“Lew Haitien Wa Konpran” which translates to “When you’re Haitian you’ll know”
Shirley C. Thimothee-Paul,
RN, BSN, MSN, CCRN, TNCC
The Haitian experience is one that many may consider to be a challenge. Consistently labeled as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Haiti is no stranger to tough times. October 4th, 2016 marked the latest of the often reoccurring challenges of Haiti’s journey. The southern part of Haiti was hit by category 4 hurricanes, Mathew. With its tough winds and persistent waves of rain, Mathew took no pity on the clay built homes which lined the beaches of Aquin. Only 7 years after the devastating earthquake that took thousands of lives, Haiti barley dusted off her shoulders off now facing the aftermath of yet another natural disaster.
“Bondye’ Bliye’ Ayiti”, “God must have forgotten Haiti”, says a young girl walking bare foot near the entrance of the town church. “We already have nothing and things like this keep happening to us”. Another woman shouts, “Don’t say that” God makes no errors”, “if Haiti couldn’t survive this, it wouldn’t have happened” and survive she does. Because a few miles across the sea, Haiti knows that she is not forgotten. As a Haitian American, I know personally the kind of love one must have of country to constantly want change for her. This is why it took nothing but a phone call to get me on a plane to help those in need. Hundreds left without shelter, food and medical attention, simply waiting for their prayers to be answered. On October 11’th a group of Haitian American professionals – Doc-tors, Psychologist, Nurses, Medics, Teachers and Volunteers – traveled to Haiti to bring a little of hope to those in need. Leav-ing their homes, family and jobs with little to no notice, these lovers of Haiti worked day and night to collect and prepare loads of medication, food, and personal care packs for the victims of Hurricane Mathew. Traveling for over five hours in mud, rock and debris-filled roads to reach their destination of Aquin, one of the hardest hit areas of Haiti, was arduous and challeging
Up before 5:00am, hundreds of people wait for the arrival of the group in hope that some help would be received. Masses of Haitians struggling with frustrations of little local help from community churches and fear of people being handpicked for assistance by those in charge of organizing the flow and security of these efforts. As a nurse helping others is a God given gift, sharing this gift with many, further confirms the presence of a higher being guiding us. Surrounded by hundreds of children and elderly we filtered through and triaged for those in dire need of medical attention.
Young boys were kept occupied by a group of young men volunteers who cheered them along in chants of “Proud to be Haitian” songs while Artist sang and prayed with young mothers and pregnant woman. “Joy” and “Hope” are the words that come to mind as you looked upon this group, not sadness nor pity.
Joy and Hope will remain because of people like Sandy Dorsainvil; the Haitian American Activist who came up with the idea of that community based organizations join efforts and expertise to proactively prepare for the effects of Mathew, which largely assisted in the quick receipt of medication, money, and other personal items provided to the poor and exhausted victims of Mathew. It is these partnerships that create an even larger and forceful coalition of professionals that are able to reach farther to those in need. Taking part in such a wonderful effort meant more to me that can be described in words. Providing care and comfort to close to 2000 people in need and forming relationships with fellow Haitian Americans that share the passion to help Haiti regain her glow could never be explained in a few small paragrahs , it is more of an experience. As said earlier, “LEW Haitien WA KONpran” when you’re Haitian you’ll understand.