Joey Bordeleau: A Spirit of Giving
“Evangelize, equip, empower, and encourage.” – Goal of Haitian Christian Outreach.
The goal of the Haitian Christian Outreach (HCO) program is easy to grasp, but impossible to accomplish were it not for the volunteer spirit of individuals such as ERC’s Joey Bordeleau.
The University of South Alabama graduate, who joined TOSC in July 2013, has made a positive impact to his peers as an electrical engineer, but it’s what he did during his summer “vacation” that resonates deeply within those who know him.
For one week in July, the Cocoa Beach resident helped upgrade a medical center – in storm-ravaged Haiti. In sweltering conditions. With no A/C.
“In the past, I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Brevard County on projects in Palm Bay,” Joey said. “I have grown up volunteering in my community through my church and other organizations. I enjoy coming alongside other people to work and achieve a common goal that will also impact someone’s life in our local community.”
Giving back has always been one of Joey’s strongest traits, but nothing as extensive or exhausting as his efforts helping the people of Haiti, who have yet to rebound from the earthquake of January 2010. This is where organizations such as Haitian Christian Outreach play such an important role.
“My roommate’s mom recently married the director for Haitian Christian Outreach,” said Joey. “I was introduced to him near the end of April and invited to join them on the July trip. I actually did not have my passport at the time they invited me and had to expedite the process in order to be able to go on the trip.”
Haitian Christian Outreach is an outreach organization whose headquarters is located in Mahomet, IL, but has been in Haiti for 30 years. The organization’s reach expands from Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti, south to the cities of Jacmel and Peredo. Their main campus, which houses the medical clinic, is located in Peredo.
“HCO not only provides medical services to the Haitian communities, but also runs seven schools for students K-12 and currently educates over 2,000 students. Their main campus has the medical clinic, four dorms, one dining hall, a church and three buildings used for classrooms.
“The team I traveled with consisted of six people. Other than myself, the director for HCO traveled with us and a dentist from Flagstaff, AZ. Our primary job was to aid in building the medical clinic and build relationships while working alongside the Haitian people. The dentist that traveled with us also performed cleanings, extractions and fillings for members of the community.
“The existing medical clinic was built and opened in 2013. The addition of the clinic currently employs 17 Haitian men to build the new buildings and is staffed with four doctors and multiple volunteer nurses. Once the addition to the clinic is complete, it will add on two surgical suits, an OB delivery, Nursery, and a 20-bed hospital. The addition began in 2014 and is set to open in 2016.
“The new hospital is being built from blocks known as Compressed Dirt Blocks (CDB). The blocks are made from clay that is local to the region, limestone, black sand, and only 8% cement. Each of these materials is mixed along with water and compressed in a machine to form the shape of a block similar to a cinder block. The blocks are then sat out in the sun for two weeks and allowed to harden. The hospital will require nearly 36,000 blocks.
Scorching conditions made construction more difficult, but the reward was helping so many people who were destitute.
“The climate was very hot and humid; basically imagine a sweltering hot day in Florida, except no air conditioning and only a slight breeze,” Joey said. “They are currently in the dry season of the year and we only received rain one day of the trip for only a few hours.
“Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and most people there make the equivalent of $250 U.S. dollars a year. The cities, such as Port Au Prince, were vastly populated and most of the people spent their days selling goods on the side of the road and in the markets.
“The Haitian people were extremely welcoming and excited for us to visit. Haitians are extremely hard working people, most of the men we worked with arrived on campus at 5:30 in the morning and would work until 4:00 in the evening.
“The animals looked to be in bad condition. Most cows were mere skin and bones and nearly the same for the goats. There were quite a few dogs as well, most of which followed people around trying to find food. The only dog that looked like a normal American dog is the one living on HCO’s campus.”
While administering to their medical needs, Joey and his HCO teammates often preached Christian ministry to Haitians, which is no easy task, especially when other faiths are practiced nearby – like voodoo.
“Tuesday evening, while most of our team was relaxing in the A/C of the clinic, a group of 10-12 people carried a man into the clinic who was severely malnourished and unresponsive,” Joey said. “The doctors and medical students transferred the man on to a bed and admitted him into the clinic. The man was given an IV and the medical students began to try and get him to respond; the process took quite a while and even longer for him to stabilize and return to normal.
“Once he returned to normal, he began to tell everyone his story of survival. The man was named Lucas and he was from Les Cayes, which was a little over 200 Km from Peredo. He had been kidnapped on Thursday, along with his cousin, in the city of Port Au Prince by a Haitian witch doctor. The witch doctor’s intention was to use him as a human sacrifice, which is a common practice among the Haitian’s who practice voodoo.
“Lucas, being a Christian, overcame every attempt the witch doctor made to take his life and was eventually released and left to die. Lucas wandered around for a few days before a group of people found him only a half mile from our campus.”
Lucas is just one example of the hundreds of Haitian lives saved through the services provided at the many medical centers being built from the rubble. A dream that became reality thanks to the hard work and sacrifice from volunteers such as Joey Bordeleau.
“Traveling to Haiti and experiencing how people in other countries live, especially a country as poor as Haiti, allowed me to appreciate living in America a lot more and having simple utilities such as air conditioning,” Joey said.
- Times Staff