My third trip to Haiti in January 2012 was filled with a new sense of hope that I had not experienced on my first two visits. For the first time since the Earthquake in January 2010, I witnessed real progress, not only in Port Au Prince and other town centers, but at the orphanage and in many of the faces at the medical clinics. On my first two trips to Haiti, I fell in love with the people, but also felt overwhelmed and a sense of hopelessness in the likelihood of ever seeing real change in the Haitian people’s lives.
This time around: the endless rubble that had lined the streets had all been removed and newly paved roads extended for miles; tent cities were harder to find; Marriot had signed a contract to build a hotel in Port Au Prince; the orphanage grounds have been cleared of debris, its living areas had been freshly painted a cheery yellow, and a clean drinking water system had been installed for both the orphanage and the community outside the orphanage. In addition, now that my daughter, Elainey (and I) have reached our fundraising goals, we are moving forward to schedule the installation of a commercial-grade playground at the orphanage. I also found myself in awe of the tremendous improvements that have taken place in PFH’s standard operating procedures since my last visit in January 2011. In one short year, this young organization has been able to triple the number of patients it treats on each visit. The surgeries and complexity of the procedures have increased dramatically as well.
In addition, the people in the community surrounding the orphanage (Bercy, Cabaret) have been given the gift of consistent, reliable access to medical treatment (since Day 3 of PFH’s medical clinics consistently take place at the same location). On “Day 3,” I was amazed to see young women coming into the clinic with PFH reminder cards for preventative medical treatment” (which are due every three months). Also, surprisingly, every pregnancy test that I triaged came back negative. While, of course, Bercy, Caberet is one of the exceptions to the rule in Haiti, the progress I have witnessed with my eyes (and helped to create with my own hands) has given me a new sense of hope for my friends in Haiti. I look forward to my next trip.