August brings the end of summer, children returning to school, vacations ending. We know that everyone looks forward to cooler temperatures for sure!
At Medical Missionaries we have been following the tragic news from Haiti from the difficult political situation to the earthquake and tropical storm Grace. Thankfully, St. Joseph Clinic remains steady in its mission to provide healthcare in the Thomassique area but shortages exist in all areas, especially medicine.
This month we are excited to Spotlight the work of Dr. Mercier Lawrence, provide the dates for upcoming events, provide an update on Haiti, welcome new volunteers and highlight incoming and outgoing donations. Read on!
Dr. Mercier Lawrence,
Chief Physician, St. Joseph Clinic, Thomassique, Haiti
When I was younger, I visited Thomassique to translate for the visiting doctors of Medical Missionaries. I saw how passionate the doctors were when taking care of patients. My father was sick for a long time from a wound that needed to be cleaned every two days. I saw how difficult it was for him to go to the hospital. My father died from a bone tumor and renal failure while holding my hand in the Maria Jose Cabraly Baez in Santiago, Dominican Republic. I told myself that, “If I was a doctor, I can help my father.” Since that time, it has been my desire to become a doctor.
I went to the Dominican Republic (DR) in 2006 to study medicine. But because my father was sick I had to stop for financial reasons. In 2008, I met with the priest Father John Thomas O’Hara. He introduced me to a friend who helped me pay for medical school. While I was in medical school I used to come and visit the Clinic in Thomassique with the priest and a dentist.
After my graduation in 2013, I came back to Haiti and worked as a volunteer in the Clinic for two years. After that, it was time to do my Social Service Doctor year and I chose St. Joseph Clinic. After the Social Service year I became Director of the Chronic Disease Treatment and Prevention Program (CDTP). I was then promoted to be the Chief Physician at St Joseph Clinic, which is where I remain to this day.
When I am not at the Clinic, I live in Hinche with my wife and two young children.
More information on the below items is coming soon. Visit our website, check your email and Facebook for updates.
St. Joseph Clinic, Haiti Update
Our virtual meetings with St. Joseph Clinic staff have continued every Wednesday evening despite the ongoing problems that are affecting Haiti. Clinic staff reports that they felt the earthquake and its aftershocks but that there was no damage to the Clinic or the immediate area. However, staff reported that family and friends elsewhere have been injured or lost their homes. Over 2,300 people lost their lives due to the earthquake.
Medical teams and supplies are getting into the country but there are shortages of food, water and medical supplies, especially medicines within the country. Along with shortages the Clinic staff has reported that prices are going up on all commodities. Our staff at the Clinic have been instructing their clients on what to do should another earthquake occur in their area.
The Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) is providing Covid vaccinations, pushing outward from Port Au Prince. However, doctors report a good deal of vaccine hesitancy which they are trying to counter through education. The Clinic staff is proactively addressing the hesitancy within Thomassique.
Supplies and Equipment On the Move
Outgoing Supplies and Equipment
Quantico, Virginia – Refugees from Afghanistan: Our local volunteers were asked to deliver baby supplies for Afghan refugees that are being housed at the Youth for Tomorrow Center, which is facilitated by Joe Gibbs in Bristow.
Appalachia, Southwest, Virginia: We sent truckload of 4,000 pounds of food to the Rocklick Food Pantry in Grundy. We also delivered donated items for the Rocklick Holiday Drive which we have begun to collect for in the Manassas office.
Northern Virginia: Our newest volunteer, Bob Fox, has been actively delivering donated supplies to local people, many of which do not have the financial resources to purchase them themselves or are uninsured.
Cameroon: Medical supplies sent to support medical team going to Cameroon.
Jamaica: We filled a container bound for Jamaica. The medical equipment and supplies will support 15 communities and a small hospital.
Incoming Supplies and Equipment
The Bland Foundation, Stafford: We picked up 40 boxes of face shields, disposable gloves, disinfecting wipes, disinfectant, gel hand sanitizer and burn up bin biohazard waste boxes. We are very thankful to the Bland Foundation for their generous donations to Medical Missionaries. We welcome them as partners in our work.
NEEDED: Food and Hygiene Items: Our pantry continues to need food items to support the Rocklick Pantry program in Grundy, Appalachia. Any items you can donate are greatly appreciated and can be dropped off at the Manassas office or can be purchased online through our Amazon Smile list. If you do send items to the office, please give the office a heads up so they can be on the lookout for the packages. The office can be reached at 703-335-1800. Thank you!
Food Pantry Items:
- Canned Meat or Fish
- Canned Fruits and Vegetables
- Peanut Butter
- Grain Products
As always, check our donate supplies page for the latest set of items that Medical Missionaries needs.
Recap: New Volunteers Virtual Meeting!
Our first Meet and Greet for new volunteers took place on Tuesday, August 17th. Members of Medical Missionaries including Dr. Irwin, volunteers Melanie Ebert, Joan Irwin, Patti Tutalo and Christine Madaio DiStasio were available to meet our new volunteers, share our history and projects and hear how they would like to be involved.
As a result of our volunteer outreach, we have had some exciting new endeavors, including a resident doctor from a DC hospital arranging to do virtual training on sonogram use for St. Joseph Clinic Staff. We also welcome, Bob Fox, a retired Army Corps of Engineers professional. We receive several inquiries weekly on volunteer opportunities within our organization. We welcome all volunteers, all ages! Bring your skills, make new friends, help those in need.
Checkout our website volunteer opportunities.
Not sure what you want to do? No problem, we can work together to find your place. Please contact Christine for more information: Christine.Distasio@medicalmissionaries.org
We will be loading a container bound for Cameroon on September 17 at 9am. This date and time is tentative and subject to change. All volunteers that sign up will be updated on the time using Signup Genius. We will be loading at the Medical Missionaries Warehouse at Barrrett Trucking (12008 Balls Ford Rd, Manassas, VA 20109). Please bring masks, work gloves, sturdy shoes, and muscles!