I was blessed to have had the opportunity to spend the last three weeks in Haiti working alongside the Second Mile Haiti team! I am a newly graduated RN, and I’ve always had the dream of spending some time working in the medical mission field, and Second Mile Haiti made that happen! Following the program online through social media and whatnot has been neat to see, but it has been a whole different thing to see it with my own eyes and I would like to share my experience with you.
A typical day for my visit here in Haiti consisted of getting picked up by my moto driver, Jos at around 7:45am and commuting to Second Mile Haiti. Upon my arrival, I worked with two of the nurses, Prestina and Guerda to perform assessments on all of the children admitted to the program. At first this was quite difficult due to our communication barrier, but Amy was kind to teach me some Creole so that I could get by. I am now able to do complete assessments of the children and chart all of the information in Creole including asking their mothers how their child ate, how much they ate, how they slept, and if they had any other issues the previous night with some assistance by the nurses. The children and moms really warmed up to me as well!
Aside from helping with the nurses in their daily tasks, I have been working closely with Amy to create an educational booklet that the moms/caregivers will be able to use while they are in the program as well as after they go. A lot of the work has been taking our own pictures that will be used inside the book. The book consists of health education that will be used as a reference during and after the program. Some examples include: hygiene, feeding and nutrition, ways of treating water, the pathway of illness, and more! Hopefully this resource will be greatly used by the current moms and for many future parents that come through the program.
Along with spending a lot of time at Second Mile Haiti, I have truly had a great taste of the Haitian culture and the history of Haiti. I stayed with an organization called Haiti Hospital Appeal in their volunteer housing. This was a great experience in itself! I met many amazing people from this organization and was able to see a glimpse of the work that is being done at the HCBH hospital here in Haiti.
There is a neat connection with Second Mile Haiti and HHA. HHA has a home for special needs children, where the children stay during the week and are cared for, played with and loved on, and returned to be home with their families on the weekends. There have been a few of Second Mile’s children that were referred to the Maison Home and I got to meet one of them, Stanley is his name. He is such a sweet boy. It is amazing to see how these organizations work together to make a difference and provide hope for many children and families.
I also had the opportunity to tour MFK (Meds and Food for Kids). This is the facility where the Medika Mamba (Plumpy Nut) is made. Plumpy Nut is used for the treatment of most all of Second Mile’s children. It was incredible to see the Plumpy Nut being made right there in the facility and to learn that it is shipped to severely malnourished children all over the world. Not only did I get a tour of the facility, I was able to meet a group of people that make up another company called This Bar Saves Lives. It is a granola bar company that donates a sachet of Medika Mamba for every bar that is sold. This Bar Saves Lives provides for Second Mile’s entire Mamba supply; yet another connection with an organization that is working to do some good in the world!
During the weekends I was more or less a tourist and was able to relax at three beautiful beaches in Haiti, hike to the Citadel, visit the market, and taste delicious food at many of Cap-Haitien’s great restaurants.
There is a lot of work that still needs to be done in Haiti but all of these organizations are making quite an impact among these local people, to help them in becoming self-sustaining and I am so thankful to Jenn, Amy, and Lalita for allowing me to have a small glimpse of it! It was an absolute honor to have had this opportunity; I will remember it forever and hope to return sooner than later!