CSJ Generosity of Joseph Honorees Serving in Haiti's Aftermath

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Photo by Barbara Hammond, co-founder of FOTCOH.

 

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The Sisters of St. Joseph selected Barbara and Richard "Dick" Hammond as one of the 2010 Generosity of Joseph honorees for their care and advocacy for the people of Haiti.

The Hammonds are the founders of Friends of the Children of Haiti (FOTCOH), which provides basic medical care for the people of the region as well as offering opportunities to sponsor a child.

Barbara and Dick were in Haiti preparing for a medical mission scheduled to begin on January 18 and are now dealing with the aftermath of the quake.

The FOTCOH clinic is in Cyvadier, located on the southern coast of Haiti, less than 30 miles over the mountains from Port-au-Prince.

The Hammonds and a member of the medical team who was also there are all well. The clinic is damaged but still standing. Barbara reports: "I am happy to say that we are fine. We are still feeling the after shocks. There is great devastation in Jacmel and the road over the mountains is blocked. Our team was to come in Monday, but American Airlines has canceled the flight. We desperately need the medical team here, if we could just find a way to get them in."

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Dick and Barbara Hammond


The History of FOTCOH

Over thirty years ago, Barbara and Dick were on a cruise celebrating their anniversary. One of the posts of call was Port-au-Prince. They could not understand why a luxury cruise would stop there. The congestion, the filth, the extreme poverty and lack of infrastructure was unbelievable. "It was a human ant hole," Barbara describes.

Upon returning to the states, they could not forget what they had seen but were at a loss as how they might make a difference. Then, one day, Barbara was at a doctor's office where the only thing to read was a Knights of Columbus magazine. She found an article about a man in Tennessee who started a a program that matched a U.S. parish with one in Haiti. They contacted him and soon their parish, St. Anthony's in Bartonville, Illinois adopted St. Dominic's parish in Marigot, a village on the rural, southern coast of Haiti.

The pastor chose Dick to see St. Dominic's firsthand. Although he wasn't sure he was the man for the job, he went and fell in love with the Haitian people.

It became apparent that one of the most pressing needs of the people was that of basic medical care. Dick, a businessman, organized the first volunteer team consisting of himself and five other members of St. Anthony's for a medical mission to Haiti in early 1985. They treated 550 patients. Thus began the yearly medical mission that today has grown to medical mission team that now treats up to 2500 patients.

In 1991 Barb, Dick and some of the volunteers formed the non-profit organization FOTCOH to provide basic medical care to the people of the area and to establish a child sponsorship program.

The Clinic

In 1999 after many years of trying, FOTCOH was able to purchase 16 acres of rocky land in Cyvadier, located on the southern coast. In October of that year, Dick celebrated his retirement one week and the next week he was back in Haiti with plans for building a FOTCOH clinic.

Local Haitians were hired to build the clinic. One by one they made the bricks to build a three-story clinic. The completed clinic is a great source of pride for the local people.

The clinic holds two-week medical missions six times a year which allows for the ongoing treatment of some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Patients are asked to pay the U.S. equivalent of $.15 for their care but are seen regardless of funds. The goal is to eventually staff the clinic year round.

Sponsorship Program

The children are the hope for the future. The extreme poverty of so many children in Haiti makes it impossible for them to attend even the public schools, as they must purchase uniforms, shoes and all the supplies.

Barb continues to organize the sponsorship program which enables children to go to school and provide the family one meal a day for just $25 per month. At present, 280 children are being sponsored.

For more information about FOTCOH visit their Web site at www.fotcoh.org.

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