Work of Dr. Tom Gorin

Former Sanford Pediatrician

HOME PAGEMaine_Friends_of_Haiti.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0

    The work of Haitian Ministries is to help Haitians help other Haitians with feeding programs, orphanages, medical care and schools. They operate an orphanage for seventy young girls; fund 150 students to attend school; run a feeding program; run a medical clinic and medical missions in the rural areas; operate an orphanage for 36 children with HIV/AIDS; and offer environmental educational programs that incorporate reforestation, soil conservation, recycling and new farming techniques.

     The mission of Haitian Ministries is not to run programs of its own but to support those Haitians who are trying to help in their own communities.  To accomplish this end, Haitian Ministries has maintained a house in Port-au-Prince, the Norwich Mission House, for over 20 years.  It has served, as not only the offices for the work that is done there,  but also as a small boarding house for groups to come and visit Haiti to witness its needs and see the projects and meet the Haitians who were running them.  The Mission House was completely destroyed in the January 12 earthquake.

When asked about what conditions were like in Haiti prior to the earthquake, Dr. Gorin said, “It is always difficult for me to describe Haiti to others. You almost have to be immersed in its sights, sounds, and smells to really have a picture of what life is like.  In Port-au-Prince it is very crowded with poorly built concrete homes all over the hillsides.  Streets are packed with people as well as chickens, goats and dogs - lots of dogs.  Many people in the streets are trying to sell something-cooked foods, produce, clothing, electronic devices, etc.  There are many cars, some new and in good condition but most old oil burners that pollute the air and jam the streets. There are always lots of people walking with women carrying big baskets or large jugs of water on their heads and men pulling large carts of stone or steel in the streets.” 

Dr. Gorin discussed that on his first trip to Haiti the most surprising and shocking thing was that after the short flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince you could go from such a land of plenty to a country where people struggle every day just to survive.  He commented, “As a pediatrician I think I was most affected by a visit on my first trip in Haiti to a small hospital for children run by Mother Teresa’s Sisters.  I was there not as a doctor but as a group member on an immersion trip run by Haitian Ministries.  The hospital was a small building with many small children in cribs - some with the IVs running to treat severe dehydration.  Antibiotics were needed there for serious infections such as typhoid and meningitis.  Others who we helped feed were severely malnourished and wasted.  The nurses, who were nuns,  had only limited supplies of medications, most of which appeared to be sample bottles,  like what doctors sometimes hand out in their offices.  There was no lab and no X-Rays.  The nurses treated individuals as best they could, based on their experience,  but many children died.  It is hard to leave this kind of experience behind you when you come back home from such a visit.”

         Dr. Gorin spoke about his involvement in additional projects in Haiti.  He discussed how "The  Haitian Humanitarian Network has just finished building a small clinic in a rural area on the south coast where we provide medication and care through a Haitian nurse practitioner.  The other project is a mobile clinic program that we have been doing for the past four to five years out of Port-au-Prince.  Twice a year about ten of us run clinics in several small communities around the city.  We work with a Haitian woman who built her own orphanage and a small clinic / hospital in a poor neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.”

Tom Gorin praised the Haitian people and elaborated about how they “have a remarkable spirit in the face of what for most is a difficult struggle daily just  to provide the basics of food , water and shelter.”  He feels that their spirit probably comes from their deep religious faith.  Dr. Gorin stated, “They love to talk and laugh and seem to love life despite, to me, how tenuous it seems for them. I have often felt embarrassed by their generosity when those who have very little themselves offer to share food with us when we travel to their communities doing our clinics.”

When the devastating earthquake hit on January 12, the world of the Haitian Ministries turned upside down.  Dr. Gorin commented, “The earthquake is going to greatly affect our mobile clinic project in Haiti as it will I am sure all groups that work out of the Port-au-Prince area.  Fortunately, the small hospital and clinic that we work out of appears only to have been slightly damaged.  It; however,  has not been deemed safe yet to return.  The Norwich Mission House was completely destroyed.  The young American woman, Jillian Thorp, who was running the house,  had to be pulled out of the rubble by her husband, Frank,  after ten hours of digging through concrete.  They were featured on the ‘Today Show’ with Matt Lauer last week.  Since much of our work in Haiti requires the help of those living there to provide a place to stay and transportation-we’re going to be severely hampered in the near future.  We are continuing; however,  our plans for a February trip where the focus may be more on the post rescue and recovery needs of the people.  It will, of course, depend on what is happening on the ground at the time.” 

Dr. Gorin explained that, “Medical care in Haiti is very limited unless you have money.  If you take your child to the hospital, they give you a list of the supplies they will need to treat him or her such as bandages, medicine, and IV’s which you then take to a local pharmacy and bring back for them to administer.  If you cannot afford these, then you’re sent home.  The government funds very little health care so only the rich can afford to pay their own way.  There are however some clinics and a few hospitals run by non-governmental organizations from other countries that help with medical care.”

       In addition to health care, public education is also not funded by the government in Haiti.  People interested in attending school must pay tuition.  In a country that is so impoverished many people can not afford school.  Dr. Gorin has sponsored the education of a young Haitian, Wilkens Gilbert.  Wilkens has successfully earned a medical degree and is now training in surgery.  He hopes one day to open a clinic in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood where he grew up and where his mother, Madame Samson, runs a meal program for children that is also supported by Haitian Ministries.  Previous to the earthquake there was only one doctor for every 10,000 Haitians.

        Several area residents are mobilizing to form a “Maine Friends of Haiti” group.  A few schools in the area have indicated an interest in raising funds for Dr. Gorin's work.  The Line School , the Shapleigh Memorial School, and Wells Elementary School have already conducted impressive fundraising projects.  Several service organizations in the York County area have been contacted to see if they would like to contribute to the work with which Dr. Gorin is involved.  People who know Dr. Gorin  know the sense of honesty and goodness that surrounds him and many wish to affirm the positive work that he and the organizations that he is affiliated with are carrying out.  The Haitian Ministries group with which Dr. Gorin is associated  has stated that money will immediately go for medicine, then food and water, and then rebuilding of homes.  

Dr. Gorin discussed how it is important to support the rescue effort. He feels that in the long run it will take lots of groups to help rebuild.  He said, “Our groups Haitian Ministries and the Haitian Humanitarian Network will continue our work in Haiti and will certainly need the help of any that want to contribute as we rebuild.  My only other suggestion for giving is that people should look to support those that try to empower Haitians to build up their own nation and its infrastructure and institutions.”

       In regard to sending contributions to Dr. Gorin’s work in Haiti, they can be sent to:

Dr. Tom Gorin

           c/o Haitian Ministries, 

199 Broadway

Norwich, CT  06360

Haitian Ministries is registered with Network for Good and GuideStar.  Additional information about their work can be found on their website:

Dr. Tom Gorin - with patient, mother and Anani Jean-Francois, whom he sponsors in med school

Dr. Tom Gorin - interpreter with mother of sick baby