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Saturday, January 23, 2010


I'm starting to write about my experience during the earthquake itself and about the crazy week after... not that it still isn't crazy here. Here's a bit and I'll continue working on it.

Last Tuesday, January 12, 2010, Dana, Ashley (another nurse who recently moved here to work with our ministry), and I went out with our newest staff member, Desir, to buy cellphones for ourselves. We made a quick stop at the Petionville market to buy some supplies for the feeding program and I bought myself some hair rollers, in hopes that Navi, my lovely Haitian friend who is a nanny at the girls' home, might be able to do something with my perpetually dirty hair.

For some reason I left the bens (probably to get some medication for one our kids). I was just off the stairs that lead into boys home when I began to feel the earthquake. I looked at Cindy, another missionary with our ministry, and said “Is this a…!” “Yes!” she said and we both ran, along with two of our older boys, for the doorway that leads inside the boys’ home. As I heard many of our kids crying, someone handed me Daphne, our four year old who lives at the girls’ home. I only saw a small wound on the back of her head so I thought she was crying for this and out of fear. We called all of the kids out of the bens and boys’ home and headed down the street to see our other kids. I handed Daphne off  to Navi. Next, I heard that an elderly lady was pinned by some blocks outside her home. Robert, a visiting missionary, a few of our older boys, and I ran inside her gate to check on her. We needed a stretcher to get her out so some of the boys and I ran back to the boys’ home to take the wood off the top of our exam table in our clinic. Robert came back to me with Daphne while others worked on getting the lady out of her yard. Daphne would not allow anyone to sit her down, would not move her leg, and was inconsolable. Robert believed she’d broken her femur. Jim, another visitor, cut up some cardboard, I laid down on a picnic table that had been moved outside, and Robert laid Daphne down on top of me to put her femur in a splint, which obviously looked broken. I suggested we get Daphne to a doctor quickly, but someone said that hospitals would be full by now and difficult to access. I think this is when it hit me that this wasn’t a small “incidence” that hit our country. It was huge with a huge fallout. Or maybe it hit me a few minutes later, when people started walking or running up to Ashley and I with their injured loved ones. Throughout the night people walked up to our boys' home and drove up in tap taps (public transportation- taxi's that are painted in bright colors and often sport words such as "Mesi Jezi (Thank you Jesus) and Bondye Beni Out (God Bless You)) with the injured. I’ll highlight a few of the cases:

A young girl with a large scalp laceration, major blood loss, and swollen/bruised eye. Ashley tried to put an IV in her. We were in the dark by then and working out in the street, but flood lights were set up by our older boys. After a few attempts, success! We had maybe one or two bags of IV fluids so tried to save them for her. She made it through the night. I left for a few hours the following morning, and someone (hopefully a doctor) either discharged her or took her to another clinic or hospital. We also had a young boy in a similar situation who was probably stuck 30 times by Ashley and other doctors who showed up that night to get an IV. In my job in the states we had an "IV team" who focused solely on placing IV's and checking dressings for IV's, therefore I admittedly am horrible at placing them and didn't even try on this child. The next morning he was also taken to another hospital. Another miracle that he survived after blood loss.

Patrick heard word that his (and Phara's) mom was sitting outside a hospital waiting to receive care. After attempting to get care for Daphne (the hospital was not accepting more patients), Marlval drove Patrick to pick up his mom. She came back with a severely gashed foot and head laceration. Her foot was cleaned and dressed, her laceration sutured, and a bed was made for her on the porch in the boys' home. She stayed all week and left the following Monday morning with her other daughters to care for her. However, they lost their home and are now, I believe, living in one of the many "tent cities" that have been created since the earthquake.

Two Haitian doctors arrived who knew how to suture. Amen! I didn't have a clue and Ashley, Lord bless her, had done it a few times previously so was trying. We couldn't help laughing as these doctors couldn't keep their glasses on to see so required someone to hold their glasses on their faces and sweated profusely onto their patients.

Many many people were brought to us with broken legs and arms. We had our "handymen" visitors, Jim and Robert, creating makeshift splints out of cardboard and sheets. A few seemed to be suspicious for broken backs. What could we do? We kept them until a doctor could see them the next day or released them to try another hospital the following day. I wanted to shout over and over: "This is NOT A HOSPITAL! IT IS DIRTY BOYS' HOME!"

Throughout the night I kept asking staff members and missionaries who came to check on us if they had seen or heard from my close friend, Erta, who lives at and works with our ministry. She recently started college- a long time dream of hers- and she had been attending classes when the quake hit. Her dad showed up at one point and asked Marlval to drive him to look for her. Hours later they returned with the news that her school was in ruins and the few survivors had been taken to hospitals. I won't explain my reaction- you can guess. It was a long, horrible night after that. At around 4 am Bill and Sue convinced Ashley and I to head back to the guest house to sleep. Those of us sleeping there all piled into the living room on our mattresses. I was ready to give away all bunk beds in the house. I didn't sleep at all. Every time I closed my eyes I thought of my last conversation with Erta or pictured people coming up to me saying "Please help my child." The only response I could think to say was "I don't know how to help you." I felt so very inadequate.


carmina said...

I want to read more....give me more....Love you. Carmina

karen gerstenberger said...

Dear Brooke,
I am so glad to find the link to your new blog address - I had the old one still.
We are all SO grateful to learn of your safety and well-being! Thank you for sharing your story of that day. We think of you with love, and send prayers for you, and for those you love and serve.

Anonymous said...

Oh Brooke. It is SOOOOO great to hear from you and to hear a bit of what you've been through. Know that those of us on this side are praying for you constantly, thinking of you all the time and thanking God for who you are and where He has put you. You are His hands and feet and I'm so proud of you. May you rest fully tonight.

love maria (morin)

Braeden said...

Brooke, we continue to pray for you, for your peace of mind, your strength to move forward and your nurturing spirit to help those sick or afflicted. You truly are doing the Lord's work. We love you. xoxox
Deb & family (even Mike!)

Jun Blaine said...

Hey Brooke,

Stay Safe! Glad to hear you're ok. Mark Driscoll from church just came back from Haiti and preached on the churches there. Thank you for your work and your love for these people.

Jun from Children's Hospital

kenneth and emily said...

Hi Brooke! We love you and pray for you every time the Lord puts it in our hearts! (multiple times a day!) Your blog is beautiful and I love reading about what you guys are doing there! Or I should say what the Lord is doing through you there! :) Love you and God bless!!!

Tavia said...

Brooke, we've been thinking about you and praying for you, and will continue to. Thank you for sharing your story!!!! Praise the Lord! love, Tavia