.
Simply put, arrive in a small fishing village on the North West corner of the island La Gonave to provide dental care to its inhabitants.
Gonave Island (French: lle de la Gonave) is an island of Haiti located to the west-northwest of Port au Prince in the Gulf of Gonave. It is the largest of the Hispaniola satellite islands, situated off the mainland. The island is an arrondissement in the Quest Department and includes the communes of Anse-a-Galets and Pointe-a-Raguette. Gonave Island boasts a population of 75-80,000 inhabitants. The island is known as the “forgotten Island” as attention to its inhabitants dwindled directly after the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
The North West corner of the island holds a small community known as Source a Philippe.
This small community holds a few hundred residents who survive through trade. Main trades include charcoal, fishing (fish, crabs, lobster), and home crafts for tourism at the larger markets on the other side of the island. There is one fully operating vehicle within the community, there is no running water or electricity. A large cistern for rain water containment was developed by the United Methodist Church and is in operation. A well is located 2 kilometers from the village and as of this writing is not functional. There is an operating school-house within the United Methodist Church compound area and a few new outhouses were just completed by a team from the Wesley Foundation after a 30 day mission on the island. There is a 3000 watt Honda commercial generator which can power through the use of extension cords only a limited number of buildings during the evening hours. The United Methodist Church compound also holds three guest houses and a medical building, all of which appear to have been built-in the 1950’s. The medical building is empty and has a room dedicated for a pharmacy. Limited pharmaceutical supplies are stored there for emergencies and no regular health care is present.
The task placed before us was simple. Arrive on a Saturday, meet the locals, set up shop and provide free dental care for the residents of this poverty-stricken area starting Sunday afternoon after church. Continue to provide dental care Monday through Thursday as word would spread across the island brining inhabitants from as far as five hours away.
Our team: Dixon Smiles for Haiti was composed of ten highly motivated individuals
Orson-Waste water Management
Alisa- Child care provider
All of us joined together through God providing a service to those in need. All of us holding skill sets that would become important on this mission along with a can do attitude that would bring a triumphant end to a very long hard week. Our group spent months fundraising and putting together supplies needed for our journey. Kristina spent endless hours working the phones with her crew obtaining every instrument needed to cover any possible contingency. When we left for Haiti on June 6th 2013 our team carried with us over $25,000.00 dollars in supplies. When it was all said and done we pulled 540 teeth, for a total of $127,000.00 dollars in dental care. Our clinic was also overrun with medical issues and the team stepped up providing many hours of treatment, from simple cuts and ear infections to severe lacerations, staph infections and full term pregnancy health.
We left tired, mentally exhausted and a little disoriented.
Here is our story…..
(over the next couple of weeks I will do my best to add a new chapter everyday)