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 Global Perspective

August 9, 2005
Vol. 3, No. 15

Judy Dohner, HM
Sr. Judy Dohner lives and works in Haiti.



Violence ripples through Haitian lives

By Judy Dohner, HM

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Judy Dohner, a Humility of Mary Sister who works as a hospital administrator at St. Damien Children's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, sends regular updates to NCR about events and conditions in Haiti. Dohner sent the following in an e-mail message in July.

This past month, as the violence increases in Haiti, I am becoming more aware of the ripple effect of such violence, things that you may never hear about. For example, Dr. [name withheld] is a pediatrician who worked for many years in the slum clinics with Fr. Rick's mobile unit. He and his family left Haiti because of all the unrest and instability for his five children. Now, because he is older and was educated in Haiti, he cannot continue to practice medicine in the United States. He is no longer "doctor" but "mister." Through friends of our organization, he has been offered a job as an emergency room technician in a hospital in Idaho. Imagine how his life and the lives of his family have changed.

Two of our young female pediatricians have left Haiti for the United States in the past two weeks. The ripple effect on the hospital is that now we do not have enough physicians and may have to decrease the number of children seen in our outpatient clinic. One of the physicians was responsible for our budding cancer program, which is now on hold. Who suffers? The hospital and the children we cannot serve.

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Why did they leave? One doctor's husband was kidnapped a month ago and was released after a large ransom was paid. They have two young children. The other physician had two family members kidnapped. They were tortured while the family was on the phone talking to the kidnappers so the family could hear their screams. She is just too afraid to stay.

Two more of our physicians have sent their children to stay with relatives in the States because children in Haiti are now the focus of the kidnappings. The families are broken up and children are being raised by relatives. They don't know when the children will be able to return.

At our hospital, poor children come to us very sick, often with malnutrition and diarrhea. After a day or two, the parents abandon them to our care. They see that the child receives food, care, a safe place to stay - all more than they can offer. So, we cannot admit more acutely ill children because our beds are full of abandoned children. Families are desperate!

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Most foreign embassies have encouraged foreigners to leave Haiti because of the instability and danger. The Peace Corps has pulled out and all but essential services at the U.S. Embassy are closed. The great witness we who stay offer the people of Haiti is to say by our lives that we will not abandon them, and we will be there standing side by side with the suffering people.

In spite of all the horror, great things are happening: Our new hospital should be open in early 2006. One of the buildings was paid for by the Catholic Health Partners of the Humility of Mary Sisters. Medical donations are being received at Villa Maria for Haiti from two health care agencies connected to Haiti by a Humility of Mary associate. More donations are coming from Naples Community Hospital in Florida (connected by a friend). The Sunrise Rotary Club of Marco Island, Fla., is purchasing oxygen concentrators that make oxygen from air. We hope to purchase toddler tables, a gas dryer for the laundry, wall toys for stimulation, and supplies for a program with the World Health Organization to combat malnutrition.

Hope comes in many forms, especially through the prayers and support of friends and family.

Merci ampil!
Sr. Judy

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