Haiti for me was an emotional rollercoaster. A land of despair, poverty, mayhem but also a land of hope, optimism and pride. These last 3 sentiments are what stick with me as I reflect on my experience. After all, it is the people that leave an impact on you.
When I was planning the trip I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I had never travelled to a 3rd world country before, let alone one that has been devastated by a massive earthquake and is still struggling to recover. The airport was a typical chaotic scene for a small carribean country, but as I travelled into the Heart of Port-au-Prince I was struck by the massive tent cities, line ups at watering stations, chaos of the driving, etc. Yet throughout this atmosphere was the continued activity of daily life. The boys and girls coming home from school neatly dressed with colorful clothing, the merchants on the street selling fruit, etc. Haiti was continuing on despite much of the damage from the earthquake still obvious almost 2 years after the fact.
The teaching our team carried out, filled us with hope and optimism for the future. Nurses and physicians travelled from across the country every day to participate in our teaching sessions on how to become instructors in newborn resuscitation, followed by them teaching the sessions themselves. The students were not shy about jumping in and taking control of a situation. Their passion was evident in how they imparted knowledge to their colleagues. The pride on their faces was clear.
The most touching moment for me was at the end of the teaching one day when the students (now teachers themselves) sang us a song. Then a senior nurse came over to us and said: “Thank you. Thank you for not just giving us some fish, but for teaching us HOW TO FISH.” That’s when I knew that our team had made a difference, perhaps small but real nonetheless.