April/May 2017 Solar Mission Trip to Install AC in the OR

HAM board members, Paul Hammond and Keith Hare, arrived in Haiti on April 28, 2017 to lead a mission to update the solar collection and storage system at the clinic and to oversee the installation of an A/C system in the surgery room. Keith designed and installed the original solar system back in 2010 and as the clinic services have grown, so has the increased demand for electricity. The old system was pushed beyond capacity this past January when the eye surgery team performed 40 cataract surgeries in 3 days. We have long wanted to add air conditioning to the surgery room given the extreme heat of Haiti and our desire for to avoid corrupting the surgical field during procedures by the surgical team dripping sweat. 

Keith and Paul have been discussing an upgrade for two years now and Keith designed the upgrade to maximize solar collection and storage capacity. Prior to this mission, Paul had sourced and purchased in Haiti additional solar panels with racking system, and greater capacity batteries, and made arrangement for that equipment to be at the clinic before the teams arrival. Keith brought along two new charge controllers not available for purchase in Haiti, along with two of his nephews Aaron and Matthew, who both work as electricians for Hare Electric, their fathers business. This would be their first time to Haiti, though as with all the Hare family they have made many volunteer work trips to Nicaragua and are accustomed to challenging working conditions.

The team arrived in Haiti without incident and with all their luggage. Unfortunately, local transportation became a cloud over the mission as HAM’s Hilux truck had been stuck at the Toyota dealer for weeks with a broken radiator. We were forced to rent a van for the airport pickup and the following day when Paul, Aaron and Matthew had to run around Port-au-Prince collecting all the other electrical supplies needed for the installation. Renting vehicles in Haiti is an expensive venture, so the team needed to make the most out of the first two days to avoid the need for further vehicle rentals until Paul could sort out the truck problems. Once the team made it to the clinic on Friday evening, they immediately went to work measuring, identifying and inventorying all the electrical parts they might need over the next week.

Saturday started bright and early as Paul, Aaron, Mathew, interpreter Charles and driver Regi headed back to Port-au-Prince for some shopping. But first Paul needed to stop at the Toyota dealership to evaluate the status of the truck repair. Seems the dealership had been jerking our Haitian staff around regarding the radiator repair since it was first taken in for repair in February. They fixed it twice only to have it leak again within two days. They then told our staff it was unfixable and the radiator had to be replaced, but there was no new radiator of the right size available in Haiti and they would have to wait 4 months for the part to be shipped from Japan. When our staff located the correct radiator at a parts store on the other side of Port-au-Prince, the dealership told them to purchase it themselves and the dealership would install it for free. Not exactly what one expects when the vehicle is still under warranty, so Paul needed to involve himself directly. After visits to two different Toyota dealerships on Saturday, and a great amount of run around and arguing, we were finally assured that the repair would be fully completed under warranty and if a new radiator had been located they would purchase and install it ASAP. Of course they couldn’t do anything before Tuesday as they are closed Sunday and Monday was a national holiday. Fortunately, the remainder of Saturday’s shopping went well and we arrived back at the clinic with all the needed electrical parts. Keith had stayed at the clinic and begun the installation of the charge controllers. 

Sunday and Monday were extremely productive with the three Hares along with several Haitian helpers pretty much completed the system installation, except for the battery change. It was fortunate that the clinic was closed on Monday for the holiday, as it gave the team uninterrupted access to the clinic and no disruption to clinic operations. Work was ahead of schedule, so on Monday night the team joined the Haitian Labor Day Dumay Festival. Every year the community of Dumay holds such a festival to celebrate and promote the community, and HAM has always helped sponsor the event, but this was the first time a volunteer team has been there for the festivities. The party was held next door to the clinic at the K through High School next door to the clinic. The party was raging when we arrived and the community leaders on stage welcomed us graciously with speeches about all the HAM does for the community. There was good food and drink, arts and crafts for sale, music and dancing, and an overall good time. We enjoyed ourselves and were moved by the appreciation for HAM shown by the community.

The remainder of the week continued to be productive, with the solar and A/C systems fully installed and operational by Tuesday afternoon. Paul kept Aaron and Mathew busy with various maintenance projects around the clinic, including adding lights to the dehydration clinic and a few of the clinic rooms that needed additional lighting. The twins even did a little plumbing, carpentry, and helped Charles inventory and organize the recent order of plus and minus eye glasses and lenses we had ordered from China and had shipped directly to Haiti earlier in the year. Keith meanwhile studied and tweaked the solar system to maximize productivity. 

As for the truck, after a long and frustrating week of run arounds and arguments with the dealership, they ended up finally repairing the radiator to an acceptable state just in time to take Matthew and Aaron to the airport on Friday. Paul and Keith remained to make sure the system was working correctly, collecting data, and making sure and all was right before flying home Monday.

It was an extremely productive trip with everything planned accomplished. A huge THANK YOU goes out to Keith and his nephews Aaron and Matthew, for working so hard to get it all done and having such a great attitude the entire time.

First Eye Surgery Team in Dumay

January’s mission was the culmination of planning, partnership and perseverance over many years. HAM board members, doctors Laing and Janine, had long envisioned bringing an eye surgery team to Dumay to utilize the surgery room at the Dumay clinic. Populations in tropical climes with intense sunlight are highly susceptible to cataracts, and having encountered many cataract cases at the eye clinic, they deemed the need for access to such surgeries as significant. But cataract surgeries require an operating microscope, a large and expensive piece of equipment, so in 2014 we put out a call to HAM’s network of partner organizations stating our need and requesting they keep their eyes open. Within a year, our partner the SEVA Foundation in Berkley, CA informed us that they had located a used operating microscope in good condition which could be donated through their organization. The only hitch was we would have to deal with transportation of the large microscope from Berkeley to Dumay. We immediately contacted another partner organization, Direct Relief International in Santa Barbara, CA and asked if they might allow us room on their next container shipment of supplies to Haiti for the microscope. When they generously agreed and Dr. Laing and Paul Hammond picked up the microscope in Berkeley and had it crated and trucked to Santa Barbara. The microscope departed Southern California on a ship early in 2015 and arrived in Haiti in May. After several months in a Haitian port working through the complicated Haitian customs process, we finally took possession of the microscope in Haiti last August. At the same time the microscope was leaving port in the U.S., Dr. Janine contacted an old friend from optometry school, now a successful eye surgeon, Dr. Brian Stahl, in the Dayton, OH area who had been leading eye surgery missions in Africa, South and Central America, and Jamaica, to see if he was interested in adding Haiti to his mission list. In a certain case of serendipity, Dr. Stahl had been wanting to work in Haiti but had yet to find a suitable partner there to work with. Forging a new partnership, we immediately began work on scheduling a mission to Dumay. Next, work began in Haiti to locate, educate and screen potential cataract patients in the Dumay area. HAM’s Haitian eye technician, Charles, and the Haitian ophthalmologist who visits the clinic one day a month, Dr. Marcelus, worked to get the word out, inform and screen a rural and uneducated population about the possibility and potential for individuals to gain back their sight. Fear and superstition abound in Haiti and the challenge of recruiting patients to undergo a knife carving into their eyes can not be understated. This confluence of luck and hard work would now be put to the real test when Dr. Stahl and his team of assistants from “Go Crazy do Good”, Mindi Grissom, Diana Ernst, Ashley Gullett, along with assistance from Dr. Janine and her sister and fellow HAMboard member Connie Immel Ray arrived in Dumay on January 22nd.

Optometrist Opportunity

Healing Art Missions (HAM), a 501 (c) medical organization working in Haiti since 1999, is looking for an optometrist interested in joining at least one of our medical mission trips to Haiti annually. HAM funds and oversees a Haitian staffed primary care medical clinic in Dumay, Haiti, a subsistence farming community of 20,000 outside of Port-au-Prince. Along with doctor visits, a pharmacy, laboratory, vaccine clinics and clean water programs, we have an eye clinic with a trained eye technician who sees patients one week per month and a Haitian ophthalmologist who sees patients one day per month. Annually in January, a surgical team visits the clinic to perform cataract surgeries in our clinic surgical facility that includes an operating microscope.


HAM seeks an optometrist who can help oversee the eye clinic. Responsibilities would include: oversight and additional training of the Haitian eye technician, assessing current clinic eye equipment and helping plan for supplemental and replacement equipment, helping determine proper eye glasses inventory and eye medications for the clinic, seeing patients and working with the Haitian ophthalmologist and the U.S. based surgical team to determine the best options for treatment, working with suppliers of eye medications, glasses and eye equipment to identify and take advantage of programs that support such humanitarian eye programs as ours.


HAM’s Dumay eye clinic is currently stocked with the following equipment; autorefractor, tonopen, trial lens set and trial frame, Welsh Allen direct ophthalmoscope, Heine BIO, 20D lens 78D lens, Visual acuity charts.


Contact Dr Janine Flood, OD at floodmjk@roadrunner.com or healingartmissions@gmail.com if interested in this unique and important opportunity.


This weekend will mark HAM’s first trip to Haiti of 2017. HAM board members Dr. Tracee Laing, Dr. Janine Flood, Connie Ray and Paul Hammond will be joined by ophthalmology surgeon Dr. Brian Stahl and his support team to perform cataract surgeries on as many as 50 Haitians over four days. We are most excited to host Dr. Brian’s non-profit organization, Go Crazy, Do Good which has completed over 19 mission trips to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Uganda Africa, Ivory Coast Africa, and Jamaica, for their first mission to Haiti. The team will be supported by HAM’s newly acquired surgical microscope donated through our partner the SEVA Foundation and transported to Haiti via another partner, Direct Relief International. This project is a great example of the benefits of the working partnerships with other aid organization HAM has cultivated over the years. We hope you’ll follow our team’s updates via our FACEBOOK PAGE.


HAM is excited to announce the debut of our brand new website! While you’ll find us in the same place, www.healingartmissions.org, it’s a beautiful new look, much easier to navigate and packed with all the information you’ll need to understand what we’re all about, Empowering Haitians through Access to Healthcare, Education and Clean Water. Learn more about our various projects, find out our latest news, see who we and our partners are, and enjoy the beautiful photography of Jessica Phelps and Global Eyes Media. The new site was designed and created by Jeff and Dori Hammond, to whom we are ever-so- grateful for their incredible magic and endless energy!


With the first HAM Mission of 2016 came a new look for the Dumay Clinic!  Last fall, we built a vovered patient waiting area.  During January's mission, a beautiful new mural was painted on the side of the clinic building greeting patients with a warmth and hope.  Joining Dr. Laing, Dr. Leslie and Paul Hammond were with three Rotarians from Ojai, Ca. whom ran two art programs in the community.  Gayel Childress, a painter, worked with teens from the high school adjacent to the clinic to design and paint the above mural.  Linda Taylor, a paper and print maker, worked with a group of local women, teaching them the skills to make their own paper and print their own designs to create hand-crafted note cards to sell.  Childress and Taylor were joined by Linda Burr, an Ojai business owner, who assisted on both projects.