>Tom’s Home….and Chris is headed off to adventure.


Tom and Cindy, the invaluable nurse on the team, flying home; 
thanks to the generous Haitian pilot Jorge Paulhiac who let them  hitch a ride.

Tom, Coffeedoc, is home! It was a long haul home, but he made it safe and sound. Chris, Buddybug, is gone….off to Rome to study for the semester.

In less than 24 hours we’ve had incoming and outgoing bags and packs and airport runs in both directions.  A revolving door to this house this week.
The good part is that Tom is back and we are all so very glad!  And we were all glad to have had one last family dinner together last night, and for Tom to be able to see Chris a bit more before he left.
Was it hectic?
You betcha!
Was it worth it?
But of course!

So, to follow this new adventure in Buddybug’s life, go here.
He’s gonna post from Rome, often enough to keep us all happy.  Or so we can live vicariously, or virtually, and follow the fun, frustrations, faith, liturgy, beauty, silliness, art, food and adventures of a semester in Rome.
That’s the plan at any rate. 

As for Tom….I think he has some decompressing to do.  I think it was a great trip, seems like it was a good team to work with and much good work was done.  And I know for him it’s very satisfying and rewarding to be able to go and do all this. He loves doing it…on so many levels.

There were many folks to help unfortunately, due to the quake. But happily enough, many docs and teams working hard throughout the country.  Tom enjoyed working with other docs from all over, and was glad to be able to!  Docs and teams might pop in, lend a hand and move on.  Other areas would send patients over to Cayes Jacmel, knowing Tom and their team would fix them up.  It was a nonpolitical effort of focusing on what needed to be done by all; the Canadian military did an outstanding job securing the area, getting runway lights (by the time Tom left) and opening the road back up to Port au Prince.  So it was a good trip.

But, it’s never easy either.
I forgot…when he comes back from Haiti, there is always some re-entry decompressing and sorting out to do for him.  For anyone I expect.  It is exhausting as well as exhilarating, on all levels.

Evening at the Hands and Feet Children’s Village project.

That’s the nature of this sort of thing.  It happens whenever you (ok, I) travel outside of your sheltered, carefully crafted and whittled world – you/I have to recalibrate, take in all the sights sensations sounds smells, the spears that pierce your heart.  And then you/I have to sort of heal it up. For yourself/myself.  That is not to say that you make it all disappear.  It can’t.

But… this trip is his story to tell.  I’m just observing from the sidelines.  But I see it, that jaggety little edge. And I want him to feel welcomed home, and have time to settle back in and refresh, recoup, re-enter life here too.  

It’s the juxtaposition: the beauty and the hard.

 On all levels.

Just like when we’ve gone to Ethiopia and elsewhere….you get a little bit torn, a bit of you is sheared off.  And you have to learn to live around that scar once you are back home.

It takes a bit of time.
And even with all this, it’s so worth it.
I am proud of him, and also so glad he’s back.
And for Tom?  Well, he’s a little tired, but happy too, quiet.
He said it’s wonderful to be  home.

We think so too.



Rumour has it that this guy, the cute one with the beard above, is heading home!  The team has caught up on all the orthopedic work in and around (folks were coming from hours around, very cool, and they were very glad to help) Jacmel and another orthopod is arriving today as well.  So, it seems it’s time to come home.  We are glad. 

He has to wait at the Jacmel, Haiti airport for a plane and then talk them into a ride, wherever they might be going.  With luck, that will be Florida.  With a little less luck it might be the Dominican Republic.  With crazy luck it might be Nassau and then we will have to coax him back off the beach!  Anyhow, that’s the rumour.  In fact, he is at the Jacmel airport with the team now.  So, not telling the kiddles yet, so as not to get hopes up.  But mine are!

And, just in the nick of time, if it happens.  As that other cute boy in the ND sweatshirt, above, my Buddybug….he’s heading out for Rome to study for a semester early Friday morning.  And I just know his dad would love one more hug before he goes. 

>Sunday in Haiti, Coffeedoc posts

>A report from Tom, perfect for today, this Sunday:

 So I wondered where we might find a Mass this morning. Our hosts told us that they thought there was a Catholic Church just up the street. Ernest and I walked down there to see really early this morning so as not to miss an early morning mass. It was a church named after Santa Theresa of the child Jesus. Unfortunately, their priest wasn’t going to be able to say Mass there today, covering other churches which have been destroyed by the earthquake I believe.

Church of St. Therese of the child Jesus, Jacmel,  Haiti

A man who was there, perhaps the sacristan, offered to take us up to where there was going to be a mass in Cayes Jacmel. We went out to the street and flagged down a “tap tap” which is Haiti’s version of a taxi, kind of like the blue and white vans in Ethiopia.

 We drove for several miles and then got out. We walked up a dirt mountain road for another half mile to reach a clearing which was being used as the church since the church building had fallen.

 It was a beautiful service some of which I have video of. Here are some pictures.

Ernest at Mass.

I love you all and miss you.

>Haiti: Corporate goodness and update


 Pic snagged from Cindy.  But it’s got my Tom.  
On the plane, flying in.  That’s Cindy next to him.  Thanks Cindy!
Got a call from Tom/Coffeedoc last night! Skype is an awesome thing.  We couldn’t  see each other and the connection dropped a bunch of times, was spotty but heck, we talked with each other…caught up on the week.  Fantastic!
I wanted to mention a surprising bit of corporate goodness.  
It doesn’t happen that often, maybe, nowadays and when it does I think it deserves a mention.  Southwest.  Yup, Southwest airlines.  
They did the right thing.
Tom and the team scrambled to get flights down to Ft. Lauderdale in order to meet the private plane down to Haiti. (See earlier post on that fiasco.  Thanks again Mike!) They had less than 24 hour notice to get the flights, gather the food, gear, meds, supplies, change their schedules and get to the airport.  Needless to say, any advance negotiation with the airline didn’t even occur to us.  Doh.  
As we pulled up to the airport, my very large suburban loaded to the rafters, to meet the team that had already offloaded another big load of supplies….we realized, uh-oh, this is gonna cost us.  Will they even be able to get the gear on the plane? Bag limits and all.  But there we were and so we were gonna give it a go and see how it played out.  
Well, it played out brilliantly.  
 By which I mean, a Southwest guy came right over to the car, heard that this was all to take to Haiti, and pulled over a huge luggage cart and started helping us unload the car.  No questions asked.  Helping tape up the tubs, fast.  (And, in typical style, we were very late on arrival, WELL inside that two hour, um, one and half hour window…what can I say, it was a scramble).  
Ernest, the CRNA on the team, came out to meet us (He arrived on time, ahem) and said that Southwest had already taken his big huge load of supplies, happily.  So Ernest, started helping too and we had that car unloaded in record time and they whisked tom inside to check him and all this extra stuff in.  I kissed him hard and said goodbye, holding my breath and beginning to tally a guess at the overcharge.  
Tom called me later to tell me the news:
Not only did Southwest help us out of the car in record time, they took every single box and tub.  They didn’t blink.  And they didn’t charge us a dime.  
They took twenty-three extra tubs and boxes, adding up to a weight of 3/4 ton, and no charge, no trouble, no fuss.  They did it with a smile.  
Now.  That’s corporate goodness worth smiling about and worth a shout. 
Good for them.  
So, go fly Southwest Airlines. 
They are doing their part to help too. Maybe in other ways as well, donating and so on.
But this week, this was a real help, in real time, for real people.
I’ve mentioned that its a logistical nightmare to get down to Haiti to help, much less with almost a ton of supplies and gear.  
But Southwest stepped up and  helped.
And it made a huge difference. 
So, thank you Southwest Airlines!!!
We think you are terrific!

And on another note: Cindy has a terrific update today and some fantastic pics!! (My personal fav, I shamelessly snagged, above)Go see her, it’s a great read to start the morning.

>Haiti, trip report


Today I got pictures and an email from Tom! whoohoo!
They have limited net, spotty, but sometimes, so he sent me a short email and these pics.

Flying into Jacmel.

They are all doing great, very tired but good.
Tom says he forgot how noisy it is there in the morning with the cacophony of animals! Not much different from home, that…ahem.
Anyhow: here’s the Haiti report today:

We’re very limited in bandwith but actually have some, imagine!

We’ve greatly expanded a clinic that was left standing so that is now being used as if it was a hospital. Everything But surgery and two clinic rooms is taking place outside The 2 procedure rooms and another room have been converted into ORs. We and others have brought tons of gear — we have most but not all things so we have to be creative, but we are doing surgery!

He sounds happy (tired, but still) to me. Surgical problem solving…and getting creative. He’s good at that so I’m glad he’s there. He does say however that it’s crazy hot. And we are having a snow day here, waiting for a ‘big storm.’ Life is kinda crazy sometimes. But it’s all good. And go read Cindy’s blog for her report on yesterday, good stuff.

>This is the blog

>The other blog, I mean.
Not  mine.  But Cindy’s.  Cindy the nurse who went with them to Jacmel.
It’s called Haiti’s Surgery Blog.

She’s gonna try to post daily, no promises, but she’s gonna give it a go.
And if she can, it will be here{And she doesn’t even know me/us, so this blog would be a more objective report. no?  If Tom’s causing trouble,  you’ll see it here first! ha!}
So, go, read, pray for them too if you’re of the mindset.
That’s my husband over there (in the pic below, jacket/beard), and I’ll appreciate it too.

Cindy is the gal in the blue.  
I haven’t met her, but can only guess she’s terrific.

This is the orphange/children’s village where they are staying.

It’s called Hand and Feet and it’s totally cool.
I didn’t know of it, but now am quite the fan!
It’s an orphanage but more a ‘children’s village” where the kids can grow up safe and educated, in loving homes, in their home country.  Awesome.

Go, read, look, see, pray, support, donate even. 
Great stuff there. 
Heroes on the ground.
One of the fantastic things to come out of a horrendous crisis: finding out about new amazing organizations and people who are quietly changing the world…like the folks behind this children’s village.  Just cool.

>This is the Plane


Not the greatest pic, it was early and on a phone..but its them.
This is the plane.
This is the plane that took the team to Haiti.
 This is the pilot.
This is the pilot that flew the plane.
This is the pilot that answered the call.
This is the pilot that answered the call, that flew the plane, that took the team to Haiti.
These are (some of) the pallets.
These are the pallets that are part of the supplies.
These are the pallets that are part of the supplies, that were flown by the pilot, that answered the call, to fly the plane, to take the team to Haiti.
This is the team.
(photo h/t: Cindy)
This is the team that went with the pallets, that were flown by the pilot, that answered the call, to fly the plane, to take the team to Haiti.
You get the idea.  (Sorry, it’s been that kind of week, getting punchy.)
It’s a team effort and a logistical nightmare to get a team to Haiti!
But I want to throw out a “hooray for you” and special notice to the pilot here.
He answered a call, at the last minute, for help.
Tom and the team arrived in Fort Lauderdale expecting to fly out early yesterday morning (wed the 27th).  The private corporate jet that was scheduled to take them to Jacmel was snagged by, um, corporate stuff of some sort.  So there they were, w/ over a ton of supplies: 3/4 ton medical, food, etc.
All ready to go.
But no plane no plane!
Finally this pilot came through.
ALL the way from DALLAS!
He flew in, and they were racing the sun.
They had to get the plane loaded and refueled in time to land and take off in Jacmel.  No runway lights in Jacmel, of course.  Well, it wasn’t happening.  The sun was setting.  But this morning, they did it.
They took off.  Cheering all around.
And the other part that no one will ever see is that this pilot, Mike Gibson, will also make a second trip today.  That second trip is just as important as the first.  All those supplies couldn’t fit on that plane, and the team, in one trip.  So he is dropping the first load and the team, returning to Ft. Lauderdale, loading the rest up and flying back to Jacmel.  Today.  Before the sun sets again.  Whew. I’m tired just thinking about it.
Good for him!
Good for him for doing this, at huge personal expense – both time AND money.
So I want to say hooray for him!
If you need a small plane and are in the area,  go use his biz.
I’m thinking he’s a good guy, a good egg.
So, Mike, thank you!
That’s Michel Gibson,  of Michels Aviation
Coffeedoc and the team did!
And I just got a text, they are in Jacmel, Haiti, safe and sound.  
Thanks Mike!