As this clinic winds to a close, amidst the laughter and lines of people, the music blasting from pharmacy, the goats bleating endlessly, and the intermittent cries and giggles from children waiting to be seen, a touch of sadness permeates the air, as volunteers like myself realize that soon the laughter and warmth will be replaced by the busyness of home life.
It feels wrong to prepare to leave—like I am leaving something half-finished. It is not that I feel we did not accomplish enough—quite the opposite. Every day I have been amazed at the smooth and seemingly effortless running of this clinic. The amount of patients we see is incredible, as well as how well everyone knows their role, from triage to pharmacy, the patients are seen and cared for, with every worker knowing what to do. It is quite a beautiful thing to behold.
No, it is not the clinic itself that makes leaving so hard. Instead, it is the people, both Haitian and American. From the moment I stepped off the plane to the warm (if a bit humid) Haitian air, it is as if something whispered inside, “Welcome Home.” Seeing the Haitians each morning has become routine, and it is amazing how quickly friendships develop, whether it be through the scattered Creole/English conversations with the translators and workers, or through a simple touch when words are not needed or possible.
To leave Haiti is to leave part of my family, and I believe that’s what keeps people coming back. The clinic is amazing—to be part of providing health care to Haitians is rewarding. But the Haitian doctors and workers, they have the clinic down pat (I often joke with them that they don’t need me, they know my job better than I do). Instead, what I will treasure most is the shouts of laughter that greet my broken Creole, the smile and joy that radiates from every Haitian I meet, young and old, the adorable giggles and wide-eyed wonder of the many children, and the slightly off-beat, brilliant, hilarious, compassionate team that have joined me from America for this adventure. These are the people that make Haiti more than just another country, and FOTCOH something more than just another NGO, and this trip more than just another medical mission.
People who have visited Haiti before have always told me how the people and culture have captured their heart, and how leaving Haiti was leaving a piece of themselves behind. I never believed them. FOTCOH and the people I have met through this organization have proven me wrong. When I leave Haiti on Friday morning, I will be leaving more than just a country and a place—I will be leaving a home away from home.
-Tracey M., RN
How can you get involved in helping children and adults in Haiti?
You can help us provide life-saving support to the Haitian population in and around our medical clinic in a few different ways.
One way is by becoming a volunteer. Volunteer teams from the U.S. travel to Haiti to provide support for the most impoverished people in Haiti, who otherwise would have no access to medical care or wellness education of any kind. Team volunteers work side-by-side with experienced FOTCOH personnel, treating people who otherwise will go without any medical attention. All volunteers return home with a sense of experience and satisfaction unmatched in other endeavors.
Another way is by donating to FOTCOH. Funds go to purchasing medications, surgical supplies, and supporting our Medika Mamba program for malnourished Haitian children.