Jacsonville in January

The sight of the yellow lights of the Mission House in Jacsonville, rising from the dark land, was a welcome sight after a long crowded bumpy ride. We were here! The familiar clank of the metal doors, the sturdy old wooden tables, the dusty suitcases stuffed with medication bottles, the “bonswa’s” in the night – all were reminiscent of my two other trips and signaled that another week of medical care for the surrounding towns was beginning.

There were quite a few updates from two years earlier – comfortable couches and one easy chair in the shared living space upstairs, other chairs to use during clinic times, a refrigerator to keep drinks cool and a wall around the Mission House. The nighttime noises were the same, although the donkey had moved much farther away, and the baby goat being used for the last evening’s feast let us know the night before and morning of how unhappy he was to have been chosen.

Haitians in general are very gracious, and the patients who travel so far – by foot, moto or animal – remain in good spirits with lovely smiles while waiting the long wait to be seen. It was a joy for me to see quite a few patients whom I had managed on previous trips, and all were doing better from a medical point of view. It is impossible to know how everyone is doing socially, but at least they are still able to come for care. Two of our doctors made a house call to investigate a sick family member and were able to facilitate a hospital stay from which the patient improved.  Several patients remained for a night at the clinic and left also improved. Almost all of the school children from the local Jacsonville school were seen one-on-one by the pediatric team, and many potential parasite infestations were averted. Many adults with hypertension, quite a few with infections or acid reflux, and some with injuries from accidents – about 100 patients a day to see the “dokt’es”. There were also adults and children to see the local dentists who set up in a side room.

Every morning, a hymn is sung in harmony by the waiting families and staff before the clinic is Open for Business. And every evening we sit on the roof after a long but hopeful day, gazing at so many of the stars hidden to us at home and sharing opinions, music and hilarity. All in all, another successful trip, with dedicated physicians, nurse, students and visitors from the United States, and equally dedicated Haitian staff, chefs, drivers, translators and facilitators.  It is a privilege for me to be able to come.

Written by Antonie Kline, M.D., a Baltimore volunteer about the first trip of 2018. 

Pictures from the trip can be seen below. 

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