Arriving home from Haiti each time is hard. The country is filled of amazing people with beautiful spirits. I spent 10 days working in the only critical care hospital in the entire country. Project Medishare for Haiti is located in the heart of Port-au-Prince. During my time spent at the hospital hundreds upon hundreds of patients were seen each day. There illness ranging from asthma attacks to acute GI bleeds.
There are so many memories I have made. People from all around the world travel to Haiti each week to help at The Bernard Mevs Hospital. This week we had Canadians, Americans, Australians, English plus so many more. It always amazes me how people of so many different backgrounds can come together for a greater cause.
My favorite memory from this trip happened in the middle of the night. A patient arrived at the hospital gates in the back of a tap tap (Haitian form of transportation) that was 3 hours post delivery of a beautiful little baby. The mother was having complications due to delivering the baby by herself in her tent with no prenatal care given. While the physician and another nurse was taking care of momma, baby was put into my hands. Obviously premature, it was the smallest baby I had ever held. I wrapped her in a blanket and put a cap on her head and help her for hours praying that mamma would pull through. Several hours later both mamma and baby were reunited and I got to announce to mom that baby was a little baby girl. And ever though we do not speak the same language, a smile and tear is the same in every language.
So many great memories were made in the time spent in Haiti. Of course, there are things I could do without. Such as the raging heat! The temperature during the day would be around 98*F which with the heat index it would feel like 110*F. And lets not forget about the rolling blackouts. Working nights we would be in the middle of a code and all the sudden the electricity goes. That means no suction, no lights and no ventilators. Luckily I have learned from my previous 3 trips to Haiti and brought a head lamp. Ah the simple things in life.
When spending time in Haiti it is not hard to observe the culture differences. The most amazing aspect that I have seen everytime is how each family treats one another. When someone is admitted to the hospital the family comes in and completely take care of the patient. Food is cooked, tubs for bathing are dumped and so much more. Also, when a patient’s family lives far away and can not get to them that day the patient’s family next to them takes over the care. They help bathe and feed the patient. It is so amazing to see people who care so much about each other even though they are strangers. Another aspect of the culture I got to witness every morning was the “prayer lady”. This is a woman who comes to each ward in the hospital and prays and sings with the patients and families. My favorite morning was when she was singing “Count your many blessings”. I got excited because I recognized the song even though she was singing in Creole. Then I starting thinking about the song. These people were singing “Count your many blessings name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done” Many people in our world here in the United States would think that the Haitian people do not have a lot of blessings, yet here they were naming them one by one. It just shows how wonderful the Haitian people are.
I always say it is hard coming back home to my “real world”. It has taken me a couple of trips to realize how fortunate I am to get a glimpse into other peoples reality. It impacts my life as a nurse. I am more grateful for my education. That I had the opportunity to go to college and learn. It changes the way I care for my patients. I am more holistic in my approach to medicine. I don’t take for granted what I am given and the equipment that is at the disposal. But mostly, I am blessed that the Haitian people have taken me in and let me become part of their world. I look forward in a few months to my return to Haiti. I can not imagine my life without it.