It was a pleasure to host your team. They are a dedicated group of people, and you had everything very well organized.
It is always interesting to see Haiti through other peoples eyes, especially first timers.
Everyone sees the need from a different perspective and this always helps me clarify my vision.All working together, we do make a difference. It is easy to become overwhelmed, but little things make a big difference to someone in extreme poverty. As the previous team was able to rebuild the house of a widow with a crippled son, and give them a concrete floor instead of the dirt they had before, it made a huge difference in their lives. Then your team was able to treat the infected toe of the son, give him vitamins, and therapy, small things to us, huge to him.And to think there were nearly 1000 people seen makes my heart sing.Obviously many will get sick again, but temporary relief is better than no relief at all, and many times just knowing someone cares is a blessing.
I am also glad you were able to spend some time with our beautiful children, they are still enjoying the toys and clothes you brought.
I look forward to seeing you, Leo and any other teams you can put together again soon. Do you think you could get Dr Shawn to move down here?( Just kidding, kind of!)
Your Brother in Christ,
On site Coordinator
The medical mission trip to Cabaret, Haiti from March 28 through April 2, 2010 has been an eye opening experience for me. I saw first hand the mounting needs for basic health care and very limited access of the same for majority of people. I realized limitation of western style of delivering health care in Haiti and the importance of public health as a foundation for improving people’s well-beings. Being able to play with those kids in Cabaret Baptist Orphanage, learning about their personal stories was another highlight of this trip. Years from now, I may have long forgot the week long cruise I took just before the trip to Haiti, but the sweat smile of an orphan, who was found abandoned by tiring him on a tree like a goat, will always in my memory. Personally, the trip has made me appreciate much more what I have and have more desire to help those in need.
I am honored to be a part of an excellent medical team. Once again, a job well done by Guiga from People For Haiti and by staff from Cabaret Baptist Orphanage.
X. Shawn Wan, M.D., Ph.D.
Morton Plant Mease Immediate Care Centers.
Largo, FloridaCabaret Baptist Children’s Home
Since the very first minute we got there I had this feeling that they really would need us there and that we could make a little difference…
That’s what life is all about, try to make a difference. The trip from Port au Prince to Cabaret was amazing, we hanging in that old truck, trying to take as many pictures as we could, the excitement of been there… a mix of feelings… the earthquake made a huge destruction to this already poor Country.
At the orphanage we met the other team, great people sharing with us the same goals, provide love and help to these people, and yes, they did a great job!!!
The kids are so lovely, the keep asking for some attention, they want to play, to dance, to talk, after all we are the ” big white men” for them… After a while they just love you!!! They want to see the pictures, the movies and all the different stuff that all were caring around…
Then at the second day me and Michael went to the Capital to help in a local hospital…. Took us a long, long time in the car to get there… traffic is terrible, made me fell like at my home town, Sao Paulo !!! By the time we got there we met a US plastic surgery team working and they gave me a little place to see some cases that by that time I was already calling my ” office” …. then I started to get together with my translator, a young man, Stanley, that helped me a lot… I saw in 4 hours of work several tumors, neck tumors, a amazing number of hernias, several skin infections and etc with the help of a US Nurse. Unfortunately I was unable to perform surgical procedures because of a already booked schedule of reconstructive surgeries, but at the end of the day I asked our driver to stop over the UN Brazilian military base and went to the hospital there to ask one of my colleagues to get a ultrasound of a neck mass and we were able to get it done at the next day, so we call the patient and he got his exam!!! Right now they basically don’t have any image study available and the only running CT scan in the Country is not free, so people cannot pay…
The other day we went to the mountains, and personally this was THE DAY of our mission… those people were very sick, malnourished, with different kinds of diseases… The day was very, very hot, but we were thre, taking care of them all!!!
Third day at somebody’s house was great, we achieved our greater number of cases, 400 patients, the team was working just in perfect harmony… we were all dead by the end of the day but me and my dear colleague Dr. Shawn, went to see this man who is unable to walk for 20 years after a neurological infection, and he was sustaining a very painful infection at his toe and we took care of it holding a flashlight and doing the procedure right there in a very small cabana… By the time we left Haiti he was feeling much, much better…
Last day we went to Cabaret’s Academy Hospital where a got the chance to perform small surgical procedures… I was able to remove a big lipoma from this young lady’s forehead with local anesthesia, this was disturbing her for something like 20 years… you all should see her face after it get done… Price less….
Then we got a party to give the kids some toys, balls and etc and more then all give them attention and love.
Sharing this wonderful experience with my lovely sister Guiga made us even closer for the rest of our life’s !!!!
In resume, this was one of the best experiences of my life and I really hope to have a chance to get back there soon because I promise them and also because I will have at least 50 hernias to take care of !!!
Marcelo Ribeiro, MD – General surgeon, Sao Paulo, Brazil
A little over a month ago I was living my life as a registered nurse in a busy pulmonary office, a mom of three grown children, and the wife of a retired Air Force pilot, getting ready to “face” my 50th birthday 6 April 2010. On March 3rd one of the doctors I work with answered the request to go to Haiti on 28th of March. What happened after that was nothing short of “divine intervention”. I told my family that what I want for my birthday is to go to Haiti, something I had wanted to do since the earthquake. Donations and helping jestures just started happening and not only did I get to go, I felt the love and support of so many of my family, friends, and co-workers.
When I finally got to Miami I met the “team”. We did not have time for chit-chat, we had to organize and get ready to make the most of every precious minute in Haiti. The more we worked together, the more our natural talents emerged to solidify the group’s efforts. We learned how to communicate through our translators, we used all of our senses since words were not enough, and we used the international language of touch to convey our skills and compassion. We saw people of all ages with common aliments that could be eliminated with something as “simple” as clean water; we also saw some uncommon complaints that were treated with innovative collaboration by team members.
The people of Haiti are strong, strong in faith, strong in heart, and strong in spirit. What they lack in material possessions and comforts of daily living, they have compensated for with an extrordinary approach to life. One person told me, ” You must be ready when the trumpet sounds, we in Haiti are ready because we believe that God is in charge.”So when I returned to North Carolina, I returned a better person for having gone to Haiti because I had forgotten—God is in charge!
KATHY POWER, RN
My medical mission trip to Haiti can only be described as a roller coaster of experiences and emotions. It has been rewarding , inspiring, challenging, frustrating and heart breaking all at the same time. The devastation is staggering. To see the heaps of rubble between the sea of tents is just indescribable. The Haitian people have incredible strength and tenacity to endure such hardship. What I do know for sure is that they desperately need help.
It was a privilege to work with such an eclectic and hardworking team. Each person brought with them a different talent. Despite our difficult circumstances and limited supplies, we were able to think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions to the many problems we encountered.
The task to rebuild Haiti is going to be extremely long and arduous. The main issue I witnessed was the lack of plentiful clean water. The majority of health problems we saw were due to the lack of clean water. Dehydration, malnutrition, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections could all be prevented if they had a clean water supply. The next main issue is public health education. They need to be taught basic skills to prevent illnesses, to take care of their children and themselves. Also, there needs to be an emphasis on building sustainable communities – farming the land, fishing and rebuilding the infrastructure. Our small team was able to touch almost 1000 lives in 4 days. Every little bit of generosity helps. It can be a donation of money, supplies, your time or even spreading the word of our organization.
What I may have given in Haiti, I received many times over. In the unconditional love of the orphanage children, the gratitude of the patients and the soulful beauty in their eyes I gained such a sense of appreciation for my life. This was truly an incredible experience and I am thankful to have had the opportunity and look forward to the next one.
I would lastly like to thank the generosity and support of my sponsors and friends that made this trip possible.
Dr. Amee A. Joshi
Haiti was hot! That’s usually my first response when people ask me how Haiti was. However it was much more than that. As I read the blogs and testimonials of the other team members I realize there isn’t too much more to say. The devastation is clear and overwhelming. The displaced residents are in tents and makeshift shelters everywhere. Most every structure still standing shows some degree of damage or disrepair.
What was impressive is the obviously deplorable living conditions that very clearly preceded the massive earthquake. The recent natural disaster has attracted the attention of the world to a small island that looks as if it has been forgotten for centuries. The people in this country are resilient. They’ve been through slavery, revolution, genocide and many natural disasters. Even after the recent devastation, it is obvious that life is getting back to “normal” and the rebuilding has begun.
As I mentioned before, the health problems preceded the recent earthquake. Only about 40% of the population has access to health care while over 90% of the children in Haiti suffer from waterborne diseases and intestinal parasites. We treated many of these, all the while knowing that they will reacquire these infections in very short order. As Dr. Joshi mentioned, the issue at hand is nothing short of a public health crisis. It was a truly memorable experience to assist in the delivery of health care to people who otherwise have no access to such basic services. Our team worked very well together in a multidisciplinary fashion to help nearly 1000 patients during our visit. I only hope that the recent disaster will help the world take a closer look at Haiti and realize the great need that they have for basic health care, sanitation, clean water and education.
Dr. Michael Pritchett
Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine
Pinehurst, North Carolina
It was a joy and a privilege to work with the People for Haiti’s second team. I know and love Dr. Leo as a wonderful and compassionate doctor. I believed in his desire to help and was thrilled to be able to join the next group that went with this fine developing organization.
As a result, I am honored to have met Dr. Leo’s wife, Guiga. It was easy to see and feel her deep passion and interest in actively making a difference in this forgotten world. They are an excellent, caring and compassionate couple, that together, I am sure will lead the way for People for Haiti to do remarkable things.
I was also very privileged to meet many of Guiga and Leo’s personal friends who went along on this mission. Janet, Dr. Amee, Dr. Marcello, Ayden and Dr. Shawn Wan,..all very kind, caring, loving and compassionate people.
I also was privileged to meet Kathy and Dr. Michael both from North Carolina, both offering medical expertise in a passionate and wonderful way to behold. I knew the first day this was an incredibly special group of people. All of these people represent what the People for Haiti organization is all about.
While at the Cabaret orphanage, I also was pleased to meet some of the wonderful people from the Jacksonville Baptist church, as well as many fantastic Haitian men and women, who also had a deep passion and love for their people. It was, as Dr. Leo said it would be, a life changing experience.
People for Haiti plans to be in Haiti as a long term mission. They can and will accomplish great things. I know it will not be simple, but one person, and another person, and another person and another person, day after day, do and will make a difference.
Find a way to make a difference with the People for Haiti. Support their effort. Support their desire. Join the group and offer your skills and expertise, and “do” something to make a difference.
If you prefer to make a difference closer to home, do it. Don’t wait. You will find you get back far more than you ever gave.
Dr. Vanessa M. Dazio, OTD, OTR/L, NBCCH