Intercom Feature Articles
Bringing Compassionate Care to Haiti
By S. Pat Hayden
On a recent medical mission trip to Haiti, S. Pat Hayden and a team of volunteers brought 250 pounds of training materials for more than 50 participants and their facilities, so they could establish learning centers.
In March 2017, I had the privilege to make a mission trip to Haiti, a two-day training program called “Helping Babies Survive” for birth attendants, nurses and doctors in medically underserved rural areas of Haiti, to reduce the incidence of intrapartum and peripartum deaths and still births. We brought 250 pounds of training materials for more than 50 participants and their facilities, so they could establish learning centers.
Upon our arrival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, we were met by Bourdeau, our driver and translator, and one of the key instructors, Dr. Jacklin Sime, who recently graduated from medical school. On our way out of town, we stopped at the memorial outside of Port-au-Prince for the victims of the 2010 earthquake where 300,000 people lost their lives. Bourdeau shared that he lost his daughter in the earthquake. He was severely injured and was taken to the U.S. hospital ship where he said they saved his life.
Our first stop was St. Marc. The participants were so excited, engaged and eager to learn the techniques to take back to their facilities. Even though I didn’t know the language, I participated at a table where a nurse knew a little English. It was hot and the electricity would come on and off intermittently, due to city power rationing.
The next day we headed to Gros Morne, Haiti. The last 30 minutes on the road to this town consists of large rocks. While sitting in the van my Fitbit thought I climbed 56 flights of stairs and walked over 16,000 steps! It is a rough stretch of road that often floods and creates hardship for the people trying to get around.
When we arrived in Gros Morne, I stayed at the convent with S. Jackie of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary. Six months ago S. Isabel – a 51-year member of the same congregation – was murdered on the streets of Port-au-Prince, which was extremely difficult on their community.
S. Jackie showed me around their different ministries over the next two days. For the past five years, we have sent teams to support S. Jackie and her work at Hospital Alma Mater in Gros Morne. I first met S. Jackie when she came to St. Anthony North Health Campus (Westminster, Colorado) to review equipment she could use at Hospital Alma Mater. With the help of Project Cure, we have sent many shipments of much-needed equipment to her hospital.
S. Jackie and her team of volunteers are doing wonderful work in Gros Morne. Besides the ministry at the hospital they also run a school and a shelter for abandoned seniors. The school tuition is $100 per year, but most can only pay $17, and some can’t even pay that. There is no hot water and many people do not even have water at all. Children take containers to a water pump on the street to get their water. They do not have electricity in most of the small houses, so they go to the market each day for food. I have been to other developing countries before, but the poverty in Haiti is overwhelming. Trash is piled up in the street, and at night goats and dogs scavenge through it for food. One day I saw a 3-year-old child sitting in the trash looking for food.
Reflecting on my trip, we take so much for granted in our country. Most of us have a place to sleep, food on our table, running water – even hot water – and lights to turn on. Let us all remember we are truly an abundant, blessed nation with opportunities to share our resources with our fellow brothers and sisters – both at home and in developing nations around the world. I am very glad that through Centura Global Health Initiatives we were able to bring our mission of compassionate care to Haiti.