When the massive earthquake hit Haiti, and I saw the hundreds of suffering faces on the news I knew that I needed to do something. I am half Haitian and not very connected with my Haitian family. It hurt me looking at the television screen seeing all those people, not knowing if any of them shared my blood. I was one of the many people who donated money to the Red Cross, but in my heart that still didn’t feel like enough. In February I was approached by my mother with the great opportunity to participate in a medical mission to Haiti.
My mother is an OBGYN and has traveled to Africa in the past with an organization called the Arise and Walk Foundation. They asked her to travel with them to Haiti in April to provide care to women. She asked me if I would like to come along and I agreed. So the first week of April I traveled with my mother and a group of 18 people made up of Doctors, Nurses, a Nutritionist, and other individuals, like me, who wanted to help. As soon as I arrived, the devastation left by the earthquake was apparent.
While being transported in a van to our hostel, which was on top of a mountain, I saw so many houses and buildings that were destroyed. We passed through villages of tents which were homes to thousands of people displaced by the earthquake. Many people whose homes were minimally affected by the earthquake chose to live in tents outside of their homes due to fears of another earthquake. The higher up the mountain we went the less noticeable the effects of the earthquake were as the quality of the houses increased.
Every day that week, we rose very early in the morning to provide care in a large community called Grace Village located in the town of Carrefour. Grace village was a church and an orphanage for boys and girls but after the earthquake they opened up their gates to hundreds of people who had lost their homes in the earthquake. The Arise and Walk foundation has been developing close ties with Grace Village since the earthquake. The foundation has helped rebuild parts of the village that were destroyed in the earthquake, including the large gate that encompasses the village and keeps the residents safe. I assisted my mother with her examinations and worked at the pharmacy insuring that each patient got their medicine. I have never worked so hard in my life. That week we saw more than 1000 men, women, and children. My studies of the French language at Lincoln played a major role in aiding me during this experience. Although the majority of people spoke Kreyol there was a large portion that I was able to converse in French to.
I heard so many stories of people who were trapped in the rubble and survived and many others of people who had lost loved ones. This Year in my French class we learned some medical terms which helped me out a lot. I was able to explain to the patients how to take their medications in French. After communicating with the translators, I also learned a lot of Kreyol terms as well. My French cultures class also influenced my experience because prior to my journey we were studying Haiti. I even got the opportunity to do a power point presentation on it and learned a great deal of information on its history from my research.
Despite the adversity that Haiti is experiencing right now it still a beautiful island. Each horrible sight was balanced by something beautiful, Amid all the destruction bright flowers still blossomed, the birds still sang, and the sun still shone bright. Through all this, there is still the little reminder that life moves on. All throughout Port-au-Prince I saw Haitians baring scars, broken limbs, and even missing limbs. Yet they still were able to come together and rebuild their communities, go to school, and keep their marketplaces bustling. Life has moved on. I plan on returning to Haiti next year; they still need a lot of help. I urge people to continue to send aid to Haiti because they are still thousands of people who are still very sick and are also in great need of fresh water.
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