June 1, 2011
Our Partner in Health in Mirebalais: John Chew — Partners in Health

 

  

Project Coordinator John Chew overlooking excavation at Mirebalais Hospital site.  Photo credit:  Tony Crece, Operation Blessing

Every evening at sunset, Mirebalais Hospital Project Coordinator, John Chew, hikes the rocky hill that overlooks the site of Haiti’s biggest construction project since the January 12th earthquake to witness the fruits of his labor. Oftentimes, he’ll snap a photo, or just simply reflect on the day’s work and the progress made. To him, it’s a ritual that reminds him of how he feels each day on the site.

“This is a project that shows hope and gives me hope,” says John in the site’s office shed one humid morning. “After the earthquake, everything was discouraging. There were so many small-scale, temporary projects going on in Port-au-Prince. But here in Mirebalais, I am now able to work on something that is long-term for Haiti, something that is going to make a huge difference.”…

With over 200 Haitian construction workers on site six days a week to build the 180,000 square foot, 320-bed facility, John has a lot on his shoulders.  But if anyone can make this happen, John is definitely the guy….

For the past eight months, John has been working to build a facility that is more than twice the capacity of Partners in Health’s largest existing hospital in Haiti. With the capacity to see more than 500 patients a day, the Mirebalais Hospital will provide Haitians access to clinical services that are not available in any other public hospital in the country. John is confident that not only will the hospital save lives, but it will also provide jobs so that families can send their kids to school, as well as attract other business to Mirebalais.

Once operational, the hospital will be a national training hospital providing educational opportunities for medical and nursing students. For John, the hospital will be a place that will connect Haiti to the world and will be a place where both Haitian and foreign doctors can learn from each other. But the training has already begun on the construction site. “I love the training aspect of my job,” says John. “Every day, I’m involved in training people to use power tools or to read blue prints, which are new skills for many Haitian workers on the site. By acquiring new skills, these workers will be able to go out and get good jobs and become better bosses…”

Atop the hill overlooking the site, John expresses how beholden he feels to Haiti, the place he has spent much of his adult life.  “I feel indebted to this country for what I have learned here,” says John.  “Everyday I learn something. I am indebted to the people and to their love. It has been humbling twenty-five years and I am most grateful to Haiti….” 

 

For the full article from May 26 see:  http://www.pih.org/blog/entry/our-partner-in-health-john-chew/

For current progress on the site see http://www.pih.org/blog/entry/construction-update-from-mirebalais-hospital-late-may/

For the most recent donors to the project from the US construction community see:     http://www.pih.org/blog/entry/mirebalais-in-kind-donation-update/