IMB missionaries comfort injured Haitians
Alan James, Baptist Press
February 02, 2010

IMB missionaries comfort injured Haitians

IMB missionaries comfort injured Haitians
Alan James, Baptist Press
February 02, 2010

JIMANI, Dominican Republic —

Delores York sits in the hallway of Good Samaritan Clinic just east of the

Haiti border in the Dominican Republic. Her feet hurt. She’s exhausted. It’s been

a long day for her and other clinic volunteers as earthquake victims fill every

room, waiting for treatment.

Suddenly York, an

International Mission Board (IMB) missionary from Abilene, Texas, who has

ministered among Haitians for the past 12 years, is back on her feet. She’s in

the lobby holding hands with Claire, a woman about to go into surgery to repair

her broken hip. Claire lost her home, looters stole everything she had and she

— like so many others — lost loved ones in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that

rocked Haiti more than a week ago.

But the two women can’t stop


“She’s my sister,” York says

proudly. “She’s happy about Jesus saving her life.”

“I have hope in God,”

responds Claire. “God will get me through this.”

York and Claire just met at

the clinic, but they’ve become fast friends since York speaks Claire’s Creole

language. As hundreds of injured Haitians pour into the clinic, York and other

IMB missionaries helping there provide a valuable skill as interpreters.

“Hardly anyone here speaks

Creole,” said Dawn Goodwin, an IMB missionary from Jefferson City, Tenn. “We’re

able to help the doctors understand what exactly is wrong with the patient, so

they can give the treatment the patient needs.”

Language barriers only

complicate the situation in what looks like a war zone with patients scattered

on mattresses throughout the clinic.

Patients include amputees,

those with head wounds, infections and broken bones. They line the hallway as

ambulances pull up to unload new patients.

The only available space for

some is a patch of grass and dirt just outside the clinic. Rooms overflow with

patients, exhausted doctors and other medical volunteers, some just trying to

catch an hour or two of rest.

“It’s been a week since the

earthquake — and they’re still coming,” said Goodwin.

Sleep isn’t something

Goodwin, York or her husband, Sam, from Midwest City, Okla., have seen much of

in the past few days.

“I just did a 24-hour

shift,” Goodwin said. “I haven’t been able to get much sleep, but there aren’t

enough translators.”

IMB photo

IMB missionary Delores York interprets, consoles and prays with patients at a clinic in Jimani, Dominican Republic, near the Haiti border. In addition to being injured, most patients have lost their homes as well as their family and friends.

Interpreting is just part of

what the IMB missionaries are doing. A day at the clinic can include everything

from helping lift patients on and off beds to cleaning bathrooms.

The focus, however, remains

the patients — most of whom have lost their homes as well as family and


“Everything is gone,” said

Junior, who was visiting his wife, a patient at the clinic. They lost their two

children in the earthquake. “This is all we have,” he said as he pulled on his


“We have nowhere to go.”

After being released, many

patients are transported to Bethel Baptist Church in Jimani, Dominican

Republic, for temporary shelter. But their future remains uncertain.

For now, volunteers do what

they can to comfort the hurting and wounded.

Goodwin said the sweetest

moments at the clinic for her are times of praying for patients or singing

songs of comfort.

But in the chaos, even those

moments aren’t always easy.

“I was praying with someone

the other day and just started blubbering,” said Goodwin, who has worked among

Haitians for 17 years. “I’m grieving, too.

IMB photo

The only available space for some Haitians at a clinic in Jimani, Dominican Republic, is a patch of grass and dirt. Doctors continue to rotate in, but the number of patients is overwhelming. Some have been waiting for days to receive treatment.

“I’ve lost friends. I have

friends living on the street. Ministering to my people has been helpful. It’s

helped my healing process.

“They have lost their

identity, their palace … everything,” Goodwin added. “They come here because

there is nowhere to go in Haiti. Some have been waiting here for days to

receive treatment.”

Though doctors continue to

rotate in, the number of patients is overwhelming. Workers at the clinic

estimate they have treated more than 1,000 patients.

Another challenge is the

equipment at the clinic. One evening, the X-ray machine was down, forcing

doctors to cut open an arm or leg to feel for cracks or breaks in the bone.

While so many stories coming

out of Haiti are sad, there also are miracles to report.

A woman and her 22-day-old

baby were transported to the clinic after being rescued from the rubble of a

building where they had been trapped for three days.

It’s easy to feel helpless

and overwhelmed in the midst of crisis, York acknowledged. But she wouldn’t

want to be anywhere else.

“For us, the hardest part

would be not being here,” she says.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — James is a writer for

the International Mission Board.)

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