Saturday, August 28, 2010

Who's who: Kez

Hello friends of Angel Missions! Vanessa has passed the blog torch to me, so from now on, blog updates will be coming from Haiti. But before I start posting about our everyday life, I wanted to introduce myself and give you a little bit of my story.

My name is Keziah Furth, but everyone calls me Kez. I am a registered nurse originally from Boston, MA, but I have lived in Holland, France and Belgium throughout my childhood and schooling. During my third year of nursing school at Northeastern University, I met a gentleman at my church who was on the board of an orphanage in Haiti. I had always felt a tug to use my foreign language skills and my nursing education in a place that truly needs help so I decided to go take a look at Haiti. It was a simple decision that utterly changed my life.

In the spring of 2006, I visited the orphanage, Hope for the Children of Haiti, in Bolosse, one of the slums of Port-au-Prince. When my short five day trip was over, one of the boys looked at me and asked, "Are you going to forget about us?" I was hooked. The next year I spent my final nursing internship at HFC, 5 months of learning Creole, teaching English, coaching sports, mentoring teens, and falling in love with the Haitian people.

I returned to the US and graduated from nursing school in 2008. Upon graduation, I moved back to Haiti, this time to a home for sick and malnourished infants and toddlers on Delmas 75. It is run by a lady named Dorothy and though it has an official name, everyone casually refers to it as Dorothy's. I helped take care of children with kwashiorkor, meningitis, AIDS, tuberculosis, and general starvation. When possible, Dorothy sends the children back to their families when they are healthy; in many cases, however, the parents are deceased or they disappear and the child just stays.

In addition to my work at Dorothy's, I took over a home health program in a ravine neighborhood in Delmas 31. A woman named Sherrie runs a school in that neighborhood and in an effort to assure that the children coming into her school are the strongest they can be, she had started a small feeding program and a medical program for the families that attend her school. With the assistance of a community health worker named Wesnal, I do rounds in that neighborhood once or twice a week, checking on kids and treating illnesses such as scabies, malaria, diarrhea, bronchitis, ringworm, asthma, allergies, and intestinal worms. I love seeing my patients at their homes, in their environment, and I love the continuity and relationships that I can develop with the families.

Much of my medical knowledge is thanks to a Physician's Assistant named Ed Amos, who I worked with whenever time permitted during my time at Dorothy's. We would see patients side by side so that I could help him with translation and so that he could help with me with medical questions. He also taught me how to perform minor surgery, a skill that has come in very handy with recent events in Haiti.

Creole-speaking medical professionals are few and far between in Haiti, so ever since moving here, I have been called upon frequently to help friends at other ministries with translation or medical clinics. I even got the opportunity to act as a dentist for a week!

Another facet of my life in Haiti is youth group at an English-speaking church on Delmas 75, Quisqueya Chapel. Depending on the time of year, the group ranges from 40 to 100 teens, some of them missionary kids and upper class Haitians, but the majority average Haitian kids. Youth group is frequently the highlight of my week, seeing teenagers who have nothing learn to praise God in the midst of it and learn to offer love and comfort to those around them.

In the spring of 2009, I was helping at the USNS Comfort when I met Vanessa Carpenter. At the time, I knew that I was going to have to leave Dorothy's because they were changing the house set up and my room would no longer be available. Vanessa heard about it and heard me speaking fluent Creole. She instantly offered me a position with Angel Missions and a few months later, I accepted.
That is how I came to be living and working at the Angel Missions office on Delmas 91 from the fall of 2009 until now. I have been able to maintain my work in the Ravine and youth group as well as be helpful to Dorothy's and HFC. In addition, I have worked on behalf of Angel Missions as a coordinator for medical missions conducted by the US Military, I oversee the Haitian side of the medical visa process, I host the Angel Missions medical teams, and I run weekly clinics at Delmas 24 with a crew of young Haitians who I am training to be community health workers.

And that's Kez in a nutshell. Hopefully this gives you enough of a background that you will understand what I'm referring to when I write but feel free to post comments or questions or to email me if something is particularly confusing or interesting. Most importantly, if you are a praying person, use the blog posts as a prayer guide. Angel Missions could not survive as a ministry without the prayers of our friends and I could not survive in Haiti. So in advance, thank you!

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