“I don’t think there are many places in America like northwest Georgia,” Carrie Smith said. “The people here are what makes the difference. You can have everything imaginable, but without people who have hearts that are good, then it really doesn’t matter. Neighbors in the Bartow area have donated all sorts of things, such as household items, volunteer time and financial donations. Warehouse space has been donated and it is being filled with goods, such as beds, linens, a couch, bedside tables, lamps, etc. Merchants have outright donated or sold at cost needed items like a generator, freezer, stove and refrigerator.
“Local medical practices have donated durable equipment, including exam tables and lab equipment. Businesses have also helped with donations and special pricing on items needed. These include American Green Rug of Dalton, Bravo Food Service on Aiken Street, Carl Black Automotive Group, Chick-fil-A of Cartersville, Foxgloves Aveda Concept Salon on Main Street, Cartersville Home Depot, Michael Howren Realty, NorthStar Church of Acworth, Roswell Urgent Care, Ryan Eberlein Custom Furniture, Sam Franklin Furniture on Main Street Cartersville and The Little Clinic.”
In the next couple of weeks, the supplies will be transported to Haiti to further the efforts of Hosanna Helping Hand. The donated items will precede a medical team’s trip to Haiti in July.
“Haiti is the poorest country in the world,” said Benny Smith, a physician at Cartersville Family Medicine. “Seventy-seven percent of its population is living in poverty. In fact, 80 percent of the country lives on less than U.S. $2 per day and 50 percent live on less than U.S. $1 per day. Seeing these staggering statistics has compelled us to invest in the people of Haiti. ... There are two main projects that we are assisting Hosanna Helping Hand accomplish. Our desire is one of promoting sustainability versus developing perpetual funding sources. The first is the development of a house that will be used as a guesthouse in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. This will provide secure housing and safe sources of food for individuals serving in Haiti from the United States or other countries. The money generated from the room rentals will provide funding to offset the overhead of other programs. This shipment of materials is crucial in the set up of the guesthouse to furnish a generator for consistent electricity, bedding, fans, refrigerator and stoves.
“The second is to help empower Haitians to fulfill their calling. We stand amazed at the clinical and diagnostic skills of the Haitian physicians to diagnosis and treat based solely, in most instances, on history and physical. Our desire is not [to] be an isolated entity but to be strategic in developing a community health network within Croix-des-Bouquets. Items to start a clinic have been donated from within our community to provide for the initial steps to make this dream become a reality. Efforts lately have been focused on getting the donated items directly to Haiti. Having these items on the ground in Haiti will fuel existing as well as new relationships to better fill the gaps of poverty that plague Haiti. Also, items in the shipment will provide tables and chairs for the students in the schools supported by Hosanna Helping Hand.”
To provide humanitarian aid in Haiti, the Cartersville couple started volunteering with Hosanna Helping Hand about two years ago.
“We have worked with several organizations in different countries,” Benny Smith said. “In Haiti, we work with Steve and Esther Saintus who have become dear friends in a very short period of time. Carrie was introduced to them on her first trip to Haiti. Since that time, our relationship has grown. Their story of growing up in Haiti then leaving as a teenager to come to the States and never wanting to go back to Haiti changed after the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010. They jumped on a plane and spent six months helping out in Port-au-Prince. From that time, they have felt the call to go back and help their fellow Haitians. They founded a nonprofit organization to meet the needs of Haiti. In fact, through their time in Haiti, they have been instrumental in starting an elementary school, trade school, church, and a Bible Academy in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. Their vision and heart for Haiti is far more expansive than this to include providing medical care, combatting illiteracy through education on all grade levels to include secondary education, and developing a group home for the local orphans.
“With our skills of being physicians, we are assisting in developing a long-range plan to meet the medical needs of the community. It is far more than a short-term mission trip. Our desire is to partner with local entities that are already providing care and expand their current scope of practice into the local community. Using the local physicians to provide the care would provide the best way to fill this gap.”
While the community’s support has been overwhelming, the Smiths still are seeking donated items, such as two multi-passenger vans and hotel-sized miniature soaps and lotions, and financial sponsorships for salaries, food, and medical and school supplies.
“Haiti needs a tsunami of help, but it’s going to take grassroot efforts through people like you and me to help,” Carrie Smith said. “Listening to the local people there and getting their opinion and involving them is essential to a successful and sustainable program in Haiti. This effort is about people who have been blessed helping people who are in need and doing it together. All people have something to give or a talent to offer. You make a difference in a million different ways giving what you have to be used where you can. There is no gift better than the other and no need for comparison or worrying about who will get the credit. People were made to help each other. This is also about providing a hand up and not a hand out. For individuals, it’s about discovering and doing what you were created to do — and when you do that, nothing else will bring you more joy. In fact, giving yourself away will help you find the life you have always wanted. It’s like you finally start living life in fifth gear when you find the purpose you were specifically created for.
“When I was in Haiti doing a medical clinic alongside a Haitian doctor in Croix-des-Bouquets, some of the people I saw lived behind the school and were living in one-room tents made of tarps and sticks. They washed using a plastic bowl and slept on the ground or on a board or piece of scrap carpet. In some tents they had a door made from a piece of old tin and the kitchen consisted of one cup and maybe one [to] two other pieces. As I saw this, I realized Haiti really is the poorest country in the world. And yet it is only a three-hour flight from Atlanta.”
For more information about Hosanna Helping Hand or to donate to its efforts, visit www.HosannaHelpingHand.com. Financial donations also can be mailed or delivered to Cartersville Family Medicine, 17 Collins Drive in Cartersville. To inquire about specific needs, call Cartersville Family Medicine at 770-386-9390.