Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saving Fabiola from a country in crisis.

A country in turmoil, people dodging bullets and the not so lucky will fall lifeless in bloody puddles. No one was exempt, your chance of survival was greater if you were home somewhere in foxholes away from stray bullets.  As a spectator looking from a distance, you instinctively detach yourself from it all unless you become a victim or someone you know becomes one.
On February 26, 2004; Fabiola Durand, a young girl from a neighboring home became some years ago a living in house member of Operation Hope since she was nine years old.  On this unfortunate day, she and four other members of the mission were out on an errand at the wrong time and at the wrong place.  They got caught in a cross fire and Fabiola was hit in the head by two bullets.  Other circumstances surrounding the shooting remain unknown.  I was in the States at the time when I was made aware of this shocking news.  What could I possibly do and how would I go about it.  At the risk of losing their own lives, two of her brothers managed to take her to the nearest hospital Saint Francois de Salle.  She was still alive they thought, and did not want to take any chances.  Lifeless bodies were piled up and for those barely alive, there was no medical personnel to assist them.  They were basically taken there and left to die.  However, her brothers, joined by her mother all members and working at Operation Hope Headquarters; were determined and not resigned. They pressed on me for help and I had no choice to ponder knocking the door of the divine for answer and help.
I was immediately engaged in multiple international calls trying to reach anyone able to help or redirect in our search to help save one soul.  More specifically, I was able to quickly enroll the help of Sharrye Moore from American Airlines who immediately put me in touch with Nancy Rivard President of “Airline Ambassador International” and Glen and Debbie Lahey President of “Kids Explore” in Canada.  In a domino effect a team was mobilized to help save one life while I wondered how many Fabiolas there could be out there.  Mrs. Amédé Gédeon, Director General of the Red Cross in Haiti was contacted and dispatched an ambulance for Fabiola with no specific drop off destination.  In the meantime with Glen working from Canada, plugging all possible contacts we found out that the Canadian Air Force was present on the airport tarmac of Port-au-Prince and was willing to airlift Fabiola to the Dominican Republic four days later after the shooting with no medical help while she was still in a coma.  I immediately released that info to Mrs. Gedeon who redirected the ambulance to the airport and then to the border where she ordered the drop off of the family members as the Air Force would not airlift the parents.  The Canadian Armed Forces flew Fabiola out of the country to the “General Hospital Plaza de la Salud” in Santo Domingo where she was admitted under the recommendation of Dr. Claudio Brito and under the care of Dr. Nepomuceno Mejia.  They miraculously saved her life, stabilized her condition and maintained her vital signs before discharging her to the care of Dr. Gittens of the Royal Columbian Hospital in Vancouver. 
We were able to gain international support and overcoming all obstacles upholding our commitment to save Fabiola and to manifest “Operation Hope” for her.  With the support of the Red Cross, the Canadian Embassy/Consulate, the Dominican Embassy/Consulate in Ottawa, The US Embassy/Consulate in Dominican Republic, we were able to secure safe passage from the Dominican Republic onto the US and Canadian soils.  On March 31 of the same year, accompanied Fabiola from the Dominican Republic, Glen Lahey, Volunteer Emergency Medicine Dr. Joseph Finkler and I arrived at the Vancouver airport, where she was immediately rushed to the “Royal Columbian Hospital”, New Minster, British Columbia.  She was admitted for emergency care by neurosurgeon Dr. Gittens, after miraculously surviving multiple gunshots to the head.  Later on, on my request, Debbie and Glen Lahey accepted the temporary role of Fabiola’s guardians during her stay in Canada.  
Operation Hope and Kids Explore launched a campaign that has rallied the interest of the Canadian people with the help of the Canadian media to support Fabiola’s recent plight and that of future children survivors of struggle throughout the world. 
Today, Fabiola is healthy however suffers occasionally from mild to severe headaches and seizures.  She is married with a beautiful daughter name Claruce and living in the US.   
How many Fabiolas out there who were not saved?  That is the question that haunts me every day as I continue to travel the slums of Haiti, living the Haitian struggle.