God, Benjy and others!

BY Linda Cox:

While on a mission trip to the House Of Blessings Orphanage, Francky took us to visit Au Cadet, an area which God showed him in a dream to plant a church. On Saturday, May 20, 2017, our plans were to take food to the area residents, talk with them and to provide some relief in the Name of Jesus.  As we made the 2+ hours long ride over very rough Haitian roads out to this very remote beautiful area, it was clear this was a God vision because there was no sign of people, no street signs, nothing that would direct a typical traveler to wander into this area.

[caption id="attachment_1438" align="alignright" width="210"] Benjy before surgery[/caption] As we neared the village, as usual many children ran alongside the truck, but one child in particular caught ourattention.  He was a beautiful little boy, whom we thought was about 9 years old. He was very thin, with a facial abnormality that was heartbreaking.  As we passed out the food, this child came running up with the other boys.  During our visit, we asked Francky to help us find the child’s father, Jean Benoit, so we could talk with him about his son, Benjy.  We learned that Benjy was not 9, but was 16 years old; he was very slight and apparently malnourished.  The father shared when Benjy was born, he looked normal, but that as he grew, his tongue grew at a much faster rate until eventually, it was far too large for his mouth.  At this point, Benjy’s tongue was the size of a small orange.  His tongue had sores all over it, and was turning black underneath.  Benjy’s dad pleaded with us to get help for Benjy, and followed us around all morning saying, “please don’t forget, please don’t forget.”  We assured him we would not forget, but none of us had any idea what we could do for this child in the unknown remote middle of a part of Haiti.  Pastor Francky gave his cell number to Benjy’s dad, and asked him to call him the following week to see if we could set up a line of communication. Jean Benoit did call Pastor Francky the following Monday and again asked for help for Benjy. None of us could get Benjy out of our minds, even after returning home.  We began to call everybody we could think of – Mercy Ships, Doctors Without Borders, Operation Smile – everybody that anybody recommended.  We sent out mass emails to friends who we hoped might have some connections.  Benjy’s story email touched the heart of a good friend, who forwarded it to the Director of Graduate Prosthodontics at Marquette University School of Dentistry. Captivated by Benjy’s story the Director wrote directly to the President of American Dental Association, who immediately agreed to help Benjy with their international team in any way they could help. Another email went to the Dean of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida, who immediately wrote back saying she has a Haitian professor on staff who is very actively involved in mentoring researchers and augmenting the capacity of Haitian community members to foster health promotion and engage in disease prevention. She suggested that we contact Partners In Health International (PIH) in Haiti to see if they would accept Benjy’s case. [caption id="attachment_1440" align="alignleft" width="208"] Benjy, John Wesley and Benjy’s dad.[/caption] Though we struggled to contact someone at PIH, an email introduction was sent to John Wesley, a friend in Haiti who was willing to help us. She included a picture of Benjy, stating he is a child suffering physically and socially, contact information for Pastor Francky, and asked John to contact Pastor Francky. John’s reply was “I’m on it!” The next morning we received a text from John Wesley that he was on his way to Benjy’s village to pick him up to take him to the hospital! We asked him to get in touch with Pastor Francky in Haiti, and coordinate with the family, and worked frantically to wire funds to him to cover costs of transportation, lodging, etc.  Thus started a series of indescribably miraculous run-away events. When John Wesley and Benjy arrived at Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais, we learned that they are a Partners In Health Hospital!  The emergency room doctor on duty was a specialist who was immediately captivated by Benjy’s very unique situation, and took over medical case management on the spot. Amazingly, we learned the Education and Research Director for Partners in Health, Dr. Clisbee, is also on staff at the hospital where Benjy was admitted, and was captivated by Benjy’s case.  Dr. Clisbee contacted us to tell us there would be no charge for any of Benjy’s medical treatment, as the hospital is a teaching and research hospital, and there is no charge to the patients there!  She oversaw all that happened with Benjy and his father while they were at the hospital, including bringing food to them.  Benjy was placed on intravenous antibiotics to treat a severe raging infection in his tongue which had traveled to his mandible.  He remained in the hospital for about a week on heavy duty antibiotics and John Wesley dutifully stayed with Benjy around the clock, taking care of all his needs, and also educating Benjy’s dad and serving as Benjy’s advocate throughout.  After a week, Benjy was discharged with orders to remain on a liquid and very soft-food diet for 10 days and take his antibiotics.  Before surgery could be performed, the severe infection had to be brought under control.  John Wesley and Pastor Francky went to Benjy’s village in the middle of this time to be certain he was taking his medications and following the prescribed diet. Dr. Clisbee felt Benjy needed to be evaluated due to his rare severity anomaly to determine what surgically needed to be done.  She contacted a Boston colleague whose specialty is treating individuals with similar kinds of anomalies. He agreed to fly into Haiti on July 10 to see Benjy and possibly perform surgery.  On July 9, John Wesley and Pastor Francky returned to Benjy’s village, picked Benjy and his dad up, and took them back to Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais. Early Monday morning on July 10 they saw Dr. Mixta, who felt that Benjy’s prognosis was good, and on that morning, he performed a very complex surgery, removing a large cyst from Benjy’s tongue, removing much of the infected tissue and forming a new, normal looking tongue.  The doctor’s assessment was that “surgery went splendidly!” [caption id="attachment_1439" align="alignleft" width="240"] Benjy after surgery[/caption] Update on Benjy on August 10:  Unfortunately, Benjy has an infection, so he is back in the hospital for a few days.  His tongue is swollen, but it still has stitches in it, and the doctor said full recovery would take 6 months – so we are hopeful.  Please keep Benjy and his family in your prayers.  There are concerns as to how well the family can follow through on dietary requirements.  Benjy is very excited to be able to go back to school this fall – he used to go to school, but the kids became frightened that his condition was contagious. It is my understanding the school asked him not to come back.  His goal is to get back to school and become a great musician! From a human perspective – this appeared to be an impossible situation.  A seriously impaired child in the middle of a most remote area of Haiti with very limited communication to anywhere.  A child whose last name we didn’t even know.  How do you start?  How do you find people who have the resources and are willing to help?  How do you pay for it?  Do you try to bring the child to the USA?  How do you involve individuals who have the very specialized skills to address a condition that is so rare that most surgeons never see it?  How do you find a person who will put life on hold to walk a family who never gets into a city, through the complex maze that we all know hospitalization and healthcare to be in the US?  How is it possible to assemble this team?  It was miraculous. And yet, a part of our daily lives. Together, we are a group of individuals who believe the verse “For we are God’s’ masterpiece.  He created us anew in Christ Jesus SO THAT WE COULD DO THE GOOD WORKS HE PLANNED FOR US LONG AGO.”  What if one cog of the wheel had missed that opportunity to jump in and do the good work that God planned for that life to contribute?  How many times do we miss those opportunities that God planned for us – and is yearning for us to jump into?  Our God is an awesome God.  He knows our names…  He knows Benjy’s name.]]>