Drive along the streets of Port-au-Prince and you’ll see what used to be a park, packed with people who are living there. Some of them are people who do not want to sleep in their homes for fear of after shocks. Drive a little farther and you’ll see a body lying in the gutter that someone has covered. But, in this dark situation, a light is shining through the door of a government hospital.
Dr. Dick Furman is a physician who traveled to Haiti with World Medical Mission, a medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse, to provide medical care for earthquake victims. “The conditions here are much worse in reality than what you’re seeing on television,” said Dr. Furman. “Part of that is getting to know the patients and hearing their heartbreaking stories.”
Stories From the Field
Dr. Furman remembers the poignant story of one young girl that was in school when the earthquake hit. She was buried under the concrete. Her father knew she was there and was searching for her, calling her name through the cracks and holes of the rubble. The day after the earthquake, as he was calling out to her, she recognized his voice and responded. It took the father and his son three days to get her out. She has leg damage, but she survived. “Hearing that father tell the story made me think of Jesus when He said the sheep would recognize the Shepard’s voice,” said Dr. Furman.
He tells of a man holding his two-year-old daughter, who was having an arm injury treated. As the Rapid Response Team (RRT) chaplains counseled him, he told the story of losing his 32-year-old wife and three other children in the earthquake. His family is now comprised of himself and the 2-year-old daughter. “He just sat there and cried, wondering where is he going,” said Dr. Furman. “No home, no family. Not much left for him.”
Through Medical Eyes
Dr. Furman said, “Medically speaking, we’re in emergency mode and doing mostly orthopedic work.” He also tells us that 95% of the operations have been amputations. “We don’t have sterile operating rooms like we have back at home. Also, you look at the hard reality that patients are dying here that wouldn’t be dying at home (U.S.). Decisions have to be made – hard ones.”
While the situation appears to be bleak, Dr. Furman is glad to be in Haiti, giving people life-saving medical treatment and working alongside RRT chaplains who are giving the victims medicine for their soul through prayer and counseling.
Prayer for Medical Personnel
The most important prayer need for those giving medical care in Haiti is wisdom. “We don’t have x-ray machines, CAT scan labs, etc., just very basic medical supplies and facilities,” said Dr. Furman. “We have to look at a patient and decide whether they need an operation. In fact, tonight, we told a young lady we will most likely have to amputate her foot.”
His other prayer request is that they will remember why they are ultimately here, despite physical or emotional fatigue. “Everything we do here should glorify the Lord and I don’t want to lose that focus.”