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October 2011 Trip to Haiti

Becky Wegener

Becky WegenerMy initial thoughts of Haiti before leaving on the trip were that we were visiting one of the poorest countries in the world. That was true. We did. The problems for Haiti have become even more acute since the devastating earthquake. I was proud to know that whatever I did or helped with would impact lives in ways that I may never see or know. Small acts of kindness, such as giving out the hygiene kits and layettes or blowing bubbles with those waiting at the clinics, demonstrated that their lives matter.

The Haitian Health Foundation survives because of the support of Avera and others who believe in their mission. The calling of God surely rests in Sr. Maryann, Marty, Bette and all the Haitian health educators who constantly work to improve and help sustain life in the mountain villages and the city of Jérémie, Haiti. I am so proud to work for an organization that has the compassionate and giving heart of God.


Margo Gab, RNC

Margo GabThis was my sixth mission trip to Jérémie, Haiti. Each time I travel to Haiti, I have new experiences and learn more about the Haitian culture. The highlight of this trip was a three-day journey to the mountains to the village of Castillion. I helped the nurses and health care agents with outreach clinic. This was an experience that I’ll never forget. God bless the Haitian Health Foundation for all it does!!







Richard Ellenbecker, DDS

Richard EllenbackerThe Haitian Health Foundation, Sr. Mary Ann and her staff in Jérémie, Haiti, provide a wonderful example of loving Christian service to people in great need. I’ve felt privileged to have the opportunity to contribute my professional labors to their program. Though challenging at times, I have gained far more than I’ve given.




Kathy Ellenbecker

Kathy EllenbackerA highlight for me during the Avera mission trip to Haiti was the opportunity to meet the Haitian family that we sponsor through the Haitian Health Foundation’s Save-a-Family Program. I also was struck by the need of the Haitian people for work. They are a people with dignity and pride even though they have nothing. Thank you, Avera, for supporting the Haitian Health Foundation in their work to improve the lives of the Haitians.




Angela Beck

Angela BeckThis was my first trip to Haiti. I am so very blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Avera Haiti mission. Not only is the Haitian Health Foundation aligned with the mission of Avera, but also the time working provided me more spiritual connection than I can describe.

I learned about the culture, people and land. I met other long-term volunteers who were so passionate about the foundation and the work it is doing. These people truly care about the country and people of Haiti.

I also met local people who worked side by side with the volunteers. They helped me to have a better understanding of what it means to work together. I thought I knew, but now I have a whole new perspective. … Thank you, Avera, for letting me take part in the Haiti mission.


Paul Faris

Paul and Shaun FarisIt is hard to describe in words my experiences in Haiti. I looked around at such beauty in the trees, flowers, plants and the sunrises over the water every morning. The beautiful proud Haitian people were a blessing. I was amazed to see how they were always dressed in their best clothes when they walked to the mountain clinics. Their sense of dignity was amazing. But amid all the beauty was such poverty, the likes of which I had never seen or experienced before. The Haitians’ living conditions, the places they call home, were beyond description. There was garbage all around and no place to put it. Friday afternoon after returning from a mountain village clinic we met our new extended family. We were given the opportunity to help support them through the Haitian Health Foundation Save-a-Family Program, and meeting them made my whole trip. I am still in awe of how God brings people together at the right time in individuals’ lives. This was an experience of a lifetime and, I would like to thank Avera once again for the opportunity.


Shaun Faris

Shaun FarisI had no idea what to expect on my first trip to Haiti, but I could never have imagined the life-changing experience it turned out to be! Surrounded by a tropical paradise I discovered the true beauty in Haiti is found in the Haitian people. They have a resilient spirit despite poverty and natural disaster. They continue to praise God despite the fact they may not know where their next meal will come from. We take so much for granted in America, while the Haitian people take nothing for granted. What little I did to help the people of Haiti is nothing compared to the life lessons they taught me! I feel like I left a small part of me back in Haiti, and I will think of her people and pray for them every day until I return.


Charlotte Heroux

Charlotte HerouxI flew from Miami to Port-au-Prince seated next to a person who had lived in Haiti until age 8. Now an adult, he flies back as often as he can because he loves the people he knows as family.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, yet the people still welcome you into their homes with dirt floors and no running water, as they are proud of what they do have and their families. The Haitian Health Foundation has given them a way to help themselves care for their families through programs that work with them in their towns and villages.

On the way home from Port-au-Prince I flew with a person who works in a Haitian hospital on his free weekends. He reminded me of the cholera, rapes and abuse resulting from people trying to live in the tent cities competing for food on a daily basis.

Prayers of hope for the well-being of those who have little control over their lives!


Heidi Roos, LPN

Heidi RoosEven though it was my third trip, I had many firsts on this trip. I was able to spend three days in a mountain village doing clinic during the day and learning the culture better by watching the people in their own surroundings. I was able to be hands-on with patients all day, and I loved every minute of it! I truly feel blessed to have been able to go on this trip. Haitians make me realize how great God is! To show their gratitude they opened the clinic every day by singing How Great Thou Art. It was beautiful! Haiti will always have a special place in my heart! I look forward to my next trip!


Renae Skjonsberg

Renae SkjonsbergThis was my second trip to Haiti, and it was even better than the first trip. I didn’t think that was possible. I left Haiti the first time with a sense of awe at the people and their ability to overcome unbelievable odds and maintain their faith. I come back this time and have an even larger respect and admiration for the people of Haiti. Through the earthquake, the cholera and the hurricane season the people have kept their faith. They are a strong, proud people and have such a strong faith. Although I went on the mission trip hoping to give some help to the Haitian people, I come back knowing they have given more to me than I have to them. I am so thankful to have been a part of this trip.

It was a wonderful experience!


Shari Platek, RN

Shari PlatekPlease know that Avera’s continued support of Haitian Health Foundation with money, supplies, medications and volunteers is so appreciated. The Haitians in Jérémie, Haiti, know the word “Avera.” The experience as always fills my heart. I return each time with an awareness that never leaves. Mesi  anpil for this challenging and rewarding opportunity. Please pray for the people of Haiti, and the volunteers who spend their lives serving them.



Sonya Kooima, RN

Sonya KooimaI am finding it very hard to put my feelings into words this time. This was my second trip to Haiti and both trips were such different experiences. I went to a village in the mountains with two other Avera nurses and a group of four male Haitian nurses this time. We spent three days side by side seeing patients at clinic. It was so special to be immersed in their culture both day and night. We shared many stories about ourselves, our cultures and families. We came from two very different worlds yet found many things to share and respect about each other. I was truly blessed by this experience and feel that both the Avera and Haitian nurses will forever be blessings in my life.


Kathy English

Kathy EnglishThank you, Avera, for your continued support of the Haitian Health Foundation and the Avera Haiti Mission. Lives are becoming better for the Haitian people in what was once the poorest part of Haiti. With each trip you see improvements due to the hard work of the Haitian Health Foundation and support of organizations such as Avera.

Yon lot Makandal pou lot milene” is Creole for “we are changing the image of Makandal.” These words were painted on the front of a repainted/refurbished building now used as a school in Makandal. They illustrate the strength and spirit of the Haitian people. Past volunteers will remember this poorest of neighborhoods along the waterfront. In the last year through the combined efforts of community organizers and the people of Makandal, with the support of the Haitian Health Foundation, the muddy paths are now widened streets, concrete benches have replaced the rubbish heaps at the water’s edge and 50 sturdy cement homes replace the worst of the rag-and-stick huts. The Haitians in Makandal wanted to improve their community and are doing so.  

Sr. Maryann, Marty, Bette and the long-term volunteers are the embodiment of Christian caring and compassion. I’m very proud to be a part of Avera, an organization partnering its mission with that of the Haitian Health Foundation.


Kellye Stroman

Kellye StromanFirst of all I want to thank all of those involved in making this trip possible for Avera employees. Without your support such an experience would not be within reach. We went each day to a village and were able to experience what life is like for the Haitian people. Thanks to Bette we learned so much. The Haitian Health Foundation has done wonderful things with the people. Jérémie, Haiti, has such a beautiful landscape and breathtaking sunset. Yet there is so much poverty.

I was glad to see the improvements made since my last visit, although it seems as if our work there will never be done. Once again the people of Haiti have given me more than I have given them. It’s a blessing to see God’s work being done across the country. I strongly encourage anyone who is interested to apply and be a part of this wonderful mission. My family and I will continue to support the mission as I am a strong believer in what is being done. Avera plays a big part in the continuing improvements in life for the people of Jérémie, Haiti. WE DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. May God continue to bless each person who is involved in this mission and the people of Haiti.