Jean is a hard-working, devoted 29-year old husband and father with a smile that can light up a room. From the first moment our volunteer mental health specialists met him, they could tell that this was a man full of potential to do great things for his family, community, and country. However, Jean found himself facing what felt like another seemingly insurmountable obstacle in his life that has made his future dreams seem impossible. He prided himself on his welding prowess. He never had a lot, but he made sure his wife and children had food and that he had enough money to send his children to school. He now lay in a hospital bed in a hot, crowded trauma ward surrounded by the uncomfortable sights, sounds, and smells of people healing (and some dying) from things like motorcycle accidents, burns, cancer, and starvation.
By the time the Espere team arrived, Jean had already been transferred from two other hospitals, each time moving farther and farther from his three young children until he finally arrived at OFATMA Trauma Hospital in Port-au-Prince, about five hours away from his home and family, and not knowing when he would ever see them again. He feared for the well-being for his children. He worried about how they would get money to buy food now that he wasn't working. He worried about the toll it was putting on his wife who was now responsible to run the home on her own while at the same time making sure he had had food, bedding, medicine, and bandages he needed for his hospital stay. He explained that he didn't have time to worry about himself, and was in a way grateful for the distraction from remembering the night of the mugging, the sound of the gunshot, the pain throughout his body, and the news that he may never walk again. He said that those memories mostly come at night in the forms of nightmares or unrelenting thoughts that race through his mind as he tries to fall asleep. He tells us that each day it gets harder and harder to smile.
For more than two years our Espere team has spent time each week talking with Jean and hundreds more men and women also facing their own tragedies. Our team members sit by the bedside of patients like him to listen, support, and accompany them on the journey of physical and mental healing. Our team talks with patients about the challenges of being in the hospital, validates the spectrum of emotions they feel, teaches about normal reactions to trauma and illness, and encourages various healthy coping strategies to help work through the problems. Not only do we see miracles happen like Jean not only finding his smile, but now going to the bedside of others around him to offer comfort and support. By validating emotions and offering coping techniques, our team is able to help Jean and others like him address their unique challenges with renewed peace and optimism. The hospital staff regularly notices a marked improvement in the recovery of patients who meet with our team.
Up until now, the program has been completely volunteer run. Espere members volunteer their time and sometimes their own resources to travel to the hospital and provide their technical services to those who need them. However, this means that sometimes the service is interrupted when personal funds are insufficient to cover the cost of transportation to get to the hospital.
Our goal for Giving Tuesday 2016 is to raise $2,000 to cover basic costs and even give small stipends to our staff for the 2017 fiscal year. We will be able to give small weekly stipends to our mental health workers, our director managing the program, and fund monitoring and evaluation. We will be able to provide essential transportation coverage for the year, and cover the cost of printing program materials (For more details, see our proposed program budget attached below). With even basic funding, we could ensure that the program runs consistently and better monitor the program’s effectiveness.
We hope you will join us in spreading hope and peace of mind.
[The above is based on a true story. In the interests of confidentiality, identifying details have been changed].