Shocked, Amazed and Blessed

When I was 5, my mom took her first trip to Haiti. Around the age of 13, after hearing and seeing how much she loved going, I decided that I wanted to go too and she told me that I could go after I completed my first year of college.

Hearing the stories that my mom told me, I knew coming in that I would see extreme amounts of poverty and disease, things that I couldn’t imagine seeing in the United States. However, even with her preparation I was shocked by what I saw. Piles of garbage filling the small canals and street corners throughout Port-Au-Prince and Jacmel; starving animals so skinny their hipbones and ribs pop out; children wearing tattered and ripped clothes and shoes with holes.

I was also struck by the natural beauty of the country. Looking off the third floor balcony of the clinic is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen: the blue water leading up to the rocky shoreline at the foot of a mountain.

At clinic, my job is to find the dossiers (patient charts) of patients, meaning that I see everyone that comes in the gates. It is here that I can really tell that I am making a difference in these people’s lives. Even though I have no medical background, by saying “Bonjour” and smiling I can see that I am making their day a little brighter.

Not only am I doing this for them, but these people are brightening my days as well. The other day, I was watching as a doctor checked two sisters, around 8 and 5. After the 8-year-old’s check up was complete, she received a matchbox car. After rolling it around on the bench a few times, she handed the car to her younger sister to play with for a little bit. Although the gesture was really small, it made me smile seeing this girl help out her younger sister. Moments like these, or holding a laughing baby, or high fiving a shy young boy, are the highlights of the trip for me.

Emily Coleman