One of the bags to be sent to Friends of Children of Haiti for use by a pharmacy team in Haiti. Photo by Bernadette Lauritzen

BY BERNADETTE LAURITZEN
Executive Director
LARSO

When the world feels like it will never return to normal, how do you help those you help in person? On Friday, July 22, former Smith’s pharmacist Katie Fry continues her good deeds by making reusable bags for the pharmacy team in Haiti.

Two years ago, Fry and her friend Elizabeth Hargreaves were working on a project for Haiti, just before the world shut down.

“We were trying to collect/make reusable bags for the pharmacy in Haiti,” Fry said. “We would like to complete the project of stamping/painting the logo on all the bags.”

Previous bags have often been burned or ended up in the ocean, so the result will be two good deeds, instead of one.

The ladies need extra hands to make that happen. The Betty Ehart Senior Center will hold this activity from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday at a socially distanced facility, where COVID vaccination is mandatory to attend the session. The team will provide stencils, fabric paint and foil/newspaper to line the bags. Those unable to attend are asked to deposit spare change at either center until the end of the month.

Nathan Ruby, Executive Director of Friends of the Children of Haiti, has had the pleasure of working with many volunteers like Fry and Hargreaves who continue to improve the lives of the people of Haiti.

“Our biggest pivot was to grow from an active volunteer base, who traveled to Haiti 4 to 6 times a year to provide primary health care to an all-Haitian staff,” Ruby said. “Due to political instability and COVID, we have not had a volunteer team in Haiti since September 2019.”

Fortunately, work had begun to prepare their clinics to be entirely Haitian-led in 2018. According to Ruby, they currently have 50 Haitian employees, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and lay staff. Unfortunately, Ruby says Haiti continues to deteriorate. That’s why small events like this week’s are so meaningful.

“We are experts in providing primary health care in Haiti,” Ruby said. “We’ve been doing it since the 1990s and we’re making a huge difference.”

Friday’s goal is to create 900 to 1,000 bags. The Betty Ehart Senior Center Volunteer Office picks up a volunteer sign-up list at (505) 662-8920, so you don’t have too many volunteers at once.

Fry credits Hargreaves with the success of the project.

“This project is the brainchild of Elizabeth Hargreaves, a retired registered nurse, who has also made several trips to Haiti,” Fry said. “As a craftswoman, Elizabeth started sewing bags over two years ago and soon several other people were sewing and donating bags. Unfortunately, we entered a pandemic and we sat on this project.

Now is the time for the duo to step up and hopefully get the bags delivered to Friends of the Children of Haiti in Peoria, and Haiti a few at a time.