In this part of NW Haiti I often come across people who have lost limbs. For many it happened during the earthquake of 2010, if people were in areas that were badly impacted at that time. Jean Rabel felt little of the tremors but many fled north in the aftermath of the earthquake as they may have had families here and their homes were totally destroyed.
Of those who chose to move north many returned again once things settled down, but some have remained here and now call this region home.
The Religious of Jesus and Mary funded a prosthesis clinic in Port-au-Prince to help the large numbers of people who needed new limbs and supports following the earthquake but in this remote area people who lose limbs due to accidents or other events have no such facility and the cost of getting to Port-au-Prince makes the prospect impossible and they simply live out their lives coping as best they can with the hand they have been dealt.
I see many people limping or struggling with deformed feet, legs, arms or hands who have not had the chance to seek medical intervention. Having broken my ankle very badly two years ago, I am very aware of how incapacitated I would now be had I not been fortunate enough to receive excellent medical care and support both in Bosnia-Hertzegovina where the accident happened and also in Tallaght hospital in Dublin when I returned from my holiday.
I was so lucky to be able to pay for the treatment I received in Bosnia-Hertzegovina; the free assistance I received from the Malteser volunteers and the treatment I received in the public health system in Ireland.
People here in Jean Rabel have no recourse to such vital services. If they need medical treatment they must pay for it; if they don’t have the money, they simply must do without. It’s so sad to see so many people limping along when what we in the West consider a ‘simple operation’ or ‘intervention’ would fix their problem within hours.