Category Archives: Haiti

Haiti Reflections: Dylan Bengtson

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IMG_7932Dylan Bengston is a non-medical volunteer (and cousin to Blake Bengston, who we featured on the blog last summer) who traveled with LEAP on our October mission to Haiti. We caught up with him to learn more about his experience. Here’s what he had to say.

Being a part of the LEAP surgical mission to Haiti was definitely one of the most influential, eye-opening experiences of my whole life. The team I was able to work with and all of the patients were absolutely fantastic, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it. Everyone on the team was so focused and engaged in our objective while we were there, and it was incredible to learn under so many professionals. I think LEAP is an amazing organization. We were able to have a fun time while still focusing fully on whatever task was at hand. I became close with so many awesome people, and that was definitely one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. I learned so much about not only medicine but also about the people of Haiti and the country itself.

IMG_7840One of my favorite moments was seeing one young patient with a cleft lip and palate who was around 3 months old. Everyone was infatuated with his smile and spirit. and he was just the most uplifting little guy, even while he was going through a tough experience. Overall, it was amazing to see the look on all of the parents’ faces when their kids got out of surgery, and I loved being able to tell them that everything went great and just see the hope in their eyes.

The trip was different than I thought it would be in a good way. In no way at all was the atmosphere stressful or tense at any time, and everyone on the team always had a smile on their face. My heart was very touched with the impact that we were able to have and all of the lives we were able to improve.

Haiti Reflections: Emma & Chris Lamon

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Haiti - Emma with baby-1The Lamon family has been very involved with LEAP for years with three generations of support spanning across our Mission and Landmark programs. Last year, we introduced you to Jane Lamon, who served as Host Mom for beloved Landmark recipient Li Ying, as well as to her son Matt and daughter-in-law Abby. Today, we’re sharing the story of Chris (Jane’s husband) and their daughter Emma in a reflection piece on their volunteer efforts on our most recent surgical mission to Haiti.

Your family has been involved with LEAP for a number of years. What keeps you involved and active?

Chris: Doug Lamon (my dad), our families, and our Landmark organization have supported LEAP over the years. My dad partnered with Craig Hobar to help develop the Landmark Program within LEAP, and it is our desire to be able to take this support to a new level over time.

At the core of LEAP is this steadfast drive to overcome obstacles and provide efficient and caring service based on acceptance, compassion, love, and respect. Through example, this has been inspired by LEAP’s founder and carried forward by the LEAP family of volunteers and staff.

Being a part of this provides a sense of purpose, mental and spiritual health, and happiness. The opportunity to experience this is not so much a responsibility but a privilege.

It also seems like going on a LEAP trip is a bit of a rite of passage for the Lamon kids–is that a fair statement?

Chris:  My dad has experienced trips. He encouraged me to go on a trip. And our children have been on a trip with either Jane or myself and on their own.

The “rite of passage” is not so much the leaving of one group for another – but perhaps it is more about leaving one perspective behind forever for another perspective that provides a much broader understanding of purpose, responsibility, care, giving, and love.

IMG_0949What was it like going on a father/daughter trip to Haiti?

Chris: This is, by far, the best quality time I could have with Emma. We get to experience together the positive impacts of participating in the many eye-opening learnings that are part of being on a mission trip.

Emma: It was an amazing experience having the opportunity to go to Haiti with my dad. We shared a lot of experiences and learned new things together. We created a lot of memories that I will forever hold in my heart.

What was your experience like in Haiti? 

Chris: Working in a busy city in one of the poorest countries in the world leaves a big impression. It is overwhelming how much there is to do and the fact that the economic fundamentals are so broken. But the mission was not to lament those issues but to lift people up and make a positive, selfless impact. That is what I saw the team do extremely well.

What touched my heart is the concern and level of care the team demonstrated and the hope and level of trust the people demonstrated who were handing over their loved ones to the support and surgical teams.

Emma: I knew coming into the trip about the poverty in Haiti. It is one thing to know and another thing to see and experience. I knew about the earthquake, but seeing how it affects people in their day-to-day life is hard to explain.

I also found the people there to be uplifting and spirited. They are thankful for what they have. To see people be so cheerful and happy in these conditions was hard to understand and made me very thankful for my health and family.

The kids in Haiti are very strong, and I was impressed with their willingness to let us help improve their life. The Haitian people touched my heart. They are the most thankful people I have ever met. Being able to talk to them and see what they have overcome in their life and how thankful they are for LEAP touched my heart. LEAP has and continues to change many lives.

And though I was there to help change a life, mine was in turn changed dramatically.

Haiti - Emma with kidsWhat is something from this experience that you will always remember?

Emma: I will always remember the feeling of having the opportunity to scrub into a surgery and help really impact a person’s life for the better. All I could think while in the surgery was how this will impact their life forever. It was the best feeling.

I will also remember the kids and volunteers that I met on that trip. To hear their stories of how they have lived and what has occurred in their life will be with me forever.

Is there anything else you want to say or share about your experience or what you think about LEAP?

Chris: The stamina of the entire team is really something.

Emma: LEAP has changed many, many lives. What I don’t think some people understand is that having the opportunity to go on a LEAP trip will change their life forever. I have learned so much in the short 4 days of being there and the experiences I experienced will stick with me for my life.

Getting to share this with my dad and the LEAP team was a great experience, for which I am very grateful.

 

 

If You Build It, They Will Come

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_U6A4734It’s been a year since LEAP built an extended Emergency Room and Outpatient Clinic at our partner hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We asked Gladys Thomas, CEO of Hopital Espoir, how many patients have been served through this major expansion project.

We are beyond pleased to report the following:

  • Since opening in Nov. 2016, the Outpatient Clinic has served 23,626 patients
  • Since Jan. 2017, the Emergency Room has received 3,095 patients
  • The new Operating Room has had 55 surgeries since opening in April 2017

IMG_4703Each person served through these new facilities would likely not have been seen at all or been placed on an extensive waitlist.

We are grateful to Ellen and Clayton Kershaw, who funded the project, as well as to Janet and Pat Ortega, who led the construction effort.

We pray that the project will be able to serve countless others over the years, and we celebrate the efforts of the medical professionals who have brought life to the facilities to bring about this already impressive impact.

Scott Porter Captures the Heart of LEAP

By | Belize, Blog, Haiti, LEAP Stories, Mission Program, Volunteers | No Comments

scottporter profileScott Porter is a local photographer who has traveled with us this year on mission to Haiti and Belize. He’s a bit quiet and unassuming, but that’s because he’s focused on capturing the moment rather than being in it. Scott’s got an inimitable talent for capturing an entire story within a single frame. It’s always hard to explain what it’s like to be on mission, but his work represents the layers of emotion, the purity of spirit, and the sweat equity involved in the work.

We love his heart for mission, and we wanted you to get to know him a little better. He’s a pretty special human being who we’re grateful to know.

Tell a little about yourself.
Grew up in the DFW area. Went to UNT for advertising and worked as a copywriter at various ad agencies for over eight years. A few years ago, I was applying for a job as a writer at a nonprofit, and during the course of the interview, they asked what my dream job would be. The answer was to travel and take photos. And hearing myself say that out loud for the first time, I figured that if that really was my dream job, I should probably pursue it. It took a couple years of learning and growing as a photographer, but I’m finally getting to do what I love. I became a full-time freelancer in August of 2016. I still write, but I’ve been able to go on several international trips as a photographer: Guatemala twice, Haiti, and Belize.

What is it about mission work that inspires you? 
Even when I was working in advertising, I always preferred our nonprofit clients. The work I did for them felt more meaningful and more gratifying. That’s still true today. I’m not a doctor, diplomat, businessman, or educator; I have a camera and a desire and ability to go. I love what I do, and I hope the pictures I take end up making some kind of difference. Plus, it’s just really fun to be around people who are experts at what they do and are nice enough to do it to help others.IMG_2395

What was it like being part of the Haiti & Belize missions?
I really enjoyed it. I saw surgeries for the first time and was happy to find out that I’m not squeamish. I especially enjoyed meeting everyone who went on the trips and made some good friends. At the same time, I felt keenly aware that I had the least important job, but I think that was a healthy realization. I was there to play my part. And when I got tired or my feet hurt, I just realized that the same was true of everyone there, so there was really nothing to complain about – even to myself.

What have you learned about LEAP in this process? What have you learned about yourself? 
It was interesting to see the instant gratification of what LEAP does: a kid comes in with a problem, the next day he has surgery, and the problem is fixed. But that said, three days later and these surgeons have gone back to America. Some kids have to wait another year to be treated, and some kids have problems that can’t be helped through surgery at all. It can feel overwhelming because you can never help everyone. But on the other hand, you can look at a mom holding her child and know that that one surgery meant everything to them.

If you could spend time in any part of the world doing this, where would you go?
I’ve only just begun traveling, and there’s nowhere on Earth I don’t ultimately want to visit (I’ve applied for jobs in Antarctica the last two years in a row but no luck so far.). But the place I want most to work in is the Middle East. I have a heart for refugees in general but specifically Syrian refugees, and I’d love to see with my own eyes what they’re going through.

Dr. Candace Granberg Carries a Hammer for Haiti

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Dr. Granberg started a Facebook campaign called #hammerforhaiti to raise money for LEAP with the goal of $2500 before traveling to Haiti on April 20. The plan was that if she reached that goal, she would carry the heavier hammer in the fall Hammer Race on October 7. Well, she surpassed the goal and will carry that heavy hammer!

Dr. Granberg says she’s “happy to suffer/sweat/bleed/run for such a great cause” and “will try to make the Hammer Race [her] fundraiser every year.”

 We caught up with Dr. Granberg soon after the Haiti mission to learn more about her involvement with LEAP:

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Haiti: Seven Years of Hope and Healing

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haiti-2010-earthquake-dr-hobar

Dr. Craig Hobar in Haiti after the earthquake

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.

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Thanks For Giving: Non-Medical Volunteer Janet Ortega

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janet-ortega-leap_hamilton-3449Janet 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!

Haiti Honorary Expansion Project

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img_4826In 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.

img_4825This 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.

Haiti: Hurricane Matthew

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screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-9-23-10-amHurricane 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.

Haiti: Construction Team Highlights (5/5)

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img_7345Our 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!