Spring Medical Mission Trip (Final Report)
Family and Friends,
On the final day of clinic we saw 170 patients bringing our grand total for the week to just over 540. In the final hour of clinic, we spent our time seeing the translators, now our friends, as patients. This came as a shock for some of us as many of us thought they were in a position to assist as translators because they were better off than others. However, this was not the case and we heard many of the same complaints from them, dehydration and hunger, that we had heard from others earlier in the week.
After cleaning up the clinic, some of us ventured to the soccer field to play the kids in a friendly game. Later that night, the Haitians threw a party for us thanking us for our service throughout the week. There was a huge amount of food that we shared with the Haitians and we even cracked open a couple bottles of champagne. As dinner wrapped up, we headed to the room next door where John C was acting as resident DJ and supplying the beats. The dancing commenced and did not finish until the early hours of the morning.
We awoke early Sunday morning for the final time in Fontaine. As we carried down our luggage and packed up the vans, we said our final goodbyes and took a few farewell photos. We thanked all the Haitian people who had worked so hard over the past few days to make the clinic the huge success that it was. Without their help, none of what we accomplished would have been possible.
Those who took the charter flight were very fortunate this time as the ride back to Port au Prince featured a flat tire, side of the road bathroom stops, a police checkpoint (they wanted to verify our passports), and getting lost, upon which we needed to ask various city-goers for directions. Despite these minor setbacks, we arrived at Hotel Montana and were able to enjoy a beautiful day of rest and relaxation.
As the blistering sun was overtaken by the moonlight, we gathered one final time for a team debriefing where we each shared one aspect of the trip we enjoyed and an improvement to make the trip better in the years to come. Following this debrief, we shared a final meal as a group with most of us heading to bed early to be ready for our 4 a.m. wake-up call the following day.
Due to delays and the general stress of traveling, we found ourselves sprinting through the Atlanta airport in an effort to pick up luggage and reach our connecting flight. Despite half of the group getting bumped to a later flight, we all made it home safe and sound!
As I reflect on the week that was and attempt to offer closing thoughts, I find myself echoing the words my fellow team members spoke at our final team debrief. Despite the apparent lack of resources and material goods, the Haitian people maintain an attitude of positivity and optimism. Regardless of what we achieved throughout the week, the number of people we saw, the medications dispensed, or the counseling provided, many of us realize it will never be enough. But at the same time, the smile of a patient who can see clearly for the first time in years, the joy on a pregnant mother's face as she sees her baby for the first time on ultrasound, or the excitement of the kids as we finish a long day of clinic and are free to play with them makes it all worth it. Being thrown into a situation far removed from the comfort zones of our own homes can bring out the best or worst in a person, and I am filled with an overwhelming sense of pride knowing I was part of a team that came together and gave their best every day.
Despite the hard work throughout the week, I think I speak for everyone when I say that we leave with a sense of rejuvenation and thankfulness. Rejuvenated by the sense of community, energy, and resiliency the Haitian people showed us and thankful for, not only the blessings we have in our own lives, but also the opportunity to have made so many friends and touched so many lives. The excitement to return to Fontaine is evident, as planning and discussions have already begun in an effort to make the next trip an even bigger success.
We hope you've enjoyed the highlights and updates from this week. At this time, I would like to personally thank everyone who donated to our mission. It's difficult to convey how thankful we are for the support but in much the same way that we could not have been successful without the Haitian translators, we also would not have been successful without the overwhelming generosity of our supporters, friends, and family.
I would also like to extend my thanks to the physicians, Dr. Brewer, Dr. Izzo, Dr. Clarke, soon to be Dr. Lloyd, and especially Dr. Holmes, whose commitment to this trip and the Haitian people is inspiring. I'd like to thank the third year students, Ellen, Hannah, and Vinny, as well, from who I learned so much this week. To my fellow first year students, it has been a great pleasure sharing this experience with all of you and to have been able to get to know everyone on a level deeper than what a classroom can provide. Friends and family should be so impressed by the willingness of my colleagues to give of themselves. I know I was. I am proud to know the people on this team and even happier to call them my friends.
Signing out for the final time as Email Czar on behalf of the Haiti Team,