I am happy to share another dental mission trip with you. Check back weekly for more stories about my missions!
After three years of serving the Haitian population in the Dominican Republic, the IASK organization decided to split into two groups. One group would focus primarily on Haiti, and the other remain in the DR. I decided to join up with the Haiti group, now called HHI (Haiti Health Initiative - www.haitihealthinitiative.org). With my ticket booked to go to Haiti on February 11th, no one could predict that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 would epi-center at Leogane (30 minutes from Timo) on January 12th. I wouldn’t make it to Timo until October of that year. Haiti needed help more than ever now.
The community of Timo is located about two hours from Port au Prince between Leogane and Jacmel. Last that I was told, the approximate population is 1600 people. It is extremely hard to put into words how impoverished and isolated this community was. With our help, this community formed their own governing group called FPF (Fond Paysons Fondwa), enabling them to “partner” with us, rather than having us “serve” them. It was the beginning of a long, arduous, but ever-so-gratifying relationship.
In the next few missions, I would see a baby born at the clinic and not survive (even with all the heroics of a USA medical team), begin my day assisting in a successful delivery of a baby, only to be emergency evacuated due to Hurricane Sandy, ask one of my best friends and co-workers to join me (Phuong Phan RDH, Dr. Mai’s sister-in-law), and watch as a community continued to develop and grow. I would continue to volunteer and return to Timo twice a year for the next 4 years.
My experiences have shaped me more than words can tell.