When Nicole Claude, RN, CCRN, thinks back to her childhood in Haiti, she does so with joy.
Growing up as a child, I feel like I had everything, said Claude, who was born in Haiti and moved to the United States at age 14. I went to a great school. I had a lot of friends.
As kids, Claude and her friends would pick mangoes off of nearby trees and enjoy their Port-au-Prince neighborhood. Now, 35 years after relocating to the Greater Chicago region, Claudes thoughts of her homeland are much different.
The Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the island nation has left rubble and mountains of grief.
Its been shocking, said Claude, an Addison, Ill., resident whose 88-year-old aunt was killed in the earthquake. The unthinkable has happened. As of last year, we were really seeing some progress.One of Nicole Claudes most cherished possessions is this photo of her at age 3 while growing up in Haiti.
Claude is hoping to travel to Haiti in the near future. In the meantime, she is volunteering for the American Red Cross at events such as last months Chicago Helps Haiti telethon. She also is working with the Evanston, Ill.-based Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti.
Despite the hardships facing her home country, Claude said Haitians are hopeful for a brighter future.
The people are not giving up, she said. Once the relief efforts are over, its on to rebuilding one community at a time. The future that I see is when Haiti is not referred to as a struggling or impoverished nation, but rather as a developing country.
Clothing, medications and monetary donations are of the utmost need for a nation whose infrastructure has been destroyed and whose basic public needs, such as food and water, are a daily challenge.
Claude also hopes nurses who volunteer in Haiti will focus on their patients emotional needs.
Coming from a nursing perspective, I want to make sure the grieving process is not overlooked, Claude said. I havent been able to grieve with my family in Haiti. When I think of my aunt, I still dont think its real.
Barry Bottino is a regional editor for Nursing Spectrum.