Mindemoya team plans medical, construction trip to Haiti in January

MINDEMOYA—Dr. Tiffany Keenan may have left Manitoulin’s shores, but the legacy of her inspirational work lives on as a team of 12 medical and construction personnel are headed to the clinic she founded in Bas Limbe on the island nation of Haiti. An October 28 fundraising dinner at the Mindemoya Missionary Church will provide an opportunity to assist in the project to the Island community at large.

“The dinner will be as close an approximation of a Haitian meal as is possible here on Manitoulin,” said medical team organizer Huguette Ray. “That won’t be too difficult because the food is not that different, there is less baking in Haiti and they use different spices.” But staple foods like rice are not so very different than what might be found in an Island kitchen.

Ms. Ray has a deeply personal connection to the mission, she originally hails from Haiti and Ms. Ray said that she is anxious to return to offer her skills to help improve the medical health of the community.

The dinner, which is expected to start around 6:30 pm, will be a freewill offering entry event to allow for the greatest number of people to contribute according to their means. “We know things are difficult all over,” said Ms. Ray. “This way people can give what they can and if they can’t give very much at least they can come out and learn more about what it is we are hoping to accomplish.”
Funds raised from the dinner will be used strictly to purchase a “peanut-based food” staple that will provide for 100 malnourished children.

“Dr. Keenan established a nutritional program that uses a locally produced high-protein bar made from locally grown peanuts,” said dinner organizer Monic Shaw. “We are all paying for our own expenses for the trip, the fundraising is only for the nutritional program. That program is the only nutritional program in the area.”

The dual purpose team will be setting out to assist Haiti Village Health (HVH) meet their mission aim of providing “sustainable health care for the Bas Limbe region in Haiti by employing local medical and support staff and providing them with the training, tools and support to allow them to be self-sufficient by 2015.”

According to the organization’s website, the vision of HVH is dedicated to “the provision of sustainable medical care and evidence based public health initiatives that improve the health of all members of the communities in the Bas Limbe region of Northern Haiti.”

“Our approach is to provide education and material support for medical staff and community health workers while meeting reasonable objectives and targets,” continues the website. “We aim to improve maternal and child health and reduce maternal, neonatal and child mortality in line with Millennium Development Goals.”

The organization is not strictly limited to medical services, notes the website, adding that “our organization strives to improve the social conditions in our target communities through improved sanitation and access to clean drinking water, improved education and nutrition, immunization protection for all children and strategies to reduce the incidence of malaria. In pursuing its mission, HVH’s philosophy is to provide these services in a sustainable manner, encouraging self-sufficiency and working in collaboration with Haitian partners.”

Specifically, the Mindemoya relief mission is focussed on four key goals: to provide outpatient medical care through a general medical clinic, to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all households in the Bas Limbe region, to decrease childhood mortality and to improve maternal health.

The 12 members from the Island include two doctors, Dr. Mike Bedard and Dr. Nicholas Jeeves, one nurse practitioner, Tara Rollins, and registered nurses Debbie and Glen Hallett, Angie Panton, Michelle Noble, Laura Watson and Ms. Ray. There are two paramedics, Monic Shaw and Bill Cranston. Joining the team from off-Island are Johanna Whittingham, an RN from British Columbia, and Dr. Brett Nienaber from Minnesota. Dr. Nienaber has been in Haiti post-earthquake six times, including four times at the Haiti Village Health clinic.

Construction contractor Larry Watson has 40 years experience in the construction field and a number of the medical personnel are actually going with a dual role.

“Dr. Bedard, Bill Cranston and Glen Hallett are doing double duty as construction personnel,” said Ms. Ray. “They will be assisting with the construction projects at the clinic.”

More information can be obtained at the organization’s website and donations can also be contributed there at www.haitivillagehealth.ca.

Michael Erskine