It’s so hard to put this experience into words. Fortunately, I have quite a few pictures that can do most of the talking for me!
This was my second opportunity to travel to Haiti with Community Health Initiative (CHI). This time around I had the chance to see and feel the country and the people a little more deeply, understand the way clinic runs a little bit more clearly and to move through the uncertainty that traveling in a third world country can bring, more easily.
Most memorable for me was the four mile hike in smoldering heat to a village in the mountains for clinic. From there I had the chance to visit a home another two miles up with a man who walked to clinic with his son riding on his shoulders. My host had little to offer in way of amenities, but passed me a chair and with a wide smile he patiently answered my many questions through our awesome interpreter, Jack.
On other days, in Do Digue, we watched kids laugh and play in the rain; sing, dance and parade through clinic with contagious laughter. We saw over 1200 patients as a team of both medical and non medical volunteers, Haitians and Americans. Our patients came to clinic from miles away, missed a day of work and some even carried their babies over mountains (and more mountains!) to get there. Sitting in and listening to the providers interact with the patients through our interpreters was one of my favorite things to do. We saw everything from high blood pressure, injuries from moto accidents, painful toothaches (painful no more thank you Dr Hillary Mendillo), a birth and everything in between. The providers were exceptionally patient while listening to their concerns, asked questions about their lives that had nothing and everything to do with their ailment and carefully explained the treatment plan. Our hope is that those who were seen slept a little better that night.
Our fabulous Haitian staff showed up each day to take part in clinic. They shared many stories about their culture and their lives; and asked about our families and life back home. Getting to know these friends a little better this year was another great highlight of this trip. There are beautiful, resilient, hard working men and women who I am so proud to call friends.
Thank you to everyone who helped get me there with donations, supported my family while I was away and asked about my trip or welcomed me home when I returned. Thank you a million times over to our CHI staff, especially our amazing team leaders Jill McDonald Roeder and Joshua White and our ED Annie Willemsen Vander Werff. I am so grateful for your amazing leadership and direction. To say I learned a lot by watching you three run this trip is a huge understatement. My CHI friends, both new and old, I love you. Thank you for the talks, the laughs, the tears and for sharing this experience with me. You will forever hold a place in my heart…. Until the work is done!
After 24 long hours of travel I couldn’t wait to get back home to my girls and my amazing, always supportive hubby … but I already can’t wait to get back to This beautiful place. Mesi Anpil, Haiti!