Tuesday, January 03, 2017 

What it means to "be here"

Recently I was thinking back to my first trip to Haiti in 2001.  At the end of the trip I was so anxious to get home that I practically ran from Logan Airport to home sweet home, Gardner, Massachusetts.  Little did I know that so much would change because of that trip.
I was so naive on my first day in Haiti.  I met Father Labou, the priest taking me to my local parish's twin parish in Port-a-Piment, Haiti.  Trying to understand what my trip meant to the people of his small parish I asked through the translator, "What should I do to make this a successful trip?"  I had already planned on 2 days of a medical clinic for children at the nearby school.  His answer in Creole was, "You are here." 
Well I was certain that he or the translator did not understand what I was trying to say, so I repeated the same question not once more but twice, receiving the same answer each time, "You are here." 
Finally the translator put an end to this Abbott and Costello, "Who's on first" comedy.  She explained what I could not yet understand.  She said, "It does not matter what you do once you arrive at the parish.  You do not need to do anything.  The fact that you would take the time and make the effort to come is all that matters.  Caring enough to be here is what is important."  Even I could finally understood what "You are here" meant.  My American thought process that I must do something to show I care began to fade. 
So a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time and made the effort to "be here" for Forward in Health and the people we serve in Haiti; even it meant you never left your home.  You have been there by supporting Forward in Health and our efforts in Haiti. "You are here" means you care. Caring occurs in many forms.  The success of Forward in Health would not have been, Klinik Fonfred would not be in existence, without so many people "being here."  Thank you for caring!
John Mulqueen, MD
President of Forward in Health

Monday, October 10, 2016 

Dear Friends, Family and Forward in Health Supporters:
As you probably are aware Hurricane Matthew was a direct hit on Southern Haiti October 4, 2016, exactly where Forward in Health provides life-saving healthcare every day.  Our clinic, Klinik Fonfred, opened in September of 2015.  Our mission and the need have never been more urgent and timely.

The Forward in Health clinic, Klinik Fonfred, sustained significant damage.  The security wall surrounding the clinic land was severely damaged and will need to be rebuilt.  There was water damage resulting in the loss of medical supplies.  Two water tanks were damaged beyond repair.  The roof of the depot was blown off.  Several areas of the clinic itself, doors and walls, were damaged.  The security booth was destroyed.

In spite of this the clinic must rise back up because the community of Fonfred and all surrounding towns were ravaged and are in ruins.  80% of the homes were damaged.  The usual poor sanitary conditions are incredibly now worse from flooding.  Food, clean water, and fuel are in frighteningly short supply.

Because of the above it is certain that the clinic will be over-run with sick patients within the next 2 weeks.  After natural disasters infectious diseases such as Cholera, Malaria, and Typhoid run rampant.  Forward in Health is prepared to send a medical team to help support the clinic staff.  We will need medical supplies, medications, and oral and IV fluids to treat dehydration.  Without this people will die in large numbers.

Forward in Health has a track record of success where larger better funded organizations have failed.  We desperately need your financial help.  You will never have to ask, “What happened to the money donated to help Haiti?” when you donate to FIH.  We will be able to show you not only results and a positive impact from your donation, but the faces of the people you are helping.
Any amount will help.  The need is great.  As of today, less than 1 week after the hurricane, the clinic is open again.  However the worst is yet to come.  Please send a tax deductible donation by check to Forward in Health at 192 Lawrence, Gardner, MA 01440 or through the donation link on our web site, forwardinhealth.org.  

Paula Mulqueen, BSN, RN         John Mulqueen, MD                                                                                                                                                                          Co-Founders, FIH

Sunday, March 24, 2013 

Spring Newsletter and Student Trip

                   Winchendon School students from the 2012 trip at the "nursing home".

In a little over 24 hours 14 high school students from The Winchendon School in Winchendon, MA will be waking up to begin their journey to Les Cayes, Haiti with Forward in Health. Travel day will begin with the bus pulling out of The Winchendon School at 1:30 AM to Logan Airport. The group will have 4 chaperones including FIH co-founder and all everything Paula Mulqueen and FIH board member Debbie Orre. This will be the first large group to stay at the FIH guest house. Among the many activities planned, the students will be painting the check-in/check-out area the school color green and the school logo. Another sign that opening day is coming! They will also shop at the market, prepare the food, decorate the dining area, and serve Easter dinner to the 38 residents at a "nursing home". It is not exactly what we think of as a nursing home. The visit and dinner prepared by the students is a highlight for the residents.

The spring FIH newsletter is out. If you did not receive it take a look by clicking on http://ymlp.com/zrPbXE .

Sunday, March 03, 2013 

...the work remains

            2013 has gotten off to a great start for FIH and promises to be the year that the dream becomes a reality! The decision has been made to open the first wing of the clinic, a little less than half of the clinic space that has been built so far. This will require finish work; doors, windows, paint, medical equipment, etc. This is what we can afford to do and will provide 4 exam rooms, an area to check in and check out, and a pharmacy.  As excited as everyone associated with Forward in Health is for this historic opening, the people of Fondfrede are both excited and yet holding their breath. I imagine that it is difficult to completely believe in something happening that has never been done before. We promise it will.
            February has been a busy month for FIH. A medical team of 15 nurses, doctors, and lay people spent the first week of February in Haiti. Five different clinics were held and over 700 adults and children were seen. There were many highlights and patients seen who touched our hearts as we provided badly needed medical care. However it is always the patients we were unable to help as well as we would have liked who we cannot stop thinking about. All of the doctors and nurses had a few patients who reinforced the truth that the permanent medical clinic cannot come soon enough.
            February has also seen FIH take a long stride toward sustainability of the clinic. FIH now has a guest house in Les Cayes which will be open to anyone or any group traveling to Les Cayes. It will be able to sleep 20 guests, so tell your friends! The building has been unoccupied for 2-3 years. The owner has refurbished the inside including updating electrical and plumbing. FIH co-founder Paula Mulqueen has already been the first guest. Our dedicated contractor overseeing construction in Fondfrede, Hal Seifert, is in Haiti until the end of April and is staying in the guest house along with our right hand men Evens and John. The medical team saw 30 children at the guest house on the last day of the trip. All of the children live in the neighborhood. The man who helped set this up gave us 2 thumbs up as we drove away and then yelled, “When are you coming back for the adult’s clinic?” As the Sisters of Charity tell us each time that we leave, “Your time is done, but the work remains.” Amen sister! We shall return. This is now our neighborhood too.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013 

Bringing More Than Life Saving Medical Care

Aerial view of the FIH Compound

Forward in Health is beginning 2013 with more plans, progress, and promise than at any time in our brief history. FIH was founded in 2006 with the apparently simple mission of bringing basic healthcare to the impoverished people of  FondeFred, Haiti. FondeFred is a community of 8,000 people with another 8,000 people in the surrounding area. The closest access to basic medical care, other than a small group of nurse midwives, is in Les Cayes, 30 minutes away with a truck and when the road is open. Oh and of course there is the matter of money. There are not any medical safety nets in Haiti. You pay for everything out of pocket. For people who cannot afford 2 meals a day paying to see a doctor is a luxury most cannot afford.

Fulfilling our mission and opening a clinic has been much more challenging than we ever expected. However one of our mottos has been, "If it was easy someone else would have already done it." No longer the wide eyed naive optimists, FIH has crossed many a road block and mountain to become wizened wide eyed optimists. If nothing else FIH is comprised of persistent bounce back up after being knocked down resilient people. 
Neighbors in front of the soon to be opened wing of the clinic

Well the promise and fruits of our labor are about to be fulfilled. Looking forward (It's in our name after all), 2013 will see the opening of the first medical wing of the clinic! It needs finish work; paint, medical and office supplies, finish electrical and plumbing, and of course the Haitian professionals to provide the care. The clinic will have 4 exam rooms, an area for intake and checkout, and a pharmacy. It will be open 5  1/2 days per week and provide basic medical care to adults, children, prenatal care, health education, and hope. For a people who often feel forgotten without optimism for the future for themselves and their children, the clinic has been described by one mother as, "the hand of God reaching down to us."

The second major development and 2013 accomplishment will be the opening of an FIH mission house in downtown Les Cayes. A building which is affordable and available to rent has been identified.  It requires cosmetic work, updating the electrical and plumbing, and furnishings. The house will be able to sleep up to 20 travelers at a time. Any and all profit from the house will go directly to the running of the medical clinic. Expats (new term for missionaries in another country), students, medical teams, missionaries, will not only have a life changing third world experience but know that they are helping to fund and provide medical care to the poor in FondeFred! 

A recent  success worth mentioning is that FIH has been providing clean drinking water to the community with a hand dug well. In the middle of December 2012 a 120 foot well was drilled and is able to pump out 20 gallons of fresh clean water per minute. This will be used by the clinic and twice each day opened up to the community.

It has been said by those who have done this before that a medical clinic opens the door for development and businesses to come into the community. Well we have started to see that already. FIH co- founder Paula Mulqueen, RN was in FondeFred in December and visited a new center for teaching agriculture to young adults between 18 and 21. They already have a Tilapia fish farm!  (They took the aerial photo of the FIH clinic seen on his blog. ) In addition there are plans and signs up announcing the building of a soccer stadium in FondeFred! 

So for the many who have supported FIH I've these past 6 years, job well done. The dream is becoming reality. There is still work to be done, but the goal for phase 1 is in site. As good as we should all feel,just imagine what these means to the people of FondeFred. An answer for a sick child crying with ear pain. Prenatal care and testing for HIV to prevent the spread to another generation. Hope for the future!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 

Forward in Health, the Gardner Massachusetts based non-profit constructing a healthcare clinic in Fonfred, Haiti, is kicking off the Christmas season with a Christmas concert. Performing will be the Fitchburg based Maverick Street Band. The date is Saturday November 24th at 7 PM at the Dukakis Auditorium at Monty Tech High School in Fitchburg, Ma. Tickets are $20 each.The theme for the concert is, helping two communities, the needy in the Gardner community and the poor in Haiti. We hope that everyone will come and enjoy the holiday cheer. However, if you cannot attend, you can buy a ticket for someone in need.

FIH is working with local social support organizations such as the Department of Children and Families, Hope House, Seven Hills Foundation, the Gardner CDC, the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center, and the St. Vincent De Paul Society to identify those in the community who are less fortunate and cannot afford to go to the concert. Companies and organizations are being asked to sponsor the concert, and for every $20 donated FIH will send a person in need to the concert. Anyone who cannot attend but would like to support FIH can also buy tickets for people and families identified as in need.

Christmas is the season of giving. Attend the concert and support the work of Forward in Health in Haiti. Buy a ticket to the concert for members of the community identified as in need. Do both! Your donation serves two communities; the greater Gardner area and the impoverished in Fonfred, Haiti 1700 miles away. To purchase tickets to attend or to donate the cost of a ticket contact Paula Mulqueen at paulamulqueen74@gmail.com. You can mail a tax deductible contribution with a check made out to Forward in Health and mailed to 310 Central St, Gardner, MA, 01440. You can also pay via PayPal. Spread the word and start a happy Christmas season!

Monday, August 06, 2012 

Forward in Health Makes Headlines in The Gardner News

We are pleased to share that Forward in Health was written up in The Gardner News on July 13, 2012. Click on the below images to read the latest news!