For Haiti With Love’s Eva Dehart says that “Without electricity, they’re using candles and lanterns, and they’re using charcoal for cooking. There are a lot of open flames when you don’t have electricity available to you.”
Because of all that fire, burns are a regular problem for many Haitians. If left unchecked, burns also have a tendency to get infected thanks to poor sanitary conditions in many parts of Haiti. However, because of how long burns take to heal, quality burn care is slow and expensive.
That is, unless you visit For Haiti With Love’s burn clinic.
“We will see an average of 130 to 150 burn patients a month, and that’s all ages for all different kinds of reasons,” Dehart says. Since patients have to return for bandage changes and new medication on an almost daily basis, that actually means more than 700 individual treatments every month.
“Sometimes people are there on the day of the burn, and sometimes it takes them two or three days to get there. We are treating basically the entire country for burns, and that’s quite a responsibility on our part, but it’s also a really good feeling to be doing that much good.”
The clinic has three exam tables, and at any time there is usually a patient at each table. Space isn’t a problem.
However, the clinic is an ongoing effort to feed a need and save lives, and as with any ongoing project, For Haiti With Love has to find the materials they need. Burn cream, pain medication, and bandages aren’t too difficult to find, but they still need donors to help support the clinic.
The clinic might be a practical solution to a practical problem, but it also provides spiritual healing to the people of Haiti.
“The nurses are constantly reminding the patients that the clinic is there by the grace of God, that the supplies are provided by God’s people, and that this is God’s assistance for their problem,” Dehart says.
The nurses have the full, undivided attention and gratitude of the patients. In other words, patients listen. Many patients also have burns from voodoo rituals, which Dehart says gives nurses an opportunity to say, “God loves you, and He would never demand you do this kind of thing to your body to prove your love for Him.” In the context of a burn clinic, even voodoo priests listen to that message.
Remember to pray for the nurses as they deal with the physical and emotional trauma of being surrounded by suffering all of the time. “I don’t think you ever get calloused to trying to help someone through that kind of pain,” Dehart says.