Practical assistance for Haiti
By Denise Clay
ABOVE PHOTO: HaitianS receive medical care under a makeshift medicial clinic.
(Photo by Angela Sharp)
When you look at the situation in Haiti, and wonder what you can do to help, the answer might not be as complicated as you think.
In fact, it may be as close as your feminine products aisle, according to Maurine McFarlane of Lighthouse Covenant International who has recently returned from Haiti.
"A group came to Haiti brought over half a million dollars in medicine," she said, "But the women didn't have sanitary napkins. We had over half a million in medicine, but no sanitary napkins. There are a lot of things that are easily accessible here, and we take them for granted. But they're things that they don't have here."
But if McFarlane, chair of the board of Lighthouse Covenant, a Philadelphia-based humanitarian organization, has her way, that will change. Partnered with ESPWAM, a local volunteer organization that provides medical assistance, clothes and food to Haitian children, and hosted by Church of the Rock in Haiti, Lighthouse Covenant International worked in a clinic, providing care to those still battling the remnants of the now two-year-old earthquake.
McFarlane joined 16 fellow volunteers recently on a trip to Belmas, Haiti, near Port-Au-Prince, where they worked with doctors and provided medical care for 1,600 people in four days. The group included five doctors and four nurses, including three obstetrics and gynecology doctors.
They provided care that most Haitian women have never received, she said.
"[These doctors] had never seen the things they'd seen there," McFarlane said. "The women had major infections and diseases that are easily curable. Because these women were poor, they didn't have access to these services and had never been to a doctor. OB-GYNS were usually for upper class people."
In addition to obstetric care, the clinics provided podiatric, vision, and other general care during the time the volunteers were there. Many of these people had been in dire straits since the earthquake two years ago, but while everyone rushes to the scene of a tragedy immediately when it happens, the time to provide help is after the initial assistance has been given, McFarlane said.
Thus, Lighthouse Covenant and EPSWAM are trying to raise funds for another trip to Haiti. They have also reached out to the city's five major teaching universities in hopes of finding interns to take to Haiti with them, McFarlane said. If you are interested in donating to the effort, go to www. Lciintl.com.
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