Recently I was thinking back to my first trip to Haiti in 2001. At the end of the trip I was so anxious to get home that I practically ran from Logan Airport to home sweet home, Gardner, Massachusetts. Little did I know that so much would change because of that trip.
I was so naive on my first day in Haiti. I met Father Labou, the priest taking me to my local parish’s twin parish in Port-a-Piment, Haiti. Trying to understand what my trip meant to the people of his small parish I asked through the translator, “What should I do to make this a successful trip?” I had already planned on 2 days of a medical clinic for children at the nearby school. His answer in Creole was, “You are here.”
Well I was certain that he or the translator did not understand what I was trying to say, so I repeated the same question not once more but twice, receiving the same answer each time, “You are here.”
Finally the translator put an end to this Abbott and Costello, “Who’s on first” comedy. She explained what I could not yet understand. She said, “It does not matter what you do once you arrive at the parish. You do not need to do anything. The fact that you would take the time and make the effort to come is all that matters. Caring enough to be here is what is important.” Even I could finally understood what “You are here” meant. My American thought process that I must do something to show I care began to fade.
So a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time and made the effort to “be here” for Forward in Health and the people we serve in Haiti; even it meant you never left your home. You have been there by supporting Forward in Health and our efforts in Haiti. “You are here” means you care. Caring occurs in many forms. The success of Forward in Health would not have been, Klinik Fonfred would not be in existence, without so many people “being here.” Thank you for caring!
John Mulqueen, MD
President of Forward in Health