Something to Look Forward too!

 

by Wendy Kent

 

How many times have you gone to Haiti as a volunteer?

 

The May 2013 trip was my first trip going to Haiti with PHR.

 

What was your experience in Haiti?

 

I was able to work with a team of dedicated health care professionals providing orthopedic and general medical services to the people in the Northwest region of Haiti. The work was very challenging and the needs were great. My role was to provide wound care as well as see the patients with general medical complains. The lack of medical service was very disturbing and we did as much as we could, given the time and resources we had available. It was very rewarding to see the difference that we were able to make and how much we were appreciated for what we could do to help. Haitians are a strong and proud people and it was an honor to be part of the PHR team.

 

Will you return?


I intend to return every six months starting with the next trip scheduled in October 2013. 

What did you enjoy most about volunteering in Haiti with us? 


The team leaders did an incredible job with the logistics involved in a project of this magnitude. Translators worked with each of us, meals were specially prepared, and concern was shown to each individual. This was the first opportunity I have had to go on a medical mission, so I was a bit nervous about what was expected. I saw that every penny was used to provide care and that everyone worked very hard to maximize the resources we did have. I enjoyed working with the other volunteers—what a great group of people! It amazes me that in the week I was there we were able to treat over 500 patients! I returned home as a different person in that I witnessed poverty as never before and saw that I could actually help change lives. 

What did you like least about volunteering in Haiti with us? 


That resources were limited and more couldn’t be done. It would have been awesome to have better diagnostic tools such as x-rays and labs. I needed a wider variety of medications to treat the cases that required meds. I am hoping that as people become more familiar with the work PRH does, the more financial backing will occur and more supplies can be purchased. 

Did you feel adequately prepared for your role? 


I am a retired Physician Assistant with over 20 years of experience in orthopedics and primary care. My strength in obtaining a thorough history and then performing a physical exam was key in obtaining a probable diagnosis, as there were no other diagnostic venues available. I felt very comfortable in the work I did. The lack of medication was challenging as there were numerous situations where I had to provide a medication that wasn’t the best choice for the situation. I have a wish list for what I believe are necessary items for me to provide the best care I can. Donations are desperately needed. 

Would you recommend our organization to others? 


Absolutely! PRH is an organization dedicated to the needs of the people of Haiti. I witnessed firsthand that the resources PRH had went directly into patient care, not to line the pockets of administration. I have admittedly been reluctant to donate to causes when I wasn’t sure where the money was going. With PRH, I know. 

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your volunteer experience? 


That it was a fulfillment of a dream I have had for a long time. Being able to use my expertise to make a difference in someone's life that would otherwise not have had medical care is something that words can't express. I am a better person having had this experience, and I look forward to continuing to work with PRH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Community Engagement:

Why it is important to get involved?

 

 

When you work to inspire others...Your reward is in helping better themselves, lifting your life in the process.” 
― Timothy Pina, Hearts for Haiti: Book of Poetry & Inspiration

 

Testimonials

 

 
 
A Powerful Adventure
 

By Darby Brighton ~ Little Rock, AR

 

How many times have you gone to Haiti as a volunteer with PRH?


I have been to Haiti twice with PRH.
 

What was your experience in Haiti?


My experience was awesome!  Getting to interact with the people of Haiti and treat them was more of a blessing to me that to them. It was made even better by staying right in Port-de-pais where we could really be right among the people.  The Haitian people are some of the most loving and happy people I have ever seen.
 

Will you return?


I will absolutely be back.
 

What did you enjoy most about volunteering in Haiti with us?


The best thing about volunteering was meeting and interacting with the people of Haiti as well as the other volunteers. I met some amazing people!
 

What did you like least about volunteering in Haiti with us?


The mosquitoes!
 

Did you feel adequately prepared for your role?


I felt pretty well prepared.  You definitely need some strong manual therapy background before coming, but the more different approaches there are the better it is.
 

Would you recommend our organization to others?


Absolutely.
 
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your volunteer experience?


I cannot think of a better way to serve people while using the skills you have learned in your career.  I can't wait to go back!

 

JERRY JUSTESEN JR. ~ Victoria, BC

 

I work as a physiotherapist and neurotherapist in Victoria, BC. Earlier this year I happened across a link to Phoenix Rising for Haiti and the work they are doing in the northern city of Port-de-Paix. I spoke with Lyvie, the executive director, and went through an interview process then joined the team.

 

My first experience there was at the airport when a mix-up left me without a driver to the first destination. After the airport cleared out I ended up approaching one of the security guards who was extremely kind and who, for a few dollars, gave me a lift to the hotel where the team planned to rendezvous. The trip from Port au Prince to Port-de-Paix was an adventure in itself as the paved road ended after a few miles and we made our way via van over some pretty wild and bone rattling terrain. Most of us have seen images of Haiti post-earthquake but here we are 5 years later and the needs of the people and the region are still profound.

 

The team itself was incredible and included an international array of doctors, prosthetists, orthopaedic techs, rehabilitation assistants, PT’s, one nurse practitioner and many dedicated translators and organizers. We gave away everything we could: shoes, braces, crutches, prosthetic repairs, exercise bands, medications, vitamins, treatment and education. Many patients required the help of different specialties and there were times when 3 or 4 of us would crowd around a single treatment table to discuss how best we might help the person before us. It was at times overwhelming to consider how many people needed help but each of us took the attitude of “one person at a time” helping them with 100% of what we were able to provide. In the end our two week trip included almost 1200 patient visits, treating an immense array of conditions, many of which I just don’t see in private practice in Canada.

 

The Haitian people were gracious, grateful, resilient, and dedicated to helping themselves and their community. Bondje beni ou (God bless you) was often heard. Many people walked through the night to get to our clinic, lining up by 4 or 5 am. The elderly and children were treated first but we always seemed to manage to treat all who arrived.

 

We also took some trips around the northern region and the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. A little bit of french helped my own experience tremendously and I am working on improving that for the next trip. This said, many of our colleagues spoke no french or creole but, working with the translators, had no problems whatsoever.

 

For those of you who worry about how donations are used, I can say that PRH used the money entirely to the benefit of the Haitian people. Even the administrators paid their own way to Haiti. Personally I am hoping that through fundraising, PRH will be able to purchase a building so that our efforts to educate Haitian caregivers can allow the clinic to remain open year round, creating a truly sustainable impact to the quality of life of many thousands of people.

 

Whenever one is involved in an intense period of growth, close friendships seem to emerge, some of which will last a lifetime. I am absolutely looking forward to April 2016 when I plan to return to Haiti for another two weeks of collaboration and volunteer work. I know many from our April 2015 team have stated that they will return as well.

 

TLDR:

Clinicians - do it! It was a life changing event for me.

Donors - a wonderful cause and responsible use of funds.

 

Yours in Health,

 

JR Justesen

 

Kimberley Therese Grover ~ Seeley Lake, MT

 

Traveling to Haiti with PRH this April was an intense and rewarding humanitarian and professional experience. Waking up early in the morning to the voices of Haitians lined up outside the clinic to reserve their place for treatment impressed upon me the immense need. Our team treated over 1100 Haitians in 2 weeks.

The Haitians were very grateful and truly valued the care they received. Diagnoses ranged from pediatric developmental delays to geriatric strokes, amputees, myofascial and chronic pain conditions.

I was privileged to practice with a talented and compassionate group of medical practitioners. Our work was quite collaborative and efficient in fairly primitive working conditions. Our local Haitian support staff were immensely helpful and fun too! We were fortunate to have weekends off to explore some of the beautiful Haitian beaches.

PRH is an important and effective organization that is truly service oriented and purely volunteer. The only people paid are local Haitian support staff which provides much needed income in this poorest region of Haiti. If you are interested in a worthy cause that utilizes your skills as a medical practitioner, I highly urge you to join the PRH team.

 

Kim Grover