Gilbert started working with RHFH on October 19, 2004. In the 11 years that we’ve worked together, he has done several different jobs: making patient charts, working in the clinic office, translating, doing directly observed therapy (DOT) for TB & HIV patients, teaching adult literacy, and supervising 6 cholera community health care workers.
He is 35 years old and was born in Cazale. His mom and dad are still alive and live with him in his house that he recently built. His parents had 8 kids – 3 boys and 5 girls. Gilbert’s other brothers live in other countries. His sisters are still in Haiti. He married Vesta on July 16th, 2015. They have a 12 year old girl living with them too, so that makes 5 people living in the house. Their house is made of cement block and has 3 bedrooms, a dining room, and a bathroom. They have running water in their yard.
Gilbert says that he likes the work that he does. His favorite thing is to see how the TB patients appreciate the work that he does to care for them. They are very sick when he starts to take care of them; but, after several months of daily medication, he sees the big change in their health and this makes him very happy. They thank him often with their words and with small gifts. He knows that they don’t have much, so he appreciates their sacrifice and generous heart. He enjoys having them come to his house to visit too. Even after the treatment is finished, he is still friends with many of them. None of his patients have died yet, but many were very close. He thanks God that they have all recovered.
The one thing that he thinks would help in his current work is if he could provide the patients with food. He sees that many of them can only eat once a day. They should take their pills in the morning, but many have to wait until some food is cooked to take them and they usually can only do that once a day for their noon meal. Taking strong antibiotic pills without food will make many people nauseated, so taking them with food is important. He would like to be able to give them more food.
Soon after Gilbert got training at PIH/ZL for DOT (thanks to Graham!), he was ready to make home visits to make sure the patients took the medications correctly and weren’t having any health problems. One of his first experiences was an older man and his wife that were very sick with TB in 2006-2007. Gilbert went to their house to do the first visit and make sure they were correctly taking their medications. When he asked to see their medications and talked to them about it, he found many pills that they hadn’t taken. At that time each patient had to take 9 pills in a day. They thought this was too much, so they were only taking 1 pill 3 times a day. They were very confused and unable to properly take the medications. He took all the meds back to his house and sorted them all out. He went to their house every morning for their 9 months of treatment and made sure that they swallowed each and every pill. They did and they recovered. No one thought that they would live back then, but they are still alive today! This story showed Gilbert the importance of his job and has taught him much patience.
Another story that he will always remember was during the time he was an adult literacy teacher. One of his students was an employee here at RHFH in her 50’s. Everyone had made fun of her when she started the class. It was very discouraging, but she continued. During a holiday, we gifted each employee with a box of rice. We wrote each person’s name on their box to make sure that everyone got it. On the day of distribution, many were waiting til their name was called and their box was given to them. She was able to look at the boxes and find the one with her name on it. She put it on her head and walked out with the biggest smile that you have ever seen! This showed Gilbert that anyone can learn at anytime if they are willing to try hard. This encouraged him to never give up on a student because he saw how happy the student were once they could read and write their names.
He currently has three patients. A fourth patient just completed his treatment a couple of weeks ago. He can visit all of the houses in one hour and usually does this in the morning. He also supervises 6 cholera health care workers. He has to walk up to 5 hours to get to some of their houses. He tries to visit them every 2-3 months. He talks to them on the phone at least 2-3 times a month and has a monthly meeting with them to talk about the cholera situation and give them supplies.
The work gives him an income for his family and hope that what he is doing helps people. The income isn’t much, but it helped him buy blocks for his house.
He likes living in Cazale since this is his home town. It’s not too far from Port-au-Prince that he can’t make day trips to do paperwork and other business, but far enough away from the big city atmosphere that he can relax here in the countryside. Even when he went to high school in Port-au-Prince, he would always come back to Cazale on the weekends. He says that Cazale needs roads, electricity, more education, and more development. He thinks that RHFH is a solid and consistent support in Cazale and the surrounding areas for health, education, malnutrition, and more. The help, care, and encouragement that is found at RHFH is important for many people and communities.
He attends Genezareth Seventh Day Adventist Church and would like you to pray for his family for peace, joy, health, and good relationships. He asks that you would pray that satan is blocked in every attempt to hurt and discourage his family. It is very important for him to make sure that he and his wife have a strong relationship with God and with each other. He encourages everyone to make this important in their lives too.