It has been 7 years since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. Its epicenter was a mere 16 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Hundreds of thousands lost their lives, and those who survived lost nearly everything else.
On Day 4 after the quake, accompanied by Drs. Ale and Ian Mitchell, LEAP Founder Dr. Craig Hobar worked around the clock, amputating gangrenous limbs and repairing facial injuries of victims pulled from the rubble in Port-au-Prince.
LEAP then sent rotating surgical teams for 6 months, during which time we developed a close partnership with locally based Hopital Espoir and saw the extreme need for continued surgical care beyond our disaster relief efforts.
Sweet Cerys shouts for joy in Harare Children’s Hospital, where we not only offer surgical assistance but also education and training to healthcare providers based there. The joyful nature of the children in Zimbabwe is truly something to behold and inspires our teams to keep working hard, despite the long hours.
Cyndi Banish’s MBA with expertise in Project Management in Health Care has been invaluable to LEAP through her weekly service in our warehouse. She has done an amazing job helping us get more organized with improved processes. Her natural ability to manage our medical supplies and equipment at every stage has created efficiencies that enable our surgical mission teams to do their best work on the ground. Her efforts may not be seen by many, but they are felt by all.
As a longstanding patient of Dr. Hobar’s and all-around impressive young man, Brian Buckenham selected LEAP as his Eagle Scout project at the age of 14. Through a garage sale and fundraising efforts, he raised $3,300 to buy and assemble post-op totes for all of LEAP’s mission patients for one year. Brian–a senior at St. Mark’s in Dallas and co-captain of the Robotics team–has continued this work far beyond that initial project, providing comfort and care to more than 1,000 for the past 2.5 years. He also helps us on warehouse workdays and at events, and he traveled with LEAP on a surgical mission to Belize in 2014.
“While I was in Belize, I saw a baby brought into the operating room still holding a yellow smiley-face ball that I included in one of the post-op care totes,” Brian reflects. “Then seeing the baby come out of surgery with a brand-new smile made a big impact on me.”
Do you know the origins of our Landmark Program? When we first started doing mission trips, we soon learned there were some special children who required care beyond what was safe to perform in their home countries. Despite our desire to help, without a funding source, that would not have been impossible. When he heard about the need, Doug Lamon generously committed to provide the necessary financial resources to heal these children. Thanks to him, we’ve brought more than 40 children to the U.S. for extensive surgical repair(s). Doug’s family has become highly involved in the organization as well.
Jane Lamon has been involved with LEAP as both a medical mission volunteer and a host mom for the Landmark Program. She most recently opened her beautiful home to our beloved Li Ying for her final surgery after 10 years of being treated by Dr. Hobar. Regarding being a host mom, “It’s about being simple,” says Jane, “and understanding that we’re here to help one another.”
Matt is the youngest of three generations of Lamons who have been actively involved with LEAP. Matt first went on a mission trip with his mom, Jane, to Laos when he was a teenager. He was so inspired by the humanitarian aspect of medicine that he decided to go to medical school.
Matt is now married and finishing up medical school with the goal of practicing emergency medicine. His wife, Abby, also volunteers with LEAP and will graduate from PA school soon. “It’s cool seeing LEAP’s involvement in three generations of my family—hopefully more to come,” says Matt. “I think it goes to show anyone can get involved with this kind of work if you’ve got a willing heart.”
Dallas-based pediatric anesthetist Phuong Luong is a rockstar team lead in the mission field, where she trains and mentors new medical volunteers to help grow our future leaders. She also keeps track of our supplies in the warehouse; she inventories, packs, and secures donations of much-needed equipment and medical supplies. She is kind, hardworking, and cool under pressure–and she uses those skills to bless our patients in countless ways.
Over the past four years, Phuong has participated on 18 medical mission trips to the following locations:
Haiti – 9 trips
India – 3 trips
DR – 1 trip
Zimbabwe – 3 trips
Belize – 2 trips
Total distance traveled – 146,688 miles
Thank you, Phuong, for your globe-trotting giving heart!
Janet Ortega has an endless capacity to give, and she does so through LEAP in many ways. She has traveled once to Zimbabwe and five times to Haiti on LEAP mission trips, where she brings food, clothing, and Bibles for the families we treat. She and her husband Pat also led the Pediatric Ward build in 2014 as well as the recent OR, ER, and Outpatient Clinic construction in honor of the Hobars’ 25 years of service through LEAP at our host hospital in Port-au-Prince. Last year, she hosted our Landmark recipient Neisha as a host mom. We are grateful for her humanitarian heart!
In 2014, one of our greatest highlights was giving witness to another beautiful unfolding prayer as to how God uses us in extraordinary ways to bless others. As many of you may know, Janet and Pat Ortega took on the charge of leading and building a 2,000 sq. ft. Pediatric Ward at our partner hospital in Haiti, Hopital Espoir, which has benefited thousands of impoverished children living in this dense geographic region.
This September, LEAP once again sent a construction team, led by the Ortegas, to Haiti to build an Emergency Room with an Operating Room and Recovery Rooms, along with a new 2,500 sq. ft. Outpatient Clinic. Several months of planning went into this project, which served as an expansion of the Pediatric Ward. The project was completed just in time for our 25th anniversary Gala that included a surprise honorary award presentation at the event.
To honor Robin and Craig Hobar and their quarter-century of humanitarian service, this recent legacy project was specially funded by Ellen and Clayton Kershaw. The Kershaws wanted to recognize the Hobars’ outstanding commitment to helping children receive free surgical care in the most remote regions of the world. This weekend, our medical mission team took part in a dedication to celebrate the hope of healing, made possible by the hearts and hands of our amazing construction team and the Kershaws’ tremendous generosity.
Hurricane Matthew has weighed heavily on our hearts at LEAP. Forces of nature seem to be a constant cause of worry and devastation for the Haitian people. When the 2010 earthquake hit, we devoted every resource we had to aid in international disaster relief. It is what inspired us to start our International Disaster Relief program. We will soon travel to Port-au-Prince via our Mission Program with both joy at the new Emergency Room that we recently built at Hopital Espoir and sorrow for all that was lost in the western edge of Haiti in this latest weather event. Please join us in praying for those who lost loved ones, their homes and their sense of place. May they feel the mighty presence of God’s love.
Our construction team traveled home on Saturday, September 24. This team put their hearts and souls into this project, all to honor the work that Robin and Dr. Craig Hobar began in 1991. Janet and Pat Ortega led our construction team on this expanded project and the Pediatric Ward project in 2014.
These legacy projects enable our host hospital to provide optimal medical and surgical care that will bless the lives of countless children, their families, and neighbors living in the Port-au-Prince area. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank the Ortegas and all who were involved — what an amazing humanitarian construction team!