The following is an account from our Administrative Assistant Kyla, on her recent journey to visit ASC’s partner programs in Haiti. This was Kyla’s first experience visiting one of our project sites. We hope this series will give ASC’s kind and caring supporters, like you, an inside look at what our team and partners experience in the developing world on a regular basis!
Since I was little, I have dreamed to be able to travel to and visit a “third world” country. Before I traveled to Haiti, I read news articles that suggested it wasn’t the safest place to travel and some even suggested it was a “big garbage dump”. There were government protests, road blocks, violent crimes and much more happening in Haiti at the time. I was prepared to see the worst, but hoping for the best.
When we first arrived at the airport in Port-Au-Prince, the nervousness that goes through your body as you are walking out not knowing what you are getting yourself into; and not knowing how different it is going to be, was such a crazy feeling. There are no highways or any type of traffic control, like stop signs or stop lights. Cars were driving bumper to bumper, honking horns and merging into every lane. There were thousands of people on every street selling clothes, souvenirs, food, water, shoes, and their artwork just to be able to survive and make some money. Here, children eat mud pies just to be able to feel like there is something in their stomach. We saw children walking to school all alone, not knowing how far they may have to walk just to get to school. To be able to see these Haitians live in such poverty and destitution, but still have a great attitude even when living with almost nothing, was an amazing experience to say the least.
On our first project day, I was not sure what I was going to experience. Driving down the dirt road to the school, I saw people cleaning their clothes in the water that runs down the street and people pumping water at a well and carrying it home on their head. Our partner Rescue Clinic was up a curvy mountain with tons of big rocks and dirt road all the way there. Along the way, there were motorcycles driving on this rough dirt road with up to five people on a single motorcycle, sometimes including babies. The rescue clinic is one of the few health clinics available in Haiti. Families in need of care have to walk or find a ride up to this clinic to receive medical attention. Some even walk ten to fourteen hours to seek medical treatment.
The clinic sees about 250 people in one day. The services available at the clinic include, but are not limited to, health care education, preventative medicine, prenatal care, primary care (including treatment of infectious diseases, hypertension, diabetes, malnutrition, etc.), limited emergency services, minor surgeries, wound care, as well as limited lab services for a small fee of $1.50. This clinic also dispenses medicine required for treatment of whatever illness is present for free. If the clinic is unable to help these clients, they refer them to a larger health center. Next door to the clinic, they have a rescue center primarily specialized for young children who are treated in the clinic and diagnosed as having severe malnutrition with complications.
On average toddlers suffering from severe malnutrition stay 4-6 months and babies stay as long as 18 months until they are restored to full health. They receive a daily packet of “Medika Mamba”, a ready-to-use therapeutic food made out of peanut butter, which helps children recover from malnutrition. It is a transitional food supplement for children who cant process solid foods due to malnutrition. They started with caring for 8-10 children in their home, and now they are caring for about 70-80 children, outpatient and inpatient.
Without the care and love provided at this program, the child pictured below was not going to make it. The staff ask the mothers if they would like to stay, but most don’t stay since they may have other children to care for at home. They had to call this child’s mother to come back and stay with the child in hopes that the baby will make it and restore back to full health. It is still early in the process, but thankfully, the prognosis looks good.
At the end of my first day, I felt very overwhelmed with my emotions. I felt happiness that the administrative work I do helps to fund raise for these sick children to be able to restore their health. Then I felt the sadness of leaving these children behind, hoping that they are going to make it and that they all find a loving home. The biggest impact on me in Haiti was the children that I visited always had the biggest smile on their faces, despite living in destitution. Families have to walk miles just to receive clean drinking water or medical support. We do not realize how well we have it and it made me appreciate all the things that I do have.