Pre-Haiti Post

I’m “preparing” for my upcoming trip to Haiti. By “preparing”, I mean cramming clothes in my backpack, and devising unnecessary ways to smuggle peanut butter through customs. This is my second trip to Haiti with Peacework Medical, and my first time as an actual RN. I have a pretty good idea of what to expect, and the anxiety before the first trip isn’t present this time around. Instead of feeling anxious, I’m excited and looking forward to the 10 days of hard, but rewarding work.

Fourteen of us will be staffing and running a clinic (with pharmacy) in a local school for 10 days. We see approximately 300 patients today with a variety of ailments.  In the future, the freestanding Peacework Medical Clinic in nearby Gard Hiram will be complete. The Gard Hiram clinic will be staffed much more frequently and have it’s own pharmacy with some drugs for chronic diseases. It’s a tremendous and long-term asset for the community.

With last year being my first time in Haiti and doing any kind of medical project, I came back a changed man (man referring only to my gender, not maturity). I’d like to think I had a grasp of the “big picture” and how the clinic didn’t just affect medical problems; it empowered the community. The people are able to help themselves in ways that were previously impossible and take pride in the progress made.

At the same time, there’s a “quid pro quo” going on with the medical team. We leave with a new perspective that challenges us to grow as people and professionals.  The social mores vary between cultures and it’s not always easy to keep our ethnocentrism at bay.  It’s a good opportunity to flex your head. The challenge is to find the similarities and let them drive us together.

As I start to stuff some scrubs and toothpaste in my bag, I think it’s only appropriate to get my head in order too. I know how short a 10 day trip is, but I also know how much can be accomplished. So here are some of my goals for the trip:

  • Provide the best care I can during clinic. Whether it be taking blood pressures or dressing wounds, I’m going to focus on being compassionate and understanding with all my care and interactions.
  • Spend more time than not with my Haitian friends, since our moments spent together are far too infrequent.
  • Find somebody to take me to the top of one of the local mountains, because even I couldn’t screw up a photo opportunity like that.
  • Provide funds to replace a thatch roof with tin for a local family. This reduces the incidence of Chagas disease and provides much better protection from the elements.
  • Figure out a reliable method of getting mail to Ranquitte. A pen pal program with the local school is in the works, but the logistics need to be solidified.
  • Keep a daily journal and post often on the Ropa de Relief site. Rather than unloading all my thoughts at the end, I’ll be passing on information that I deem interesting.
  • Pet all the dogs, and teach some of the local kids the joys of dog petting. I saw a couple kids pet some of the local strays last year, I’m hoping for 5 kids petting dogs by the end of the trip.

Don’t let the random nature of these goals belie the effectiveness of the clinic. The Peacework team is an organized health-promoting machine, and I’m beyond excited to be a part of it.  I’ll do my best to post multiple times during the trip, so keep an eye on the blog and spread the word.


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