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A brighter tomorrow

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Americhelp is working to make healthcare accessible to neglected areas of Haiti

By Kirsten Laskey

A pregnant  woman needed a cesarean section for her baby to be delivered. When she went to the hospital, money was requested for the operation; money the woman did not have. In conclusion, the woman was refused care.

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This is when Americhelp, a nonprofit, non-governmental agency, stepped in. American volunteers along with the organization’s founder, Harold Salomon of Los Alamos, offered the fee for the cesarean section. At this point, Salomon said the hospital became embarrassed and ended up doing the operation for free.

During the Masonic Lodge No. 66’s meeting Tuesday evening, Salomon showed a picture of the newborn looking sleepily at the camera. Another picture showed a volunteer gently cupping the baby he had a hand in delivering into the world.

This story has a bittersweet ending. The baby was safely brought into the world but that world is filled with disaster and destruction. The child and the parents live in Haiti, a country that was ravaged by an

earthquake in January.

Salomon clicked to open another photograph on his computer, which revealed the mother sitting in a rickety looking bed underneath a paper- thin tent. The picture was a clue that times were not going to be easy at all for this new family. Yet, the next photograph of the father beaming down at his new child proves where there is love and hope, a brighter tomorrow is in reach. Maybe it is not just around the corner, but it is still within reach.

Americhelp is working to ensure Haitians’ tomorrows glow a little brighter.

Americhelp’s mission is to make healthcare accessible to the neglected areas of the country as well as to help economic development in rural areas. The organization intervenes in four different areas – medicine, agriculture, engineering and education.

During his presentation, Salomon, a Mason himself, revealed the work that his organization has performed since the earthquake.  

He explained after the earthquake hit the country, he traveled to Haiti to assess the state of the organization’s medical clinic, which is located south of Port-au-Prince, as well as to connect with family members, friends and clinic employees.

In February, Salomon returned to Haiti for one week along with 15 other volunteers including six people from New Mexico.

The clinic, although cracked in places and supported by temporary posts, still stands but tragedy struck when one of the doctors died in the earthquake.

Salomon said because of the condition of the clinic, operations had to move to another building.

The clinic is staffed with 13 employees, which includes six doctors and three nurses. Salomon said about 20 people receive care at the clinic daily. Resources are limited, he said, and not everyone who comes to the clinic can be attended to immediately. As a result, a schedule is made to ensure everyone gets care.

The clinic provides everything from OBGYN to burn treatment. It’s not just treating injuries, Salomon showed picture after picture of volunteers handing out needed supplies to people such as toothpaste tubes and tooth brushes. He played a video of families receiving a cooked meal at the clinic.

After the presentation, Salomon said he established this medical clinic in 2007 “because I looked at the needs of the community and I wanted to do something the community appreciates.”

Additionally, before his medical center, there was no clinic.

One of the Masons asked how these services were funded. Salomon replied it was out the Masons’ pockets and out of his own pocket. The operation survives on Salomon’s money and donations. Earlier this year, the Masons had donated $500 to the Americhelp organization. And later that evening, a $5,000 check from the Masonic Charities Association of New Mexico was presented to Salomon for additional support.

Mason member Clint Waldorp said Masonic Lodges across the state had helped raise funds for Salomon’s organization and the Masonic Grand Lodge of New Mexico matched those funds.

“I know that you are going to put it to good use,” Waldorp said.

Salomon also emphasized the importance of this and other donations.

“The situation is terrible for the population who are living there (and) they have no means to take care of themselves, which makes it worse.”

The victims of the earthquake are relying solely on whatever donations and charity comes their way. Salomon added that Americans are beloved in Haiti because without the United State’s aid, the number of deaths would be imaginable.

The $5,000 donation from the Mason will certainly enhance this relief, he said.

First, the money will help repair the damaged building; second, it will go toward purchasing antibiotics; and third, the donation will help feed people. Salomon said he plans to return to Haiti in either June or July.

This check is going to last a long time, he said.

No dollar goes wasted at Americhelp. Salomon said people who support the organization should feel confident that their money will not be squandered and certainly offers long-term help.

He also hopes people know just how much their contributions are appreciated.

“God bless them all,” Salomon said. “God bless America.”