Project Haiti 2016 Blog

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Salut from Haiti!

We made it here safely yesterday afternoon and rode our big yellow school bus to Haitian Christian Mission in Fonds Parisien. We were warmly welcomed by our gracious Haitian hosts. After a delicious dinner we worked as a team into the night to sort medications and supplies in preparation for the week of clinics ahead.

Today after a hearty breakfast we took a few vans to Mirebalais where we visited an orphanage in a mountainous region about two and a half hours away. We had an awesome time with the children playing sports, teaching a few public health topics, listening to them sing songs, and treating a few who were feeling ill. It was sad to have to leave, but we traveled back down to visit the Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais, founded by Paul Farmer and Partners in Health. After returning home, we enjoyed a wonderful presentation about a new HIV clinic and screening research project at HCM. We are excited to incorporate this HIV screening in our clinics!
With much love,
Tim, Lexi, Ousama, and the Project Haiti Team!

Monday, February 29, 2016

It’s February 29th. Leap Day. We spent our extra day of 2016 helping people at our first clinic of the week! What better way to spend the day than that? This was such a great and rewarding experience. As a pharmacy student, my team and I set up a pharmacy station as the last stop for patients. It felt great to apply some of what I have learned as well as learn on the spot from our amazing pharmacist Dr. Casanova. Although counseling proved to be a bit difficult, we had a great team of translators to help us explain to the patients how to take their medicine, how long to take it, what side effects they may experience, and answer any questions the patients might have had as well to follow up with the HCM clinic when needed. Something important that was emphasized today was that pharmacy plays a big role in the interdisciplinary healthcare team to help provide the best care for our patients! We were busy non-stop during the whole clinic day preparing medications and counseling patients. We had to be quick thinking and on the spot. Our team came up with a way to provide babies with Albendazole (de-worming medication) by crushing the tablets in little baggies and dissolving it in a little bit of water, and it worked! I’m super excited for the rest of the week and I would love to continue helping in underserved areas.
– Erika. Second year Pharmacy student

This is my third time coming to Haiti with the UF team. I’m so glad to get a break from the day-to-day grind at school and visit this beautiful country. Each visit I learn so much. Each visit I feel as though I have more to give. Today was our first full clinic day of four. I spent the day at patient triage where we begin with vital signs, chief medical complaint, and a brief assessment. As a third year medical student I am slowly reaching proficiency with the initial assessment of a patient. I was able to practice that thoroughly today. We cared for 100 people today with varying degrees of illness severity. I’m thankful for that last 10 months of my clinical training because I can now give a quick initial assessment and understand who needs to be fast-tracked straight to the doctor, and who is well enough to wait a bit for their complete assessment. In the coming days I look forward to seeing patients in clinic and performing more thorough history and physical examinations to formulate treatment plans.
– Ben King. Third year Medical student

Each time that I visit the beautiful country of Haiti, not only am I fortunate enough to fulfill my passion for service but I also get the opportunity to experience something new! This is my third time visiting Haiti but my first time returning as a medical student along side my fellow classmates. Today was our first day of clinic and I had the opportunity to work in the pediatric unit. My experience today was extremely insightful as I learned about common infectious diseases that impact many children in Haiti and also how to properly treat them. The volume of patients was high but the opportunity to connect and make lasting impressions on the lives of many children was even higher! Each patient encounter challenged me to practice speaking in the language of Kreyòl again, which was much needed! In conclusion, the 2016 Project Haiti team is diverse, compassionate, and dedicated to serving the people of Haiti and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve with them! I’m excited to see what the rest of the week holds!
– Xavier Williams. First Year Medical Student

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Today was a crazy day
Mountains beyond mountains. Today, we ran two simultaneous clinics at the villages of Bertrand and Thoman. The first step was a very bumpy ride up the mountain roads, as our bus driver expertly navigated the rocky turns and narrow lanes to bring us to our clinic sites. We then split up – one group stayed at the base, while the other took a challenging yet picturesque hike to reach a site uphill (once you reach the top of a mountain, there are always more). With the split came some unexpected logistical challenges, but our teams were amazing at handling whatever came our way. Together, our two clinics today saw over 300 patients, treating many ailments in folks of all ages. The uphill team got done a little earlier and took a hike down the hills, ending up with a rousing game of Duck Duck Goose (or “Gana Gana Goose” in Creole) with the local kids. Our second day of clinic was very busy and challenging, but definitely rewarding.
Love to all!
-Brandon, Paola, Ally, and Lisa

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Long Journey
This morning, we started off the day with our usual delicious eggs and strong Haitian coffee. After team pictures in the courtyard, we split up into a convoy of SUV’s for what would be an exciting trek into the mountains. Journeying well past yesterday’s destinations, we climbed further into the mountains and emerged into an idyllic green valley, complete with goats, streams, and lush, green vegetation. Whether it was the strong coffee, hours jostling along the rocky road, or the bubbling streams, we soon realized many of us heard nature calling, and our caravan stopped along the side of the road to accommodate a bathroom break. This must have been quite a spectacle for the denizens of the valley!

Nearing our ultimate destination, we were encouraged to see the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Haitian people in the form of farm terraces lining the riverbed. After a few harrowing moments of nearly becoming waterlogged and coming dangerously close to the edge of hundred-foot cliffs, we arrived safely at our clinic site in Fonds-Verrettes. We were welcomed with the gracious Haitian hospitality we have seen so often at our clinic sites. Throughout the day, our hosts would provide us with a freshly cooked meal (including fresh-picked avocados!), live music, and individual greetings from the local pastor.

In clinic, we successfully attended to the needs of over 150 patients. After working out the kinks of clinic over the past few days, we really hit our stride during this third clinic day. Patients flowed seamlessly from triage to provider to pharmacy, even stopping for HIV testing and counseling on the way. Some of our patients included ones who had suffered injuries from a recent car accident involving a “Tap Tap” or Haitian taxi bus. Fortunately, most of the injuries were attended to on site.

Back into the SUV’s we piled, and with the sun dipping behind the surrounding peaks, we headed back through the valley and down the mountain. Although tired, we were all well pleased with our accomplishments and the beautiful sites afforded by the Haitian scenery.
Daphney, Katie, and Michael

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Beague Clinic Day
It turns out that roosters don’t always wait until morning to start crowing. Sometimes, they just get going around midnight…and continue for hours. Anyway, after that wonderful awakening, several of our team members were ambitious enough to set off on a sunrise run along the road abutting the glistening lake, aiming for the not-so-distant border dividing the island in two. Several long, challenging miles later, they returned to join the rest of us for a delicious breakfast, and then a (thankfully brief) journey off to our clinic site for the day.

We pulled in, between the roadside popcorn stand and a shack offering acra, a fried dumpling of unknown identity, unloaded our bags, and scoped out our clinic site. We were at a school, Ecole Amour en Action de Beauge, which was still in session and were able to see the many children hard at work. The building that we were welcomed into had a glorious breeze running through its many windows. Clinic started and ran smoothly, bolstered by the addition of a new UF attending visiting us for the day, who came straight from the plane and got right to seeing patients. All in all, it was a very successful clinic – 130 patients seen, most of which were screened for HIV, and we were able to provide toothbrushes and toothpaste to many children.

Thanks to the clinic’s close proximity to our home base, we were able to finish and return home well before dark, which allowed yet another USA v. Haiti soccer/basketball match of epic proportions. As humbling an experience as outreach is, nothing equals challenging the local kids to sports when it comes to experiencing humility. Our team fought valiantly, scoring with an awesome goal in the first game, and coming back for the win in the second soccer match. While the main show was occurring on one side of the court, another contingent of our team faced off against 10-year-olds. They were able to win.

We were called inside by the scrumptious smell emanating from the kitchen and greeted with tostones, rice and beans, goat meat, a carrot soufflé, and our regular dinner salad and juice. The highlight of the evening, however, was the four-person vocal ensemble, Dr. Parker and the Spangers, who assembled to perform her many-stanza’ed rewrite of “Over the Mountain and Through the Woods, to Fonds-Varrete We Go”, telling the epic story of our journey the day before, met by an instantaneous standing ovation.
Jonathan, Cristhian, Brittany, Tiffany

Friday, March 4, 2016

The day started off early for many of us: some of us headed out towards Petion-Ville on a mission for some Haitian art and others woke for an early morning run to the lake. The rest were able to enjoy a morning of sleeping in before our half-day at the day care.

After dropping OC off at the airport before dawn (even before the roosters), Cedric took the painting group to his mom’s house for some traditional labouyi and homemade cashew butter. Cedric’s mom, the haggling queen, helped argue down the vendors’ prices and navigated the group through Port au Prince. The city was so vastly different than the rural areas where we had been serving all week and demonstrated the huge disparities that persist within the capital. The group selected a variety of beautiful paintings with the help of Cedric’s mom for a fraction of the cost, leaving the team ready and well equipped for the Creole Gala fundraiser next year.

The rest of the team travelled to the day care center, and the kids were so excited to see us! The team started out by applying fluoride varnish and passing out dental supplies to the children. The kids were fun, high energy, and kept everyone busy, coloring and playing for the rest of the morning.

The groups reunited at Wahoo Bay for lunch and an afternoon at the beach. The view was stunning with the mountains reaching the coastline. Some of the team went on a snorkeling adventure to the nearby reefs, which resulted in a few jellyfish injuries but also some beautiful scenery. The rest of the group relaxed, playing volleyball on the shore, jumping on the water trampolines, and floating on rafts. We tested our paddle-boarding skills and discovered that some were much better than others (Ralph and Michael). We stayed to watch the sunset over the sea and mountains, which was well worth it before leaving to reach HCM for an unsurprisingly delicious dinner and Ms. Bettie’s pineapple cake.

Team time got sentimental with everyone sharing favorite memories of the trip and what the experience had taught them. The mood lightened with some unexpected performances: Erika and Tiffany’s step show, a salsa demonstration from Lisa and Kirby, and Dr. Levenson, Dr. Carter, and Dr. Parker’s Wobble.

It was the perfect end to a week full of hard work and a wonderful opportunity to see a different side to the beautiful country of Haiti.
-Alexis, DT (Daniel), Chris

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Journey Back!
We departed our home base at HCM at 8:30 am – one last day of running on Haitian time as the departure time had been set to be 8! We had buffered enough time to account for traffic or any unforeseen delays in order to arrive to the airport in time for our 12:00 flight back to Fort Lauderdale. We said our goodbyes and took one last ride on our trusty yellow school bus, Old Faithful. She got us there in time and we made it through to our gate with plenty of time to get some last minute souvenirs and one last Haitian meal.

We arrived at Fort Lauderdale and met with some of our classmates that had been on the other side of the shared island, to take a couple of coach buses back to Gainesville. Alas we all made it back home safe and said our final goodbyes in the parking lot.

Everyone will be going their separate ways as the 4th years look forward to Match Day (3/16) and graduation, the 3rd years finish up rotations, the 2nd years go away for Step 1 study time, and the 1st years embark on the journey through the systems curriculum. One thing is for certain, Project Haiti 2016 is a family and will forever have the wonderful memories!