Reaching the remote
In rural Haiti there is one doctor for approximately 50,000 people. This means there are thousands of people throughout Haiti who do not have any access to healthcare. Usually the villages without healthcare are difficult to get to and difficult to stay in. The rates of child malnutrition, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and high blood pressure are very high. Many people will die before they even get a chance to see a medical professional.
The word Ayiti (Ceole for Haiti) means land of high mountains. If you have flown into Haiti you will have seen this from the plane. This also means so many of these hard to reach places are mountain top villages where the people live off of the land and may travel down the mountain once a week to buy and sell.
These are the places Bethesda teams go to bring medical care.
The last weekend in March a team of Bethesda staff travelled to a village called Souffiere. After a hour in the back of a truck, then another hours hike up the mountain our team were greeted by 250 people, waiting in the church to be seen by a doctor.
By the end of the day every single person waiting in that church from early in the morning had been seen by a medical professional from Bethesda. Many were prayed with by our staff and the pastor of the church. And after a long, hot day the team made their way back down the mountain for a days rest before starting back to work on Monday morning.
One of the other places we visit is called Roque. Roque is a little village right on the top of a mountain. It is a 4 hour drive from Bethesda then a 2 hour hike up a very steep mountain. In order to get up the mountain our team have to cross 2 rivers on foot. The men from the village come down to carry the medicine and medical supplies up the mountain, some of the boxes get carried on their heads and others go on the back of a horse.
Once the team arrive they get straight to work and get the 'clinic' set up. The clinic takes place in the local church and many people have walked for hours to get there. The team work until the sun goes down treating patients with various illnesses. The next day is a full day of consultation and medicine. In the past different teams have even been able to take up a microscope and other lab equipment to run tests.
300 - 400 patients are treated over one weekend and the weekend finishes with a church service on Sunday morning before the team make the journey back down the mountain and drive back to Bethesda.
The last time Bethesda took a team to Roque the team was made of up North Americans and staff from Bethesda. A man came to the clinic and when he sat down for his consultation he told the nurse he had no health problems.
'Then why are you here? the nurse said, confused.
The man responded, 'Last night I had a dream that a group of white people would be here at the church in Roque and those people would introduce me to Jesus. I came today to accept Jesus as my Savior.'
The Bethesda team was able to share the gospel and pray with this man who then accepted Jesus as his Savior.
The beautiful thing about working alongside a local church is that the spiritual care in ongoing. Once the Bethesda team leaves there may not be a doctor back in their villages for months, maybe even years but the pastor is there. New believers can be discipled, older believers encouraged and those who do not yet believe have found the love of Jesus practically at their local church through medical care.