Davenport Campus

Bringing hope to Haiti

During the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, a falling cement block gave this four-yearold girl a large gash, which Dr. Baxter says took 45 minutes to clean.
Haitian child with bandage on head

When Charles Baxter, D.C., headed to Haiti following that’s country’s catastrophic earthquake on January 12, he was returning to a place his heart had never left.

“I was in Haiti over 10 years ago in Les Cayes on a missionary trip performing chiropractic,” he recalls. “On the trip I was told a famous Haitian quote by the priest I stayed with, ‘Many people come to change Haiti, however, it will change you first.’”

After watching news coverage of the earthquake, Dr. Baxter called one of his Haitian patients in the U.S., Gama Parayson, to see if his family back in Haiti was okay and to offer to pay for a flight to Haiti. Dr. Baxter also offered to accompany Mr. Parayson so that he could provide his services for free, which the Haitian was happy to accept.

Once in Haiti, the two headed to Grand Goave, where Mr. Parayson’s family runs a mission church and orphanage called the Mission of Hope Grand Goave. Although the mission’s orphanage had been destroyed by the earthquake, miraculously, no children were hurt.

The first patient Dr. Baxter saw in a nearby town had a compound fracture of his femur and infected open wounds. As the day went on, the 1995 Davenport Campus graduate saw many more people with fractures, dislocations and spinal injuries— most caused by cement walls that had fallen on them during the earthquake.

One four-year-old girl had a 4½ by 1½ inch gash on her occiput after a cement block fell eight feet and struck her on the head. The girl’s injuries deeply affected Dr. Baxter as earlier that day he had called his wife and learned that their four-year-old daughter was having a difficult time with him being gone.

“At the clinic, a doctor and I spent 45 minutes cleaning her wound,” said Dr. Baxter of the young patient. “This little girl sat there and never moved, never flinched, and never shed a tear. I did get several hugs later, though.”

Back at the orphanage, Dr. Baxter’s first patient was a woman with a neck injury. After he adjusted her, she shared her positive experience with others. This led to even more patients coming to Dr. Baxter for relief.

The girl above was unable to place any weight on her left sacroiliac joint after the earthquake caused a cement wall to land on her. Dr. Baxter examined her and adjusted her prone, using her father for both comfort and lack of a proper table. Following her adjustment, she was able to bear weight immediately after 15 days of being unable to walk.
Dr. Baxter adjusting child on her father with children watching in the doorway

“I was received very well by the people I saw and by the people I adjusted,” said Dr. Baxter. “Because chiropractic has a minimal at best history in Haiti, the people had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. Thankfully, chiropractic works and it transcends language and race.”

“We as a profession must come to terms with the idea that we can be and are primary healthcare providers,” he said. “We need to be in the forefront of disasters like Haiti, Katrina and Chile—not as idle observers but willing participants.”

Dr. Baxter will be returning to Haiti this summer in hopes of establishing a permanent location for chiropractic care. If you’d like to assist Dr. Baxter with his work, you may contact him at P.O. Box 363, Athol, MA 01331.

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