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Mission in Haiti: Sharon’s Blog

This is a blog post written by Sharon Kennison, one of the nurses who worked in the recent medical clinic in Carrefour, Haiti. The medical clinic was a joint operation between us (Bread to the Nations) and International Medical Aid. The clinic was hugely successful and was the beginning of an ongoing relationship between our two organizations to improve the healthcare of the Carrefour community.

This is how I have been thinking of my recent trip to the country of Haiti. For those that do not know, last fall I visited the country on a mission trip. My friend Drena had asked about going, and seeing no reason to not, I went with her. Little did I realize just what an impact that decision would have on my life.

While there, we helped with Bible School, swam in the Caribbean Sea, and walked around trying to get to know the people of Carrefour a little bit better. And in the process, Carrefour got under my heart just a little bit….ok, a big bit. I met a young girl, and from that meeting, nothing would be the same.

Upon arriving back home, my thoughts turned to returning in a fashion that is more my style, and the idea of a medical mission was born. A work connection led me to Homayon, which led to International Medical Aid, an organization which does medical missions all over the world. We started to talk, and decided we would try to make this dream a reality. Months later, a set place or date could not be established, and my idea was that this was not going to happen, and I started to turn to other ideas for the summer. Then a random picture, which I find out later only happened because the person posting it could not send it directly to another person, appeared on Facebook. [The photo was a of a little girl who had a large mass attached to her backside. They were originally told no surgery could be done in Haiti, but she has since had it removed successfully. Her photo is on the right.] A comment led to a response, and then to an email, which led me to Mickey and Tammy of Bread To The Nations. Some more emails and conversations, and our trip was set!

My niece and I spent last week working with these two organizations, and for me, the feelings remain unchanged. Over the course of 2 1/2 days (mind you, these were 8 hour days) we saw 525 patients. Many were children, a few older persons, and some had chronic conditions that had not been adequately treated. But overall, it stills drives home just what the people of Haiti deal with daily. I saw several persons who were trapped in the rubble surrounding the earthquake. These were not just faceless persons any longer. The young boy who will forever carry a huge scar on his head from the quake, and the young man who can no longer bend one knee. The mountainside which still holds the scars where it fell down that day, killing people in the mine and destroying a school full of children. The many people who can’t read or write, the young lady who wanted the birth control shot but who didn’t have the $3 or so that it would take to do the pregnancy test and injection. The mothers with small babies who do not have enough to eat or drink to produce enough milk to feed their infants. These no longer are faceless statistics but real people with real problems. Problems which many have no idea how to deal with to make life-long changes.

Then there are the children. The smiling faces of the boys and girls, who can find happiness in a look, who can make a toy from a piece of cardboard, and who seem to find gladness in finding someone to laugh with and to hold their hands. They don’t have fancy toys, or computers, or even enough to eat, but they have smiles which go on forever, and which cause you to smile back, cause you just can’t help yourself.

525 patients…even for a busy ER this was swamped. Heat and sweating, sometimes with no power for the fans, having to use a translator for every conversation because they don’t know English and I don’t know Haitian, and wondering how you will ever get it all done. But done we did, inside what we could do. The medicines ran low, but the patients did not. And many were left unseen because there just wasn’t enough time or medicine to see them all. And that feeling of just not having done enough which will not go away.

Now that I am back at home, reflecting on my time there, with my hot cup of coffee and my cooler weather, I know that, without a doubt, it was definitely something that needed to be done, and something which I plan to do again next year. To know that you made a difference, even in a small way, is a feeling that has to be experienced to be understood. To hear my niece describe her feelings of being there, and talking about going back again, I know that Haiti has gotten under her heart, as it has mine. And that is a good place for it to be.

Bread To The Nations has a plan for Haiti, and encompasses working on this generation to effect a change in the next one. To teach mothers and children regarding hygiene, and clean water, and ways to help improve the nutritional value of foods they prepare. They are working with malnourished children, helping them to improve and survive where they might have previously died. And they are encouraging mothers to take the lead in teaching others proper ways of doing things, and this leads to Haitians truly helping Haitians, which is what everyone wants. Sometimes you just have to give the education to be able to achieve the goal.

International Medical Aid is such an amazing organization. Listening to Homayon talk about their future goals, and how they are striving to achieve them can leave you tired! But the goal is improved health to many different countries, not just one time but on a recurring basis. And Haiti has now been added to the list of countries which will receive these clinics. What a wonderful first experience for me in doing a medical clinic! Seeing the passion that both these organizations has for what they do, well it gives hope that things are going to get better for many people around the world.

I got to see that young girl I met on my first trip (left), as well as the child in the picture….and know that God placed them where he did for an exact reason…to lead to the creation of this medical trip, and for future trips to this country. He does work in mysterious ways, you just have to listen to the signs and feel for that slight tapping on your shoulder. So I hope that, if you feel a slight brush against your face, and get an inkling to do something like this, you pay attention. I remember watching those commercials for the Peace Corps, how they said it was the toughest job you would ever love, and wondering just what exactly that meant. Well, I know now…and it is right….all the sweating, and heat, and long flights; the money spent for the trip; being away from home and loved ones….it all was so very worth it!

Sharon K. 2013 May Medical Clinic

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