“Books teach you information but only experience teaches you of people” is a quote I got from Yves-Dany, a second year medical student. The only way to describe today is bitter sweet. We’ve all fallen in amour with this place. I’m sure that if we received notice that our flight was slightly delayed by a couple of days we wouldn’t be worried (well maybe most of us). On our last day in Haiti, we reveled in a late start at 8am(compared to the normal 5am routine), enjoyed solemnly our final breakfast together and moved out to tour L’Hopital Convention du Cap Haitien (The hospital in Cap Haitien).
It was especially a unique experience for us considering we spent the larger portion of the last two days (literally 23.5 out of 48 hours) treating and educating the community. The hospital was a sight to see and it’s story was nothing short of inspiring. It began as a one room clinic within the last 8 years. As the volume of patients grew, they were forced to as well. When tragedy struck the island in the form of an earthquake the massive influx and the growing demands of the patients were overwhelming. With that they received aid from the UN and continued to grow to become the facility we saw today, fully equipped with a maternity ward, rehabilitation center, internal medicine, neonatal ICU, emergency medicine among others.
Looking at a couple of posters, a couple of us noticed Haitian people don’t tend to smile much in photos. We laughed a reluctant laugh filled with early nostalgia.
Our #MedSquad members have large hearts. Somewhere inside, we feel unresolved. As if coming for 5 days, hosting a 2 day clinic, and 3 educational seminars on 14+ different medical topics could not possible make a drastic change to a country at war with economic poverty and political distress. A couple of weeks worth of medicine, a diagnosis and suggestions for lifestyle changes to 325+ patients won’t change a nation. But that wasn’t our goal: that was more of a vision.
Subconsciously, we cannon balled out of the states at 100mph to deliver love to a place who forgot what it felt like. To show that there are people in the world who would sacrifice time and precious resources (like sweat and blood vis a vis mosquitos) to help out perfect strangers whom we may never see again. To think that there could be some one, in our case a group of individuals, who, without benefit nor ulterior motive, pay close to a grand to travel miles away to a foreign place simply to help is a thought we never considered. We simply wanted to do this to help.
Waiting patiently at the airport we witnessed an elderly women have a stroke (all signs indicated a stroke). Within a moments notice a group is us sprung into action, moving her head as to promote inspiration, equipping a mask, taking her blood pressure and blood glucose. Vehemently we fought to convince her husband to take her to the hospital as opposed to venturing to the states for both of their first times; this was clearly important to the both of them. Eventually he agreed. None of us were obligated in an concrete way to help. In fact many people continued as per usual. Yet our compassionate reactions were all the same, we simply had to help.
Compassion is a quality that makes us human. It allows us to feel without experiencing, deliver love to strangers in order to heal the heart, minds and bodies.
This is not something anyone can teach or instill into anyone else. It comes from deep within; an inborn feeling of giving.
A trip like this is not something you do to build a resume, strengthen an application or make you a stronger candidate for residency. In all honesty, most of our squad recently finished their first year of med school and were allowed a weeks break: who would volunteer to work during your only break within a year?
We are all gonna miss the beautiful children, the sounds of child laughter, the humility of the elders who without fear entrusted their medical attention to us, the delicious and well prepared food, the views and all of feelings of peace and completeness associated with this beautiful place. This experience has been life changing and revitalizing to the soul. Boarding the plane, our hearts wave “Au Revoir” while smiling at the place that has allowed us to grow together and within our own selves. Our thoughts run to the people whom we’ve met, helped and hopefully inspired as we brace for lift-off. Till next time Ayiti Cherie.
This is the last installment.
Leaving you now, hopefully not for long.
All Heart and No Ego
– Med Squad