Marie Lyne, Grace Emmanuel School nurse, leans into the hope that the resurrection brings to the sick and suffering in Haiti
As more and more territory falls under gang control in Haiti, every aspect of life is affected, making the most basic of tasks difficult, dangerous, and sometimes impossible. This includes mundane errands, like cashing a paycheck and buying groceries, as well as urgent tasks, like seeking medical care.
Access to health care has always been a challenge for low-income people in Haiti, but now the road blocks caused by armed groups have forced several hospitals to close. Many trained doctors and nurses, who were already far too few, have fled the country. Many more await their chance.
Because of the road blocks between her house and the school, even Grace Emmanuel School’s nurse, Marie Lyne, can no longer commute to the school daily, but has been forced to adopt a routine of two weeks at school, while she stays in a nearby village, and then two weeks at home in Port au Prince.
In her absence, she stays in touch with her nursing assistant, Nathalie, about student needs, but it’s not the same as being there.
When she is at school, the needs are overwhelming.
“When I saw the students for the first time in January,” she recalled, “they were eagerly waiting to share about the health problems they had been facing the last few months. There were many!”
In October and November, many students had traveled across the country, forced by gang violence in their villages to find a new place to live and a new way to survive daily struggles without the support of their communities. While on the road, their sufferings multiplied without access to nutritious food, clean water, or basic hygiene.
“One 7th grader came to me with tears in his eyes,” she shared. “He hadn’t been able to sleep because of painful lesions all over his skin. He was filled with anxiety and grief.” His situation was too complicated for Marie Lyne to relieve through the means of the school infirmary, but she was able to refer him to a clinic where he received further examination and stronger medication.
Calling for help
Because her case load is always overwhelming, Marie Lyne planned a mobile clinic for Grace Emmanuel School students on March 8 and 9. Over those two days, two local doctors came to assist Marie Lyne, Nathalie, and Thonise, a nursing student from Victory Bible Church. The team of 5 women consulted with about 250 students and 140 parents.
One by one, they listened patiently to a myriad of issues and provided appropriate solutions for relief. They treated infectious skin lesions, flu, H. Pylori, fevers, anemia and vitamin deficiencies.
“I am relieved!” announced one student who had suffered from an ailment for weeks.
The beneficiaries were grateful for the opportunity for healing, calling the clinic a blessing from the Lord.
“They are all asking when there will be another clinic,” said Marie Lyne, “because most have no other opportunity to follow up with their medical problems. The armed groups are gaining more territory day by day, and there’s nowhere to go.”
The sting of death
Lack of accessible follow up care tragically proved to be a factor in the death of one student from Grace Emmanuel School in March.
The week after the clinic, a 3-year-old kindergartener came to the nurse’s office with his mom. He had been running a high fever for several days. Marie Lyne was not there.
“Nathalie gave him fever medicine and counseled his mom to take him to the clinic to get lab work done and identify what fever he had,” Marie Lyne said.
Unfortunately, his mom waited. His fever didn’t go down, but he didn’t go to the hospital. Her precious son passed away at home on Tuesday, March 21.
The loss is hard for Marie Lyne to talk about. “I just have to say, ‘Thanks, Haiti!,’ because if I had been there, I could have visited his home while he was sick. I could have looked into why his mom wasn’t getting the exam done.”
The discouragement and grief can be overwhelming for Marie Lyne, who faces setback after setback as she tries to live out her calling to relieve the suffering of others.
With more and more of her colleagues in the medical field leaving Haiti, she worries about what will happen to those who remain.
“Sometimes I say, God knows. But sometimes, I’m scared, too. I’m very scared for the country.”
And yet… hope.
It is against this backdrop of death that the hope of resurrection life shines even more brightly this Easter week.
Death, swallowed up in victory. It is the only hope that keeps Marie Lyne going.
“Every time I look at these difficult things, I remember Jesus said He signed a contract for eternal life—He didn’t say there would be a good life down here,” said Marie Lyne. “Whenever I’m weak, I sing and I pray because I believe one day, I will live with Jesus in glory. I believe I will be resurrected with Him.”
The hope of one day living with the Lord in glory is truly the only sure hope for the entire world.
So while we join with Marie Lyne to work like crazy to relieve suffering here in any and every way we can, we also join with all those suffering around the world, engulfed by grief, and resoundingly say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”Revelation 21:3-4