We immediately sent our doctor and woman in one of our group’s rented trucks down the mountain to the nearest hospital. This hospital was a three hour truck ride over very poor roads and would have been a six hour walk for a healthy person. With treatment at the hospital, the woman delivered a stillborn baby. This was sad incident because the baby did not live, however because our medical team was there the woman lived. Our team did not do anything to actually save the woman’s life, all we did was provide the vehicle that transported her to the hospital. Later we asked Fr. Guy how common this was in Gandou. He replied that since January six women and their babies had died due to complications during childbirth.
Shortly after the parish was formed four years ago, the parishioners worked together every Wednesday for over a year and built a road to the village. They built this road up the side of the mountain almost entirely by hand. Prior to this the only way to reach the village was by mule or on foot. Unfortunately, even though they now have a road (or at least a rough path in the side of the mountain that serves as a road), there are no vehicles in the village. A few days a month, the priest’s brother who lives in Port-au-Prince, six hours away, loans him his truck and he is able to bring some supplies up to the village.
There is a German organization, Adveniat, who works with dioceses in Haiti to provide vehicles for the parishes. The organization will provide 75% of the cost of a new 4-wheel drive, diesel truck if the parish can come up with the remaining 25%. Due to the poor road conditions, only a 4-wheel drive vehicle can be used to reach the parish. Also due to the much higher cost of gasoline in Haiti, a diesel truck is more practical. The parish in Gandou is unable to come up with the 25% cost share they need to purchase one of these vehicles and they have asked for our help.
We raised the 25% cost share of the money, $7000, needed to buy the four-wheel drive truck (necessary to climb the mountainous road). After sitting in customs for several months, the vehicle is now in our sister parish. It is being used for parish needs and also to transport sick people to the nearest city for treatment.
The truck is in the possession of the pastor who uses it to transport medical emergencies to the nearest hospital and bring supplies back up the mountain for the parish and school. The truck belongs to the parish, so even if the current priest is transferred, the truck will remain at the parish.
Purchasing a Truck
We would like to share the story of a patient who arrived at the medical clinic that St. Anthony’s parish held at our sister parish July 2006. This story brought to our attention a great need of the people of Gandou that we feel the parishioners here can help fill.
A woman came into our clinic who had been in labor for several hours. It was late in the day when she arrived, it was her first pregnancy, and our doctor believed it would be several more hours before she was ready to deliver. We left the woman with the local midwife and instructions to come to the rectory and get our doctor if any problems arose during the night. The next morning, when we returned to the clinic expecting to find the mother and hopefully a healthy baby, we instead found a very sick woman who had still not delivered. The doctor was unable to find the baby’s heartbeat and the woman was running a high fever.