Sunday, June 26, 2011


The toughest part about leaving AMH was telling my Haitian staff, Sendhie and Edjour. They have been working for us since shortly after the earthquake and have been very loyal and trustworthy helpers.

Sendhie was my secretary and personal assistant. She handled all my patient phone calls - I got a lot of patient phone calls - and acted as the liaison between host families in the US and our patients' Haitian families. She would accompany patients to doctor's appointments, run errands, do paperwork, and hold office hours to meet with patients on days when I was out working elsewhere. When teams visited, she contacted the translators for us and worked as a translator herself. She did everything I asked: cleaning, buying water, picking up people at the airport, finding out street prices for sandals, and a lot of things I didn't ask like filling my water barrel, doing my dishes, having me over for Sunday lunch, even washing my clothes with me.

On Thursdays, when I ran the clinic at Delmas 24, Sendhie used to work beside me as my assistant. She's a bright young woman who hopes to be a doctor someday and I loved watching her learn alongside me. I always explained odd medical conditions that we might see and I would talk with her after patients left about other treatment options that were available or explain why I'd given a certain medication. She very quickly learned our standard formulas such as treatment for vaginal infections or fungal rashes and she would have the meds ready for me before I even finished examining the patient.

The funniest part was listening in while Sendhie translated for teams. Because they are a little intimidated by foreign doctors and because cultural rules dictate thus, Haitians will answer "Yes" to every question you ask them in examination. For example, if you ask "Do you have pain when you urinate?", the person will most likely say "Yes" without even thinking about the question. So I intentionally phrase my questions in a way that makes "No" the easier response. "It doesn't hurt when you pee, does it?" "You don't usually have the headaches in the morning, right?" I laugh to myself whenever I hear an American doctor ask a question and I hear Sendhie rephrase it perfectly with my technique.

Sendhie has a special place in my heart because it's hard to become friends with Haitian women my age. Most of the women I know who are in their twenties like me are single moms that I treat at clinic and in the ravine. I like them and they like me but we have more of a professional relationship. Sendhie, however, is my friend. We can talk about the things that young women talk about and we can laugh together and we can share our frustrations together. She is my best Haitian friend.

When I broke the news that I was leaving AMH, Sendhie nearly cried. And she nearly cried (or threw things at me) every time I saw her until the day I flew out. But I kept reminding her that I'm only leaving the organization. I'm not leaving Haiti. And now, I won't have to boss her around anymore. We can just be friends.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Transition x 2

The transition this summer is not just from Haiti to Maine. My work life is also in transition: I have resigned from my position at Angel Missions Haiti. Upon my return to Haiti, I will be coming under the umbrella of Much Ministries, the organization run by my good friends Kathy and Beaver Brooks, who work in Gonaives. You can check out their website at

It has been an honor to work with AMH for the past 2 years, but I am ready to shift towards other things that meet my passions and my calling more closely. My plan currently is to return to Haiti in mid-August and continue my work in the ravine, at the clinic at Delmas 24, and with the youth group. I am looking forward to having more availability to meet with youth one-on-one and to take them out on community service projects and other activities. It will be great to have more time to visit and support Dorothy Pearce at the home for malnourished and sick babies, and to be available for other friends who need medical help.

If you have been supporting me through Angel Missions, I would appreciate if you made the switch too. You can donate by contacting me directly at or via PayPal on the Much Ministries website and sending a message that your gift is for Keziah Furth.

As always, I covet your prayers. Transition is never easy and this one is a triple whammy: travel to and from the States combined with the challenges of a new job and a new home. Pray for wisdom in decision making and for favor in all my endeavors during this new year.

Finally, to Vanessa and Tom Carpenter, and to everyone at Angel Missions Haiti, thank you for a wonderful two years.


It's that time of year. Time to leave Haiti and go to Maine for my summer nursing job at Chop Point camp. As always, it was difficult to leave, especially with all the excitment that has surrounded my youth group for the past month - retreats, road blocks, banquets for poor people, church service led entirely by the youth, prayer and worship in a voodoo cemetary, taking care of a crippled lady in the streets, doing service projects at the church, visiting a destitute family in the pouring rain - but it is nice to be back among my camp friends. Of course, it would be a lot nicer if it wasn't so horribly cold here!

This is me. Today. Freezing. To death. In Maine.

I got to spend 3 days with my family in Boston before coming to camp. It was short but sweet. The good news is that my younger brother, Barnabas, is a counselor at Chop Point this summer, and my sister (front left) will be the dining hall steward. My mother is renting a cottage nearby so that we can see her conveniently, and my older brother and his wife (top right) are staying at my parents' condo in Boston for a few months before starting new jobs. My dad is headed to Holland for his annual teaching seminar so I won't see him again until the end of the summer.

Happy summer, everybody. Well, they keep telling me it's summer but I'm not sure I believe them. It feels a lot more like early winter...

Monday, June 6, 2011

"When you give a banquet..."

We held our end-of-the-year party with the youth group on Saturday. It was the usual affair: games, singing, dancing, funny skits with Biblical lessons, and the boys lining up to get cake for the girls. What was unusual about it was that the youth group kids were not the guests; they were the hosts.

There's a passage in the gospel of Luke that says "When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Another passage in Matthew talks about loving your enemies, so we combined the two for a unique celebration of an amazing year. Each youth was given one invitation and told to bring someone who was their enemy or who matched the scripture from Luke. Among the 80+ guests who came I got to meet a drunk who lives in a tent on Delmas 83, a girl with congenital malformation of her hands, 3 little street boys, 2 little old ladies, a boy with mumps, and a brother and sister who live with their parents and 6 siblings in a one room shack with nothing but a decrepit bed for furniture. One of the youth even invited a voodoo priest, but unfortunately, the man got lost and never made it. Still, the connection has now been made and we will be able to include him in our next gathering.

What a day it was! It had been raining for the past 4 days and all morning on the party day. Since Haitians do not go out in the rain, Marc and I were expecting (a bit dejectedly) only a dozen youth to come and even fewer guests. We prayed. At 1:55pm, just as we started walking to the church, the rain stopped and people began to venture out. By 3:30, we had a full house. The party lasted until 6pm and as Marc locked the last door in the church so we could go home, it started to rain again. I do not call that coincidence.

God was apparently taking care of the food for us too. I'd spent 4 hours that morning cooking Creole spaghetti for about 100 people - I didn't have time or money to do more than that. And because Haitians like ketchup on their spaghetti, we'd been given 1 bottle of Heinz. Part way through the serving of dinner, they called me over: "Kez, we've used up all of the plates!" I hunted and found some dessert plates that we could use and they kept serving. When the food ran out, everyone had eaten, even me, and a few kids had got seconds. The ketchup had run dry on the final plate of spaghetti, not a drop before. We had fed nearly 160 people.

Best party we've ever thrown!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Maine medical team

My camera has died a very tragic death so I have been photo-less for about a month now. It's a rough existence. It seems like photo opportunities are twice as abundant as usual now that I cannot take advantage of them. All that to say that I wish I had more photos of this medical team's trip to Haiti last week, but I don't. Fortunately, the lack of photos does mean that the trip was lacking in any way.

I love when this team comes for several reasons. First, a group comes from their program every 6 months, so though I don't know each individual doctor, I know Dr Chi and Dr Jim, the leaders. And though most of the doctors don't know me, they have usually heard enough crazy stories about me to feel as if we are friends already. Secondly, they are from a residency program, so there is always excellent teaching during their clinics. I learn so much from working with them, as do my young Haitian translators. Thirdly, they are from Maine, one of my many homes. Visitors to Haiti are rarely from New England, so it's always a treat to be able to talk about familiar places. And it seems that one of them is always wearing a Red Sox hat!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cock fighting

I've had some fun "Welcome home, Kez" greetings when I'm walking into my neighborhood, but this one was definitely the most unexpected: a circle of excited onlookers and in the middle, 2 roosters trying to kill each other. Usually the men on the corner drink kleren (Haitian moonshine) and play dominoes, but apparently they were looking for some better entertainment that particular day. It made for interesting photos, but I can't say I'm a real fan of cock fighting. There's something very sad about watching two animals be poked and prodded back into a battle that they clearly do not want to participate in.

Let's stick with playing dominoes, guys.