Rotarians provide medical help for La Gonave, Haiti
Top: Rotarian Florence Marc-Charles (right) and a volunteer doctor treat a 12-year-old patient with facial wounds during the medical mission. Bottom: Rotarian Christopher Castor (middle) and Haitian volunteers install solar panels to run a medical clinic and water well for a village on the island of La Gonave, Haiti. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
A team of Rotarians from New York, USA, and the Rotary Club of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, brought much-needed medical treatment to villagers on the island of La Gonave in February, and also installed 18 solar panels to power the remote village's medical clinic and water pump.
The four-day mission, organized by George Solomon, past governor of District 7260 (New York), was funded in part by a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant. The team included Rotarian and volunteer solar engineers, plumbers, nurses, and a physician.
“Everybody is bringing their expertise to make this project a success. That’s what Rotary is about…putting the right people in the right places,” said Solomon during the mission, which was his eighth visit to the impoverished region since 2007. “Accomplishing our goals here brings immediate and long-term aid to people who desperately need it.”
After Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake, La Gonave experienced an influx of people seeking refuge from the devastation in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. More than 30,000 refugees joined La Gonave’s 100,000 residents, straining already limited resources.
Christopher Castro, a solar engineer and member of the Rotary Club of Brentwood, New York, said that in addition to installing solar panels, the mission provided vocational training in the use of renewable energy.
"Solar energy is clean, renewable, and free," Castro said. By switching from a diesel fuel generator to solar energy, villagers will be able to save money and help the environment, he added.
Medical mission brings emergency care
On the first day of the mission, a mother arrived with her 12-year-old son, who was bleeding profusely from his face, hours after the clinic had closed. Nonetheless, two Rotarian nurses and a volunteer doctor treated the boy, but lacking anesthetic and other resources, they were unable to stitch up his severely damaged upper lip. So the doctor, a Haitian American, used superglue packed by a visitor to hold the lip together. The next day, the boy’s lip was already mending nicely.
“Can you imagine if we weren’t here today? He would have had scarring for life,” said District Governor Arnold Quaranta Jr. “This clinic served as many as 70 people a day, most of them here before the clinic opened.”
Using its 11 bags of medicine and supplies, the medical team treated high blood pressure, stomach problems, and skin infections, among other ailments.
Quaranta noted that the mission reflected the 2010-11 RI theme, Building Communities -- Bridging Continents.
“People are seeing Rotarians rebuilding their community,” he said. “With Haitians' help, we are bringing two countries together to make this island a better place for the younger generation.”