Haiti as a Natural Health Aide Model to the World
by: Steven R. Frank
Two years after the earth-quake in Port-au-Prince Haiti, Two months after the Hurricane.
While the Earthquake of 2010 may seem like a distant memory in a rapidly moving society like ours, it is a day-by-day reality for the people of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It will soon be three years since the January 12th 2010, 7.0 magnitude earth quake that leveled large parts of the city and killed roughly 300,000 people. Though most of the tent-cities are gone and most of the promised aide money never arrived, the people carry-on.
I began my visit as an effort to bring some in-expensive natural health products to the local people of Haiti. My gracious hosts served cheerfully as interpreters, guides and friends. They introduced me to many Doctors, friends and family. After hurricane Isaac, hit Haiti earlier this year, there were numerous cases of Typhoid and Cholera. Haiti has historically had a problem with Tuberculosis on an on-going basis. Armed only with a large suit-case full of natural solutions to these problems, I boarded a plane bound for Port-au-Prince. What I found was that the waters of the hurricane may have dried up, but the hopes and courage of the locals had not.
The hospital is slowly being re-built but the damaged shell has not yet even been fully removed. Even though the earthquake happened almost three years ago, I saw no front-loaders, excavators and only one dump-truck at the hospital site. The old shell of the building was still standing. Where we would have razed the site and re-built the hospital in a couple of years, they were repairing the shell with what was left. There was still rubble in the streets and the parking lot. Some areas were being patched with fresh cement and block. The offices that remained standing were being used to capacity.
Most Haitians can’t even afford to go to the hospital. There is no health insurance for most of them and the minimum expense is well beyond what they have or can earn. When I asked a local whether he would present at the hospital if he had Typhoid, he said, “No. We would try drinking tea or anything else. We don’t have the $200 it would take just to get in.” When I ask, “What else do you have to try?” He just smiled that glowing Haitian smile and shrugged his shoulders. I gave him a bottle of Typhoid Relief and hoped for the best.
Driving through town, I noticed that the area of damage was indeed clearly limited to a region surrounding the fault zone. The entire city may have been shaken, but it was not entirely leveled. There were large areas where buildings were standing and doing business. There were merchants on the streets and cars, “buses” and taxis buzzing like flies. The people in the city went to the road-side clinics for medical attention when their conditions became unbearable. These clinics could really appreciate more supplies and we will try to provide them with more natural healthcare tools.
Further from the center of town and the destruction area, there were many doctors who were seeing patients on a regular basis. These doctors were true heros. They were not stacking their schedules to pay for a new Mercedes or BMW, they were seeing those in need and greeting their patients with the determination to help them heal. Though their schedules were full, they welcomed me with open arms and a willingness to learn new natural health techniques that showed a heart-felt humility which I have rarely seen in our allopathic medical world. Most of these doctors were trained in Haiti and “finished” in France. One presentation that I gave on using natural products to treat infectious disease attracted a professor from the medical school and 7 of her students. The students bombarded me with questions about how to use medicinal plants to supplement their treatments. They were particularly interested in using this knowledge when they went out into the hills surrounding the port to treat the rural Haitians. These were soon-to-be MDs with a burning desire to incorporate natural healthcare into their every treatment.
There are millions of people in Haiti who have a long rich culture of natural healing. Most of us think of the Hollywood representation of Vodoo ceremonies with drums and chants directed to bring misfortune for others. But truth-be-told, most of the ceremonies are to cure illness in others. Haitians cling to their natural healthcare heritage even as more and more of them move to the cities. They have not been brain-washed into believing that they can only be helped with “pharmaceutical poisons” (their words… not mine). We owe them the gift of sharing our natural products with them as they share theirs with us. Haiti is a land rich in spirit, history and strong organic attachment to the land. We can support this with our love of natural products and relieve them of their dependence upon narrow-minded western medicine.
While my visit was short, I was able to open valuable channels through which we can pour natural health products and know that they will end up in the hands of the people who need them. Enabling the doctors there to treat Typhoid, Cholera, Tuberculosis and many common problems with simple natural solutions will empower them to help the people that they love.
Though I am blessed with a small natural health care products company to supply me, I was only able to bring a hundred pounds of products to share with the people of Haiti. Even so, with their new knowledge and future resources, I hope to open the flood-gates of Natural Health Aid to this beautiful Caribbean island. Haiti can serve as a model for Natural Health Aide to the world.
In those famous words, I promise to my new Haitian friends... "I'll be back." But next time, I hope to be flying-in pallets of product.