Hope Out of the Rubble

updated 04/12/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/12/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

A FAMILY'S MISSION: CARE FOR THE SICK

THE VANDERPOOLS: DAVID, LAURIE, DAVID JR., JOHN MARK AND JACKLYN

Brigitte Emmanuel saw the woman in the tent near hers fall ill and die from a mysterious illness and prayed her daughters Ayala, 9, and NaTisha, 7, would survive. Brigitte, 29, and her girls were among thousands of families whose homes were destroyed in the Jan. 12 quake and who were now living in temporary settlements with no running water, human waste everywhere and mosquitoes filling the air. Last month Brigitte learned an American medical team was providing free care in a former church. Watching Ayala and NaTisha cry as they got tetanus and diptheria vaccines, Brigitte felt her own tears-of relief-flow. "They are saving the lives of my children," she told a vistor. "They are angels."

The leaders of that life-saving team: a single family. David Vanderpool, 50-a vascular surgeon from Brentwood, Tenn.-his wife, Laurie, 51, and their three children (David Jr., 22, John Mark, 18, and Jacklyn, 16) don't take beach vacations. Instead they run temporary medical clinics in war-torn and impoverished countries like Iraq, Honduras and South Africa. These days their mission is Haiti. "We go to places that need our help," Dr. Vanderpool says of their recent 10-day stint, when they saw 2,000 patients. "Haiti is the place where we can really be helpful now."

It all started with Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Dr. Vanderpool was getting ready to volunteer in New Orleans when David Jr. asked why victims didn't evacuate. "I realized," Dr. Vanderpool says with characteristic intensity, "he had no idea what it was like to be so poor you can't afford to leave. So I said, 'Pack your bags.'" Shortly afterward, Dr. Vanderpool founded the nonprofit Mobile Medical Disaster Relief, which raises funds through grants and donations and has provided care to some 50,000 people.

This recent trip to Haiti was Dr. Vanderpool's second. He first arrived with his sons just two days after the quake. Working in a clinic on the border town of Jimani, Dominican Republic, Dr. Vanderpool performed emergency amputations-sometimes without anesthesia-while his sons whispered comforting words to patients in unfathomable pain. This time the focus was preventive care: Dr. Vanderpool did some surgeries but also checked wounds, treated infections and looked for signs of tetanus. Laurie, an accountant, administered first aid. The boys, supervised by their dad, gave vaccines; Jacklyn staffed the pharmacy, dispensing medications and lollipops. "I love doing this," says David Jr., a senior at Abilene Christian University. "You help someone-the results are immediate."

So was the gratitude as the family accepted hugs from emotional patients-none more so than Brigitte, who clasped David Jr.'s hand as she softly and repeatedly said, "Thank you." But the Vanderpools say they gain more than they give. "We bond as a family through this work," Jacklyn says. "I see my parents save lives and know I helped. That's what it's all about."

• MMDR.ORG

HEALTH CRISIS

340,000

Seriously injured

1.75 MILLION

People without running water

1.95 million

People without electricity

SOURCE: WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

MAKING AMPUTEES FEEL WHOLE AGAIN

JENNIFER WATTERS, 28

Jennifer Watters places a wrap around the stump that had been 21-year-old Lundia Jacques' lower right leg. "Keep it tighter at the bottom," Watters counsels Lundia, whose dreams of becoming a flight attendant were shattered when, while she was ironing, "my house fell on me."

Few images capture a country's agony better than the dozens of men, women and children with missing limbs who line up every day at the makeshift clinic Watters runs for the nonprofit Handicap International. And few people represent the outpouring of kindness that has flowed into Haiti better than Watters, a gregarious volunteer physical therapist who saw images of the quake on the news and thought, "God put this in front of me." Never having been to a disaster zone, she quit her hospital job in Alexandria, Va., and arrived on March 3 in Port-au-Prince for a three-month stint.

These days she rises at 7 a.m., splitting her time between the clinic and tent cities, treating patients and training local staff. Every Sunday she attends mass outside the ruins of a once-glorious cathedral. "I cry a lot there," she says. "That [Haitians] can be surrounded by destruction and yet sing and have a sense of peace....It gets to you."

• HANDICAP-INTERNATIONAL.US

A NATION'S PAIN

3,000

Estimated amputations (arms, legs, hands, fingers and toes) after the quake

1,500

Haitians in need of artificial limbs

SOURCE: HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL

A FRIGHTENED BOY'S SEARCH FOR HOME

BECKY CHANDLER, 31, AND EDITH PHILISTIN, 31

Carl (whose name has been changed to protect him from child traffickers) was playing soccer with friends outside his house when the ground began to tremble beneath him. "I lost all my family," the 8-year-old says through a translator, in a barely audible monotone. "My mami, papi, brother Dji and sister Kilite."

That was all the shell-shocked boy could recall when Edith Philistin, a caseworker for the International Rescue Committee, set out March 5 to find out for certain whether Carl's family really had perished and, if so, to find relatives to care for him. "The first time I met him, he was shaking," she says.

Gradually however-with help from Philistin and Velise, 38, the woman who found Carl wandering the streets and has since become his foster mom-Carl is beginning to remember bits and pieces of his life. He told Philistin the name of his school and-accompanied by her and Becky Chandler, an IRC emergency child protection coordinator-visited the site, now being used as a base by Italian soldiers doing relief work. "My mom used to pick me up on the driveway," he told the women. They hope to interview his former teacher when the school reopens.

Sadly Carl's case is just 1 of 263 that Chandler and her staff are juggling, and child-abuse and potential trafficking cases get priority. Right now Carl is safe with his foster family, even loved. "We play soccer and go for walks," says his foster brother Hans, 19. "He is more than a brother for me." But time is running out: Carl's foster dad Saint Louis, 51, a security guard, lost income when the building he guarded collapsed, and the family fears they simply can't afford to keep Carl much longer. "I'm worried," Philistin says. "Every time I've come to see him, he looks so sad. He just stands with his arms crossed, looking up at the sky."

• THEIRC.ORG

DISPLACED KIDS

2 MILLION

Children traumatized, injured or homeless after the quake

600

Documented cases of children separated from their families. Experts believe there are thousands more undocumented separations

SOURCES: SAVE THE CHILDREN AND INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE

A TEACHER BRINGS ORDER TO YOUNG LIVES IN CHAOS

MIREILLE MARCELIN, 45

On a hillside outside Port-au-Prince, Mireille Marcelin eyes a group of stragglers-girls in crisp dresses and white bobby socks, a few clutching notebooks-as they amble up a muddy path at 7:30 a.m. on a recent Thursday. "Depechez-vous [hurry up]!" she calls out in her good-natured rasp.

Even though her family's home was destroyed, Marcelin got Bazilo Ecole Communautaire up and running just two weeks after the quake. Waiving tuition and welcoming students from destroyed schools to her private elementary, she's nearly drained her life's savings just buying food for the 133 children. But she wouldn't have it any other way: "Many of these kids lost parents and homes," Marcelin says. "They needed someone to restore peace and order."

Because the building was damaged, classes are held outside. Working without pay, teachers drill students in French and math, using donated books and rare, precious pencils. At lunch, chalkboards become tables, and Marcelin dishes out spaghetti and rice before kids head home to the uncertainty of another evening. Proud parents fetch water to keep their kids freshly scrubbed and donate to the school's supply. "I am so happy my daughter can go to school," says Marie Pierre, 38, mother of Marlie, 6. Adds Marceille Mica, 10: "My house was destroyed. My family lives in a tent. But I like school. Madame Marcelin is like our mommy."

• SAVETHECHILDREN.ORG

SHUTTERED SCHOOLS

5,000

Schools destroyed or damaged

FEWER THAN 10

Approximate schools reopened

SOURCES: UNICEF AND SAVE THE CHILDREN

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