Hope, Changed Lives Focus of Special Haiti Series

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CHICAGO, IL (March 11, 2011) – A clinic opened in January by Covenant World Relief partner Medical Teams International (MTI) provides the only on-site health services to the 30,000 residents in the new tent city of Canaan just outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

(From left): Jill Johnson, Mary Hakim, Calla Holmgren, Claudine Mamo, Stan Friedman, and Tom Spethmann

Five Covenanters from across the United States were the first medical personnel to work at the clinic.

The three doctors and two nurses had traveled to the beleaguered nation expecting to spend two weeks treating patients at cholera clinics during the outbreak that as of February had killed more than 4,500 people. Because the epidemic had subsided by the time they arrived, the group became the first medical team to work at the clinic.

The patients they served include people simply needing reading glasses, babies born prematurely in a tent (who had not yet been seen by a physician a month later), and a young man with cancer.

Working with the most basic tools in a structure that was open to the elements, the team treated the people they could and arranged for other facilities to take patients in need of more specialized care.

Obtaining that advanced care almost always was a struggle. One team member even refused to leave a hospital that had initially refused to accept a patient until physicians agreed to treat the man.

Stan Friedman, news editor for Covenant News Service, spent five days with the group. In a series of stories to appear next week, he highlights the lives that were changed, the struggle for hope in a place many people have written off as hopeless, and plans for sustainable development being funded in part through Covenant World Relief.

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