In 1993, during my first trip to Haiti, I met Joel Barbot. Our short-term team was holding a medical clinic in the small village of Dubedou. I worked closely with Joel and found him delightful, compassionate and competent. We were close allies in finding the elderly and getting them into the clinic.
The clinic was set up inside the Free Methodist church. The courtyard was a sea of desperate people trying to get into the clinic. There was little organization at that time and people were pushing to get in. Mothers and fathers were holding up babies, pleading for us to take them in. It was a heart-wrenching task to choose who would enter.
Around the edges were the elderly. These people appeared to lack the energy to push through the crowd and were easily forgotten. Joel and I would walk slowly around the edges of the crowd and search for the elderly needing care. Then we would escort them inside the church. At that time, I knew no Creole and Joel had very limited English, but we would make eye contact as we found someone who needed a doctor. After we got the person into the clinic, we would giggle with delight that we had been able to help some of these forgotten people.
Joel is now the assistant pastor at the Free Methodist Church in Finel. Recently, Pastor Delamy sent photos of Joel searching out and finding the elderly to bring them into the Clinic of Hope. He continues to have a heart for the elderly and serves as an example to other community health volunteers.
This warms my heart as I think back 28 years to my first encounter with this marvelous man. Most HFH team members know Joel as the man who distributes and patiently explains the medicines to the waiting patients. In addition to this, I have had the privilege of knowing Joel as a man with a heart for the elderly.
By Linda Markee, HFH Founder Emerita