Howard University > Howard University Health Sciences in Haiti 2012
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Howard in Haiti - Day 1
HOWARD HUHS IN HAITI 2012

Medicine Faculty and Students Prepare for First Day of Patients

FORT LIBERTÉ, Haiti (June 25) – After a four-hour bus ride from Washington to New York, a cancelled midnight plane to the Dominican Republic, then a flight to Boston to catch a different plane to the Dominican Republic, a then four-hour flight followed by a four-hour bus ride to here, Howard University’s medical mission finally arrived late Monday afternoon.

Exhausted, students and faculty were eager for a hot shower and a bed, but they still had work to do.  Instead, they ate, left their hotel and headed to the Fort Liberte Hospital and the nearby school to prepare for the following day during which they would treat  hundreds of poor Haitian residents.
Through the night until nearly 11 p.m., the students unloaded dozens of bags of medical and surgical supplies off the bus and unpacked them into the pharmacy and the surgery area of the hospital.

Possibly the most daunting area was the pharmacy, which had a 10-foot tall mountain of boxes that had been thrown into a corner.  They had to be removed and the room thoroughly cleaned before the shelves could be stocked with the thousands of dollars of medication that the medical mission had brought.
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Howard in Haiti - Day 2
HOWARD HUHS IN HAITI 2012

Long Patient Lines, Long Hours and High Heat Greet Medical Mission

FORT LIBERT
É , Haiti (June 26) -Howard University physicians and medical students began the first day of a week-long medical mission here Tuesday.  As they arrived early for the first day of surgery and other medical care, they were greeted by a sea of humanity, impoverished Haitians who have been waiting desperately for them to arrive and deliver care.

Under the sweltering sun, old women, mothers with babies, sick men and entire families pushed, shoved and shouted to make sure they could get to see a doctor.

Some had been waiting for hours, arriving at 4 a.m., four and a half hours before the physicians showed.  Others had come a day earlier from nearby towns to have medical care for conditions they have suffered with for months, some for more than a year.

“I’m amazed that they have been able to live their daily lives with some of the diseases they have,” said Kim Ann Dang, a Howard medical student who spent her first day treating children as part of the makeshift pediatrics unit at a local school.

At the Fort Liberte Hospital, Howard medical students Theron Williams, Brian Rogers, Thomas Nguyen, Bruce Reaves and Ann Hardy-O’Henry worked with volunteer surgeons, Dr. Bill Lois and Dr. Guny Gabriel, both with the Kingsbrook Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Dr. Anthony Watkins, of New York Presbyterian Columbia Hospital in Manhattan, N.Y.
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Howard in Haiti - Day 3
HOWARD HUHS IN HAITI 2012

The Pharmacy, the Heart of Health Care for Haitians During Medical Mission

FORT LIBERTÉ, Haiti (June 27) –The idea came from the mouth of a child.  In 2001, Haitian-American Lesley Williams, currently director of Urban Renewal and Property Management Services for the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, was traveling through Haiti with his 13-year-old son visiting family.

“And everywhere we traveled, we saw Haitians kids playing soccer games all over the streets,” Williams said, “and they were playing without shoes, without shin guards, without uniforms.  These were big games being watched by hundreds of people.  Sometimes they would close the streets for the games.”...more


HOWARD HUHS IN HAITI 2012

FORT LIBERTÉ, Haiti (June 27) –The idea came from the mouth of a child. In 2001, Haitian-American Lesley Williams, currently director of Urban Renewal and Property Management Services for the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, was traveling through Haiti with his 13-year-old son visiting family.

"And everywhere we traveled, we saw Haitians kids playing soccer games all over the streets," Williams said, "and they were playing without shoes, without shin guards, without uniforms. These were big games being watched by hundreds of people. Sometimes they would close the streets for the games."

And that's when his son, Andrew, turned to his father and suggested that the two collect soccer equipment in the United States and bring it back to those boys playing shoeless soccer on the streets of Haiti....more


HOWARD HUHS IN HAITI 2012

Howard Student Learns Tough Lessons About Dental Care in Haiti

FORT-LIBERTÉ, Haiti (June 27) – Here’s the harsh reality of dental care in Haiti.  In the northeast district, there are five dentists for more than 283,000 people.  Two of them are public, which means they are paid by the government.  The other three are private.  Consequently, when College of Dentistry student Akeylah Brown showed up with other members of the dentistry team to offer free care, they were swamped by anxious Haitians with serious dental needs.

Every day, lines literally pressed against the door as impoverished men and women, many with children, fought to be the next patient treated by the dental team put together by the National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians (NOAH) and the Haitian American Alliance (HAA).

The need was so apparent that it struck Brown immediately...more

Howard in Haiti - Day 4

HOWARD HUHS IN HAITI 2012

Howard, NOAH, HAA Bring Hope to the Near Hopeless

DÉRAC, Haiti (June 28) – Every underdeveloped country has a place like this one, a desolate community mired in grinding poverty so deep that the world seems to have forgotten or dismissed it as unworthy or incapable of salvation. It's just that when you're here, the despair and isolation are so incredibly real. There is no electricity here in Dérac, a tiny community of about 2,000 just across the bay from the city of Fort-Liberté. There is no water in Dérac either, except from the Fort-Liberté Bay. There are roads, just bumpy, meandering stretches of dirt. In fact, almost everything appears to be a mixture of dirt and dust or at least covered by it. 

Homes are either tiny, one-room concrete structures or sticks held together by mud and topped with rusted metal roofs. There are small, though infrequent personal gardens. A few animals, goats and chickens amble through the structures...more


HOWARD HUHS IN HAITI 2012

Haitian and Haitian-American Translators Key to Medical Mission

FORT LIBERTÉ, Haiti (June 28) – One thing is certain.  The week-long medical mission here by Howard University physicians, medical students and the other U.S. physicians would be impossible without the Haitian and Haitian-American translators.

 “They are probably the single most important thing on this trip,” said Dr. Shelley-Ann Hope, vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for the Howard University College of Medicine and Howard University Hospital.  “If we can’t communicate with the patients and they can’t communicate with us, we can’t do our job.”

 Ashleigh Bouchelion, a third-year College of Medicine student who spent her first few days working with the makeshift Pediatrics Unit, agreed...more


Howard in Haiti - Day 5
HOWARD HUHS IN HAITI 2012

FORTE LIBERTE, Haiti (June 29) – As the students and staff at Howard University of Medicine undergo their medical here, there is invariably something, some medical case that tugs at their heartstrings. For Howard medical student Aminatu Laurel, it was the 7-year-old rape victim who looked like a 5-year-old that came in for treatment.

Earl Brewely Jr., a fourth-year student in the College of Medicine, was shaken after delivering stillbirths on consecutive days. 

Third-year medical student Brian Rogers said he will be forever haunted by the grinding poverty and seemingly hopelessness of the nearby community of Dèrac, where he and attending physicians worked.

Even seasoned professionals, like Howard pediatrician and assistant professor Dr. Onyinye Onyekwere, can be thrown.

Last year, after three painful cases, she broke down in tears....more

 
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Stories and Photograhs by Ron Harris, Howard University