Haiti Medical Missions–Arrival

It is so surreal to think that just two…TWO days ago, I was freaking out about my Step 1 exam in Philadelphia. Just ONE day ago, I was celebrating the beautiful wedding of one of my fellow med school classmates (and sisters in Christ :)). Less than 24 hours ago, I was boarding a plane in the middle of the night, en route to Haiti. And now, after a 6 hr layover, a delayed flight, baggage delays and a missed-ride scare, our team (all 30 of us!) are together in Port-au-Prince!

(Part of the surreal-ness is that in the past 72 hours I think I’ve gotten like a total of 8 hours of sleep, which makes every little emotion so much more heightened ^__^’ Still…We haven’t really gone into Port au Prince either, so that is part of the surreal-ness too. Hopefully I’ll be able to recover some tonight–a full day of clinic is in store tomorrow!)

Today was a bunch of ups and downs; highs and lows, but reminders that God is incredible and providing. Examples:
1. J, another medical student on the team, couldn’t join the Haiti team yesterday so had to travel with us today. It turned out to be an INCREDIBLE blessing in disguise, because he had gone on this trip last year!  That meant he knew who to look for when we got to Haiti, where to go, etc. Without him, me and T would have been totally lost haha. Thank God!

2. Our delayed flight to Haiti was all the more nerve wracking because they just sat us on the plane for about an hour at Miami, with no updates on how much longer the wait was going to be, before we finally were cleared for takeoff. The whole time, we were worried that the people meeting us in Port au Prince would not know about the delay and therefore worry about us, throwing everything off. Through my anxiety though, God kept reminding me to just depend on Him, that He is in charge, and that there is NO reason for me to worry. And things were fine in the end. Thank you God for that much needed reminder 🙂

Tonight, I finally was able to meet the rest of my team in person. Everyone seems  really nice and friendly so far, especially the doctors! When they all found out I was interested in oncology, everyone immediately pointed me to Dr. S, who is a private practice oncologist in GA haha. It’s such an encouragement to see him serve outside his clinic. I hope I can leave a good impression!

My impression so far: Everyone comes with such incredible and diverse stories. The experience of our team members ranges from first time medical-missions-trippers (like me) to people who have gone on medical missions all OVER the world, from Bolivia to Kenya. The people who are hosting us in Haiti are true Haitians and don’t speak a lot of English, but they are very hospitable (and cook awesome food! xD). I also found out we’ll be working with some Dominican Republic doctors too. One of the doctors is a pediatric cardiologist who did rotations at Columbia and Mexico–really cool!

Some things on my mind:
1. Being the person who ALWAYS gets mosquito bites, please pray that the mosquitoes that DO bite me do not give me malaria D: I’m drenching myself in bug spray at every moment I can get (and also drenched in sweat haha–it is HOT here!)

2. Our flight to Haiti from Miami was almost ALL full of people there for volunteer work or ministry. And it makes sense; Haiti is a broken place that needs a lot of help. But part of me feels weird about that…why? I think part of it is the question of whether sometimes we do more harm than good when we try to be altruistic in a third world country. When planeloads of people are going to Haiti to ‘help’, but all only for the short term, is it really helping? I feel like it becomes a delicate balance when parts of Haiti start DEPENDING on these short term missions teams to patch up their city, instead of Haiti itself trying to improve its infrastructure from within…

Conclusive thought: People should NEVER go into short term missions with the aim of ‘improving’, or with some sense of self entitlement–that we’re ‘better off’ than the people of this country; they ‘need’ our help, and we get glory for being altruistic. I think the goal of short term missions is two fold–to be able to help a culture, but also be able to LEARN from that culture–so that you are able to expand your own perspectives. Otherwise, we could all just do volunteer work at home, in the US. While we are definitely better off, with a government that thankfully is not as corrupt as Haiti’s, there is still a tremendous need for repair in some parts of the US too. The difference between a volunteer trip to another [developing] country and a volunteer trip within the US is the interaction with another culture. I think this in and of itself is very invaluable–the more people know about other cultures, the more we can understand and accept the differences that exist in this world, and the more we can all tolerate–and ultimately LOVE–each other.

Anyways, time to sign out for the night. After dinner, we packed at LEAST 1000 packets of ibuprofen, acetominophen, ranitidine, multivitamins, fluconazole, and pediatric drugs. Will update with clinic news tomorrow!! Please pray for the health of our team, a relatively smooth clinic, energy and team communication! We will be working out of a church, using their rooms as clinic rooms and triaging downstairs.


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