Dr. Samantha Ritchie of Vantage Physicians examines a child on
her recent medical trip to Haiti.
In March, I went on another medical trip to Haiti. (I think it was
my seventh trip with Friends of Haiti.) We saw over 1400 patients
in the short time we were in the village of Grand Boulage.
Most weren't sick, at least not right then. They all lived a
hard life, without electricity or running water, or the everyday
things we take for granted, like books or newspapers, or even a
change of clothes. We gave the residents vitamins, medicine
against worms, soap, and toothbrushes. We did what we could
Some people we saw were quite sick, like the woman with third
degree burns over much of her body after a kerosene lantern
exploded. One three month old baby died. We coded him
on the same table where, several hours later, we ate dinner. I have
not yet gotten over the grief of that one.
The group of volunteers had real cohesion this year. We
felt that a strange combination of "This is fun" and "I am doing
some good" to "This is terrible" and "I know nothing."
One evening, I gave a talk on high blood pressure, attended by
about five elderly Haitians. We see a lot of hypertension in
Haiti. Afterwards, one of the participants asked me why it
was dangerous to touch a person who had just had a stroke. In
Haiti, many believe that if you touch a person who has fainted,
they will become paralyzed in the part of the body you touch.
The elders in the class have had no chance to go to school, but
they know how to persevere despite hardships I cannot imagine. They
may not understand human physiology, but they understand life. In
many ways, they are the teachers. Heartfelt thanks to all who
supported Friends of Haiti.
Friends of Haiti is a
501(c)(3) non-profit organization
PO Box 1174 | Green Bay, WI 54305 |