March 2018 I was so honored to be selected to go on my very first mission trip to Haiti with the University of Miami. As a graduate nursing student I felt as if this would be an awesome opportunity…. And boy was I right. This was not just an awesome opportunity but a life changing opportunity and perhaps the best experience that I have ever been exposed to. Going to Haiti was such a humbling experience for me. I have vowed to make mission trips a part of my life from here on out (next trip, Nigeria 2018!!!, stay tuned)
I admired the strength, tenacity, resilience, humility, and the work ethic of the Haitian people. Initially, I felt saddened by the living conditions in the Central Plateau (Thomonde). Many homes were shacks made of tin, sticks, and wooden planks having only one room. The homes, schools, and churches did not have running water, toilets, or electricity. Many of my patients only consumed one meal per day and survived the scorching sun off of about one cup of water per day. After speaking with the people, treating the people, and even playing an intense soccer game with the men of Haiti, I no longer felt saddened by their living conditions. I accepted their way life. The gracious men and women of Haiti were content. They were surviving. They know the true meaning of hard work. I learned so much from them in such a short period of time and will share my lived experience with any who cares to live vicariously through my experience.
I had never been to a country and had to worry about having running clean water. To my surprise it did not matter to me that I did not have hot showers in the morning and at night. I had cold trickling showers, but I was thankful for whatever flowed out; even if it were just drips of water. I had never seen one room school houses that held four different grade levels all in just the one room. I had never been inside of a church held up by sticks and a roof made of woven bamboo.
As a student nurse practitioner in Haiti I never felt so moved. I was so confident in my decisions to assess, diagnose, and treat my patients. I looked forward to patient education. They were so eager to learn, and I was soooo eager to teach. I treated and diagnosed everything from GERD, to yeast infections, chronic diseases, diabetes, hypertension, parasites, hyperlipidemia, dehydration, and UTIs… the list goes on…. My prayer is that all the hundreds of people we treated receive proper follow up and adhere to the plan . I pray that there are more missions to meet the need.