Haiti Earthquake Relief

To donate to Service International's work in Haiti, please click here.

In Their Own Words
April 16, 2010

Dr. Ken Corwin is a plastic surgeon, a former resident of St. Louis who now lives with his family in New Mexico. His recent trip to Haiti was the second time he has volunteered with Service International. Here's an account of his experiences while serving in the hospital at St. Marc.

How did you get involved with SI's Haiti medical team?
One or two days after the quake, I called Trey Perry (Director of Service International) and asked him if SI was planning a trip. He said it was under study and he would let me know. When he called to tell me that SI was sending an exploratory team and it looked like they would be going, I told him to count me in! In 2008, I went to Kosovo, and I am always amazed at how SI can put it together. It's a remarkable group.

When you arrived in Haiti, what was your first impression?
It was one of the most unbelievable experiences I've ever had. At 4 a.m. the day after we arrived in Dominican Republic, we headed out on a seven-hour drive to St. Marc. The roads were terrible, and filth and garbage were everywhere. We were surrounded by abject poverty and the poor people who were trying to protect themselves from the elements in their flimsy cardboard shelters, which were not much better than their original houses that had been destroyed by the quake.

What conditions did you encounter at the hospital in St. Marc?
It was pretty much in disarray -- very primitive, extreme heat, mattresses on the floor. In Haiti, relatives and friends take care of the patients. Many of the patients were from Port-au-Prince where hospitals were overwhelmed with people who were injured in the quake. We were warmly greeted -- people were almost crying, reaching out for us to help them.

What type of work did you do?
First we evaluated the types of injuries, sort of a triage inventory of patients. Then we planned out the next day. We operated in extreme conditions for three to five days. It doesn't seem like a lot of time, but we accomplished so much it boggles my mind.

In the operating room, the lighting was horrific, the power was on-again-off-again, the gas machine didn't work, the ventilation was awful, and there were tons of flies and lots of infected wounds, but the team worked like a Swiss clock. Dr. Gengasingh was a tremendous asset. He came armed with medicine for anesthesia. Most times we had two surgeries going on at the same time, and his skills enabled us to operate in a humane way.

In spite of the challenges, we were able to do surgical skin grafts for 17 people. The two orthopedists kept busy treating fractures, draining infected joints, and amputating limbs. Infection was rampant. A lot of people there would rather die than have an amputation.

We made records of everything so that the incoming Italian medical team would have records of all that we had done and the outcomes and instructions about when the dressings should be changed.

What was one of your most gratifying moments?
A little tiny girl had been hurt by a truck that came through the wall of her house and killed her mom and dad. The skin on her front and back had been scraped off. Fortunately we were able to sedate her and treat her. One of the most rewarding moments came when we changed her bandages for the last time, and the skin-grafted areas were in the process of fully healing .

What touched my heart the most was the day when we visited the orphanage. We saw ten little kids between the ages of two and six. They were clean and taken care of and polite, and they looked sad. But the moment we started interacting with them they started smiling. We gave them shoulder rides and played games with them. Everyone in Haiti appreciated what we'd done, but this truly touched my heart. And I realized that these children were the lucky ones. The orphanage would love them, keep and protect and educate them so that they could learn a trade, and teach them about Jesus.

What was it like volunteering with Service International?
SI is remarkable. We not only had a fantastic medical team, which included very skilled and dedicated nurses, we also had this incredible maintenance team who did carpentry, car repairs, electrical work, and plumbing. Would I take another trip? Yes. I would like to go back to Haiti, and I've already called SI and told them I'm ready to go.

The Haitian people are beautiful and very strong. It's very hard to be strong when so many things knock you down -- losing families and homes and being severely injured -- but the people were very appreciative and very warm. As we passed through the hospital's medical wards, which included many patients we were not even treating, we would pat our hearts and they would pat theirs. I truly got more out of it than I gave.

In Their Own Words
March 13, 2010

Rebecca Dutton is a trained Registered Nurse who has been at home raising her three children for the past seven years. She and nine other members of a Service International medical team recently returned from Haiti after serving there for a week. Here's what she had to say about her experience.

Why did you go to Haiti?
"I've always wanted to go on a disaster relief trip with Service International. When I read in the church bulletin about the medical team going to Haiti, I prayed about it. I was a little hesitant about leaving my children, and my skills are a bit rusty after seven years away from nursing. Then I read Psalm 37:5 – "Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it." After that, everything just fell into place."

What emotions did you experience when you arrived?
"I was overwhelmed with compassion for the people. It made me want to jump right in and do whatever I could to help them. Practically, I can provide nursing assistance, but in the weeks leading up to the trip, God began to make me aware that there was more that I could give. Although none of us on the medical team spoke the same language as the patients, we were able to connect with caring looks and gentle touches.

"While I was there I had never felt more in the will of God. It was exciting to know that God really wanted me there and that He was going to use me."

What was the most difficult thing you encountered?
"Seeing the poverty that is their everyday life. I was there for one week and I knew I could come back to my life here in the States. It seemed so unreal -- that's all they have."

What was your most gratifying experience?
"On Sunday morning, a woman was in labor and her mother grabbed my arm and pulled me and another nurse to her daughter's bedside, and the mother was pleading with us to help. Her daughter had been in labor since Friday night and there was no one to take care of her. Even though there was a language barrier, we knew her daughter was begging us not to leave. So we stayed and helped her deliver the baby. In the middle of labor, the woman grabbed my arm and in English said, 'I love you, I love you, I love you.'"

What would you say to others who are thinking about volunteering with Service International?
"Working with SI was all very organized, and everything was taken care of –- meals, accommodations, security. Because SI has done so many disaster relief trips around the world, they really do know what they're doing."

Inteview with Dr. Herb Haupt

On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, Dr. Herb Haupt unexpectedly went home to Heaven. He will be missed by all of us at Service International who came to know him as a kind and compassionate physician and friend. His family is in our prayers.

In His Own Words
February 25, 2010

Dr. Herb Haupt, a St. Louis orthopedic surgeon, was part of Service International's team of ten doctors and nurses who traveled to Haiti for a seven-day medical relief trip in February. Here's what Dr. Haupt had to say about his volunteer work at the hospital in St. Marc.

What made you decide to go to Haiti as a volunteer doctor?
"At a Sunday morning church service I heard that Service International was looking for doctors to help in Haiti. I felt this incredible pull. The idea haunted me. I had to do this. The next day I directed my secretary to clear my schedule for the week, and I made plans to go to Haiti."

What emotions did you experience while you were there?
"In Haiti I had to get my head wrapped around the difficult conditions – filth, heat, the nature of wounds, limitations in technology. As a physician, you learn to suppress your emotions. You have a job to do and you get it done. Afterwards, when you can take a few moments to talk with the people, you learn that they have no families, no homes – when you hear stories like these, it hits you how large a catastrophe it was.

"Now that I am home, I find myself wishing I could have done more. Today's orthopedic surgery requires so much technology, and we were so limited by the lack of resources, but we did the best we could with what we had, treating serious injuries in harsh conditions and constantly fighting infection. But we accomplished a great deal, considering what we had to work with.

"It's hard to walk away from the problem when it's so big. We were the only doctors in the hospital, and if we hadn't been there, several patients would not have survived. The timing couldn't have been better. It had to be more than a coincidence. I attribute it to God."

Describe what it was like at the hospital.
"Our medical team was incredibly talented. When we arrived at the hospital, it had been four days since an earlier team of doctors had left, and the hospital was a mess. So our first day was crazy, but after 12 hours of hard work by everyone on the team, things started to come together. By the time we left, it felt like the situation was under control."

What was one of your most memorable moments?
"One lovely lady had a femur fracture. In Haiti, the patients' families take care of them, but this woman had no family. Her only child had been killed when their building collapsed. She was pulled from the rubble alive but injured. Now she had no place to go except the hospital. When I turned from her bed to tend to another patient, someone in the room began to softly sing a hymn. Then the injured woman with no family simply picked up her Bible, opened it, and calmly began reading."

What was your most gratifying moment?
"Two of the most gratifying moments came when we made a gutsy choice to close up the leg amputation wounds of two patients. Normally, a doctor would leave the wound open to permit drainage, but that would eventually require skin grafts and further surgeries. We closed them up and that was gutsy because of the great risk of infection. But when we left, both patients were healing nicely and there was no sign of infection."

What would you tell other medical professionals who are considering volunteering in Haiti?
"Go. Do it. The reward is incredible, even when you feel like you're making just a small dent.

"If you're going to volunteer, be sure you have a strong support system in place. The support system we had enabled us to be more productive and efficient. We had many things against us – harsh conditions, a filthy environment, and terrible wounds – but what we had going for us was Service International. And that really made a difference."

Update From Haiti
February 25, 2010

SI's medical team has just returned from Haiti. The doctors and nurses treated 40 ER patients and more than 150 additional patients outside the ER -- and they delivered two babies! -- and all were prayed with. Before the team left for home, they prepared patient reports so that incoming doctors and nurses will have updated records.

Here's a list of emergency procedures they performed.
--1 laceration repair
--2 pin removals
--1 abscess repair
--1 wound debridement
--2 cast removals
--4 splints
--1 fractured arm repair with plate
--3 incisions and draining
--6 fractured bones set and cast
--10 nerve blocks
--12 spinal blocks
--80 dressing changes
--17 skin grafts
--1 severed heel and sole repair
--1 gunshot wound treatment
--1 machete wound repair
--3 amputations
--1 paraplegic consult

The team also distributed personal hygiene kits to over 250 patients and they visited an orphanage where they spent time with the kids and handed out goodies.

SI's construction team was busy too.
--Rewired the electrical system in one operating room during surgery.
--Completed major repairs to van for use as team transportation.
--Made major repairs to base house.
--Made repairs to Touch Ministry base house.

Stay tuned for reports from team members.

Update From Haiti
February 19, 2010

Our Haiti volunteers have been extremely busy since they arrived on Tuesday, but a few of them have managed to send us brief cell phone updates. Rob Shirley, who is recording details of the teams at work, writes: "We got into St. Marc yesterday and unloaded all of our stuff (food and supplies). It was pretty crazy. We had to form a barrier around it all to keep local children from taking it . . ."

Registered Nurse Wayne Van Hamme, an SI volunteer from Washington state, says: "Thanks for letting me be part of the adventure; have taken care of lots of way sick people and it is only Wednesday . . . This is totally a God adventure; we were able to pray with every patient we worked with in the operating room today."

Ed Fasnacht, SI's International Projects Manager, writes: "Day one was extremely difficult . . . but day two things were running much smoother. We've now seen over 50 cases in the past two days." Ed reports that the medical team has been changing dressings, giving medications, and treating burns and flesh wounds, and he adds: "We had challenges with electrical and other details that we take for granted every day."


In these photos, the two women are Deborah Pennington RN (left) from Kentucky and Sherry Archer RN from St. Louis – both are veteran SI volunteers. The second picture shows SI volunteer Dr. Herb Haupt, an orthopedic surgeon from St. Louis.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Help for Haiti
Update: February 16, 2010

SI's medical team and construction team are now in St. Marc. The teams happily report that they encountered no difficulties or delays in the Dominican Republic or during their travels across the border into Haiti. Here's an amazing fact: On their trip from the US to Haiti, the teams transported a large quantity of donated medical supplies and equipment and some construction tools and gear – and it all weighed one ton! What a great statement about the generosity of Service International partners and donors! Thank you!
More information and updates coming soon!

Help for Haiti
Update: February 15, 2010

Two Service International teams have arrived in Haiti — a team of doctors and nurses and a group of skilled workmen. Read the articles below to learn about the work both teams will be doing in Haiti, and stay tuned for reports and updates.

Help for Haiti
Update: February 11, 2010

Service International's Assessment Team has just returned from Haiti and is now working with our Construction Team to get ready for their departure on Monday, February 15. When the construction volunteers arrive at SI's base in St. Marc, they will start to work on these projects:

--Upgrade electrical wiring in the house where volunteers will be lodging.
--Install a back-up battery system for the house.
--Build metal frame bunk beds. The team will take some bedding with them.
--Build a masonry wall as a model for future construction teams. SI will be using a higher standard of construction to better withstand future earthquakes.

To transport tools and materials while they are in Haiti, the team will be using a people mover bus that's been retrofitted and repaired. Here's a list of tools and other items that are still needed to help in the rebuilding effort:

--Cordless hammer drills
--Cordless saws
--Lithium batteries (AA and AAA)
--Water purifiers (faucet-attachable and pitchers; other portable purifiers)

If you are able to donate any of these items, please call Service International at 636.532.3446. To make a donation in dollars, please click here. Thank you!

Help for Haiti
Update: February 4, 2010

What we’ve done (so far):
• Sent 4,600 units of anti-inflammatory pain medication.
• Sent several hundred units of antibiotics.
• Sent more than 1350 cases of water and beverages.
• Sent a team to assess the quake damage, make contacts, and search for a strategic base location.
• Sent another team to inspect our base of operations in St. Marc and locate resources in the area. Three acres have been donated for our use.
• The inspection team is acquiring food in the Dominican Republic and distributing it in Haiti.
• Formed a medical team of six nurses and four doctors who will be heading to Haiti on February 15 with as many medical supplies as they can carry.
• Formed a construction team of skilled workmen who will accompany the medical team and work at the base to prepare it for future volunteer teams.
• SI leaders are working with the UN to secure NGO status in Haiti.

Stay tuned for reports and information about volunteer opportunities and upcoming trips to Haiti. For a list of medical supplies needed for the February trip to Haiti, please see the list below (in the February 3rd Update).

You can also be part of SI's relief efforts in Haiti by giving a financial gift. Make a tax-deductible donation online, or donate by phone at 636.532.9008 or by mail (17466 Chesterfield Airport Rd., Chesterfield, MO 63005).

To make a donation in dollars, please click here. Thank you!

Update: February 3, 2010

An SI team is on its way to St. Marc in Haiti to inspect a parcel of land that has been donated to SI and a building which SI has leased for use as a base of operations. The team will determine what repairs need to be made and what supplies and equipment will be required. Because building supplies are scarce in Haiti, the team will work out the logistics for shipping construction materials to St. Marc so that future construction teams can ready the base for volunteer teams who will follow. The inspection team will also be purchasing food and supplies in the Dominican Republic and giving it to Haitian organizations for the children in their care.

On February 15, a volunteer medical team of six nurses and four doctors (two orthopedic surgeons, one plastic surgeon, and an anesthesiologist) will arrive in Haiti to treat patients at St. Nicholas Hospital in St. Marc. The medical team will also transport supplies and medicines that are currently unavailable in Haiti.

Service International is now receiving donations of items on the following list of medical supplies.
--Glucometer with test strips
--Urine dipsticks
--Insulin syringes
--Medical booties/shoe covers
--Betadine topical antiseptic
--Powdered baby formula
--Portable blood testing equipment for CBC, lytes, ABGs
--Medicines: Insulin, Heparin

For more information about this list or to donate medical supplies, call Service International at 636.532.9008.

Watch the video report from SI's Assessment Team during their recent trip to Haiti.

Haiti Update from Service International on Vimeo.

Update: January 28, 2010

Service International is taking steps to establish relief efforts in Haiti. We have secured a base of operations in St. Marc (about 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince) to house future volunteer teams. SI has been given three acres of land to develop the base for short-term and long-term relief and rebuilding efforts. Refugees from quake-devastated cities are moving to outlying areas, so the base is in a strategic location.

At this time, SI is accepting volunteer applications for qualified doctors and nurses only. We are planning to take a team of medically-trained professionals to Haiti on February 15-23 (dates are tentative).

SI is continuing to pray about and formulate future relief efforts that will include distributing food and water, providing shelter, and cleaning up and rebuilding. Trey Perry, Service International's Director, and Mike Boeckman, SI's Field Manager, will be traveling to Haiti on February 3 to prepare the base for volunteer teams.

If you would like to volunteer as part of SI's Haiti relief efforts for the future, here are some steps you can take to get ready.
1. Pray for the people of Haiti and for wisdom, safety, and favor for SI's leaders and volunteers.
2. Complete an SI volunteer application and send it to SI. Click here to download and print a volunteer application form.
3. Get required vaccinations for travel to Haiti (check with your physician).
4. Make sure you have a long-term passport (one-or-two-year expiration).
5. Believe God to provide you with finances to pay for your trip to Haiti.

You can also be part of SI's relief efforts in Haiti by giving generously now. Make a tax-deductible donation online, or donate by phone at 636.532.9008 or by mail (17466 Chesterfield Airport Rd., Chesterfield, MO 63005).

To make a donation in dollars, please click here. Thank you!

Be sure to stay tuned for more updates and reports as they happen.

Update: January 22, 2010

Service International's Assessment Team members are on their way home after spending the week in Haiti evaluating needs and how SI can best assist the people in the wake of this disaster. Stay tuned for future updates regarding SI's next steps for helping Haiti.

Update: January 21, 2010

This morning our Headquarters staff received this cell phone photo from our Assessment Team that's on the ground in Haiti. The photo shows SI's team with a group of children whose orphanage was destroyed in the quake. When our team learned that the orphanage's food supply was low, they bought more food for the children.

January 20, 2010

Early in the afternoon on Tuesday, our team crossed from the Dominican Republic into Haiti. They were met by their contact, Gary Walker with Touch Ministries. The team will be lodging at the ministry's orphanage/base in St. Marc, which is a bit more than 50 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince. There's good water and no damage from last week's earthquake. On their way to the base, the team dropped off food where it was needed.

You have probably heard the news about the 6.1 earthquake, which occurred Wednesday morning about 30 miles from Port-au-Prince. Our team felt only the tremors, and they are fine. Currently, they are on their way to Port-au-Prince to investigate the needs. Please continue to pray for our team's safety and for wisdom to know the right place and the best way to help the people of Haiti.

Stay tuned for ongoing reports from Haiti and continue to pray for the Haitian people and rescuers and medical personnel from around the world.

For information on how to donate to SI, click here.