Mission Statement

Stone By Stone- building a road following God's chosen path.  Together with our brothers and sisters of Haiti, we strive to serve the cooperative of HASWEP through Listening, Educating, Supporting, Praying, Working, Advancing.

LESPWA means HOPE in Creole. 
We are full of hope for Haiti.

 

.

 FANMI LASANTE

CLINIC

Desab, Haiti

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Tuesday
Feb172015

Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your Fears

I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel with Stone By Stone to a mountainous village in Haiti. It was such a life changing experience, as well as an over whelming look into life outside of America. From the food to the people, it was a nonstop journey into a new culture.

I started my trip off with the one thing I was fearing the most. Eating goat! So, as soon as we landed and got to lunch, that is what I had. The one thing that helped me through my first goat experience was my favorite Haitian beer, Prestige!

As the 6 of us (and our amazing captain, Fenel) started the drive up to Desab, I had absolutely no clue what to expect. For me, the situation is different than for the other 3 new team members. My parents have been going to Haiti for almost 5 years, from the time we adopted the kids until Stone By Stone was created. I had some knowledge of the terrain and culture from photos but nothing could prepare me for physically meeting all these people I’ve heard so much about.

It was the start of a week with no electricity or running water and a whole mess of Haitians that were excited to see us!

We were lucky enough to experience a truly Haitian and God filled Church service to start our week. We carried the praise and blessings through the week as we met so many families, the clinic staff and a man from another village who walked 35 minutes, just to pray with us.

We were able to accomplish things as a team but also as individuals. Lennea was able to educate 36 community members on preventing pregnancy. While Nicole took care of her stuff back at the house, the rest of us took a 2 hour trek to a waterfall for our first rinse of the week! We rode a “moto” down a mountain and into town. I spent my time catching baby goats, feeding the dogs and the kids laughed while I did it.

We had to say our goodbyes Friday morning, which was as tough as expected. Lenny and I were drowning in our own tears as we made our way to Wahoo Bay Resort to decompress with the ocean. As our day spent in the sun came to and end, we had a great meal with an ocean breeze as we all talked about the week behind us. Heading to the airport the following morning and boarding the plane with the loony matching shirt mission groups was bittersweet.

It was time to say See You Later to Haiti and all the amazing people we met. Once again, on the plane, Lenny and I drowned in our own tears!

It was a major relief to touch down in New York and be greeted by my dad and Adam.

I wasn’t ready for it to be over but I am ready to go back. God blessed us so much with this experience and I couldn’t be more grateful for what I saw and what I have here at home.

Emily Rumo

 

Monday
Feb022015

Sintimise Charles-The Sick lady

 It seems that on most trips we are presented with the opportunity to help someone from the community with a specific medical need that arises or that they approach us with while we are there.  This time it was Sintimise Charles, the cousin of our friend and translator Abene Pierre St. Louis.  Once we had settled in on Saturday, Abene told me that he wanted us to go and see her in her home.  He said that she had been sick for quite some time now, that her belly was very swollen, like a pregnant woman's.  He told us that when this first started she had seen a “midwife” (which could mean birth attendant), who told her that it was water and she needed to see a doctor.  The woman opted not to see a doctor and this has now been going on for close to a decade.  Being a medical person, I like to have the most medical information possible.  I asked Abene some questions about his cousin and her condition.  When I said “cyst”, his face lit up with recognition and he said that is what she was told that she had.  He told me that for years, her belly would get swollen and then flat again.  However, she had gotten significantly worse in the past few weeks.  She couldn't sit or stand on her own anymore.  She barely urinated.  She didn't eat much.  She just laid on the dirt floor of her family's home and they took care of her.  We promised that we would see her.  

Abene brought this up again Sunday after church with a sense of urgency.  He assured us that she lived close (American close, which is quite different from Haitian close), so we went to see her after lunch.  Sintimise was an old-looking, frail woman with a tremendously enlarged abdomen, lying on the dirt floor inside the home.  She looked like she could have been Abene's mother's age, but was really only 48.  Her arms and legs were like sticks.  She propped herself up every now and then to spit into a bucket.  She said it was ok if I examined her belly.  It was so protuberant.  I gently palpated along the sides.  Her face didn't register any pain.  I gently percussed (tapped) and it was clear that this was all fluid.  You could see a subtle fluid wave across her abdomen.  I told her family, through Abene, that there was no way of knowing what this was without her seeing a doctor and having special tests done.  My mind was full of things that I would do at home – blood tests, imaging studies, surgical consults.  I had Abene tell the family that I was going to talk to Fenel and Dr. Gabrielle about the best place for this woman to get help and that we would get an answer as quickly as possible.  They seemed pleased with that.  

 

On Monday, Abene told me that the family was ready to take her to the doctor.  The problem was, she was not going to be able to walk or take a motorcycle down the mountain.  They were going to have to carry her to near the guesthouse and rent a car to take her down.  The plan was to take her on Tuesday.  I gave him money to help with renting the vehicle and any other expenses that it would help cover.  Early Tuesday morning, Abene and other family members carried Sintimise on a mattress and a door from her home, down the mountain, to the waiting vehicle.  They took her to a hospital in St Marc and she was admitted for evaluation and treatment.  

At the end of the week, Abene told us that the doctors had put in a tube and drained 2 buckets of fluid from her abdomen.  However, the doctor said there was nothing else they could do for her.  She had waiting too long.  I told Abene that I was so sorry to hear this news.  

Two weeks after we came home from Desab, I heard from our in-country director that Sintimise had died at home.  

Sintimise's family's home was about a 15 minute walk from the clinic.  If she had chosen to go to the clinic, Dr. Gabrielle would have been able to refer her on to a higher level of care for evaluation.  The outcome still may have been the same for her.  Interacting with Sintimise and her family was a reminder for me both of the many health problems that people in this region face and of the great need for more accessible health care.  What we are doing is important.  I am honored to be a part of it.  If you are reading this, please consider joining us.  Help us change lives in the Cabaret region of Haiti.    

 

Nicole Pitzer (president)

Saturday
Nov082014

A Family Visit

 

I have just returned from my third trip to Haiti and once again, I’m humbled beyond all measure.  The most joyous event for me was being reunited with a young boy that stole my heart on the first trip 3 years ago.  His name is Masineau (spelling is creative) and he was walking his younger brother Woodlove to school.  He was not attending because as many large families in this remote village do, his parents had to decide which children could attend this year due to limited resources.  I asked him if he wanted to go and if he’d commit to being there consistently and he said yes.  I told him that I would see what could be done.  That was all he needed to hear, and the next day he arrived with his brother in uniform and him in his best clothes!  So….I walked him to school! 

Later that day he asked if we would come to his house, like we had before.  His family had moved to the other side of the mountain to the village of Cajun, which is quite a trek.  I love a challenge though, so in the company of Julie Rumo and Jenout our interpreter, we set off on somewhat of a difficult hike.

We arrived at their home and were greeted by several extended family members.  Masineau’s step Dad, Duvall was there along with two of his younger siblings.  His mother was not there at first because she was seeking medical care several hours away by foot.  Duvall was a striking gentleman who was happy to talk with us.  We spoke about both boys going to school and he was very happy and grateful.  We learned that he is a farmer by day, and a trained birth attendant when needed.   He was trained by Americans at Real Hope for Haiti years ago.  He sees some of the women during the pregnancy as well as at the time of delivery, and is paid whatever the family can afford.  I got the sense that payment could include bartering with some families.  I was curious if he had delivered his own children and indeed he had!  He said that one of his biggest challenges is replenishing supplies for his birth kit.  His hillside location looks down over a beautiful valley and out at the mountains.  He sees the village where we work, Desab, as being the city!  

His wife returned while we were talking and recognized us from long ago!  She was thrilled to see us and grateful for what we were doing for her son.   She was delighted to pose for photos with her children.  They love seeing themselves on the screen afterward, and the smile that lit her face made the whole trip worthwhile.   

 I am blessed beyond measure to spend time with these beautiful, people.  It is a resounding wake-up call that reminds me to be grateful for every blessing in my life.  There is so much joy in their hearts even though their daily life is a struggle.  The children in this family are sweet and gentle.  We left feeling more blessed than they were, and with an armload of huge avocados!  Now THAT was the cherry on top!

 

Friday
Oct242014

Connections/Koneksyons – Part 1

As we travel through life we make connections with people, some are just casual while others are much more intimate.  In my travels to Haiti, I have made many connections some more intimate than others.  However, all are unique.  One specific connection I made was with Elisile, although short, it was none the less very different, unique and life changing.
I first met Elisile one afternoon on her return from the market.  Elisile was somewhere between 60 and 70 years old, but no one knew for sure.  I heard hear coming up the steep hillside on the way to her small stone hut made of dried mud, sticks and anything else she could find to keep her safe from the harsh elements of the Haiti seasons.  She sounded awful.  Her breathing was very labored and we assumed she had asthma or a pulmonary disorder.  I could not let this woman continue up the mountain alone, so I helped her to her home, unpacked her donkey and tied her goats up for her.  Although there was a definite language barrier, we totally connected.  I spent time with her to make sure she had some food and water.  I remember running down to the bakery and buying her a couple of loaves of bread and filling a 2 liter water bottle for her.  She had very little that she survived on each day.  The money she made at the market selling pasta, pate and candy afforded her a very modest living, earning enough money each day to just survive.

(Elisile’s donkey)
For the next four days, I met Elisile at her house around 7:00 AM, loaded up her market wears and we headed down the mountain to set up her goods for sale.  I periodically checked on her throughout the day to make sure she had everything she needed, some shade from the excruciating Haitian sun and water to keep her hydrated.  Promptly at 4:00 pm each afternoon, I would pack up her donkey, put her up on it’s back and we would trek up the mountain to her house.  There I would unpack her goods and make sure she was settled in with food and drink for the night.  I often stayed and listened to her talk about her son and daughter, vaguely making out a few words here and there.  I came to truly enjoy our time together each day.
The very cool thing is that by the end of the week, several young men started helping me in the afternoon with her gear.  This was significant because they had never helped her before.  I like to think that they saw me each day help her and they felt obligated to help as well.  Needless to say when it was time to say “goodbye”, we both cried when we said our farewell.  This was the most difficult time I have had leaving our friends in Desab.

(Elisile wanted to come with me)
During the past year, I often thought about her.  Wondering how she was doing.  Did she ever get the help we had recommended she get?  I prayed she would go live with her daughter in Cabaret because she needed the assistance.  Her pulmonary disorder was severe and I was afraid she would not be able to live on her own much longer.
Flash forward to October 2014.  I distinctly remember waking up on Monday, October 6th in the middle of the night with Elisile on my mind.  I was just told a few weeks earlier that she in fact did go live with her daughter in Cabaret and she was doing well.  I had already made up my mind that I would seek her out on my upcoming trip.  Well, on Tuesday October 7th, I was notified by my good friend Fenel Jean that Elisile had passed away.  My heart was very heavy with sorrow because I never got to see her again.  Although I thought about her and prayed for her daily, I so wanted to see her again.
It was not until I arrived in Desab on October 11th that I learned she thought about me often as well.  I met her son and he told me that she asked every day when was “Paul” coming back?  I keep going back to that Monday night when I woke up from a sound sleep with her on my mind.  I truly believe Elisile came to me that night in my sleep to say “Goodbye”.  Although I never got to see her again, I believe that the connection we made the week of October 2013 will last a life time.  I miss this woman that I barely knew, but will always have the memories of our short time together.
So my words to you are – never discount the connections you make throughout your life.  God puts people in our path for reasons we cannot explain, but we must trust that He knows why. 

Elisile, you are still with me every day and I pray you are in a place of comfort and happiness.  You will never know how much you touched my life.  Thank you, and God bless, until we meet again!!

(My friend, Elisile’s, final resting place)

 

 

Sunday
Apr132014

Money and Stuff

Our next trip to Desab is looming in the near future – just 3 weeks away! We've been planning our projects and schedule and are excited about what this trip will hold. As we get close to our travel dates, we hear a lot of, “Is there anything you need for this trip?” I will tell you right now that the answer to that question is always, “Yes.”

 

There is a standing list of stuff that we will always take with us on trips: over the counter medicines, baby blankets and onsies to name a few. We usually put together a list of stuff that is more trip or project specific. Dr. Gabrielle will also request specific things when she knows we are coming to Desab. You can be on the lookout for some of these items soon. And now that we are hitting yard sale season, we will put together a list of great yard sale finds that we can take with us for the clinic and the community.

 

People love to get stuff. People love to give stuff. We at Stone by Stone love these things, too. We love receiving donations and being able to take them to Desab to give to the clinic or various families. It's a great way for us to show the community that our community here in the United States cares about them. Stuff is good. But in many ways, money is better. Hang in there with me for a few minutes while I explain why.

 

Our primary mission as Stone by Stone is to provide quality, consistent and sustainable healthcare for the villages that we serve. We have committed to employing a clinic staff to provide direct healthcare for the area. The clinic needs to be stocked with medicines. It needs a bathroom and many other renovations. All of these things require money.

 

There are pros and cons to both money and stuff...

 

Stuff Pro:

  • Allows us to provide for specific needs of the community

  • Less we have to buy

  • People love donating stuff

Money Pro:

  • Pays the staff's monthly salaries

  • Buys medicines

  • Renovates the clinic

  • Helps support various other community projects

Stuff Con:

  • Bulky, tough to pack

  • We have to pay to take extra luggage ($40 for the first extra bag) and pay a fee if bags go over their allotted weight (>50#, $150)

  • Need lots of certain items due to the size of the community (shoes, school supplies, etc)

Money Con:

  • None

 

I hope no one misunderstands this blog post. We are so very thankful for all of the support we have received since our inception, both through money and through stuff! As you continue to look for ways to be involved with our mission, we ask that you consider supporting us financially. If this is not a possibility, we will definitely take stuff. And as always, please contact us with any questions that you may have.

 

Nicole Pitzer, SbS President

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