January 2010

I want to very clear that Saint Anthony’s is not our clinic. Rather, it is a facility that we have worked with a handful of others to build, with everyone playing crucial roles. Without any of the following, there would be no Saint Anthony’s:

  • Bonnie and Mike DelBalzo — When Jen decided that she wanted to build Saint Anthony’s, she didn’t really know where to start. She simply had a dream and a small amount of seed money. After putting out the word to the members of Church of the Nativity of Burke, Va., our parish priest, Father Richard Martin, Food for the Poor and Operation Starfish, she was contacted by Bonnie and Mike, members of St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Inwood, W.Va. They generously donated the money to build the building itself, and Bonnie traveled to see it dedicated in 2008. Without Bonnie and Mike, there would simply be no Saint Anthony’s, as it allowed for Jen and I to use our funds to start up an operational budget.
  • Father Duken Augustin — Father Duken is the parish priest in the area of Saint Anthony’s. Father Duken is involved in countless community activities, going above and beyond the role of even the most hardworking men of God. Without his blessing, none of this would be possible. He was vital in building the Nativity III Village in the first place, and he unfortunately has had to deal with the aftermath of countless disasters in the community, including the terrible floods of 2009. Our parish priest Father Richard Martin calls Father Duken his hero, and that says it all.
  • Our good friends with Food for the Poor — Jim McDaniel (fellow Nativity parishoner), Delane Bailey-Herd, and Bambi Ziadie allowed for Jen’s dream to come true, as Food for the Poor handles the day-to-day management of the facility and the associated annuity. This allows for all donations to be tax-free. They have always been there for us at a moment’s notice, smoothing out the many bumps in the road that we have had.
  • Dr. Maklin Eugene — Dr. Eugene works at Saint Anthony’s clinic one day a week seeing patients. He is our man on the ground. He is a good man and a great friend, and we are blessed to know him.
Dr. Maklin Eugene

Jennifer Schmidt with Dr. Maklin Eugene. Bonnie DelBalzo can be seen on the right.


This is a video of the truck ride into the village, Nativity Village 2. It was amazing to see the children running after the truck. They put a beautiful banner welcoming her to the village.

Jen entered Prolonge and saw a sign put up for her. A place of hope, but look at the dog. It’s a tough place to find calories.
This was another part of Jen’s October 2008 journey to our clinic in Prolonge, Haiti. This is a great clip for showing the look and feel of the streets there …

[The following was sent to our family and friends on May 16, 2009]

I hope you are all doing well and that you are finally getting a chance to enjoy spring. I wanted to drop you a line to let you know how things are going with the clinic that we helped to build in Cap Haitien, Haiti, almost two years ago.

If you remember, I had a chance to go to Haiti for the first time in 2006 to see what Food for the Poor and our church, Church of the Nativity in Burke, VA, had accomplished there. Basically taking the poorest of the poor, people who had lived in an open garbage pit, and giving them homes to live in, clean water to drink, and jobs in the fishing and agricultural industries. It really changed me – it’s pretty sobering to see people living with total dignity after being given just a few of the comforts of life that we take for granted. And we made many friends – these are people who want to take care of their communities and have a future for their children.

St. Anthony’s medical clinic, Cap Haitien, Haiti

St. Anthony’s medical clinic, Cap Haitien, Haiti

I was troubled that the people in this area – about 10,000 – still had zero access to health care. Working in pediatrics as a nurse practitioner, it was extremely difficult for me to see these children merely “surviving.” They were walking around day after day with the worst cases of malnutrition, ringworm, pink eye, scabies, upper respiratory infections, cuts that had become severely infected, etc. Just knowing that we in the U.S. could have cured these ailments with simple treatments that they did not have access to broke my heart! A simple cut on an arm could mean infection and a terrible outcome, because a simple disinfectant wasn’t available to them. These people, full of pride and a strong work ethic, had to fear broken bones and infections in a way that we never could imagine.

Haiti has an infant mortality rate of 64 deaths for every 1,000 births. The majority of women deliver their babies in the streets and lack both prenatal and post-delivery care, therefore making this devastating statistic: 670 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births, a nightmare reality. Something needed to be done to provide these people with healthcare, and I made it my mission to do something about it. We wanted to start small with basic healthcare and prevention and continue to expand throughout the years.

So we decided to do our best to open a simple medical clinic in this area to help all the people that we could. The point of Operation Starfish (the official name of our church’s Haiti mission) is the story of the man walking on the beach throwing washed-up starfish back into the ocean; when someone told him that he couldn’t save all of the thousands that had washed up, he replied that he could still save the ones that he could throw back into the water. He could make a difference in that one’s life. This has been our inspiration – while we can’t save every life, we can do our best to save many, who can later go to school in the village and hopefully someday improve their country in ways that we can only imagine.

We dedicated $10,000 to start a clinic-building fund and were quickly amazed by the generosity of people we had never even met who heard about the effort. A couple in Winchester, Va., donated $15,000 for the construction of the simple, three-room clinic, and ground was quickly broken and the structure completed in early 2008. We decided to dedicate our original donation to building a long-term annuity so that the money necessary to run the clinic would be available long after Andy and I are gone. It only costs about $6,000 a year for us to provide health care for about 10,000 people, which, two years into this project, is still difficult for me to wrap my mind around.

With the generosity of others, most of whom we have never met, the annuity is now above $30,000, and we believe that we are only a couple of years away from hitting our eventual goal of $120,000. When we hit this total, almost all of the operating expenses will come from the interest earned on the fund that we set up with the help of an accountant at our church (at no cost on our part). In fact, there is VERY little overhead to this effort – about 95+ percent of the money we have been able to raise has gone directly into the project, we are proud to say. The accounting and day-to-day operations of the facility are handled by Food for the Poor, the 2nd largest non-profit organization in the U.S. dedicated to helping the poorest of the poor. We are proud to be affiliated with them. They are also managing the annuity for us, which means that any donations to the fund are tax-free. http://www.foodforthepoor.org

Performing pediatric care on a young girl

Performing pediatric care on a young girl

I have gone on three trips to Haiti so far, and I organized our first medical mission trip last fall. We were able to treat more than 400 patients in five days. Almost every child that I saw had scabies, ringworm and intestinal parasites, which were easily treated from the medications we brought. The intestinal parasites rob these children of any nutrients they may get from the scarce food to which they have access. I hope to start a program where we can provide the children in the village with anti-parasite medication every six months and multi-vitamins daily, along with the feeding program in the village, in order to aid in improved growth and development. I plan to conduct these medical mission trips annually and if anyone (especially medical professionals) is interested, please let me know. Traveling there will change your life!

With our current money flow, we were able to hire an amazing  local doctor to work one day a week and have a nurse and medical assistant there throughout the week. It’s amazing how much impact there has been with just the effort of a few. And we were able to send a sea container there last year full of all of the necessary medical equipment, which we were able to gather from donations and from Medical Missionaries, Inc. in Manassas, Va.

Triaging patients in the waiting room

Triaging patients in the waiting room

We know that everyone seems to be going through tough times these days, but if you are interested in making a tax-free donation to our fund, no matter how small or how large, we would greatly appreciate it!

Along with this letter, there is a donation envelope that will go directly toward St. Anthony’s Clinic. Food for the Poor, Inc. will send you a letter in the spring for tax purposes.

Even a very small donation will mean a lot to not only us, but most importantly to improving the health and well-being of our friends in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

May God bless you and your family!

Thank you for your friendship and support,

Adorable twin boys, Mackendi and Mackenzie

Adorable twin boys, Mackendi and Mackenzie

Jen and Andy
May 16, 2009

Thank you for stopping by. We are Jennifer and Andrew Schmidt. In 2008, we helped to build a small health center in the Pro Longe’ area of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, with Miami-based Food for the Poor. The clinic now has a doctor staffed there one day a week and a nurse and medical technician who are there throughout the week. Jennifer takes a team of medical professionals there once a year (usually in February).

The clinic has been a success. However, the earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince earlier this month has changed everything. Refugees are migrating toward the north coast and into Saint Anthony’s Clinic at a steady rate. On Feb. 14, Jen is taking a team of six-person medical team composed of doctors, nurse pracitioners, and nurses to Cap-Haitien to work at Saint Anthony’s and other clinics in the north. This blog will attempt to document their experiences and travels.

Much, much more to follow. In the meantime, I will post our newsletter, which we sent to friends and family in May 2009.