The efforts of Grand Islanders are making a great difference in the lives of people on an island 1,500 miles away.
A small group of 15 persons returned home Nov. 18 from Haiti, in time for Thanksgiving. They had been on a medical mission trip near LeCayes, on the southern peninsula of Haiti, where in four days they met the medical needs of 910 Haitians.
Grand Islanders and friends have been traveling to Haiti for nine years on similar medical mission trips. Their efforts were bolstered this year by the addition of a new medical clinic that was built and dedicated in the small mountain village of Maniche. The clinic will operate five to six days per week with nurses and lab technicians and a doctor one to two days as needed. The clinic was a joint project of the Rotary Club of Grand Island and Trinity United Methodist Church
The addition of a medical clinic is a huge improvement to this village of 8,000 people that was virtually without medical care. The nearest care was 20 miles away. Before the clinic was built, it took the sick more than an hour to drive that 20 miles, and walking could take up to 10 hours. The consequence was often poor health, especially for the children. One out of four children in the area die from curable diseases before they reach 5 years old. One mother dies for every 16 births. Now, local nurses, technicians, and doctors will be available almost daily as a result of the new clinic.
The joint project of Trinity and Grand Island Rotary was funded with $75,000 raised in the last 2 1/2 years from individuals and church and Rotary fundraisers.
The building is now complete and will become operational when lab equipment and furniture complete the project, according to John Harbison, who has lead the project from its conception.
"We thank all those who have been a part of making this medical clinic possible," Harbison said.