If I were to tell you that I could take you to the poorest place in the Western Hemisphere and make you the richest person in the world, you would think I was crazy, right? Well your wrong because if you ever take the challenge to travel to Haiti with People For Haiti, in 5 days you’ll be rich in ways you’ll never imagine. Rich in emotions, rich in the feeling of giving someone a chance to live another day, rich in helping orphans find an adult to admire and rich in new relationships far beyond description. If you want the best medicine, go to Haiti.
As I arrived for my second trip to Haiti, I still witnessed the same horrible living conditions that were present in January, yet I still saw sharing, caring and loving people line up as far as the eye can see just to get some hope, help and relief from their daily troubles. Our first clinic in the mountains was a spectacular experience once again. People come out of nowhere to get medical treatments for numerous problems. On that day I was most touched by the poor 5 year old who’s face had accidentally been burned while the parent was cooking a week earlier. He was so brave and understood his situation well, and took our advice with the hope of returning to a “normal” life, unfortunately he’ll be scarred for life. I was also touched by the 48 year old gentleman complaining that 3 days age he suddenly went blind in his left eye, from a clotted artery to the eye. When I told him there was nothing we could do and he’d remain blind in that eye forever, he said thank you and went on his way, I was moved by his acceptance of his fate, that is life in Haiti. On that same day at the end of clinic I found myself playing with three boys and one of them asked me in broken English if I had anything to eat, I gave him a dried apricot, when I turned around, he was splitting it into thirds and sharing the pieces with his friends, this is life in Haiti.
On the second day we saw 750 patients in a local village. For the first 749 nothing was serious, but as we closed a 48 year old gentleman came in looking like he was on death’s door. After the team of doctor’s assessed him we made a plan and implemented the plan, we feel we saved his life from a severe infection, unfortunately he did not follow up with us on our final clinic day. It was worth seeing 750 patients to save one. That is life in Haiti.
Our final clinic day was the best day I’ve ever had as a physician. I found myself providing anesthesia to 4 children in a makeshift operating room. I had never performed the type of anesthesia that I did that day but it worked, and I was so happy to watch my very skilled colleague Dr. Bruce Landon repair an 18 months old webbed hand, a 2 year old’s infected groin with an abscess, a 6 year old boy’s tied tongue and a young man’s wound that hadn’t healed properly. All the while I was assessing a full term lady’s progress as she was hoping to deliver before our team left for home. Unfortunately I checked her one last time 1/2 hour before we left the island but the delivery was not meant to be. In addition, between the surgical cases I got to see more patients in our clinic. Never had I accomplished so much with so little.
My mornings started at 5 a.m. working out in the orphanage compound with 10 orphan children watching my every move and joining in to have some fun. Evenings were filled with fun times playing with the orphans and sharing stories with my fellow team members. Over a few short days we made a huge difference in 1500 lives and became close friends with a group of people committed to a great cause.
Now ask yourself is it possible to go to the poorest place on Earth and leave the richest person on Earth? I think so. Peace.
Dr. Mark Hashim