We heard their stories full of unimaginable hardships, including tragic deaths of family members and even near-death experiences for themselves. Through all the oppression that these people have faced they have pushed forward; they continue to work hard everyday to provide for themselves and their families.
On Tuesday we toured Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE and were able to shadow/work with some of the nurses in the different wards. Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE consists of a non-profit, educational hospital, which is funded by a for profit, income-based clinic and donors. This hospital not only provides much needed care for the poor, but it is also known for its education and training of Cambodian health care professionals. Sihanouk has created sustainability because of the quality care that the hospital provides and because the hospital has been able to expand by developing educated health care professionals.
The temples at Angkor Wat were a reminder of the strength of Cambodia. Even though there has been destruction of the temples, they have survived. The temples represent the marvel in Cambodia that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge could not destroy. The temples were also a reminder that there is restoration in store for the people of Cambodia.

Just days before Hurricane Matthew ripped through Haiti, Steve Taylor, Lipscomb’s filmmaker-in-residence in the College of Entertainment & the Arts, was among 12 state leaders including former U.S. Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, MD; founder and president of Thistle Farms Becca Stevens; and actor and author Kimberly Williams-Paisley; to tour Haiti focusing on humanitarian efforts supported by U.S. governmental funding.

Steve Taylor

Beginning Sept. 25 and ending Sept. 27, Hope Through Healing Hands, a Nashville-based global health organization, teamed up with CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, to provide a learning tour to Haiti with faith-based influencers to see how vital U.S. investments and partnerships are in improving health outcomes for women as well as their families and communities.  

Within the three-day trip, delegates saw firsthand the role that U.S. investments play in building healthier, stronger and more resilient communities through health care services. These crucial health care services include pre- and post-natal care, nutrition counseling, healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies through family planning, and access to a variety of other health interventions, such as community health worker counseling and low-cost health insurance.

Since 1954, Haiti has worked to rebuild its country from Hurricane Hazel, as well as a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010, which together killed over 300,000 people.

“Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and the country can’t seem to catch a break,” said Taylor. “Barely a week had passed since we left before Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti with deadly force. As bad as things are, they would be so much worse if it wasn’t for assistance and partnerships with organizations like CARE, USAID and many others, including a lot of faith-based NGOs.”

During the trip, Taylor says the team visited a number of health clinics and hospitals throughout Port-au-Prince and the Central Plateau regions of Haiti. They also met with partner organizations from the U.S., such as Project Medishare and J/P HRO, as well as Haitian women and community health agents to learn more about the successes and challenges they may encounter.

“We toured everything from health clinics and hospitals to microfinance co-ops,” said Taylor. “It’s hard not to be overwhelmed with the needs in Haiti, but I like the fact that Senator Frist’s organization starts with the word Hope.”

They also spent time with CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Association program, which helps women save and generate money in hopes that they will one day use the funds to generate small businesses and critical health services for their families.

Taylor said he has enjoyed sharing his experience with his students at Lipscomb, especially his visit to a microfinance co-op.

“One of the most impactful visits was to a microfinance co-op made up of about a dozen poor women who pool their resources, loan each other small amounts of money at a low interest rate, then work as a group to help each other become self-sufficient and insure the loans get repaid,” said Taylor. “CARE has created over 40,000 of these Village Savings and Loans Associations throughout the developing world with over 1 million total members, and it’s having proven success.”

Taylor, who is a filmmaker, writer, producer and recording artist, was asked to be part of this trip because of his long activism and sustained interest in global health including HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty, and maternal and child health. He also had the opportunity to photograph and film the tour for public pieces that will be released within the coming months. 

“As a prominent thought leader in the Christian community, his voice and credibility on the issues provide a gravitas to inform and educate people of faith the critical importance of funding for vulnerable populations around the world,” said Jenny Dyer, executive director for Hope Through Healing Hands.

“This learning tour to Haiti provided the opportunity for the delegation to trace USAID funding to specific women and children who were beneficiaries of healthcare and vaccinations because of our tax dollars. These are critical, life-saving investments, which provide a foundation of care for millions. These investments are crucial to provide sustained efforts to mitigate the affects of disasters, like Hurricane Matthew.”

Other participants of CARE’s September 2016 Learning Tour to Haiti include: Jenny Dyer, executive director, Hope Through Healing Hands; Cathleen Falsani, religion journalist, columnist and author; Tracy Frist, wwner, Sinking Creek Farm; Jennifer Grant, writer; Rachael Leman, senior director of citizen advocacy, CARE USA; Jo Saxton, director, 3DM; Meredith Walker, producer/executive director of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls; Tom Walsh, Senior program officer, Global Policy and advocacy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Corinne Williams-Anderson, education management Professional/CARE USA Advocate; and Rita Wray, vice president, E3 Vanguard/CARE USA Advocate.

About CARE

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Last year CARE worked in 90 countries and reached more than 72 million people around the world. For more information visit: www.care.org/.

About Hope Through Healing Hands

Hope Through Healing Hands is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 whose mission is to promote improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace. Through the prism of health diplomacy, Hope Through Healing Hands seeks sustainability through health care service and training. This includes efforts for maternal, newborn & child health; healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies; clean water; extreme poverty; emergency relief; and global disease such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. For more information visit: www.hopethroughhealinghands.org

This article originally appeared on Lipscomb.edu.

Collectively, our whole country seems to be in the hold of a mild depression—or perhaps it’s not so mild after all. Our hearts break for the plight of Syrian refugees. We’re shocked by the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. We grieve that our children must routinely practice lockdown drills in their classrooms because the threat of violence—even in the sanctuary of their schools—has become so commonplace.
After it was all said and done, I think our entire team would agree that we felt like we were trying to fill an ocean with an eye dropper. The people that we saw at these clinics had many more health care needs than we could possibly take care of with our mobile clinic. These people need clean water, better housing, and long term health care. Yes, the health care, physical therapy, medications, and education that our team provided does benefit these people, but our eyedropper only made a small puddle in their lives.
As a group we visited the World Mate Emergency Hospital in Battambang. This hospital is doing incredible things, with a quarter of the resources that we have in the United States. The patient population of this hospital consists of men, women, and children that have been victims of severe, and some times life threatening injuries. The most common injury that our group observed at this hospital was motor vehicle accidents, including motos. This is no surprise since Cambodia does not have any traffic laws, or helmet laws.
As we traveled through the country of Cambodia we sang worship songs; it was incredible to me that 9 American girls and 2 Cambodian men knew almost all of the same worship songs. We all come from different backgrounds, histories, and families but we were all in the same place, worshiping the same God together.
As human beings we must always seek to see one another as valued individuals. Diversity is a gift. We can, and should learn to value differences. By following these three steps in your own life, you can grow and become more connected to the differences and needs of those surrounding you.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the region as well. The reasons for the continued challenges are complex, but driven primarily by poor governance, lack of basic infrastructure, inadequate access to health care services and a lack of needed funding.

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