Nonprofits

Three-day free medical clinic to treat more than 1,000 residents in need

A doctor speaks with patients at the 2017 free medical clinic in Haiti. Photo from Ginette Rows.

It’s easy to be critical of the severe problems Haiti faces, but a group of Huntington residents are taking on the challenge of finding a solution to its health care problems.

Two Huntington residents have organized a group to fly to Haiti Feb. 16 to launch their second free mobile medical clinic to provide basic medical services to those in desperate need.

“Last year was the first time we did a clinic,” Pastor Georges Franck said. “It was so successful that we decided to do it again last year.”

Franck, leader of Huntington Station’s Church of God, is working in partnership with Yam Community Resource Inc., a Huntington Station-based nonprofit that offers quality-of-life services for the Haitian community, to assemble a team of medical professionals to run a three-day medical clinic in Aquin, a city on the southern coast of Haiti.

“We expected we will have maybe 100 people a day, and we ended up at least 300 a day,” said Ginette Rows, president of Yam Community Resource. “By the time we finished, we saw 1,079 people. This year, I expect more.”

Huntington resident Ginette Rows, far right, and Pastor Georges Franck, far leg, with volunteers at the 2017 medical clinic in Haiti. Photo from Ginette Rows.

Since Hurricane Matthew devastated the island in October 2016, Rows said it has been a struggle to rebuild as the hurricane was the first of a chain of natural disasters that has led to high unemployment rates. Word of the medical clinic is spread primarily via word of mouth, according to Rows. Locals from the surrounding villages will travel long distances — often walking for hours — in hopes of being seen by a physician.

“The people we are seeing do not have the financial means to pay for medical care,” she said. “If you have money, the priority is feeding the family, shelter and paying for school.”

Donations are collected from the approximately 120 members of the Huntington parish to purchase basic medical supplies, such as scales, and over-the-counter medication, according to its pastor. Franck said medications like Advil, which may cost $6 or $8 in the U.S., may wind up costing $12 to $13 in Haiti due to increased costs of shipping and accessibility. Each volunteer pays his or her own travel costs and expenses.

The hundreds who line up to visit the clinic each day are screened by a team of nurses, Rows said, who is a nurse herself. The nurses take their blood pressure, pulse, medical history and check blood sugar to screen for diabetes. Among the most common issues are malnutrition, maternal care, dental issues and high blood pressure.

“There are 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds that are severely underweight,” Rows said. “Last year we weren’t prepared to weigh them, so we’ve shipped down our own scales, so we can see how big of an issue it is.”

Her goal, as a Haitian immigrant whose father was among the first to come to Huntington in the 1960s, is to collect organized data on the specific medical issues treated to recruit specialists to join the team at future clinics to improve Haitians’ quality of life. She hopes to eventually build a permanent partnership with local hospitals and medical organizations to improve the standards of preventative health care for residents.

“I consider myself a member of the Haitian family,” Rows said. “Regardless of religion, I am there to assist them in some way.”

To learn more about Yam Community Resource, visit its website at www.yamcommunity.com.

An i-tri girl crosses the finish line of the marathon. Photo from i-tri girls

Nonprofits are working toward creating stronger support for females.

L.I. Against Domestic Violence provides a range of services to Long Island adults and children, helping them escape from abusive relationships and build new lives. I-tri girls, a free program, works to raise the self-esteem of middle school-aged girls on the Island’s East End by training them for a triathlon.

“[We need] to bring young girls into this discussion and to recognize that this isn’t just happening to us in our 20s and 30s and 40s, but this is happening to our 10-year-olds and our 12-year-olds, it’s so important,”
said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of i-tri girls.

Many of the children in the program don’t know how to swim or ride a bike.

“We not only teach them how to set a goal, but we teach them how to work toward a goal,” Morris said. “And when you have done something that you think is impossible once, you are so likely to see yourself capable of doing that [again].”

Bethpage-based The Safe Center LI, Islandia-based Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk, and The Suffolk County Crime Victims Center all work to help victims of domestic abuse.

County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said nonprofits are vital in educating young people and women. Many provide educational programs in schools.

“Women and children should not be afraid to speak up,” Anker said. “I think it’s really important presentations start in schools.”

Executive director of LIADV, Colleen Merlo, said in a phone interview local legislators are receptive to receiving advice on taking measures to end domestic and sexual abuse.

“This is the start of what’s going to be a years-long process to try to bring Long Island to a place that really is safe,” Merlo said. “Where men and women can feel safe from sexual assault. It’s going to take more work.”


• L.I. Against Domestic Violence — www.liadv.org / 631-666-7181

• i-tri girls — itrigirls.org / 631-902-3731

• Suffolk County Crime Victims Center — www.parentsformeganslaw.org / 631-689-2672

• The Safe Center LI — www.tscli.org / 516-465-4700

• Victims Information Bureau — www.vibs.org / 631-360-3730

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