Guest post written by Lailah Rice, UCPAP Director of Admissions.
On December 28, 2014, I embarked on my first ever mission trip, to a small village, LaMothe, which lies outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I was one of a 16-member team, including a medical team and a children’s ministry team. As a PA, I used my skills and passion for medicine along-side the medical team, which was composed of an internal medicine physician, a primary care PA, an orthopedic surgery PA, two EMT’s, a medical assistant, a labor and delivery nurse, and an eager-to-learn high school senior.
The mission trip was organized through an organization called Hope Outreach International (HOI). HOI was created over a decade ago by Julio and Suzette Volcy, 2 native Haitians, with the mission of “Helping Haitians help Haitians”. The couple has adopted the village, with the objectives of spreading the gospel of Christianity, providing an education to the children, allowing access to health care, and providing clean water.
In 2011, HOI opened a small clinic in the village. Many of the original medical supplies were those left behind from the relief effort following the earthquake that struck in 2010 and killed over 350,000 and left over 1 million homeless. Over the last 4 years, HOI has attempted to bring in medical teams to provide regular care to the villagers. Our team was able to bring over $2500 of medicines, supplies, and equipment to “stock” the clinic. The clinic is roughly 800 square feet, with no electricity or running water.
During our week-long mission trip, we were able to provide some form of medical care to over 250 patients, including infants and elderly, covering both acute and chronic conditions. The people of the village were so appreciative, even if all we could do for them was giving a daily multivitamin. Obviously, management of many conditions was limited by our lack of electricity, water, tertiary care, etc. The language barrier was also a challenge, but HOI provided many translators for the week, which helped tremendously.
It was an amazing experience that I will never forget; so eye-opening into how others live. I learned so much about the history, culture, and present environment of Haiti. I was surprised to see how much destruction is still present 5 years after the earthquake. I am anxious to return to LaMothe, and hope to bring many others with me as well.