Here we go again, to Haiti for our 2017 medical mission trip.
Alongside Geraldine, Watson, Paulin and Dejon, we led another team to Haiti to serve the community of St. Michel de l’Attalaye. This was my favorite team to work with thus far. It must have been the rainbow of fun personalities, because we all meshed so well together. Almost every night consisted of a game of Mafia, which I think played a major role in us bonding with each other.
We left on April 1st and returned on April 6th, three of the days were our scheduled clinical days to receive and screen patients. My job during the clinical days was to regulate the flow throughout the day, it sounds pretty simple, but nope! lol In this position, I learned two major things: 1) my Haitian people can be so overwhelming to deal with when they know you’re Haitian too lol But most of the time their antics made me laugh. 2) There is this ingrained belief among this group of people that if you are a woman then you must be the nurse, but if you are a man then you must be doctor. Though everyone on the mission trip was uniform, in their scrubs, the patients naturally referred to us women as “mis”, while all of the guys were referred to as “doc la”.
There was something a young girl from near by in the community said that resonated with a couple of us. It was the day before our first clinic, and we passed by the facility where we would be setting up shop the next day. The girl was in the area and was told that we were the group of people who would be providing the medical services that they had been hearing about. When she saw us, she was shocked to find that the majority of us weren’t just black, but Haitian. The people of Haiti are so used to foreign aid being white people that it’s always shocking when they see Haitians from the U.S. coming back to help them.
Nonetheless, I must add that we out did ourselves this year, seeing well over 700 patients. We saw some serious cases and we are lucky to work with Baptist Hospital to refer our patients to them as potential surgical candidates for their annual surgical mission trip.
After a long day of clinics the guys had a prescheduled basketball game with a local group, training young Haitian girls in the sport (hoping to send one of them to the next Olympics). The guys were out there looking like old tired men, not young men in their 20s lol
Surprisingly, the guys won by the skin of their teeth. However, Paulin took this as an opportunity to speak to the team and encourage them in their pursuit of representing Haiti in the Olympics.
Another story that resonated with me was one that took place while we were in Haiti. A pregnant woman was crossing the river, she slipped and hit her abdomen on a large rock. She was rushed to the hospital just to give birth to her stillborn baby on the floor.
The hospital waiting room floor!
My mind was blown. This woman had to undress and give birth in the waiting room for everyone to see.
And her baby was then swept up along with the trash on the ground.
These are the things that makes me so invested in exploring the health disparities in Haiti, with one of them being around the health system in the country.
During our last day in Haiti we woke up early in the day to set off on our long bumpy drive to Cap-Haitian to catch our flight back to Miami. Everything was going just fine, I even found the perfect position to place my head so that I could fall asleep on the bus.
The tire fell off of the bus. Yes, it just fell off of the bus. But we were fine, it was not at all as climactic as you would think lol
Luckily, the people who work with the Mayor called for two private trucks. In roughly 30 minutes we were back on the road to Cap-Haitien. We actually got there must faster.
Once we got to Cap-Haitien, we went souvenir shopping and headed to a restaurant for lunch. Soooooo happy that our meals are served family style lol
After a much needed lunch we headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Miami.
Always a bittersweet feeling. When we finally boarded the plane and took off, it was “bye Haiti, hello Miami”.
And unexpectedly, waiting to receive us at Miami International Airport was Stevenson and Sam (Dany was lost somewhere in the airport lol).
They had hugs and flowers waiting for all of us! What a warm welcome back 🙂
Learn more about KORE Haiti, Inc. and how you can join our next medical mission trip.