Several months ago, for his Eagle Scout project, Carson Rupe sent out a flyer to the Mountain Green community, to collect toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss and drugstore eye glasses for Haiti. Some of these items were dropped off at his house, and he picked up others. All in all, he gathered three big boxes full of dental floss, toothpaste and toothbrushes for a dental team (part of the Haiti Healthcare Initiative) to give to patients. Part of the HHI project was to teach Haitians how to brush and floss, since the rate of dental problems is so high. For his Eagle project, Carson also gathered a number of reading glasses, and enough cash contributions to purchase over 60 more pairs of reading glasses.
The Haiti Health Initiative, made up of family practice doctors and dentists mostly from Utah, recently traveled to Timo, Haiti which is 45 miles from Porta Prince. The purpose of their visit was to do dental exams, medical exams and provide dental work and other medical care to the villagers in Timo. They took the supplies that Carson had collected to distribute to the villagers. This group of physicians travels to Haiti every six months for one week’s time to provide medical care.
During the trip, volunteers distributed over 120 pairs of glasses to people who were previously unable to do simple tasks like sewing, reading, or cutting their fingernails, since reading glasses are unavailable in this poor, remote village. The donations that Carson collected in Mountain Green had a big impact on these people; now they will be able to perform simple tasks.
A Morgan resident and ophthalmologist, who has asked not to be named, was invited to go along with the group during their recent visit. He was approached by Dr. Mark Johnson and Dr. Mark Milligan about 4 months ago. The doctors had noticed a need for eye exams and treatment during their previous visits to Haiti, and they approached the ophthalmologist about going with them. He traveled with the group on a mostly fact-finding mission.
The group saw about 300 patients in one week and basic medical, dental and eye exams were given to these villagers. Because of the non-sterile condition, only two eye surgeries could be performed. The exam room was a tarp put up between two houses. The surgeries were performed in a 10 by 10 cinder block hut –with 3 sides and a tin roof.
Other patients were also identified that need more extensive surgeries in a sterile environment, and the group is making arrangements with a local hospital to use their facilities in future visits. The HHI group also visited 50 or 60 children in an orphanage: after the initial visit with the villagers, they treated the children at the orphanage.
In addition to providing medical care and delivering medical supplies, HHI helped the villagers in other ways. After the earthquake last year, there has been no clean water in the village, and the HHI worked to provide a new water system. The organization involved the villagers, and they will maintain the water system. Also a group of nutrition and agricultural experts helped the villagers produce more vegetables from the soil—to help with nutrition in the area.
The villagers have been organized into a foundation, and during the medical visits and exams, the villagers provide security and crowd control.
The HHI has a website (www.haitihealthinitiative.org). If you would like to make donations for this effort, be assured the money goes strictly to the people of Haiti for supplies to treat them. All participants in the program volunteer and pay their own way to Haiti. The money collected doesn’t go to pay their expenses but only helps to provide medical care and to purchase supplies.
It is exciting for Carson and those who contributed to his project to see the end results of collecting the dental and eye supplies. What seems like a small thing in our community has made a great impact in this small Haitian community—thanks to Carson’s efforts and the efforts of HHI group.