Growing up as a Haitian American, I was sometimes hesitant to reveal to people my nationality. Not because I hated or disliked where I came from but because of the stigma that came along with being Haitian. But as I got older and began to identify with others like me, that hesitation went away but I still felt like my connection to my native culture was weak and I was in search for something more. Thanks to NJFORHAITI I was able to strengthen my connection during their annual mission trip to Haiti. Despite the bad things that I would hear about Haiti, I always wanted to go and once I got the opportunity to do so with NJFORHAITI, I took it. I really didn't have any real expectations for the trip but I knew I wanted to help as much as I could. From the moment I landed in Haiti, I fell in love. That feeling I got when stepping foot in my homeland for the first time was indescribable. From the lively band welcoming us to Haiti to the billboard in the airport that said Lakay se Lakay(home is home),I knew that I was home.
But what was to come for the rest of the trip couldn't have been predicted. The way that God was able to use us in Pisto was simply amazing. I was told that every mission trip at least one life had been saved and this one was no different. From a child who hadn't eaten in a couple of days to pregnant woman who was preeclamsic, we were able to intervene and save lives. But what really stood out to me throughout the whole trip was the spirit of the people, my people. Despite what surrounded them, they still had reasons to smile and this humbled me and reminded me how I should not let life keep me down. There is always a reason to give thanks. At the end I gained so many things, lifelong friends, a sense of belonging, and most of all a purpose. A purpose to serve and to be an advocate for my people. "We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give”.
August 2017 marked the third mission trip I've taken with NJ4HAITI. During this medical mission, a meager team of twelve, in collaboration with community leaders and local healthcare workers, serviced a community of over 500 in just three days. Serving this community was enjoyable and fulfilling work; however, we faced our fair share of challenges. "Do we have enough penicillin to service the people tomorrow?" were questions that arose daily. While nurses and doctors tirelessly worked to triage and attend to as many patients as they could, the pharmacy was making due with the medications they had.
The people were in dire need of medical attention and the work was emotionally taxing; however, I took solace in knowing that we helped as many people as we could, in the best fashion that we could. However, the impact we would have made if only we had the means often crosses my mind. Our interventions would be more effective if the community had access to running water, as many people would contract the same ailments and infections without it.
After three days of emotionally charged work, we had the opportunity to visit some of the hidden jewels of Haiti including Bassin Bleu waterfalls and Isle la Vache, a remote island off of the coast of mainland Haiti. During this time, we were able to fellowship and build life-long relationships with people who were strangers to us just a few days ago. NJ4Haiti provided life-changing and soul-impacting experiences that I would not trade for the world. If you ask me if I will be involved in the next mission trip, by God’s grace, the answer will be YES!!! What will be yours?
Helping others has always been a passion of mine. It was a complete honor to serve in Haiti with NJ4Haiti, where few of my friends grew up. It was very humbling experience where it really made me think how really blessed I am. To see the smile on children and their parents after helping them, was the best feeling in the world. I can not wait to continue serving others in need. I will continue to serve those that need help with the utmost enthusiasm and respect for their happiness without having proper resources.