“My Life in Haiti”- by Megan Stoltzfus

    When I first came here to Haiti, I had no clue about what to expect! I knew nothing about life in a third world country, nothing about the work in a clinic, and nothing about the Haitian people and their culture. All I knew was that I was coming to lend whatever help I could in the clinic. The only training I had was EMT Basic and I only had the head knowledge. I had never been at an accident, had never watched someone receive an intravenous injection and I did not know how I would react to the sight of blood. I knew when I got my EMT license, however, that I wanted, someday in the far off future, to use my medical training in the mission field. Little did I know that I would get my chance so soon.
   On March 1, three months after my training, I was asked if I wanted to come down here to help short-term because it was a desperate time of little sleep and tons of stress for the two nurses here. I was shocked yet delighted that I was getting a chance like this! And sure enough, a week later, I was on my way in my first plane flight, first out of the country jaunt, and my first time of being away from home for more than 2 weeks. I was so excited! When I got here, it was 11:00 on a Friday night so I had the weekend to settle down and get to know the family I am staying with.
   Clinic started at 8:30 on Monday morning. My first responsibility was to take the vitals of the people that came in to the clinic. So, armed with a blood pressure cuff, a thermometer, and a pen, I started with the first person. As each person was “controlled” the nurses called them in and had a consultation with them to figure out what “maladi” they had. Then the nurses prescribed medications for them. These medications were written on the dossier that each person received as they came into the clinic; then the people were sent to the pharmacy window to hand in their dossiers and receive their medication.
    As I finished taking the vitals of the people lined up on the benches against two walls of the main room of the clinic, I went in and watched the pharmacists as they bagged and gave out the prescribed meds to each person lined up outside the pharmacy. Over the next couple of days and weeks as I watched these ladies faithfully do their job, I got the gist of what they were doing and how they did it. I learned to decipher the nurses’ handwriting’s, how to count out 20 pills of hydrochlorothiazide and bag them, and what “swa” and one dot means on the pill bag. I love to see Zita, one of the pharmacists, laugh and twist up her face as we try out the new calcium chewables that are in stock. The more I work in the clinic, the more I love the comfortable corner of the pharmacy and the ladies that work there. So in between taking vitals and giving out medications, I am usually kept pretty busy.
   Since I am not a main nurse though, I won’t get to do a stitch job by myself or put an IV in someone. I still get to see all the emergency situations that come in, though, and the accidents that people have. The grossness of bad wounds is still gross but it doesn’t gross me out near as much anymore. Now I know that I can stand the sight of blood… I won’t go cold turkey on someone who needs a bandage job. My time here has made me realize that I do love medical things and maybe eventually will pursue the idea of more training.
    After nearly two months of being here, I am almost totally familiar with the normal run of things. This is feeling more and more like home. I love the people… the hug of faithful Maricome, our clinic cleaning lady, the warm handshake of Noez and his grin each morning, the friendly morning greeting of Fre. Dolph as we walk into the clinic each day and the smile of Miss Joselaine and Miss Leida when we tell them,“Mwen kontan we ou.” (I am happy to see you.) I love the mountains; the hot summer sun; the cool, crisp mornings with the sounds of roosters, donkeys, goats, and the occasional voice of a child breaking the stillness; the walk down to the clinic in the mornings with the sun shining full on your face; the cheerful greeting of the witch doctor as she walks past the compound; and the smiles and giggles of the little children that you meet on the trail every day.
   All in all, this experience has made me want to throw myself more into the medical world and use it for the glory of God. Being here in Haiti and working among and with these people have made me realize that life is so much more fulfilling and satisfying when you are pouring yourself out for others. Giving yourself for others lends hope and purpose to life. Being a servant, even only in very small ways, gives a peace and satisfaction that nothing else can give. Isn’t that what Christ did here on this earth? Why not live life like He did…and give your all?
Megan take vital signs.

Working in pharmacy counting and packaging pills with Madanm Lege and
Madanm. Jean Marc.

This Post Written By Megan Stoltzfus

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