Crosby, Minnesota, in the scenic Brainerd lakes area is a long way both geographically and economically from the dusty town of Pignon, Haiti.
However for two decades, Dr. Paul Severson, a Crosby-area resident has used his community as a base to organize medical missions to the Caribbean nation.
Right after Thanksgiving, Severson and his volunteer team head to Pignon to expand their medical mission. Here he is in a photo I snapped during a visit a couple weeks ago at the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby.
You can hear more about the work of Severson and the charity he founded, Project Haiti, in my Minnesota Sounds and Voices report this afternoon as part of All Things Considered.
The earthquake two years ago put Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest nation, in the headlines and unleashed a stream of promised donations from outsiders totaling more than $1.5 billion.
Various news accounts report a good share, but by no means all of the promised help, has arrived.
Severson reports, based on his observations, that in spite of the country’s deep corruption a fair amount of the money appears to have been put to good use.
However Minnesota-based Project Haiti’s story goes far beyond one time generosity.
Severson and hundreds of other volunteers have helped to build a hospital in Pignon. They’ve also trained staff for the facility.
Their newest front includes the volunteer help of Sartell-based urologist Dr. Henri Lanctin.
Lanctin is training Haitian doctors to repair vesicovaginal fistulas. This condition afflicts women who have complicated or unsuccessful births, and the resulting incontinence often causes others to shun the women.
Another new Project Haiti effort will incorporate broadband for video links with U. S. medical professionals who can train the next generation of Haitian doctors and nurses.