Our partner, Love A Child, begins each day at 4 a.m. It’s a great time of day to avoid the heat of Haiti. For Bobby and Sherry Burnette and the Love A Child mobile clinic team, they’ve been rising early for more than 25 years because once they arrive at their mission site, people will have been lined up for hours to receive medical care.
Love A Child (LAC) co-founder Sherry Burnette says “love is what you do.” Since 1991, the Burnette’s have devoted their life to loving the people of Haiti. They save lives and restore hope to entire communities, one person at a time.
Today, we visited the small village of LaTant on the banks of Etang Saumatre, the second largest lake on the island of Hispanola. A few more than a thousand people live here in one of the most impoverished areas of Haiti.
Though it was 60 miles away from the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake, aftershocks forced open underground springs causing the lake to rise more than 15 feet beyond its banks. The entire community was devastated and forced to rebuild.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, Love A Child worked with community to build a church and school, housed in the same building. It’s a simple block building with open windows and no electricity. Each month, the LAC team organizes a clinic to minister to the medical needs of the LaTant residents.
Today we saw them take care of more than 100 families in the span of four hours. This was their second day visiting the village. The previous day they took patient vitals and performed examinations for the people seeking medical attention.
Three doctors, all Haitians, visited with families and talked with them in depth about their needs. Once they completed their medical exams, the families visited with nurse educators who filled their prescriptions and explained their doctor’s orders for taking each of the medications.
Phanise Berthold, pictured in the orange scrubs, is a Haitian nurse who visits with the children and their mothers. She reviews the patient dossiers, gathers their prescriptions and carefully explains to them how to take the medicine each day to cure each illness. Each of the children have a color-coded sticker on their shirt that corresponds to their medical needs.
The families approach Phanise and she offers them a smile. She says God has given her the gift of empathy.
She says since she was a little girl she had a desire to help people heal. “I knew God had a plan for me. He wanted me to be a nurse. He gave me this desire to help people heal.”
She says the Love a Child family has become her family. She lost her father when she was in the sixth grade. “Bobby and Sherry are like my parents now. They care for me and they love the people of Haiti,” Ms Berthold said.
As the hour approaches one o’clock, the 15-member medical team begins packing up the few supplies that remain. They’re exhausted from loving more than 100 families who visited the clinic this morning. Love is what this team does.