I think about Haiti every day. People ask, how was it? Give me a few hours, a few tears and chuckles, and Ill tell you. It was good, it was sad, it was devastating, life-changing, humbling. No one word can describe it. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that knocked on my door, and Im glad I answered it.
My nursing experience in Haiti brought out all of the skills I acquired in my 30 years as a nurse. There are no resources in Haiti as we know them in the U.S. I had to rely on my hands and my heart, and I adapted and edited according to patients’ needs. I worked with a great team that sharedmy ethics and values. I found that to be so important while in Haiti.Lauria says surgery in the days following the earthquake continued even in the midst of a power outage.
The injuries left by the earthquake are horrendous. More horrible are the infections. Underlying all this is the poverty poverty I had never witnessed before and the extent of which I cannot convey. Most people in the U.S. will never know a whole nation decimated by poverty. The poverty includes a lack of sanitation, lack of immunizations and a chunk of Haitian society killed in the earthquake, including nursing students, medical students and teachers.
In my mind I equate poverty with begging and tears, as I see portrayed in TV commercials; but in Haiti I found children playing, laughing, singing and praying. I saw smiles and people coming to the hospital to volunteer to help. If we asked for something to be done, a group got together to do it. Patients in the hospital needed help turning to prevent the hazards of immobility. Families and others in the wards could be counted on to go around with nurses to help turn everyone who needed the help.
I found a new perspective because of my experience, and Im so thankful for what I have. Because of what I have, I want to give back to others who need it. If my neighbor were in need, I would help. Haiti is a neighbor.
I left for Haiti five days after the earthquake and came back two weeks later. I also brought a gift to Haiti: I am a nurse. I gave my time, my compassion and my heart.