By: Taylor Tidmore, M.D.
I first traveled to Haiti with LiveBeyond in June of 2012. I had met the Vanderpools two years earlier when we ended up in Ghana together on the same surgical trip. After that trip I knew the Vanderpools had been working heavily in Haiti since the earthquake and I wanted to check out what they were doing. Little did I know what a huge impact that trip would have on my own life.
I will never forget my first day of seeing patients in Thomazeau. Early on in the day a young mother, Gertrude, walked into clinic terrified, tired, and defeated. She had brought her daughter, Machina, to the clinic to be seen. Her baby girl was four months old, weighed seven pounds, and was on the verge of death. She was running a high fever, struggling to breathe, and severely dehydrated. Machina had pneumonia and had not had the energy to take in any milk for three days. Even if she would have had the energy to drink, her mother’s breast milk had dried up and she had nothing else to give her.
The medical team immediately recognized this baby’s severe situation and went to work. We gave her antibiotics and began getting as much formula down her as possible. The antibiotics she needed required refrigeration, which obviously her mother did not have access to. So for the next four days Gertrude would bring her to clinic twice a day to receive antibiotics. Each time she came we would feed the baby and send them home with as much formula and food as the mother could carry.
At the end of the last day of clinic we surrounded the mother and baby and prayed for them. As they left we were all fearful that the baby would not make it and we would never see her again.
I came home from that trip an emotional wreck. The poverty, illness, and lack of clean water and food knocked me off my feet. For the first time in my life I felt like I had seen Jesus in the faces of many of the Haitians and the Americans who poured themselves out on others behalf. I never experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in such a powerful way. I had I had to go back and I had to take my wife.
So in October of 2012, I basically forced my wife and her best friend to join me on a return trip to Thomazeau. On our first day of clinic I was shocked when Gertrude showed up. Tears filled my eyes as I realized she was carrying Machina in her arms. It was a stark contrast to what I had seen six months earlier. They were both healthy, vibrant, and their eyes were full of life. It was a sweet reunion and a moment I will never forget.
I have now been to Haiti with LiveBeyond six times. A highlight of each trip is getting to see Gertrude and her daughter. Gertrude is now a full time LiveBeyond employee in the maternal health clinic, so I get the chance to see her and hear about Machina each trip. Gertrude is thriving and has a steady income to provide for her family. She now has access to food and clean water. She now has the ability to pay for the school that Machina just started this fall. When I first met them they were both on the verge of death. Now they are both full of joy and life.
And that’s just one of the many LiveBeyond stories. There are thousands of other citizens of Thomazeau who are moving from death and darkness to life and light because of the work of the Vanderpools and LiveBeyond. I keep going back because I can’t get enough of these stories.
In the six weeks I have spent in Haiti I have met many Haitians, have heard their stories, seen where they live, met their families, and know their names. God has called us all to care for the poor and oppressed and to be willing to sacrifice on their behalf. I had never cared for someone truly in need, I never sacrificed for someone truly in need until I met them face to face in Haiti. And that’s why I encourage everyone I know to go to Haiti. At least for me, I needed to see it firsthand for it to hit me in the heart. We all need someone outside our comfort zone to deeply care about and being willing to sacrifice for. We all need a Gertrude and Machina in our life.
Dr. Taylor Tidmore graduated from Abilene Christian University with a degree in biology in 1999 and from UT Southwestern - Dallas with his medical degree in 2003. He has now been a practicing otolaryngologist in Abilene, Texas for the last seven years. Dr. Tidmore is married to his wife, Heather, and they have four children - Anna (11), Mason (9), Will (7), and Sara (3).