Posted by: calloftheandes | March 29, 2010

A Handful of Hope in Haiti: 100 Radios Distributed by HCJB Global Medical Team

Story by R. Kurtenbach
Photos by H. Schirmacher

Packed with prayer and care at the HCJB Global Technology Center, 100 small solar-powered, fixed-tuned radios are now in Haitians’ hands, thanks to members of a medical emergency response team from Ecuador now seeing patients in the Caribbean nation.

The SonSet® radios, pre-tuned to local Christian radio outlets, are working well, said Hermann Schirmacher, a German engineer who is leading the nine-person team from HCJB Global Hands in Ecuador. “At least two of the four pre-tuned frequencies usually come in very well,” he explained.

The sets were brought from the U.S. by fellow engineer, New Zealander Alex Weir, even as the medical professionals had arrived with Schirmacher from Ecuador on Saturday, March 20.

Venturing out the following day, team members Schirmacher and Weir joined with Baptist Haiti Mission to distribute emergency supplies. After a bone-rattling trip across poor roads, they arrived in Carrefour Tintin and gave a few of the SonSet® radios to a pastor from the remote church.

Then they traveled on another 1½ hours to what Schirmacher later termed a “community without a name” where they distributed the supplies at a church and prayed with residents. “One admires them and wonders how these people make a living,” Schirmacher added. Further community development work is a possibility there.

Schirmacher found that the SonSet® radios picked up Creole, French and English broadcasts from partner ministry Radio Lumière in the capital, Port-au-Prince, even though Carrefour Tintin is about two hours away in the mountains.

Radio Lumière’s network repeaters in Les Cayes and Cité Lumière are pre-tuned to the other two frequencies, according to David Russell who heads the Indiana-based Technology Center. “Our hope was to maximize the usefulness of the radios in the event that listeners ventured out of Port-au-Prince,” he said.

A surgical team (a German, an Ecuadorian and two Americans) followed up with patients whose fractures were set during the team’s first visit shortly after the devastating Jan. 12 quake while two family physicians and a nurse (an Ecuadorian, a Venezuelan and an American) cared for patients in the wards. The greatest need is for a physical therapist, said Schirmacher.

HCJB Global Hands responded to the invitation from Baptist Haiti Mission to again come and help at the ministry’s hospital outside of Port-au-Prince.

Natural disasters produce news accounts of horrific pain and sorrow, but also personal testimonials of radios serving as a lifeline to civilization. Haiti’s quake was no different.

By some accounts, it was radio broadcasts that steadied frayed nerves. Now in the aftermath’s latent emotional depression, a more permanent lifeline emanates from the SonSet® radios. Listeners are hearing of forgiveness and the hope of eternal life found in Jesus Christ.

“It’s encouraging to know that the little radios have arrived in Haiti and they are doing their job,” said Russell.

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