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Haiyan & Haiti – Disaster & Development



Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan tragedy is epitomized by the havoc suffered at INMED’s Filipino training site: Mercy Midwives Birthing Center. Here a landslide took out the clinic, six feet of water flooded the facility, epidemic leptospirosis – a neglected tropical disease – afflicts the survivors, all the while women continue to arrive in labor; the faithful staff sometimes delivering three or four babies simultaneously.


A tragic and grim reality is that disasters seem to hit the world’s most vulnerable people.  What will be the future of critical Filipino health services like Mercy Midwives Birthing Center? Haiti’s course since the 2010 catastrophic 7.1 magnitude earthquake projects promise.


INMED’s Haiti training site – Haiti Health Ministries (HMM) – was also structurally destroyed. But Jim Wilkins, the medical director, and his wife, Sandy, a nurse and the administrator, simply redoubled their commitment to glorify Christ through partnering with Haitians to meet their compelling health care needs.


Elizabeth Burgos, INMED Chief Programs Officer, and Cindy Obenhaus, INMED Director of Operations, recently witnessed the reality of this long yet hope-filled road toward development. HMM’s clinic is still a large tent, and yet Jim, Sandy, and the Haitian medical staff treat newborns to pregnant women to the elderly, those who can pay and those who can not, those with life-threatening injuries, and those suffering from the ever-present diseases of poverty endemic to Haiti: malaria, tuberculosis, cholera and malnutrition.



One breathtaking example of the optimism filling HHM is the care provided for one woman living for years with a massive disfiguring tumor on her face, obliterating her nose, blocking vision, and leaving her was ostracized and isolated. Dr. Jim removed her tumor with such skill, care, and kindness.  Radiant was the smile of the women in recovery upon realizing that the unsightly mass, and the stigma it caused, were no more.


You, too, can play a part in restoring such hope in the Philippines, in Haiti, and in the next upcoming disaster. But advanced preparation is essential. INMED’s International Medicine and International Public Health hybrid courses include disaster assessment, response, and recovery skills. Your INMED Diploma service-learning experience can be with a disaster management team in India. And in preparation for deployment, the Disaster Response: The Pocket Book For Volunteers is an invaluable resource.


Haiyan and Haiti personify both disaster and development. The connection between the two is hope-filled commitment of people like the Wilkins and their Haitian colleagues. You too can offer a hand in this hope.

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