McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Church of Brethren raises money for medical care

  • After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Dr. Paul Ullom-Minnich of Moundridge was asked to provide medical care to the people there.
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  • After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Dr. Paul Ullom-Minnich of Moundridge was asked to provide medical care to the people there.
    He traveled to the country and found a profound lack of basic medical care. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It is three times poorer than the No. 2 poorest country in the hemisphere.
    Ninety-eight percent of the Haitian people have no access to medical care. There were a few hospitals, but the cost to get in the door to one of the facilities is about $30, which is equal to a month’s wage for the average Haitian. Ullom-Minnich said that cost is unrealistic for the vast majority of Haitians.
    Haiti does not have emergency care like the United States.
    “If you break your leg, you have to live with a broken leg,” Ullom-Minnich said.
    He said he felt compelled to try to establish a medical care clinic in Haiti that would last longer than the initial disaster response.
    In 2010, the McPherson Church of the Brethren along with the National Church of the Brethren helped spearhead the Haiti Medical Project.
    In 2013, the project conducted 24 day clinics in about a dozen villages in Haiti, helping more than 3,300 people. In 2014, the project hopes to double the number of clinics.
    The project pays Haitian doctors and nurses to run the clinics. Ullom-Minnich said Haiti has trained medical workers who are unemployed because no one can afford to pay them.
    The cost per patient for the clinic visits is about $12. The patients pay a very small amount — about 1 percent of the cost of the service. The other 99 percent is funded through donations from the United States.
    The project is now only providing basic medical care, but organizers hope more emphasis can be placed in the future on preventative care and training midwives. The infant and maternal mortality rate is high in Haiti.
    Dale Minnich, Paul’s father and a cofounder of the project, said the Church of the Brethren wanted to create something that lasted beyond the immediacy of the disasters.
    “This is an underlying problem,” Minnich said of the lack of medical care in Haiti. “We didn’t just want to be there for a couple of disasters like the hurricane or flood. It is so easy for that to happen and then the international concern is somewhere else.”
    Last Easter, the McPherson Church of the Brethren launched a campaign to raise $100,000 for an endowment, which would be a continuing source of income for the project. The church’s goal is to raise the funds by Easter 2014. To date, the church has raised more than $87,000.
    Judy Stockstill, McPherson Church of the Brethren Outreach chairperson, said she has been impressed by the outpouring of gifts from the congregation and the McPherson community in support of the project.
    Page 2 of 2 - The church offered $20 per person seed money to help fund projects that would raise money for the Haiti Medical Project. From these seed funds, the church conducted a garage sale, a patio party and is sponsoring a concert this month.
    Stockstill said one boy from the church has been keeping a change jar, the contents of which will go to the Haiti project.
    A college professor is making simple bracelets for sale with the proceeds going to the project. The donor buys two bracelets. One bracelet stays with the donor, and the other goes to Haiti so the recipient knows someone is thinking about and praying for him or her.
    “We appreciate all the support we have had,” Stockstill said. “We hope we will have support for our upcoming concert. We would love to have a full house. We may not meet our goal, but we could come a little closer.”
    The concert will include instrumental performances by the McPherson Community Brass Choir, led by Jerry Toews; Resonance Trio, including Dan Masterson on piano, Bryan Hess on violin and Bruce Wagoner on cello; and the Church of the Brethren Angelus Ringers, directed by Kendra Flory.
    Vocal performances will include Delores and the Pickin-Fretter of Wichita, with Jeffrey Faus on guitar and vocals and Jenny Stover-Brown on accordion and vocals; McPherson High School choral director Nick Griggs and his wife, Miriam Griggs; and an a capella women’s double trio including Dawn Hoffman, Kristen Reynolds, Deb Wagoner, Kendra Flory, Ellen Gilbert and Janelle Flory Schrock. The concert will conclude with several choral numbers, including a Haitian Creole piece, directed by McPherson College and McPherson Church of the Brethren choral director, Josh Norris.
    The concert will be at 4 p.m. Feb. 23 at the McPherson Opera House. The concert is open to the public, and a free-will offering will be collected during the performance.
    For more information about the concert, contact the McPherson Church of the Brethren office at 620-241-1109.
    Ullom-Minnich said for those who can’t make the concert, monetary donations are being accepted for the project. There is about $11,000 in funds to match any donations that are received.
    For more information or to contribute to the efforts of the Haiti Medical Project, visit www.brethren.org/haiti-medical-project.
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