Forward in Health is especially proud of our student travel program. Each year students from high schools or colleges travel with FIH for 1 week to Haiti. During this often life changing trip students are exposed to a country that is foreign to them in many ways. In the end they return better sons, daughters, students, and citizens.
Travelers on student trips, like all trips overseen by FIH to Haiti, pay their own expenses. Trips can range from $1,600 to $2,100. The air travel to Haiti and ground travel around the country are the most difficult to predict and can vary greatly from trip to trip. FIH will help with ideas and ways to help raise at least some of the money.
Students are required to complete an orientation program before traveling to Haiti. The orientation is presented by FIH co-founder Paula Mulqueen, RN. and typically consists of three 2-3 hour long sessions. During these sessions travelers are oriented to Haiti and the Haitian culture, the degree of abject poverty they will see, proper dress, conduct, and expectations of the trip.
While in Haiti students take part in various activities designed to expose them first hand to life in a third world country. They will visit the Sisters of Charity; Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s order of nuns. There they will help with the care of sick and orphaned babies and children. Many of the children are physically handicapped and placed by their parents in the care of the sisters. There are two wards of sick adults; one for men and one for women.
One notable activity involves a “nursing home” in Les Cayes. This is essentially a communal living space for a group of elderly men and women. The students are charged with preparing a meal “Haitian style” for them. They visit the open market to buy the food, wash and prepare the food and then cook it outside over an open fire. The dining space is decorated and the residents are served the meal by the students. This activity exposes the students to many aspects of Haitian life.
How the young adults who travel to Haiti are affected by the trip varies from student to student, but they are all changed in some way by the experience. They usually return late at night, sometimes past midnight. One mother called Paula Mulqueen two days after her daughter returned and asked, tongue in cheek, ”Where is my daughter? This girl looks like my daughter, but she doesn’t act like her. The night that she returned we sat in the driveway at one in the morning for an hour talking about her trip. We have not spoken together for an hour straight in years. Thank you.”
Students often obtain some focus in their lives. Students have decided on a career in medicine. One student was inspired to go to medical school. Several have taken on a career as a nurse. One student has decided on majoring in third world development. Almost all express the sentiment that they are better people for the experience.
For information about week-long medical or student trips contact Paula Mulqueen, R.N. at firstname.lastname@example.org.