This past October, I traveled to Haiti with four other individuals. We had a fantastic week together in Desab. Unfortunately, our return home was not so fantastic. We all came home with dengue fever. If you are not familiar with this one, dengue fever is a mosquito-borne virus and a really big bummer. We all had varying degrees of fevers, chills, headaches, body aches, rashes, and unbelievable fatigue. I will never be cavalier about bug spray again. It was horrible. Yet, I am planning my January 2019 trip to Haiti. A few people have voiced surprise that I would go back after being so sick. I think some people don’t really understand why I go in the first place.
While I was lying about like a slug on the couch during my dengue fever, I got out my passports and counted stamps. October marked my eighteenth trip to Haiti. Trip #1 was when I fell completely in love with Desab and Haiti. It just clicked. I knew I was where I was supposed to be. Somewhere between trip #1 and trip #2, Stone By Stone was formed. I think it was on trip #3 that I was struck by the gravity of what we were doing – committing to supporting a clinic and thus providing healthcare for an entire community. Somewhere around trip #10 I became a godmother. On trip #15, the church in Desab sang Happy Birthday to us for 6 years of involvement in the community. On trip #16, I attended a friend's wedding. Trip after trip, I have met with the clinic staff, sat with groups of women in the villages, watched children grow up and babies join families.
When people find out I go to Haiti, they frequently say things like, “Oh cool, like with Doctors Without Borders?” And I say, “Um, not really…” When I go to Haiti, I sit in a clinic called Fanmi Lasante. I watch the staff move patients from nurse to doctor to pharmacy. I watch them treat people in the community with kindness as they practice medicine as a team. I think about how on trip #1, the clinic was one giant waiting room with two exam rooms and a pharmacy room in the back, and now on trip #18 it also has a lab, a dentist, an administrative office area, a cabinet full of patient charts, and a staff of 10 amazing Haitians. And I think about how people at home send us money, we send it to Haiti, and all of this happens. It blows my mind. When I go to Haiti, I fumble my way through some Creole, I hug all of my friends, I watch Fanmi Lasante at work and am overwhelmed by how much has happened throughout the time I have been traveling there. These are my friends and family. This is my calling.
There’s no way a little mosquito will keep me away from this.
Me and my godson Keliny
My good friend and our clinic administrator Fenel and my inspiration Finelia
The beautiful bride and the best cook in Haiti, Elimene
Dr Gabrielle with one of the many patients she sees every clinic day
The amazing staff of Fanmi Lasante