I am on my 10th trip to Haiti with FOTCOH and am co-leader of this team. I started coming in November of 2010. I still to this day cannot get over the level of poverty in this country. Driving through Port-au-Prince to make our way over the mountains I look at the piles of trash in the empty riverbeds. I look at the crowded streets filled with traffic and market after market of men and women setting up shop in the hopes of making money to survive. I also see smiles and people going to work and children going to school. I realize that this is what they know and they are happy with their lives. I reflect on the things that we worry about in our country of plenty and am embarrassed at the amount of complaining I do and I hear others do. I try to keep these smiling faces at the forefront of my mind when I have a bad day and realize that no day is really bad for me.
I went out to crowd this morning and watched as Peter, our dentist, was looking in the mouths of our patients to see who would get picked to have teeth removed. I looked at how the people were pressed up against the rope straining to get noticed. I thought to myself: when in the U.S. do we try to get to the front of the line and push and press against others to get noticed? Is it when we want to catch a t-shirt at the sporting event? Is it when we are in the presence of someone famous and we just want them to touch us? These amazing people are begging to get picked to see a dentist when the majority of us hate the thought of going to the dentist and put it off for as long as we can. It makes one stop and think about what is really important.
I love that I get the chance to experience a world like no other and make friends with the beautiful people of this country. It is difficult when I have to turn someone away at the end of the day because we can only see so many patients in a day. One of the hardest jobs I have ever had is to make the decision on who gets to come in and see a doctor. If you have a return to clinic card you are in, but for those that do not, they can only hope that I will choose them to be seen by a doctor. Luckily this trip so far we have cleared out the crowd and only a handful of healthy looking individuals have been turned away.
I know not everyone has the ability to come and experience the clinic that Dick and Barb Hammond imagined and made real, but every single one of us can play a part in this great cause. You can pray, you can volunteer and you can give. If we did not have volunteers and donors, FOTCOH would not be here and these individuals would never have a chance to receive health care. Please check us out on Facebook or our website fotcoh.org and see what you can do to get involved and be a part of making a difference and a change in someone else’s life! Thank you for reading and I hope you have a blessed day.