Spring Medical Mission Trip to Haiti 2016
For the past several years, medical students from the University at Buffalo Medical School have spent their Winter and Spring Breaks bringing their hearts and skills to serve the students at St. Gabriel's School in Fontaine, Haiti and the residents of that community. They return to Buffalo with new lessons learned about medicine and even more important lessons learned about love, faith and life through their interactions with those they meet. In their daily Spring 2016 email reports, the first two of which are posted below, the team shares this year's Spring mission with us.
We have arrived safely to wonderful hospitality in Matthew 25 House in Port Au Prince (PAP), Haiti. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and had a quick team meeting to discuss morning travel plans to Fontaine, Haiti. However, our trip to Matthew 25 House did not go perfectly to plan.
Upon exiting the plane in PAP, we quickly used our predetermined buddy system to navigate through customs. Trouble struck when Hannah and Ellen were stopped by the customs agent. Customs asked for $100 to let them through to which Dave came to the rescue. He quickly crumpled up four $20 bills, $20 less than what had been asked for and the three of them were quickly on their way. This was not the end of the saga as Ellen led her travel buddy astray and sent her through a one way door to which Hannah was again detained by customs. By this point in time, the customs agent had realized that Dave had only given them $80 and thus, Dave had to pay the extra $20 to ensure Hannah's safe return to the group.
All jokes aside, problems were few and the Haitians who have assisted us thus far have been nothing but helpful and friendly. We are all safe and sound at Matthew 25 House for the night and eagerly await our morning travels to Fontaine. We are well fed and spirits are high ahead of what is surely to be an exciting, challenging, and enjoyable week!
Until next time, Connor P. Arquette
Family & Friends,
The Haitian night was anything but quiet. There was a local church partying and singing early into the morning and the roosters missed daylight savings time as they cocked-a-doodle-do all night long. As the sun rose, we quickly ate, packed and embarked onward to Fontaine in two groups. Vinny, Ellen, Dave, Dr. Holmes, and Dr. Izzo took a short bus ride to a local airport where they caught a charter flight in attempt to get to Fontaine early to catch up with past patients. The rest of the team travelled to Fontaine via bus ride. Leaving at 10AM, we arrived at 3PM at St. Gabriel's Secondary School. You may think that roundabouts in the states are chaotic but Haitian roundabouts are in a league of their own. It was an eye opening experience as we observed poverty and pollution on a level we had never seen before. We all had our cameras ready as our route snaked up mountains serving as prime overlooks of the Haitian countryside.
Upon arrival, we unloaded, picked rooms, and quickly ate a meal. Many of us tried goat meat for the first time, which was specially prepared for us. After lunch, we spent a few hours setting up clinic for the following day and assigned jobs to everyone for the first clinic day. After the work was finished, we set out to explore Haiti; our chief objective being to make a house visit. The patient was a 64 year old man with a one month history of delirium. Given the tools at our disposal, we could unfortunately not offer much assistance on the spot. However, the good news is we raised enough money as a team to provide him access to higher medical care. We are, at present, most concerned about possible infection or brain tumor.
As our exploration continued, we visited a local river. I was dragged around by two young boys named Jeffrey and Mackenzie who were adamant on playing with the Frisbee I had brought. Mackenzie rode on my back the entire time as I chased Jeffrey trying to get the Frisbee back.
On the way back to the school, Claudia, Christine, and Brittany were elated at the chance to pet, hold and take pictures with the baby goats that are consistently roaming the school grounds. This would mark the first successful photo op of the trip.
Back to myself (I am the Email Czar after all), a man by the name of Belvygo approached me and pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket with my name written on it. In respectable English, he explained to me that he knew a friend of mine who had visited the school months prior. He wanted me to take something back to the states for her! Haiti is the last place I would have thought someone would know me. The fun was not over for me. Ivronel, a young Haitian boy, started to teach me Creole. I will share the phrases here:
Ko'man ou ye - How are you?
N'ap We' demen - see you tomorrow
Un pa pali creole - I do not speak Creole.
Domi - sleep
After this we settled in for a quick dinner and had our first team meeting on the roof where we discussed our home visit, clarified tomorrow's jobs and how the clinic would run, had a yoga team building activity, and learned to make balloon animals for the kids!
Mike, Brandon, Sarah, Sam, Connor, and Addie will travel tomorrow to assist locals in roof repair and the rest of the team will open and operate the clinic. Regardless of our assigned job, we are excited for the real work to start tomorrow and know the stories will only become longer and more interesting!
Email Czar on Behalf of the Haiti Team
About Matthew 25 House
Matthew 25 House, located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, about 15 minutes from local airports, is a house of hospitality established in September, 2005 by The Parish Twinning Program of the Americas. It is located in the Delmas 33 area of Port-au-Prince about 15 minutes from local airports.
The purpose of Matthew 25 House is to provide warm hospitality, comfort and assistance to visiting North Americans involved in parish projects or other missionary and humanitarian organizations having projects in Haiti.