October 2005 Trip to Haiti
Terri Claussen, RN
This trip overall, is something I'm grateful for. I feel as though I've gained a lot from it, including some new friends. The experience prompted many different feelings. I felt happy, sad, fearful, confused, proud, accepted, wealthy, thankful, empathic, and sorrowful, along with many other emotions. I can truly say though that since returning home, I have a new appreciation for all things in my life, especially my children and their health. I find myself taking more time for them, and nothing more positive than that could have come from this trip. What a gift to bring home to them!
Sue Houck, RN
This was my third trip to Haiti . It is hard to explain the fascination I have with this country and its people. The people are so very poor, but most of their spirits are very high. They love to see us come and spend time with them. I think that we get more from our visits than the Haitian people do.
I continue to come back because I truly feel that I am very much appreciated there. The children are what keep me coming back. We visited several orphanages this time and got to spend time feeding the children. They love to touch us and have us touch them. One little touch or smile means so much to them. You would sit down on a bench and instantly have six children trying to sit on your lap or touch you. They would actually argue with each other to see who could get closer. This makes the whole trip worthwhile.
Shari Platek, RN
It is difficult to convey how much my second experience in Haiti meant to me. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to return there. I appreciated seeing familiar faces—from the hospitable, warm Sisters, to the smiling, welcoming Haitian people. I have come to realize that the mission is more than just our bringing supplies to the people or working with them for a week—it is also about our returning home with a greater awareness of the plight of the Haitian people and being able to express that to others. We cannot hope to make a huge difference through any one visit, but we can individually and collectively make many small ones.
Because Avera provides us with this opportunity through its scholarships and it plans and organizes the trips, we can take advantage of this unique opportunity to use our talents for the benefit of others. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Haiti, and I hope to work with them again on a future mission.
Randy L. Jones, Rph
As we traveled to the mountain villages this fall, as was our experience last year, the health agents and nurses were very effective in setting up the work-flow for the patients that came to see us. But this year, in addition, they were more proficient at treating the patients. In my estimation, they are still very understaffed, but they are more skilled in triage and in recognizing various disease states; consequently they better understand how to best respond to patient conditions.
Bette and the entire HHF (Haitian Health Foundation) staff are having an important impact in improving the health of people they touch, and groups such as ours that travel to Jeremie are helping HHF attain their important, challenging goals.
Patty Peters, MD
Going to Jeremie , Haiti , was more meaningful for me this second trip because I felt like I was going “home”. I knew several people that work at the Haitian Health Foundation and they are so welcoming and thankful for what Avera Health does for them.
It is such a moving experience for me when I hear the people of the villages sing hymns and pray before we start our work with them. One health agent spoke to the village people and told them that the only thing that they had to give us was their smiles. The people are so patient in awaiting their turn; they may wait for hours. Most of them travel by foot a very long distance to come for their checkups. It is a humbling experience to be able to use our medical talents in this poor but beautiful country.
Margo Gab, RNC
The extra things we provide, that aren’t routinely made available to the children in the villages and at the Center of Hope, are very much appreciated, e.g., cleaning and trimming fingernails, helping them color pages with crayons and teaching them action songs.
One touching moment happened when one of our team members donated a pint of blood to save the life of a two-year-old child with severe anemia. When I look back at the week, I am very proud to have been a part of such a worthwhile mission. The team lent hands to those less fortunate and made a difference in their lives.
Kathi Larsen, RN
Visiting the Sisters of Charity Orphanage is always a highlight of the trip—sad but always a highlight. It was fun to go over at dinnertime so that we could help feed the children. That was a new experience for me! Not being accustomed to feeding babies, it went very well. You really do just want to sneak them under your coat and out the door when it’s time to leave. They have such flat affects from not having any bonding or emotional interactions with anyone; it is so heartbreaking! You just want to take them home and love them and show them what love really is.
I’m not sure why going to villages is always so special! It just seems to be what it’s all about. We seem to thrive on going out to the people! I think we need to go there as much as the people need to have us come. The trips to and from the villages and the camaraderie that develops while we travel are so good! We discuss the day’s events and get out our opinions and frustrations; we also share what breaks our hearts, which in Jeremie, can be so much. One of these days we will get the immunizations figured out!