In the lush tropical valley of the Grande Rivière du Nord, in northern Haiti sits a small green tin-roofed building housing a medical clinic in the village of Gambade.
From Gambade, the next hospital is ten kilometres of rough and rutted road across a river that is impassible when flooded.
For the average resident of Gambade, motorbike taxis are the only route to the hospital, and even when fording the river is possible one can only imagine the risk taken by patients traveling in this part of Haiti in search of health and healing.
The people of Gambade hoped and prayed for access to healthcare for a long time.
Eleven years ago, two members of a Church in Burlington Ontario during a visit to the area heard that the most urgent need of the Gambade community was a way to preserve the lives and health of mothers-to-be and their newborn babies.
To these Canadians it was a Macedonian call. So, they asked the community: What can you give to solve your problem?
The people offered land, and said that they would themselves build on it if the Canadians would help. The river nearby would provide sand, rocks, and water.
When Christians at the church in Burlington heard about the opportunity, they came alongside eager to share in meeting the health needs of Gambade’ s 20,000 people in a partnership called “Together with Haiti.” It took three years of relationship building, site visits, brainstorming with the community, government officials, and learning from other charities serving in Haiti, and planning by the Canadian team and community leaders in Gambade before construction would start.
The initial working group based out of Compass Point Bible Church recognizing the need to have healthcare professionals on their team invited EMAS Canada to a partnership to provide medical aid and services.
Building was slow, and supplies were not always readily available. Mothers and babies were not waiting for the construction, so the team invested in training local healthcare workers, firsthand short-term medical camps and most importantly hiring a local health agent to do home visits and provide the most basic healthcare services.
About two years ago, the health agent reported an increase in the number of children dying from malnutrition. The team responded by initiating a program to mitigate the effects of undernourishment. The team wisely argued that prevention is better than cure.
Now the clinic is ready.
Today the team has representatives in Gambade doing interviews for local nurses among other cadres in preparation for opening the clinic to patients.
To get the clinic off to a good start, the team has worked hard at recruiting friends for the people of Gambade and is planning to host a fundraising event on February 25, 2023, calling it, The Tropical Night.
In the Americas, Haiti stands out as an island of extreme poverty. Its capital city remains in the grips of chronic gang violence and kidnappings. A re-emergence of Cholera in and around the capital city was reported by WHO just three months ago in October 2022.
The recurrent troubles of Haiti, both natural and manufactured are baffling, its political instability and economic chaos are equally confounding; some donors have given up. The international community is “watching” the situation.
Imagine if God had told the descendants of Abraham “I AM watching the situation”?
The followers of Christ on the Gambade team have chosen to come alongside, not to watch from the sidelines. Four of them are in Haiti this month at their own expense. The engagement could become more costly, we pray it does not.
For God to love the world was expensive too. He came to us.
Join Him and us in going to the people of Gambade by donating here or if you live near Hamilton, Ontario, come to The Tropical Night.
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2. 2 Corinthians 5: 11-16
3. 1 John 4:9-12
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)
Feature image: Courtesy EMAS Gambade Team