Jean-Marie Sharp, NP travels to Hait
Published: 1/24/2011

Jean-Marie Sharp, NP
Jean-Marie Sharp, NP at West Clinic, traveled to Haiti in October for a medical mission trip with “Friends of Haiti.” Her story below:

I traveled to Haiti in October for a medical mission trip with the organization "Friends of Haiti" based out of Green Bay. This organization has been going to Haiti for many years (long before the earthquake) to provide health care to remote areas of Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

I was assigned to "Marin" (A very remote mountain area of Haiti). In order to get to Marin, we had to first fly into the large city of "Port Au Prince". From there, Haitian interpreters loaded us, along with our medical supplies, in their trucks (four Haitian interpreters were assigned to our group--The language is French and/or Creole). From there we took a very rough 2 hour truck ride to the town of "Grand Boulage". The trucks couldn’t take us further. The mountain people came with their donkeys to carry our medical supplies. Marin is accessible only by foot, horse or donkey. We hiked for 2 hours on rough, steep, narrow paths. We set up our clinic in the small, dirt floor, chapel in Marin. This is also where we slept. The villagers fed us. No bathrooms, electricity etc... We had company.....bats, rats, roaches and a tarantula.

Myself, along with two other providers, four nurses and 3 support staff, saw 1200 patients in 3 days. Word spreads quickly throughout the mountain villages that a clinic is in Marin. Some people walked over 3 hours to get to our clinic. Once at the clinic they waited in the 90 degree heat for hours to be seen.

The most common health problems were caused by malnutrition. It was very upsetting to see so many people without adequate food or water. Some children were severely ill with dehydration--often caused by intestinal worms or other parasites. We also saw significant wound infections (fell off a donkey, bitten by a pig etc.), along with chronic health issues such as hypertension. We provided vitamins to every child and prenatal vitamins to childbearing woman.

Critically ill patients had little hope. The nearest hospital was 3 hours away, and if you didn't have money, the hospital would not even let you through the front door.

The Haitian people were so gracious and thankful for our care. The children smiled and are happy despite "everything". Their smiles wipe away any negative feelings you could have.

Perhaps the "hardest" thing to see was the "tent cities" in the large cities. The tent cities were everywhere--as far as you could see in every direction. The people were living "on top of each other" in such unclean living conditions. It was the rainy season, and everything was mud. We left Haiti right before the most recent hurricane and the cholera outbreak. I felt bad that I could not have stayed longer to help.

In conclusion, the Haitians are the most courageous and gracious people I have ever met. Their focus is always on what they HAVE, not on what they don't have. They leave YOU a better person as well. Volunteering for this medical mission gave me immeasurable rewards. I plan on going back next year and taking my 15 year-old son.