Last week, Teresa Price and her family were wrapping up a holiday visit with family in Minnesota. Today, they’re trying to figure out how to tend to the people who are coming to their mission in Haiti for help in the wake of the earthquake. They arrived back in Haiti in time to stop in Port au Prince for some groceries and then drive the 20 miles west to their Christianville Mission in Gressier. Then the ground started shaking.
Teresa is a physician’s assistant. Her husband, Ryan, is an optometrist, her sister, Sara Thompson, told me this afternoon. “All the missionaries survived,” she said,” and they started seeing patients. They created a triage area in the yard and worked until 5:30 a.m. Teresa took a half-hour break and then she worked until 5 p.m., when they ran out of supplies.”
And that’s the problem. The people are still coming, but the shed where medical supplies were located was destroyed. “It’s the only clinic in the area,” Thompson said. “All the aid is going to Port au Prince and a lot of the people outside of the city are being ignored.”
When the earthquake struck, the family back in the Midwest was unable to find anyone with the Christianville Mission’s board in the States to tell them what was going on. “We were frustrated,” Thompson said. “My mother found the cellphone number for one of the board members and she called it and she started yelling at the board member. It turned out the reason the board hadn’t been in touch is that they had gone on a short-term trip to Haiti.”
“‘Wait a minute,'” Thompson says the man told her her mother. “‘We’re in Haiti and I’m standing right next to your daughter.'”
It’s the only working cellphone in the area. The couple are able to get one e-mail message out a day, and have been able to post an update on their blogs.
“We set up shop at the church, which was still standing, although it had some concerning cracks in its outer walls,” Teresa Price wrote on hers. “Jim and I, with the help of the team, sutured people and splinted fractures. Jim performed some amputations. Jen delivered a baby in a pew. A woman died of blood loss as she was lying in front of the altar. Almost everyone had a story of a loved one that was lost. Ryan was busy attending to our house, which suffered flood damage.”
Abe Sauer, a columnist for The Awl, has helped publicize their plight. Earlier today, he wrote:
Christian non-profit organization Agape has gathered supplies and has a plane and has agreed to fly to Port-au-Prince with supplies specifically for the makeshift OR in Gressier. But without a helicopter to get the supplies the few more miles from Port to Gressier, the stuff might as well be sitting in Poughkeepsie.
Thompson reports that earlier today, one truck has made it through with enough fuel and food for two weeks.
“Do they want to stay or do they want to get out?” I asked.
“I kind of think that changes,” Thompson said. “My sister would like to stay; she’s been there for nine years. It’s her home. Her husband has only been there two years and they’ve got a baby. It’s a discussion they’re going to have to have.”
(Photo: A church door was used as a stretcher at the Christianville Mission in Haiti. Photo by Ryan Price.)