S: Haiti Medical Relief Trips, 2010, Anna Oakley, RN
BC: Forever in my heart...
FC: Haitian Medical Relief , 2010 Anna Oakley, RN
1: Following the Earthquake of 2010 I was able to visit Haiti in the roll of a nurse. My first trip was with a group of three other Texans whom I actually met for the first time in the Virgin Islands. We were a surgical team stationed at the Community Hospital in Petionville, minutes outside of Port-au-Prince, the epicenter of the quake. We arrived on February 16th and departed out of the Dominican Republic on the 23rd. Our food was very limited, drinking water rationed daily, and "accommodations" a tent and borrowed cots on the roof. Our luggage consisted of one 25 lb. backpack teach to hold our food, clothing and other necessities. We brought along over 300 lbs. of medical supplies as donations. We experienced hunger, thirst, exhaustion, and fear as we endured long days in the Operating Room, and very little down time. Multiple countries were represented in that hospital the week we were there: China, India, Philippines, Canada, Spain, and many, many from the U.S.A, Even a few from less than 20 miles from my own home in the USA. Trip number two was to an orphanage in Fermathe, a small village approximately 25 miles from the airport in PAP. I stayed as a house guest with 6 children and the adults who are in charge of them. I met a stranger via an email and accepted her offer to come and help provide emergent medical care and training. I knew no one to come with me and decided my going was something I could do to help. People called me crazy or brave. More the former than the latter, quite honestly. Cholera was raging but I knew I could help and had the means to do so. End of story. I was there from November 16th-23rd. 8 months to the day from when I left the first time... This book is dedicated to the incredible people of Haiti, who's grace and humility in the face of utter devastation showed me through example how to be grateful for what you have. To love one another deeply is a universal language, understood by all, regardless of the tongue. I stand amazed...Anna Oakley, RN.
2: The Devastation Earthquake, Magnitude 7.0 The quake struck on January 12, 2010 at 4:53 p.m. The U. S. Geological Survey called it the strongest earthquake since 1770. The 7.0 magnitude quake's epicenter hit just 10 miles west of Porte-au-Prince and its 2 million inhabitants. 3 million people were in need of emergency aid after this earthquake. The major quake sent 33 aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 4.2 to 5.9, one of which occurred during my stay on the roof of the hospital. Haiti has a population of nearly 10 million people and is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 80% of the population in Haiti lives under the poverty line. Most Haitians live on less than $2 a day. More than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs. Haiti is slightly smaller than Maryland. The Haitian telecommunications infrastructure is among the least developed in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was into this already tragedy stricken country I was afforded my first opportunity to serve in the aftermath of natural disaster. Little did I know that the people of Haiti and it's amazing spirit would change my perspective on life and my heart forever. Trip One: February 16 -23, 2010, Petionville, Port-au-Prince
5: The Team, My heroes... I was looking for a way to go to Haiti following the earthquake-- Some way to use my nurse cred to become part of a team. Through my children's school, Westlake Academy, I found a connection to a team from Tyler, Texas, made up of a surgeon, Dr, David Villareal, a nurse anesthetist, Michael Hood, RN, and a surgical nurse, LaDonna Speier, RN. We met in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, to get to know one another and rendevous with our USVI Haitian Relief Support Team, which was flying us over to Haiti. We spent a couple of days there getting last minute supplies and preparing for what we later found out couldn't really be prepared for.... | Dr. V | La Donna | Mike
6: The airport was closed, so small private jet on the grass and lots of military police it was...we knew we weren't in Kansas anymore! Lest we forgot, the immense amounts of smoke and rubble made the perfect signals. And aftershocks were reality jolts.
7: Our humble abode....at the Hopital de la Communaute Haitienne, on the roof...
8: Surgery "suites" were temporary rooms equipped with Q-Beam lights, antiquated anesthesia setups and surgical instruments that had to be picked through. Boxes of medicines, bandages, and supplies were around, although many not printed in English or Creole, but in the language of the country from which it was donated.Non organized chaos, 24/7.
10: A few of the patients and translators.... | They never seemed to stop coming. Staff in short supply, but never the patients!!!
11: We had believed going into our mission that we were supposed to be performing amputations, primarily. It was with great relief we found that was not the need. Waiting on our arrival were many, many patients who had not had medical care in years, if ever in their lives. We performed hernia repairs, urinary surgeries, cancer diagnostics and removal of tumors both benign and cancerous. The individuals who made it to the operating table were happy, feeling as though they'd won the lottery to get medical care for ailments that were hindering and shortening their lives. Pain medicine was readily available, and instructions were written in Creole on a sandwich baggie as the patients left---usually to a tent in the tent cities nearby. Most were not allowed to stay overnight in the hospital due to lack of space. Linens were non existent and creativity was paramount in meeting those needs, as well as toiletry needs and available nursing care. Haitian medical personnel was scarce and minimally trained, if present. The Haitian people share and care for one another in ways most first world countries would find unsanitary and socially improper. If you step back and watch, it's actually very humbling and convicting. Within the class of people I treated, everyone was equal, and was treated with respect--their most basic needs met even by those unrelated and newly introduced. I could be so lucky... As tired, hungry and exhausted as we were, it was hard to say goodbye.
12: Kevanz, 5 | Stephenson, 8 | Evans, 8 | Leila, 3 | James (Woobie), 12 | Baby Joe, 2
13: The Fermathe Orphanage, now called "Circle of Friends", has moved into it's new facility: A two story home with a yard, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and lots of elbow room. The children I visited are J ames, 12, Evans, 8, Stevenson, 8, Kevanz, 5, Leila, 3, and Baby Joe, 2. Stevenson, Kevanz and Leila are siblings. The House Director is Nickson. They have hired a cook, affectionately called "Maman" and Barb Leslie is the American sponsor living in the house from it's beneficiary, the Vermont Haiti Project. Barb is the person I contacted initially to come to Haiti and shared a room with while I was there. came in a stranger and left as a part of their family. They are all precious, wonderful souls. | Trip Two, November 16-23, 2010 Emergency Orphan Medical Relief
14: The house is far from American standards. Water does not free flow through the pipes, nor is it potable. The electricity rarely comes on, but may at 2AM and stay on until 4AM. Furniture consisted of two couches, a kitchen table and a sofa table, all of which would be declined by Goodwill and the like. These kids felt like royalty, as they had come from the floor of a tent with none of the above, nor any changes of clothes. I brought warm clothes, pj's and underwear, as well as some toys, medications, and other supplies.
18: Everybody loves to give hugs... and the peace sign is universal!!!!
19: Leila had never seen nail polish. She quickly became a fan... | Girly Girl rockin' Aiti!!
21: We ate... and ate some more!
22: The one request to be brought from the States was "Simba", otherwise known as "The Lion King". With subtitles in English, we watched this video on the laptop every single night I was there. The kids LOVED the music and tried to sing along in English. They translated to each other the ideas they perceived from the film. It was at these times at night, in their new found pajamas and cuddled on the one couch, that the problems of their world fell away and we just focused on the delight of the movie. They just wanted to laugh and sit next to you. All was right, if only for awhile.
23: The Jenga stacking game was a HUGE hit...and made for a lesson or two in colors, pattern, dexterity , as well as a little bit of English...or Creole for me!
24: We played and danced...
27: We helped the kids learn the concept of "personal property". They had never had enough of their own clothes or shoes or possessions of any sort to learn how to have their own "spot". We went through the clothes I brought and gave them to the individual kids. We wrote their names on their towels and showed them how to take care of their hammocks. (these are their very much appreciated beds). The kids had a hard time learning how to put their pajamas in their designated boxes, and much preferred to just throw them in piles. This was a week of constant training. (Including potty training for the younger two.) The children really enjoyed learning and seemed to grow in the security of knowing they had something to be called "mine". Near the end of the week, attempts made to wear somebody else's hoodie would result in the Creole version of, "hey, that's mine!!' from the older kids. Music to our ears!