Increasing nursing competencies in Haiti

Two students talk with a mother and child.

By Helen Clark

Helen Clark

Bonswa from Haiti! I’m Helen Clark, one of two Helens on this trip, and I’m writing a guest blog for Sam while she plays Uno in the courtyard. Today was another fantastic day on this beautiful island as we traveled to the community of Balan. We had an hour drive from Santo through some lovely Haitian countryside framed by the mountains and Lake Ajuree.

I left the Peace House a little early with our triage nurse Christa and most of the Foundation for Peace staff to set up the pharmacy at the church in Balan. We had a very pleasant drive with the windows rolled down and the sun warming us, until almost an hour into our trip. It felt like we were sliding down the road until we came to a stop. Pastor Valentine jumped out of the truck and confirmed we had a flat tire. We were less than a quarter mile from the clinic, so we decided to carry all the pharmacy supplies the rest of the way. Pastor Valentine hopped on his cell phone and asked a leader in the community to send us help carrying our many boxes. The ten of us set out loaded down with medicines, and only made it several hundred yards before we were greeted by a crowd of Haitian people offering to help us. By the time I reached the clinic I had nothing left to carry but a tiny box of vitamins

After this uplifting start to the day the rest of our time in Balan flew by in a flurry of treating babies with diarrhea, children with scabies, and several staph infections. Seeing such a large number of patients while having very few resources to help them has been difficult, but I’ve been encouraged by the many patients we have been able to treat. It’s very cool as a nurse practitioner student to feel competent enough to independently treat a vaginal infection or show a pregnant woman the position of her baby’s head.

As we packed up to leave for the day after seeing over 200 people, a group of boys from the community were playing a lively game of soccer next to the clinic. Two small boys nearby also wanted to play, so they started kicking around one of the many glove balloons we made to comfort fussy babies. To cap off a wonderful day we saw a rainbow out of the window of our bus as we drove out of Balan. Tomorrow we travel to Croix Coq to host a clinic at Pastor Valentine’s church. I can’t wait to experience more of Haiti.

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