On May 27th, I had the privilege to fly to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with 5 other members of my church for a missions trip that lasted for one week. Upon arriving and departing the airport for our final destination in Temar, we were greeted by chaos to say the least. Driving through the streets was like playing Frogger involving humans and cars! It seemed as though everywhere we went we were greeted by kids asking for money, clothing, jewelry, shoes, and pretty much anything else visible that we owned. The only words a lot of the children knew were “give me” and “5 dollar”. Broke my heart to see that because of the circumstances, these children will grow up learning to beg to make a living rather than establishing a profession or learning a skill set.
I am an undergraduate student studying pre-medicine and so my favorite part of our trip was when we went to an amusement park clinic that is free and treats anywhere from 200-500 people a day. Two doctors diagnosed patients and prescribed the proper treatments while about 7 or 8 nurses did EVERYTHING else including wound care, IV’s, shots, and filling prescriptions.
One of the things I was able to help with was organization of medications that had been donated. While organizing, I found boxes of expired or soon to be expired medications that neither the doctors nor nurses could use for lack of knowledge about what they were used to treat. I realized while being there, that it is easy for American’s to think that by donating medications, medical supplies, and other equipment, we feel as though we are fixing their problems and providing quick solutions. In reality, it can hurt the people we are trying to help. A lot of the Haitians have learned to rely on the outsiders for everything and not make a living themselves. With so much being offered for free some would rather beg on the street by the airport, or ask people for money, than learn a trade and put it to use.
Rather than donating materials, I really suggest we invest in their futures by teaching them trades, how to use equipment, what medications are, etc… This way we provide relationships and help them to develop a self-sustaining life.
This trip changed my life and I will always keep them in my prayers and thoughts, for they are people too and should be treated no differently than you and me. Why not invest in their future by taking time to get to know their culture?