|“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 chronicles 7:15|
I pray that this email finds you each healthy and safe adjusting to this unexpected season we all find ourselves in. It has taken me a few weeks to gather my emotions, thoughts and process yet another difficult transition season. Life in Haiti was finally getting back to normal and I had found a new schedule. Education with my students and staff were going well, therapy and outreach were running well, staff Bible study was started back up, staff meetings were going well full of great ministry plans, and I was at peace. Then Covid 19 hit. We prayed that it would somehow miss the island of Haiti and Haiti would be spared. As friends from the US started sharing of schools being shut down and church’s being shut down and businesses being forced to close to allow for social distancing, I realized my planned fundraising trip to the US was not going to look the same. All 3 churches I had lined up would need to cancel. The Continuing Education class in Florida was cancelled and honestly the toughest blow was when Nathan’s relocation to the US was postponed indefinitely meaning once again our few weeks of in person time gone. I was left with a hard decision to make. Do I still go to the states when I know all my plans were cancelled or do I stay in Haiti where I could at least keep ministry going. Over the next week I realized that ministry in Haiti would become severely limited if not impossible. I learned that this virus was worse than I originally realized and even more dangerous for people with compromised Immune system, which I have. I thought about the fact I live on my own now away from other Americans who understand my complex health and know how to handle if I have a seizure. I started to realize it was not wise for me to stay in Haiti in my current living conditions. So I decided to keep my original plan of leaving Haiti on March 31 for 6 weeks. Needless to say days later the borders to Haiti were shut down no-one in and no-one out. I began shifting my emotions to ok God…I guess I am staying and I better prepare. I started buying in bulk and stocking up on bottled water, propane, food, etc. But deep in my gut I was uneasy about staying. As the days of Quarantine in Haiti went on I realized I would go crazy if I stayed in Haiti cooped up in my little house that has no yard as I live in the city now. My inverter is still broken so no refrigeration, very limited power, and sharing my small 2 bedroom house with 2 Haitian roommates who I love but it is a small space to share 24/7. I had no movies (I realized they were left at NWHCM, my laptop had broken, no, to limited internet signal at my house, etc.). I contacted missionary friends in Cap Haitian who have a beautiful compound that is safe, spacious, has safe drinkable well water, power, internet and fellowship. I decided if I could not get stateside I would go live with them. I had peace about this plan.
I saw that AA had flights out the next week and booked one for Thursday but later found out that flight would not happen. The government was approving just a few flights out of Haiti. There were over 1,000 expats trying to get out of Haiti and it was extremely stressful, full of uncertainty if planes would even take off as a few loaded passengers and were on runway then not allowed to take off. It was hard to reserve a seat on a plane due to so many trying to get out. Even worse was the only flight with seats available were price gauging $1,200 a seat! I had to rent a private MAF plane to get me from my town to PAP the capital or to Cap Haitian. I had to be certain a plane would take off before I flew to PAP. I am extremely thankful for 5 STAR GLOBAL MINISTRY who worked tirelessly for a week problem solving and making decisions of how to get me back to the states. I can look back now and see God’s hand all over my travel plans. Wednesday morning I took an MAF flight from PdP to Gonaive where we picked up 3 other missionaries who would be on my plane out and continued to PAP.
We all shared a van to the big airport where we checked in and began out 5 hour wait for our flight out. It was so exciting to see a missionary friend from Cap Haitian who had by a miracle got her 2 adopted special needs children’s passports and visas that morning and was on my flight! Something we had been praying for, for an entire week.
At 7 PM when are flight was to leave we still had no plane on the ground. at 9PM the plane landed. We loaded up. As I was sitting on the plane a flight attended came yelling my name saying a girl in the back with kids needs you. I knew right away it was Courtney. They asked me to bring my stuff with me. Turns out the airline wouldn’t let her fly without 1 Adult per child. She had 3! Thankfully another missionary was there to sit with 1 and I sat with Sancara and she sat with Woodly. I won’t go into details but apparently just getting on the plane was a disaster that the staff for both the Haiti airline and the airline we flew should be ashamed. I was just so thankful I could be there to help. That started a night of an adventure I will never forget. I cuddle Sancara the entire flight praising God for this sweet ones adoption being finalized, for all the progress she had made since 2 years ago when I first did her evaluation for therapy. Honestly I was struggling with so many emotions of guilt for leaving, worry about my family and friends I was leaving in Haiti with a deadly virus that had hit the island, and so on. Holding Sancara was therapeutic for both of us.
Getting off the plane once again was a challenge as we had 3 kids under the age of 5, 2 of which have cerebral palsy. We had a total of 6 carry ons, 6 backpacks, 2 car seats and a double stroller and 3 adults to carry everything. We asked for help from the wheelchair assistant people since we had 2 special needs kids and they refused to help us since the kids were not in a wheelchair. Needless to say we got creative and we made it to customs, through customs, picked up 10 large suitcases to add to the mix and made it outside which is when it finally hit… all the emotions of 3 adoptions finalized. 2 families lives changed forever. 3 kids in forever homes! PRICELESS!
I made it to my hotel at 3AM and thankfully my flight had been cancelled and rescheduled 5x and now was not till 5PM. Thankfully the hotel let me stay in the lobby all day. After my flight was cancelled for the 6x and moved to the next day we rescheduled on a another airline and I made it home by midnight. I spent 14 days in Quarnantine and I am praising God that I remained healthy and so did my parents. Those I am still struggling with guilt and missing Haiti and the uncertainty of when I will get back to my Haiti home. I know my social distancing will be way better utilized stateside. I have been participating in daily AOTA continuing education related to Covid 19 and Telehealth. I signed up to take a 10 hour medical course on disaster preparedness for epidemic and pandemics. I have started taking a disaster preparedness course offered by WFOT I have wanted to take for years and now have the time and internet connection to do so. I took a course on ADHD in the schools. I am committing this time to improve my creole and have been trying to do at least 1-2 hours of studying daily. I started working out 3-4x a week. I am also able to daily interact with my staff in Haiti. I don’t know what the next weeks and months will look like exactly but I know the one who holds me is the same God holding those I love in Haiti. Please pray for me as I find peace in this season, for me to maintain my health, to find a routine and God’s purpose in this season.
COVID AND HAITI
Covid 19 has been devastating to countries around the world and Haiti has many disadvantages compared to countries like the USA, ITALY, CHINA, UK… There is no such thing as self-isolation when you live day by day or in Haiti we say egg by egg. Where you have to go out and work if you want to eat that day. When the majority of people rely on public transportation which consists of 15 people in the back of a pickup truck. When your house is one room with 8-10 people living together. Where majority of people don’t have running water and have to go to a public watering hole to get water to even wash there hands or make food for the day. How does Haiti prevent the spread of Covid 19?
There was a very informative article published that shared the following:”The population of 11.3 million has access to 64 ventilators and somewhere between 30 and 123 ICU beds, some malfunctioning. Experts warn that many hundreds of thousands may die from Coronavirus.Dr. John A. Carroll, who has worked in clinics, hospitals, and orphanages in Haiti since 1995, has written that:“…THERE IS NO TREATMENT IN HAITI THAT WILL BE ACCESSIBLE BY THE MASSES. BUT THERE IS QUARANTINE TO STOP TRANSMISSION. BUT HOW DO WE ISOLATE PEOPLE IN THE HAITIAN SLUM WHERE THE POPULATION DENSITY IS SO HIGH AND PEOPLE NEED TO HAVE HUMAN CONTACT IN ORDER TO SURVIVE?…THE BREADWINNERS IN THE HOUSE NEED TO SCORE SOME BREAD BECAUSE THEY ALL NEED TO EAT. AND THIS FAMILY’S NEIGHBORS NEXT DOOR DON’T HAVE THE TIME OR ABILITIES TO HELP OUT BECAUSE THEY HAVE EQUALLY SEVERE CHALLENGES SURVIVING THE SLUM ALSO.”This is the reality that the earth’s poorest and most marginalized face as the virus spreads. They don’t have the option to stay inside.
On Sunday, March 29, local medical experts interviewed on Radio Kiskeya, one of the country’s most important radio stations, suggested that up to 800,000 Haitians could perish from the virus.
We spoke with Dr. Ernst Noël, of the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy (FMP) in Port-au-Prince, who stated that the number of 800,000 is not exaggerated. In his view it is highly probable that more people will die due to Coronavirus than perished in the 2010 earthquake. He added that large-scale foreign investment and monumental local efforts would need to be undertaken to avert such a catastrophe. “Unemployment is already sky-high. With six million of Haiti’s 11 million citizens living below the poverty line of $2.41 a day, according to the World Bank, most will face a grueling dilemma of how to feed themselves and their families while avoiding virus infection.”
TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE
This image is a comparison of social distancing in a developed country verses social distancing in an underdeveloped country.
As of today there are 33 confirmed cases and 3 deaths in Haiti. This number is not believed to be accurate as testing is very very limited and not available country wide. Haiti is in the beginning stages of its fight against the virus. It is encouraging to see so many non-profit organizations working hard to ensure people are educated on the virus. Many are setting up public hand washing stations. Hundreds of people have started making cloth face masks, etc. Please pray for Haiti’s medical staff as they will be on the front lines. Pray for Haiti’s government to make wise decisions for the people and their health. Pray that people will be educated and understand the seriousness of Covid 19 and how important the safety measures are. Most of all Pray that Haiti turns to God. God is what Haiti really needs. Honestly its what the US needs and what the entire world needs. I keep praying this virus causes us to turn from our wicked ways…humbles us…and we turn to prayer and God.
COVID AND THE OUTREACH PROGRAM
At the beginning of March as we watched the world battling Covid 19 and we realized it was just a matter of time before it hit our little island. We knew when it hit it would be devastating especially for the vulnerable population we work with. We began praying for Gods wisdom and guidance on how to prepare and respond. March 19th during our weekly staff meeting we finalized our Covid 19 plan which included…
Once there was a confirmed case between Gwo Morne and ~Ansefaloure (Nord Quest Region) we would shut down the clinic, fun activities, parent education.
~The staff would transition to Home Continuing Education Curriculum I had been preparing for each staff member.
~ The next vitamin handout we would give 2 months worth of vitamins.
~We would start giving Vitamumba 2 weeks at a time.
~The nurses would no longer do homevisits but work from home and only go to hospital when necessary to help children.
~The next parent Education in 8 days would be on Covid 19 and how to prevent getting it and the spread. We planned to bless them with a bar of soap.
Well at 9:00PM that night as I was at the STAND building working on printing the Education Plans and some various books I had gotten in creole (The printer only works after 6 when on Generator power) The President of Haiti came on the radio. There were 2 confirmed cases of the virus in Haiti. One being in the Nord Quest zone. He ordered immediate shut down of the airport as of midnight no one in and no one out. No gatherings of more than 10 people. No over crowded tap-taps. A country wide curfew.
To say I was a little overwhelmed was an understatement. We had a fun activity planned for the next day expecting 40 families to do tie dye shirts and movie time. I contacted all my staff and informed them we would need to go to NWHCM and inform all the parents we would not be having the fun activity and why. Give them vitamins and seizure medication refills and inform them all programming was cancelled till further notice except medical care. Then all the staff headed back to STAND where I prepared the staff for working from home and blessed all the staff with payroll early for them to prepare to stay home as much as possible including buying food. I was also able to bless them with a home sanitization packet to help them clean there homes and stay safe as they had to go out.
The last 3 weeks has gone overall well. Just like majority of you reading this our lives and schedules have been disrupted. We are learning the new normal for this season. The students are reading Disable Village Child and have daily check in via whatzap and every week have an exam facilitated by one of the therapists. The 3 Rehab Technicians have been busy reading a variety of therapy books and watching educational DVDs they check in daily as well. They are taking turns calling all the families to check on them and encourage them to continue home programing for therapy. The nurses have the book where there is no doctor book they are studying and preparing parent education seminars from. They are also busy calling the families and educating them on the virus. They also have been busy coordinating medical care for kids that are sick. We continue to have weekly Bible Study via whatzap thankfully everyone has a copy of the book and we also have our weekly staff meetings via whatzap.
COVID 19 OUTREACH BLESSINGNeed: $1,000 ($20 per family)
As stated above we had to shut down the clinic quickly. I have been burdened with how we can bless our families who are spread out all over Northwest Haiti without risking more exposure to the virus. Also how we could educate them on the virus and teach them how to prevent it and protect their families. With rising food prices we know the concern goes beyond the Virus to hunger and malnutrition. Our families were unable to do multivitamin Pick up this month. Many of our vitamumba kids didn’t come get their supplements.
I love our staff and I am so proud of them, I shared my burdens and concerns and we all brainstormed and they said they have protective gear and they will go to the families houses and deliver the supplies and educate the families.
The Plan is to Give each family
-1 bottle hand sanitizer
-1 bar of soap
-1 bottle Clorox
-2 months multi-vitamins Moringa and calcium supplements
-2 months Vitamumba
The staff will go by moto using their protective gear to hand deliver these packages to the families.
We estimate we need $3,000 to create this care package for our families. Thankfully we have $2,000 donation already.
I know these are difficult times for everyone and things are uncertain but would you please pray and consider blessing our families who are in desperate situations right now. This year has been a struggle and now this virus on top is devastating. For $20 you can help us make sure they are educated, know they are loved, and we get the kids the nutritional supplements that they need to stay healthy and help them fight the virus if they end up getting it.
If you can’t donate would you please share and then pray for Gods protection to surround our families and for their health. Pray that our families draw closer to God in this uncertain time and find their hope and strength in Him. Pray for God’s hedge of protection and safety around the staff as they deliver the packages. Pray for the families we serve for their health and protection of their children and families.
1. ONLINE CTEN WEBSITE- www.cten.org/autumnmarshall/
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As I mentioned above unfortunately Nathan’s move to the US was postponed indefinitely. He was just 2 weeks out from moving. He had secured living arrangements and started paying his mom’s schooling in the US, had begun moving his grandma and selling his belongings when he found out that due to Covid 19 they would not be moving him till covid outbreak is over. His area of Brazil is the epicenter of the outbreak in his country. He has been on house lockdown for over 4 weeks now. He is back to working for the Brazil side of the company and also working certain aspects of his new job. He is super busy and overwhelmed with work. His Brazil co-workers are jealous of his job transition and are now trying to prevent his move. With all that said please pray for Nathan as Quarantine is lonely, work is overwhelming and not fun right now, and this is the 2nd time in the last 6 months we missed our planned 4 weeks of time together in person. Pray for him to find peace, for God’s perfect timing on his relocation, and that God would use this season to strengthen our relationship and trust in God. Prayer of Praise is that his surgery went well and he is almost completely recovered. We have been able to do many fun things the last 2 weeks since I have had good internet in the US like watching Circus Soleil online together, watching movies, participate in an online Bible study with a few couples from my church, see the sight and sound Jesus play, and even play Yahtzee over Skype. Today we celebrate our 2 year Anniversary! I am so thankful that God brought him into my life!!!!
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for Titus. He is doing really well. He is up to 10lbs now and has adjusted to life at home well. He is a good eater and sleeper. He had his first early intervention Telehealth visit and they agreed he is doing well. He did a few weeks ago have 2 surgeries 1 for a hernia and 1 for his eyes. Both surgeries went well. We now pray for his eyes to grow and develop well. Only time will tell if he will have vision problems. They have been blessed with eye specialists in Erie and Pittsburgh that are taking great care of Titus. Adam and Chelsea were able to move into their new renovated house at the ranch this past week which is a huge blessing. Pray for them as they finish the details on the house, unpack, and get settled in. We hope to be able to go help them unpack and finish up some of those small details this week.
Autumn Marshall OTR/L
Miriam Center Therapy Coordinator
Vice President & Alternate Delegate of HAOT
President 5 STAR Global Ministry
Youtube: Autumn Marshall
Commission To Every Nation- www.cten.org/autumnmarshall/
Northwest Haiti Christian Mission–