Mission to Haiti
from Emily Morse, Robin Cobb and Cory Smeltzer
A team of students and faculty from Belmont University School of Nursing is ministering in Haiti during Belmont’s Spring Break. This is the second year a team has traveled there.
Today was an adventure, to say the least! We started the day with a pasta-salad-with-mystery-meat breakfast and freshly squeezed orange juice. (A clarification on the meat from yesterday’s lunch – We found out some people had beef, some people had chicken, and some had goat!)
We left the compound bright and early and picked up supplies where we met our tap tap driver. When we told some girls on the street that what our plan for the day included, they couldn’t stop laughing. We didn’t realize what was in store. The tap tap was a 1980’s model Nissan pick up with benches in the back and a low ceiling camper top… and it should be mentioned not many Haitian vehicles have special Mountain Climbing tires!
We began our journey through town, enjoying the nice breeze that being in an open vehicle provides. It wasn’t until we turned off the main roads onto a washed out river bed of boulders that we finally understood what we were in for. It reminded us of an old wooden carnival ride that lasted for an hour and a half and we have bruised body parts to prove it! We only had one breakdown and only a couple times did we have to get out and walk due to Tap Tap limitations and steep inclines. It wasn’t all adventure, though – there were some unbelievable views of the mountains and coastline! They seemed endless and some of us felt like we were in Jurassic Park!
We set up our clinic in a cinder block church building with a rock and dirt floor and open windows. It was nice to be in the shade! We set up stations – one sign-in table, a station for vital signs (manned by Marie and Cory), one for medical histories (Annah and Becca), an assessment with nurses (by Nurses Robin C. and Emily with the help of Jordan and Sara), then the pharmacy where we gave out medications and prayed with each patient (Katelyn and Robin Q.). Each station had at least one Haitian to help us translate, but they knew the questions and process so well that they will probably be doing things like this by themselves one day! We saw patients from every walk of life in the village – from a well child check up on a 14-month-old girl to a 39 weeks pregnant mom who got to hear her baby’s heart beat for the first time via doppler to a 75 year old women with a 20cm solid abdominal mass. We even had a newly paralyzed man brought in on a stretcher by his friends and family from a village further up the mountain. He had had an accident 21 days previously, was paralyzed, and had been bed ridden ever since. We were able to provide wound care for pressure ulcer and skin tears, and had an emergent situation with his catheter. Nurse Jenny is the bomb!
Life in the mountains seemed much different than the lives lived in the city. Some people live their entire lives without coming down the mountain. Most were farmers or hard laborers and very few had educations, but all were thankful to have us there. Some waited from 9am until 4pm without a complaint because Jenny’s clinic can sometimes be the only medical care they ever receive.
It was a long trip down the mountain, but we were so glad to see a delicious dinner of chicken, rice and beans, salad, and fresh papaya along with our favorite cold bottled Cokes and 7ups. We are getting ready to have our evening devotional and head to bed early to rest up for another of the long days ahead of us.
Love to all at home! To Martha and Sara – Johnson and Jenny send their love to you, too!
Emily, Robin, Cory, and the rest of the Haiti team