We hear that there is plenty of snow at home, but we continue to sweat here.. so we can’t relate. We have decided that we are never coming home (just kidding mom). Today we went to second mile Haiti. What an amazing organization! It is a malnutrition clinic that a malnourished child and their caregiver live in Monday through Friday for 7 weeks. The caregivers spend at least 6 hours a day in education classes. They also learn self help skills including gardening, how to run a business, and how to be self sufficient. Check it out (secondmilehaiti.org) – it’s an awesome organization!
We were able to provide education to the nurses and other staff who work at Second Mile Haiti. We educated them on contraception methods, breastfeeding, physical head to toe pediatric assessments, and developmental milestones. We also received a tour of the facility. We are excited to start doing hands on assessments of the children tomorrow!
On Wednesday we were able to go back to Second Mile Haiti. Today we brought two big duffel bags of some of the things that we had purchased back in the U.S. to give to them that included things like: formula, developmental age appropriate toys, crayons, sports balls, and bottles. Today the nurses here educated us on protocols that they use here and showed us how they performed their daily assessments on the children. We were also able to talk to Grace, who is a RN and does a lot of research around the villages here and ask her our many questions. Overall, our experience with Second Mile has been very eye opening and we are all very humbled they invited us into their facility.
Here are a few thoughts from all of us individually about our trip so far!
Kylee – My favorite thing I have experienced so far has been working with both Haitian and American providers in the clinic along side our amazing translators and learning from them. I have become much more comfortable working in my role as a nurse and am grateful for all the opportunities I have had here in Haiti. I also loved riding in the “top-top” and waving at Haitians as we drive by. I have been surprised by the poverty and the living conditions of the people in Haiti. Watching children walk miles for water that is not even clean to drink, is something that does not leave your mind. I am learning each and every day about diseases in Haiti that we don’t commonly see in the United States! I was challenged by going to the orphanage run by Hands Up For Haiti and seeing how desperately the children there are for attention. I loved loving up on them, however, it breaks my heart to know that that is short lived and that they may be going to bed not knowing the next time they will be “loved on.” It is also heartbreaking to send away patients when we are unable to do anything for them, due to the lack of medical care available here. Overall, the experience has been incredible and one I will definitely never forget! The sight of children smiling and waving with excitement as the “blancs” (white people) drive by will forever be engrained in my mind.
Laura – During this time in Haiti my favorite thing has been working together with my classmates and learning a new culture of medical practice. This experience has opened my eyes in a new way of caring for each patient and assessing each person as a whole. What surprised me the most was the poverty that these people live in each day. It was so humbling to serve each community and help them as much as I could. I have learned a lot during this trip but I feel that the most important thing I’ve learned and gained is assessment skills and becoming comfortable using a translator. The biggest challenge for me was over coming the feeling of being uncomfortable. I have grown as a person and learned to really put my trust in God and have faith. Overall, this trip has been incredible and I am so glad I had this experience!!
Alexa- My time in Haiti has been quite a journey for me. It has surprised me how much I have grown through this experience as a person and nurse. It has made me stronger, a more competent nurse, and a more well-rounded person. I am forever changed by all I have experienced here. I have come to appreciate so much more of my life in the United States. My biggest challenge has been being out of my comfort zone. I have been farther out of my comfort zone than ever before, and now feel more comfortable being uncomfortable. I have learned so much about myself and grown as a nurse immensely. I have learned how to be a more confident nurse and experienced many different illnesses I haven’t seen before. My favorite part of our trip to Haiti was being able to do what I love most (being a nurse), and share it with people who desperately needed care. It has changed my life to help so many people along side the incredible team I am with. I am so grateful for this experience, have had to trust and lean on God more than ever, and am ready to come home and graduate!
Megan – I have loved absolutely everything about Haiti. Preparing for this trip, I was honestly a little bit nervous, but ever since I stepped off the plane, I have just taken everything in. The thing that has surprised me most is the beauty of this country. With mountains, oceans, and the greenery, it is a beautiful sight. My favorite thing so far has been being able to practice at the top of my scope alongside Haitian providers, furthering my knowledge of tropical diseases and Haitian culture. I have also really enjoyed waving at children as we drive past them, as well as spending quality time with my classmates who I will soon be graduating with and heading separate ways. A challenge for me has been seeing first hand children at the orphanage. Knowing that we are able to come back to the states and go back to our daily routine, while they are stuck with an unknown future breaks my heart.
Abby – Our medical mission trip here in Haiti has been more then I could have ever imagined. It has been such a huge learning experience not only medically, but personally as well. I have learned a lot about diseases that are prevalent in this area and how to treat them. My confidence has increased with using a translator, and being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. We all managed to pick up a couple sayings in creole that helped us tremendously during the clinics. Some challenges that we have come across while being here first of all is the heat. It took awhile to become adjusted to always being sweaty. It was awesome to learn about healthcare in Haiti, but it became challenging at times. We didn’t have a lot of gloves, and had to pick and choose when it was really necessary to use them. There were times when we didn’t have the right type of medication a patient needed, so we either had to improvise or refer them to a different pharmacy. This was difficult because we were offering medications for free. If we didn’t have them, they were forced to go and pay for them. Another thing that was hard was having to cut the clinics off at some point. We of course can’t see everyone, but having to decide who really needed to be seen or not was difficult to do. Some of the biggest things that have surprised me while being here is how green and beautiful it is. We have gone hiking a handful of times and the views are breathtakingly beautiful. The people of Haiti are extremely appreciative for what we have been able to offer them. They have shown to be happy and content with what they have, and I think we can all learn something from that. Also, it is shocking how much they can carry on their head. We saw one women carrying a table. Now that’s talent. With everything that we have done it’s definitely hard to pick a favorite. The Citadelle was amazing, and the clinics have been a great learning experience. We have gotten the opportunity to follow both American and Haitian providers. It’s been fun to see some differences and similarities between the two. Many times we have been thrown into their role and been able to use our critical thinking skills and decide how we think we should treat them. I’m sad that we only have a couple days left here, but I feel very blessed to have even gotten this opportunity. Haiti will forever have a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to come back.
Nolan – How do you pick a favorite time from a trip full of favorite times? This trip has exceeded my expectations in every way. Some top moments are traveling on modes of transportation uncommon in the U.S, the clinics, and anything involving physical activity (there were a lot!). I am honored to be able to come and serve the Haitians. What surprised me most was the Haitian people. Being the poorest country in the western you would expect the people to be downtrodden, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. Haitians are full of life and radiate simple joys that just aren’t as evident in the states. I have learned many things about medicine, Haiti, and myself. Too much to post about. I without a doubt am more confident in my abilities as a nurse. Lastly, my biggest challenge was accepting our limitations practicing in a third world country. Knowing that something so treatable in the U.S can’t be addressed in Haiti due to a lack of resources is a tough pill to swallow (pun intended). Even with a lack of medical accessibility, Haiti is heading in the right direction. Which makes me glad. I truly hope our paths cross again.
P.s. it took us 2 days to learn creole for “crazy white girl”. Just saying…..
Hello all, this is Mattie 🙂 What a life changing experience Haiti has been. It is so hard to pick a single favorite thing here. Beyond just the general culture of Haiti and it’s tasty food and friendly people and the amazing views it has to offer, my favorite part is the fact that I wake up every morning so excited to see what adventures and experiences the new day will bring. Then I go to bed at night with a full heart because of all of our interactions with the Haitians and because of all we are able to accomplish and learn in one day. I think something that surprised me was that before coming into this experience, I thought we would be coming to Haiti and making a big impact here by what we were doing. But in reality, even though we have helped many, Haiti and the people here have made an even bigger impact on my life. They have changed the way I think about things, how I will practice in my nursing career, and to truly appreciate the many little things in life. I have learned that even with the cards that Haiti has been dealt, they are adapting well with the resources and environment that they have. There is always room for improvement, but there are some amazing organizations here in Haiti trying to do just that. Lastly, the most challenging thing for me is that even though we have been able to treat over 200 people, I still always have it in the back of my mind that I wish we could have helped more. But fortunately, Haiti has stolen a piece my heart and I know I will be back for more.
Joanna – I just want to start off by saying this has been the greatest, most rewarding experience of my life and I am truly grateful for my group I traveled with and everyone in Haiti who has been so accepting and kind! I have many favorites in this trip. One of my favorites has to have been all the clinics we were able to do and all the people we were able to serve. Everyone was so grateful. I also really enjoyed going to the Citadel. The views from the top were breathtaking and almost indescribable. I have learned so much on this trip. I have learned so much about medicine, communication, Haiti and myself. This has been a very eye opening experience and I plan on bringing everything I have learned not only into my future practice as a nurse but into my daily life. I was very surprised by how beautiful of a country Haiti is. We are in the northern portion of Haiti which is very lush and green. I am also very surprised and happy to say that I have yet to be sunburned (which if any of you know me, is a true accomplishment). Lastly, the most challenging thing has been not being able to help everyone. We had to close clinics at some point even when there were still people to be seen. I am happy with what we were able to accomplish. Another thing that was challenging at times was communicating without a translator. I have to say we all got really good at nonverbal communication and were able to push through! I have been blessed with this opportunity and I can’t wait to come back again some day!
Molly – This trip to Haiti has been a great experience. Since last May, I have eagerly anticipated returning here with Abigail and the students. I am happy they all seem to love Haiti, the people we have met and the places we have visited as much as I hoped they would. Our days have started early with the sounds of roosters, barking dogs, singing from the nearby church and the hustle of the morning work that happens before the heat beginning around 5:00. We have had busy, hot days and each day I have been genuinely impressed with the enthusiasm, hard work and compassion that the NDSU team has displayed. Each day we have found ourselves challenged as we examine the duality of observing a life less abundant than our own but full of beauty, faith and strength. One of my favorite things in Haiti is the trees. There are many cool tropical trees that come in multiple shades of green and cast cool shadows on the ground. As we wrap up the learning portion of our trip (and head to the beach!), it is easy to reflect with gratitude on all we have learned about global health, humanity, Haiti and ourselves.
Abigail – This past week in Haiti has been a truly incredible experience. I’ve loved the immersion in a culture and country that is new to me – I’ve learned so much! It has also been wonderful to watch the students who I have known for the last 18 months blossom into amazing nurses. This particular group of students has a special place in my heart, so that makes this trip that much more special. One of my favorite things has been watching them learn and grow as nurses. They have had many challenges presented to them throughout this trip, and they’ve met them head on with professionalism and utilizing all of the Nursing knowledge they’ve acquired. It’s been a great process to watch and be a part of. All of the unknowns have been a personal challenge – where we were going, what clinics would be like, what to expect- but we have been well taken care of and had no problems. I’m used to having experienced everything before and knowing what is coming next! But having this new experience has been refreshing and welcome. I’ve enjoyed every moment – from the delicious food, the busy clinics, the crazy van rides, the endless card games, our deep philosophical discussions, to the laughter, singing in the van, and exploring this beautiful culture. The end of these trips always comes too soon, and I will be forever thankful for the time I’ve spent here in Haiti with Molly and this remarkable group of soon-to-be RNs.
We’ll be spending our last night tonight at Open Door and will be heading to Cormier Plage tomorrow for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Until then….
The NDSU Nursing Team