Construction of the Forward in Health medical clinic continues to progress as we are now able to see the finish line. The roof of the entire clinic building is on, rough plumbing and the electrical are complete. It has been seven years since Forward in Health was formed. At the time we had a vision for lasting medical care in a community in Haiti without access to even the most basic health care. No one on the initial Forward in Health board had any experience building and establishing a medical clinic in a third world country. What we had was determination and passion. Members of Forward in Health saw a community without medical care and decided that this was a situation we could help. Board members all had skills to bring; medical, legal, engineering, etc. Why shouldn’t we do this?
We were all a little too naïeve to know how difficult this was going to be. That was probably good, because if we had known that it would take seven years, more hours than we care to think about, and obstacles we could never could have imagined to finally get to this point, it is very possible that we would never have begun.
So what has sustained the many volunteers who make up Forward in Health? As many times as we have been let down and disappointed by people and situations, there have been just as many wonderful surprises we never could have imagined. Chief among them has been the energy, optimism, and “why not” attitude of the many high school and college students who have traveled with us. The spirit that young adults bring is refreshing and inspiring. Members of FIH cannot help but be inspired when they see the eyes of a student light while cradling a baby in an orphanage or holding the hand of a member of neglected senior citizens living in a “nursing home”.
Tuesday April 16th the second group of high school students in 4 weeks will be traveling to the Les Cayes area of Haiti with FIH. Up until 1 month ago student trips had been put on hold, first by the earthquake in 2010 and then by the cholera epidemic in 2011. But student groups are back and inspiring. Wide eyed and energetic, the students have already brought a smile to the collective face of FIH. So thanks to the students who care enough to want to go, the parents willing to step aside and let their children grow, and the chaperones and school leaders who make this happen.
Finally a boat load of gratitude to Paula Mulqueen, RN, co-founder and leader of the student trips. Paula organizes all aspects of the trips both in the US and in Haiti, introduces and orients the students and their parents to Haiti, and leaves her family to travel with the groups.
Paula’s many sacrifices are being recognized Thursday April 19, 2012 by HOPE (House of Peace and Education http://hopegardner.org/index.php ). She will be one of two recipients that evening being honored as a remarkable woman. The highlight of the evening will be listening to Gloria Steinem, legendary feminist and icon. Congratulations to Paula and thanks to the many students who have helped to inspire her work. Paula will be in Haiti and miss the event. Her husband and the other co-founder, John Mulqueen, will accept the award for her. He would love to see many of the FIH supporters there. For tickets go to http://celebratingwomen2012.eventbrite.com/.