Bèl ti fi

April 19, 2024

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“Bèl ti fi,” I said.  Bèl ti fi means ‘beautiful little girl’ in Creole. I was speaking to a little girl’s father. Both were waiting patiently outside the Clinic of Hope in Terre Blanche in November 2018.

I was there as part of a HFH medical team to do a week-long clinic. It was my first trip to Haiti and my older sister, Tina, had joined me and the rest of the team to see what a short-term mission trip was like.

It was almost the end of six days of long, seemingly never-ending queues of people of all ages, hundreds of them lined up for medical help. The team members worked alongside the Clinic of Hope’s staff to provide medical care for those who came.

Dr. Dave and Tina with a family.

Some ailments were serious. One person had been admitted to the overnight ward with a serious fever and infection on the first day. The patient had to be isolated until the doctors were sure what the problem was. In a few days, healing took place under their care. Other conditions were more mundane – aches and pains, various chronic conditions, intestinal discomfort, headaches, high blood pressure, skin conditions related to diet, and general malaise. In a country where the health care system struggles to meet massive needs, a clinic, with a medical team like this, will draw hundreds of people over a week’s time.  Word spreads and the people come. We saw over seven hundred people in six days.

Bèl ti fi – one of many.

This particular day, the father and his daughter had been there since early morning, sitting patiently in the shade of the clinic building, waiting their turn. She had fallen asleep in his lap. Dressed all in white with lace trimming on her collar and socks, all dressed up in her finest clothes she was… beautiful. As Dr. ‘Papa’ Joe had said earlier in the week at one of our trainings, “Haitians love to love their children.” Here was witness to that truth. This father doted on his little girl, who couldn’t have been more than 4 years old. He smiled when I complimented her to him, nodded and said, “Oui. Bèl ti fi.” Like parents everywhere, you could tell he would do anything for her welfare.

Busy the rest of the day in the pharmacy area, I wasn’t able to keep track of the outcome for the girl, but I knew she would have been treated like everyone else – carefully, in an unhurried manner, with respect and dedicated attention. The Bible teaches that each human person bears the image of God and is therefore of inestimable worth and value. Haiti Foundation of Hope and its many ministries – clinic, school, church, vocational training, and other supported programs around Terre Blanche – all grow out of that deep Christian conviction.

As we know, Haiti is in the midst of a terrible national crisis, one that has been escalating since that trip in 2018. On our way back to Port-au-Prince, we had to be escorted by National Police to make it through burning barriers of tires set by gangs to protest the government and discourage travel. Safely in our hotel near the airport, we rested and traveled home the next day. Ours was the last HFH medical team able to go until, in the future, the country is stable enough to send teams again.

Whatever the future holds for Haiti, in Terre Blanche the continuing ministry of the stalwart and faithful staff of the clinic and the school, the tireless leadership of Pastor Delamy and other leaders, and the support of the many who hold Haiti Foundation of Hope in their prayers and support it financially, will one day issue forth in a community reborn.

For that little girl and her father – and the rest of her family – there is a pathway forward. For me, they represent why it is all worth it. My sister, Tina, and I, as well as others, look forward to returning to Terre Blanche again someday. Someday soon. Until then, we give and pray and hope expectantly.

by Fritz Neal, HFH team member

HFH Medical Team, Fall 2018


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