Haiti: A Truly Astounding Gift

In the Western hemisphere there exists but one small populational subset that is equally as poor and equally as needy as those who now inhabit Port au Prince. It is the half million or so Hondurans who live on the Moskita Coast, a geographically isolated region of the Honduran jungle along the border with Nicarauga.

They are only minimally connected to the rest of the world by a few phones and the odd television, and by those non-natives who arrive occasionally by small boat or bush plane. But what they do have in abundance here are crippled lobster divers-more than 1500 by the latest count, whose bodies have been neurologically severed into thirds or halves by nitrogen narcosis, commonly known as, "The Bends."

These young men, most are under 25, are forced by the lobster industry to make repeated dives to great depths, without decompressing, so we here in the U.S. can enjoy cheap meals in our local chain seafood establishments. It is these "buzos lisiados" (injured divers) who are asking for help. But not in the way one would think.

For most of the last decade I've been associated with a tiny- internally funded-charity (by tiny, I mean two or three people and the occasional draftee) based in the back warehouse of the founders medical clinic. For more than ten years Dr. Steve Foster has ministered to those along the Moskito Coast, not only sharing his faith but also his fortune, in fact, since Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras in 1999, much of his net worth has moved from Dalton, Georgia to the environs of central America.

Not long ago Foster shipped two 40 foot containers filled with clothing, foodstuffs, farm implements and other supplies to Honduras. But in one container there was something special, very very special. "We've got 78 wheelchairs for the paralyzed divers," Foster stated, "and a lot of these men and their families have been waiting literally for years for one of these specially designed vehicles."

When word of the disaster in Haiti finally reached the Moskito Coast, Foster received a call from the paralyzed divers representative. "I couldn't believe it," he said, his eyes wet, "they wanted me to take their containers, with those precious wheelchairs, these poor people, they wanted me to take everything that was coming to them and give it to the Haitians. In all my years of charity work, I had never come across anything like this, this kind of extraordinary sacrifice, I mean I was just stunned!"

Foster didn't have the heart to tell the divers representative that the charity's old army surplus boat, a boat that had ferried supplies across the Caribbean to Haiti when Hurricane Jeanne had struck back in '04, was down with a bad engine and that he was scrambling to find funds to make the repairs. "I'm going to do it somehow, we're going to get that old boat fixed and take those containers to Haiti."

Throughout history there have been tales of men and nations making great sacrifices. As tiny as this act is by international standards, when measured on the human scale, it is without equal.

If any of you reading this would like to aid in this endeavor you can contact the charity directly at