Two key participants in our recent Medical Trip to Haiti are Alex Magay and Jacques Delorme. They are faculty members at the Winchendon School and were interviewed for the school upon their return.
|Alex Magay relaxing with some of his new-found friends.|
Were you prepared for what you saw when you arrived?
Alex Magay: I did not have any preconceived expectations for what we were about to experience. We had seen many images of Port-Au-Prince through the media, but seeing it in person, smelling and tasting it, left us feeling shocked and amazed, as one might feel the first time they enter a war zone.
Jacques Delorme: I guess I was prepared from watching the Forward in Health video. We also met as a group, and they gave us specific details to pay attention to.
What shocked you the most?
AM: Definitely the day-to-day living conditions for the common man, which includes lack of appropriate shelter, shortage of clean water, and the abundance of rubbish and pollution.
JD: The most shocking thing is the smell. Nothing prepares you for the smell of so many people living in substandard living conditions, rubbish everywhere, open sewers, and people.
Describe a typical day:
AM: Wake up early eat breakfast, put our scrubs on and travel to a clinic that would have over 100 people waiting patiently with tickets under a hot tent all day to see Forward in Health for free medical assistance.
Our clinics had five different components: first we had the patient waiting area and we had one man there for crowd control, the second station was patient intake station-where we would screen each patient with the help of an interpreter to acquire personnel information and a description of their medical problems. In the third station, patients’ blood pressure was taken. The forth station was the doctors treatment area and in the fifth station was our pharmacy.
After a long hot day we would ride home in the pack of a pickup truck, on a motor cycle, or a van to our hotel were we would meet as a team and discuss how the clinic went and how we could make the next one better. Then we have a dinner usually rice and beans and chicken.
What was the hardest thing to deal with?
JD: At the end of the day, to say no to people, especially young kids with parents, who did not have a ticket and were desperate to receive medical attention.
AM: Yeah, having to say no to patients that arrived after we had treated the scheduled 150 patients, and we had to say no to needy patients because we had to stick to our schedule to get to our next location on time.
What is something that you will never forget?
JD: How friendly Haitians are despite living in horrible conditions…and the fact that that some of them(especially men) do not seem to care about it. How fantastic it is to work with people who share the same passion, where HARMONY replaces Egoism. Quite a feeling!
AM: Playing soccer with the children in the orphanage in the hot sun on a rocky field in the country and seeing the children’s excitement on their face when we gave them our school’s left over soccer balls. Despite the hardships that were everywhere in Haiti, I will never forget the incredible human spirit, dignity, and pride displayed by the majority of Haitian people we met on our trip.
Would you ever go back to Haiti?
AM: In a second, I hope that I can return soon to continue our work, and I know that Mr. Delorme feels the same way.