As featured in the Citizen Times:
In the early morning hours of April 1, dozens of patients lined up outside Alpha Omega Ministry in Source Matelas, Haiti. It was Easter Sunday, and the small town’s clinic had just opened to the public for the first time.
The clinic’s director and founder, Dr. Vladimyr Roseau, has been extraordinarily busy before and since then — first with tasks to ensure the clinic was ready to open, and then to tend to actual patients, who have been filtering in nonstop since its first day.
While the Alpha Omega Ministry, known as ALOM, is still missing some crucial supplies — exam beds, a radiology unit, trauma room lighting, stretchers, anesthesia machines, infant cribs and incubators, and more — the medical facility is now able to provide basic medical care to its community in its own dedicated space for the first time.
Now, with help from Asheville residents, more advanced care is on the way for this Haitian hospital. Asheville’s Mercy Urgent Care has been visiting Haiti for the past eight years, providing volunteer medical services and supplies as part of the nonprofit’s international relief efforts.
On each “Mercy for Haiti” trip, the group cares for up to 1,000 patients from some 11 sites and 15 orphanages — all in just five days.
“Our relationship with Haiti began when we felt called to respond to the needs of the Haitian people after the devastating earthquake in January 2010,” explained Dr. Ellen Lawson, founder of the Mercy for Haiti initiative. “We just returned from our 20th medical mission trip, working with our Haitian colleagues.”
Prior to ALOM’s official opening last month, medical volunteers “have worked on tarps on the ground, in churches and in a rented house made into a clinic,” Lawson continued. But “with donations, (this) new clinic has been built.”
Asheville’s Mercy Urgent Care has led a local fundraising campaign for Alpha Omega Ministry’s remaining medical equipment, everything from the above-mentioned items to stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and lobby seating.
At a benefit show last month at Highland Brewing Company, which Haitian physician Roseau attended, Mercy Urgent Care and Asheville businesses and residents raised more than $63,000 in pledges and gifts toward the $93,050 total goal. Donations have continued to flow in since the benefit.
“God sent North Carolina to Haiti,” Roseau said of the help the region has provided. “The need (for this clinic) is palpable. The money that was invested to help my homeland and those in need (makes me) feel so blessed.”
Prior to meeting Lawson and Team Mercy, part of Roseau’s daily commute included carrying medication atop his head — for two hours — while driving his motorcycle to the nearest makeshift clinic.
With the construction of the new clinic, the medication, supplies and caring staff now have a permanent home in ALOM. With the clinic’s steady line of patients filing in and out of the offices, it’s clear that there was a desperate need for Roseau and Mercy for Haiti’s work.
“Thank you so much,” Roseau said at the benefit to both Mercy Urgent Care and the residents of Western North Carolina. Team Mercy has already shown so much love to ALOM, he said, “from buying a VW pickup truck, (which we) used as an ambulance, to helping so much on the construction project … and helping us buy medication. Thank you so, so much.”
Donations to the ALOM fundraising effort can be made online by clicking here.