He loves Haiti, where he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 27 years ago. But after nine days, he says, he was pining "to go where they're not suffering, not mourning a loss. Everyone has lost someone dear to them."
No giving up
Still, there's hope. It comes in an architect's draft of a 130-bed hospital a Utah team hopes to build, funded in part by small donations from moms nationwide. Hope rides in on a team of rehab experts operating a makeshift clinic under a blue tarp. It crosses religious and school-loyalty and international borders.
At BYU, 150 students and professors are planning to go down for several months, in rotating teams, to teach square foot gardening and other skills. University of Utah students have joined Our Haitian Heroes' relief efforts, said Steve Eror, one of that Utah-based group's organizers.
Utahns are also helping Haitians Gina and Lucien Duncan with their orphanage and projects well beyond it. Gina Lucien is working with the Haitian government on a group home and school where she plans to take in 100 women who had amputations, along with their children, to learn about using microcredit. They will live there a year and Utah-based Healing Hands will make them prosthetics, said Jan Groves, an Intermountain Healthcare employee who will make her own 12th humanitarian trip for Healing Hands in June, leading nurses, physical and occupational therapists, prosthetists, translators and others from eight states and Canada.
Their plans include clinic work, providing rehab services in a tent-based hospital, and visiting little hospitals in outlying areas where spinal-cord patients need care. She also hopes to revisit orphanages in the capital where for 10 years the group has cared for disabled children.
Starting over again
Healing Hands, said Randle, just signed a contract to start demolition of the many pancaked buildings in its compound. They will rebuild but are considering options, perhaps working with other international organizations. MediShare wants Healing Hands to provide rehab services to patients. Randle would like that, but he also wants an outpatient clinic and a vocational component to train those with disabilities to earn a living. He hopes to build a little snack shop there and teach disabled people to make handicrafts that can be sold, so they can gain some money and get families back to work, he said. It all hinges on who's staying to help and who's leaving.
Since the earthquake, Healing Hands has helped where needed. They recently found 19 patients who'd been injured in the earthquake who'd had surgeries and been discharged by an international team. A Briton who'd been there a few years and built a clinic to treat children and keep pregnant women healthy took them in and his team has done its best.
But spinal cord injuries are hard, said Randle, who found severe, perhaps lethal pressure wounds. It was not the Briton's team's fault; at least it was willing to help. Randle spent two days training it as best he could. Healing Hands is now assembling six spinal cord injury teams that will each rotate into Haiti for a week.
The Utah Hospital Task Force, which took 130 volunteers including medics, construction experts and Creole speakers for two weeks right after the quake, plans to build a 130-bed hospital, said an organizer, Stephen Studdert. Wednesday they welcomed a group of women volunteers who will be part of a "million mothers for Haiti" to help build the American Hospital of Haiti. They envision a million women each donating $12.
Eror, a returned missionary who served in Haiti, has been bowled over by the response his group, Our Haitian Heroes, has had to its efforts. The group includes doctors, construction workers, teachers and others. They have secured a piece of land and plan to build a center in Petit-Goave, 42 miles southwest of Haiti's ravaged capital.
Haitians, he said, typically memorize to learn. The group wants to build a center where critical thinking skills and various trades are taught. They hope to eventually pair Haitians with outside mentors in their chosen fields. The country's economy needs help.
They also hope to keep Haiti on America's minds, he said, because the situation is still dire.
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