Author Archives: phall

Travel Home from Belize – Day 8

Written by Madeleine Munn ’19 to recount Saturday, June 16, 2018:

1 hour and 13 minutes. We will touch down in Norfolk then, and there is no world in which I could capture 8 days in 1 hour and 13 minutes. Douglas Adams said that “to give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” You could not have measured the chance to turn on a light in a young girl’s mind which had never even known it was in the dark. You could not have bought the smile on Ray’s face when he finally met and talked to a Mennonite. You could not have measured or bought the kindness and openness of 97 patients. There’s no buying or measuring or summarizing 8 days of intense experience, thoughtful reflection, and sweet, tender moments- 8 days of sincerity and integrity. It was a bittersweet finale for the seniors, a fresh first for the sophomores, and an exciting adventure for all.

We traveled to towns where people had no teason to open their door to teenage gringos who wanted to measure their glucose levels, blood pressure, and vitals, but they did- without hesitation- and we were lucky to talk with them and to begin to ponder how to continue a relationship with their communities. The point is, we (the USA) have a lot to learn from Belize, its residents, its healthcare system (and its food!!). It is many things but ugly is not one of them. Neither is unfriendly. Every single person we met was equally as welcoming and beautiful as the landscape they inhabited. That says a lot about people. In a lot of ways, we become our surroundings; but also, we choose the final product- we choose unearned gratitude, trustworthy affection, boundless grace. We are shaped by them but they don’t determine us, only we do that.

As I look around me at our tired faces, I feel the fullness of the hearts inside. I feel the heat of last night’s bonfire, the final gathering. I hear the laughter of a group that put an insane amount of work into changing the world, and drank sodas together in the downtime. And I know that no matter how delirious some of us may be after a day of traveling and a week of hard work, and no matter how much we are waiting, on the edge of our seats, for the summer ahead, Belize will always be our rose.

Unite for Sight Conference 2018

Five Global Health Fellows from the Class of 2020 attended the Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference, April 13-15, 2018, at Yale University. Here are their reflections on the weekend:

Connor Tiffany:

This past weekend, the Global Health Fellows were granted with the opportunity to attend the Unite for Sight Conference, the leading global health and social entrepreneurship conference in the world. Hosted at Yale University, this thought-provoking event convened many participants from all over the globe, including teachers, business professionals, economists, professors, doctors, and lawyers with the common goal to improve health inequity, social injustice, and access to safe, affordable care. During the conference, we attended lectures on cultural competence, global engagement and innovation, health policy and advocacy, and technology’s social impact, hosted by an insightful group of professionals with a comprehensive expertise in their fields. One of my favorite lectures of the weekend, presented by James Clarke, an African ophthalmologist working for Unite for Sight organization in Ghana, offered an intriguing lesson about culture shock and the unequaled importance of one’s culture. He explained through his striking anecdotes that his years of caring for patients have taught him to cherish his own culture, charging him to dig deep and learn the hidden values of the Ghanaian peoples. It was speakers like James Clarke, who offered a diverse perspective on personal and meaningful topics, that made the overall experience of the conference so unique! Following the long first day, we visited Pablo Vasquez, a former Norfolk Academy alumni (Class of 2016) and student at Yale University (Class of 2020), who guided us around the campus and gave us an exclusive tour of the Pierson and Branford residential colleges. While touring the campus, I was truly delighted to be walking through the halls of such a historic and renowned institution. Conclusively, my experience at the Unite For Sight Conference was exceptional, and I learned a lot about successfully implementing interventions, and working with other cultures in foreign settings. After this conference, I left feeling satisfied, enlightened, inspired, and excited by the prospects of my future success working on the ground in San Antonio, Belize.

Sahib Chandi:

Early in the morning of Saturday, April 14th, we listened to the first lecture of many, given by Jordan Levy of Ubuntu Pathways, who discussed the process of Innovation. He said that once an idea is created, one must secure adequate funding through donors, achieve an appropriate scale, then change the status quo through human interaction. He also discussed the importance of community and donor involvement in any intervention. Following the keynote, we listened to a panel who touched on the importance of cultural sensitivity and competency as the key to overcoming cultural and social stigma. These inspiring words were very insightful as we ourselves think about implementation of our projects in Belize. Later that day, we heard from a group of professionals who were presenting their health innovations in low-resource settings. For example, Edgar Rodas, president of Cinterandes discussed his implementation of a mobile surgery truck in rural Ecuador. Following him, Shwetha Maddur of Seva Corps explained her innovative idea for the prevention of hypothermia in preterm infants, through a low-cost, transportable heating blanket. We ended Saturday with a Social Impact Lab, pertaining to refugee and immigrant health. Particularly, Dr. Ijeoma Nnodim presented her proposal of a mobile health clinic for immigrant communities in the inner city of Detroit, called Love on the Move. With the conclusion of Saturday, I was not only tired, but inspired by the innovation and insight of these professionals.

Before we had to catch a flight back home, we attended the keynote address of Sunday, in which Jeffrey Sachs, a University Professor at Columbia, discussed the importance of funding and investment to propel the Sustainable Development Goals. He also explained the correlation of U.S. aid spending and various improvements in global health. To conclude the conference for us, we attended the section on the Community Health Academy, in which they discussed this revolutionary platform for the networking and education of Community Health Workers. Having learned so much in such a short time, I feel truly inspired by the experts of the field. They have provided our program with vital information for our responsible implementation of projects in Belize.

Julia Duarte:

Surrounded by countless geniuses in Global Health societies and professors from the best universities at the Unite for Sight Conference, I could not settle my nerves as I entered the big double doors leading into the architecturally beautiful Shubert Theatre. Holding my coffee and croissant from Starbucks, I sat down in a red chair and awaited the Keynote speaker, shifting through my agenda booklet. At 8:00 in the morning, introductions were made and Dr. Jordan Levy, the keynote speaker, walked onto the stage. As he began to speak, I perceived the repetition of a certain word: relationships. Dr. Levy articulated his strong belief of maintaining strong and lasting relationships with his team, locals, and the people who supported him financially. He expressed that the trust between his team and a community creates a bond that allows for a successful intervention. This theme of relationships was repeated throughout the central ideas of other speakers. For example, Mrs. Annette Cycon, the creator of a Group Peer Support for women’s mental health in rural Guatemala, not only partnered with local community health workers to provide culturally-acceptable lessons for mothers and their children, but she also collaborated with another organization on the ground, the Maya Health Alliance. With this group, they conducted perinatal home visits and added more lessons to their curriculum. The act of collaboration seems to strengthen the Global Health world and produce an intervention with the best outcome.

Another highlight from this conference was the presentations of social impact pitches. This session consisted of a five-minute presentation of a budding, potential project by a young innovator. After the presentation, the audience had a limited amount of time to ask their own questions, but the stage was quickly turned over to a couple experts, who were in essence evaluating each project. The presenter was allowed to ask two of their most pressing questions to the experts, who would try their best to answer them, and in turn, would ask some of their questions and/or concerns about the project. The intense setting created by the long pauses as presenters considered the answers to complex questions from the “judges” made the experience much more fascinating (however I did feel a twinge of pity when a presenter admitted that she did not have an answer). Overall, the creative and ingenuity-filled projects inspired me to think outside of the box regarding my own project and to confirm that there are no blinding issues that I have disregarded.

On the plane flight back to Virginia, I reflected on my weekend and realized that although my brain was filled to the rim with incredible facts about maternal health in rural Guatemala and glaring mental health issues in refugee populations, the experience of traveling with my four best friends and the best teacher-mentor out there definitely was the biggest highlight.

Laura Read:

On the balmy Friday morning of April 13th, Julia, Connor, Ells, Sahib, Mrs. Hall, and I excitedly departed from campus at 11:00 AM to catch our flight to New Haven, Connecticut at the Norfolk International Airport.  We planned on attending the Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference, the world’s leading and largest global health conference held at Yale University.  Despite a flight delay in Philadelphia, the six of us landed safely in New Haven, where we dropped off our bags at the Omni Hotel and headed out for dinner at Shake Shack.

Even though we were tired from our travels, we woke up to check in for the conference at 7:00 AM with a little help from Starbucks coffee.  Jordan Levy, the keynote speaker, presented in the Shubert Theater about the importance of long-term human relationships and interactions in global health over an immediate product. We learned about the importance of authentic, truthful conversations between partners and comprehensive strategies. Following the address, we listened to a panel that further explored the importance of cultural competence and partnerships. This topic was particularly insightful and relevant to our goals in the Fellows Program.

Afterwards, we decided to divide and conquer the following sessions around campus in pairs in order to obtain the most information possible out of them. Julia and I first went to a maternal health session where we watched three presenters discuss the post-Ebola restoration of maternal and child health services in Liberia, aiding postpartum depression through support groups, and the feminization of aging women around the world. I found the second topic interesting because it directly related to our current women’s health group project. Annette Cycon, a social worker, is working to create a social curriculum to benefit women suffering from mental health issues. Mental-health-related causes of death are the most prevalent in the world, yet psychologists and psychiatrists are virtually nonexistent in developing countries. Her views and insights into cultural stigmas were fascinating.

After lunch and a debriefing session at Panera Bread, Mrs. Hall and I went to a reproductive, maternal, and child health session.  We learned about BRAC’s Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents program, cervical cancer prevention in Ethiopia, a checklist for safe childbirth in Haiti, and the cost-effectiveness of quality prenatal care in Rwanda. It was an intriguing session that provided information that will certainly help our group project.

Afterwards, I went to a social impact lab with Ells. This type of session allowed three or four individuals to present their company or innovation to a panel of experts and receive advice from the audience.  The topics covered were facility dogs in hospitals, health safety in nail salons, and a noninvasive treatment for detecting cervical cancer.  It was interesting to watch the exchange of ideas and feedback in a professional setting.  My final session on Saturday was a panel about careers in global health.  I learned about the importance of not viewing it as heroism, but making sure it actually means something to you, which I enjoyed hearing.

At 7:00 PM, the six of us met with Pablo Vazquez, a Norfolk Academy alum who is a student at Yale.  He gave us our own personal tour of the beautiful campus, which radiated stunning Gothic architecture full of life.  It was amazing to see the libraries, gyms, and theaters all hidden within residential walls.  Later on, went out to dinner with him, and Julia and I had great conversations with him about sports, routines, and everything we could ever wish to know about university life.  Pablo gave us all wonderful life advice, and told us to never segment our lives and put family aside.  It was great to meet him.

The following chilly Sunday morning was our last day in New Haven!  We attended the keynote address given by Jeffrey D. Sachs.  He spoke about the fact that global health is a right, not a luxury.  It was interesting to hear his statistics given about funding and breakthroughs.  Even though we couldn’t stay for the entire first session because of our early afternoon flight, we split off into pairs again to attend what we could.  Sahib and I listened to a panel speak about educating community health workers.  It was extremely insightful and I learned about training them though large scale social change by investing in social entrepreneurs.

At 11:00 AM, we reconvened at the Omni Hotel to catch our flight at the New Haven airport, a very small terminal with only two gates.  After catching up on homework and resting on the plane, we landed safely back in Norfolk in the late afternoon.

Ells Boone:

This past weekend I attended the Unite for Sight Conference at Yale University with my fellow GHF 20s and Ms. Hall. The conference consisted of multiple 90 minute sessions on Saturday and Sunday with varying topics pertaining to global health. The sessions which I attended were: Responsible Global Engagement and Innovation Panel; Global Health Technology Social Impact Lab; Social Impact Lab: Innovative Solutions to Global Health Challenges; Building a Fulfilling Career in Global Health Panel; and Cutting-Edge Ideas in Development: GHIC Innovation Prize Semi-finalist Pitches. My favorite sessions were the social impact labs. A social impact lab is a series of presentations in which a person presents an innovation in the realm of global health. It is very similar to the show Shark Tank. The presenter has 5 minutes to present his research and project idea and then hears questions from the audience and esteemed judges. In my opinion, the best social impact pitch was Jonathan Sigworth’s which was entitled “Developing Mobile Video Courses for Spinal Cord Injury Therapy Guidance and Local Peer Mentoring Worldwide.” Sigworth’s pitch was a new app which he designed specifically for those who are paralyzed from the waist down. His app can be used to learn how to function on your own without assistance and to do activities which most people take for granted. In addition to the sessions, there was also a keynote speaker on Sunday morning. The speaker was Jeffrey Sachs who is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development and a professor at Columbia University. Mr. Sachs gave an interesting talk about the Sustainable Development Goals and how they are achievable.

All in all, this conference was a great experience and I have come out of it inspired to do more work in global health.

 

Leadership Lab for GHF ’19s

While our GHF ’18s and ’20s have been in Belize this week, a few of our ’19s have been participating on the Leadership Lab alongside all other Center for Civic and Global Leadership Fellows in their class (Chesapeake Bay Fellows, Literacy Fellows, International Relations Fellows, Engineering/Design/Innovation Fellows). Three week-long Leadership Labs are happening throughout the course of the summer. Half of the week is spent in the wilderness at Calleva Farm and the last few days are spent in Washington, DC. Here is a picture of the first CCGL ’19s Leadership Lab group after their solo night in the woods:

 

Thursday: Home Visits and Tech Sessions

Written by Laura Read (GHF ’20) to recount Thursday, June 16, 2017:

It was yet another hot, sunny day in San Antonio. We woke up early to a delicious breakfast of toast, peanut butter, and coffee from our host family mother, Miss Sandra. At 8:00, we headed off to the community center for an activity packed day! It was going to be out last day of home care visits. 

      The three groups split off again to cover the villages. Gabi, Connor, Claire, Mrs. Goodson, Hector, and I (the Tortilla group strikes again) took the city bus to Cristo Rey, a village about 25 minutes away from San Antonio. We had a interesting conversation with a family about the Belizean education system, which was awesome to hear. The woman we talked to had a lot of insight and a strong opinion on how it should be changed to better the community. Gabi and I got a lot of practice taking glucose levels! I made an effort to practice more of the Spanish I’ve been learning. It’s wildly cool to see how I’m able to understand the conversations the families are having between themselves and Hector. Then, a few hours and some good laughs later, we headed over to the bus stop to travel back to our town. 

     After our last few visits, we headed back to our home stays for some rest and lunch. Olivia and I had a kind of chicken wrapped in fry jacks and it was incredible. Then I played with Miss Sandra’s adorable son, Norbert, who is five. He’s been so cute this week and I’m going to miss him when we leave!

     At 2:00, we all met up in the community center for a tech session. We covered the different uses of ser and estar, listening comprehension, and the pretérito (past) tense in the advanced Spanish group with Hector. I’m learning to think quickly through my Spanish. After our lesson, the groups switched and Kristen (who is awesome and living in my home stay with me) taught us all about maternal health. We learned about maternal mortality, teen pregnancy, family planning, the stages of pregnancy, and maternal health in Belize. It was a really informative presentation!

     Then we headed home for a quick dinner. At 7:30 we were to head over to Sahib, Lawson, and Hector’s home stay for a bonfire and some bonding time. We roasted pineapple and marshmallows! We all hung out in the hammocks for ages. It was a great time. Sahib made us all die laughing, as usual. Then we played Mafia in the back of the pick up truck. It was a lot of fun despite Hunt personally turned Johan against me (cough, cough). 

     Unfortunately, our last round was cut short when the clock struck 9:00, and we all had to say goodbye for the night. We took a few pictures and walked back to our home stays.

     I can’t believe tomorrow is our last full day here. I’m going to miss it so much! (especially Norbert.)

Wednesday: Health workshops at a school and more home visits

Written by Hunt Stockwell (GHF ’18) and Ells Boone (GHF ’20) to recount Wednesday, June 14, 2017:

After yet another delicious breakfast set up by our host mother, we all met up at the San Antonio Pentecostal School to teach the lessons on hand washing and toothbrushing we had created in the previous days. There were four separate groups: two taught the younger kids (kindergarten through third grade), while two had slightly more advanced lessons for the older kids (fourth through sixth grades). As a member of the group that taught toothbrushing to the younger kids, I quickly learned how difficult it was to capture the full attention of six through nine year olds, especially in a classroom setting. Our lessons went extremely well nonetheless, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact they already kept up good toothbrushing habits; they claimed to brush their teeth three times a day for three minutes each, but I’m not sure if I fully believe that. We ended our sessions with a game of “tooth tooth cavity,” an educational alternative to “duck duck goose”. After we finished our teaching, we joined the kids for recess. We played a myriad of games with the children, including soccer and tag, in which either I was it, or everyone else was. We left to return to our homestays for lunch exhausted but ecstatic from our time at the school. – Hunt, GHF ’18

Having just woken up from our post-lunch siesta, we headed to the community center for another round of home visits. My group went to Cristo Rey, a 30 minute bus ride from San Antonio. In Cristo Rey, my group and I visited houses located near the school. The first house had just one man who graciously let us take his vitals. The 2 other homes we visited were rather uneventful but we collected important data for our needs assessment. A quick bus ride back to San Antonio, a visit to the bakery and Marleney’s store, and we completed the afternoon. – Ells, GHF ’20

After we completed our home visits, everyone reconvened in the community center to discuss our plans to prepare a presentation for another school near San Antonio. We split into on two groups, one group discussing hygiene and nutrition, and the other group discussing sexual education. When we completed these discussions, we walked back to the school and played a pick up soccer game with some very skilled locals. Despite our best efforts, our team lost in the last two minutes by two, unfortunate goals. 

Tuesday: Home Visits in San Antonio

“Team Torillas” trek through San Antonio conducting home visits.

This morning we began with a filling breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit. We then left our home and headed to the community center to begin our first day of home visits. My group stayed in San Antonio and we visited a total of four homes. We completed blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and other calculations for the free screenings. We also conducted our needs assessment after our screenings. So we asked questions on topics regarding education, nutrition, and illness. Around 11:30 am, we all returned back to the community center and returned home for lunch to refuel for the rest of the day. – Lawson, GHF ’18 

This afternoon, we split into two groups based on our Spanish proficiency: there was the beginner’s group and the group comprised of those who study Spanish. As a member of the more advanced class, we discussed the difference between “por” and “para” in Spanish. Later we were given a lecture about malnutrition, undernourishment, and its impacts on the culture and daily life in the context of Belize. We then spent time refining our needs assessment after our first round of home visits. We discovered that some of our questions were not pertinent to Belize while they were to Haiti. In preparation for our lectures to school children tomorrow about hand washing and tooth brushing, the different groups continued planning and lesson design. Later that night, we went to the local restaurant and had competitive games of cards. – Sahib, GHF ’20

Monday: Tech Sessions, Pottery, Tortillas, and Football

Monday, June 12, 2017:

To start off the day, we woke up early and ate breakfast with our host families before setting off for an activity-packed day. For the first half of the day, we again met at the community center for a tech session, led by Kaitlyn, one of our GPSA student leaders, on the tests we will be administering durning our house visits with the community health workers. We started by learning how take blood glucose levels using a finger prick. Our group split up into our three working groups, which we will be in during the house visits, and we each practiced being the doctor, assistant, and the patient as we all got our blood glucose tested. We then worked to perfect our skill at taking blood pressure, which some of us picked up more easily than others. Kaitlyn then talked to us about measuring pulse and respiration, temperature, and BMI. In order to be able to go to the houses and put our newly learned techniques into practice, we had to pass a test. We were each partnered up and took each other’s blood pressure while Vanessa, our GPSA leader, examined us to make sure our procedure was correct. Thankfully, we all passed and we are excited to get to work in the communities tomorrow! After this morning session, we headed home for lunch, but on the way we were eager to stop at the bakery, which is only open a few times per week. Most of us bought either a freshly baked cinnamon roll, a slice of bread pudding, or a sweet bread that were all very delicious.  

– Gabi Diskin, GHF ’18

For lunch with our host families, we had the national dish of Belize: rice and beans. It was delicious! After a post-lunch nap, we headed over to the local women’s co-op. We observed and participated in the making of corn tortillas which is a Mayan tradition. We mashed the corn and flattened the tortillas and then cooked them on a wood-fire stove. We ate them with coconut oil and salt which made them amazing! After the tasty snack we looked at the Mayan traditional pottery and the various paints they use which are specific to the type of clay used in the pottery. After learning we were able to take part in making pottery and using the wheel where I made a bowl. After our fun day of learning we settled under the gazebo to write our schedules for the school day about tooth brushing and hand washing. – Liz Heckard, GHF ’18

After a long day of learning about and experiencing Belize’s culture, the ’20s and ’18s, along with Mrs. Goodson, Mr. Runzo, a few GPSA leaders, and a couple local children, competed in a friendly game of soccer. Many laughs and falls later, we walked to our separate home stays to shower and prepare for dinner. In the evening, our host mom prepared delicious johnnycakes, which we ate with peanut butter, jelly, cheese, or beans. After we finished eating, we headed to our room to play with our host family’s three-year-old son, Leo. His high energy level brought smiles to our faces, and we spent time laughing along to his antics. Later, we headed to the local restaurant, where we shared a plate of watermelon as we watched the NBA finals. A few of us also drifted to different tables to play a couple rounds of the card game, Hearts. A couple of nodding heads later, we all admitted that we were tired and headed off to our separate home stays to sleep.     Julia Duarte, GHF ’20

GHF ’18s and ’20s head to Belize to work with GPSA

Written by Courtney Kilduff (GHF ’20) to account for June 10-11, 2017:

After two flights and a long bus ride, the Global Health Fellows (’18s and ’20s) arrived in San Ignacio, Belize! We took a relaxing afternoon to settle in and get to know our host families. The following day (Sunday, June 11) started off with a meeting with Global Public Service Academies (GPSA) volunteers; we listened to presentations about hand-washing and patient care, were informed of the week to come, and even learned some more Spanish. Some things we learned included the 7 steps of patient care: preparing the station, greeting the patient, introducing yourself and your program, making sure the patient is in a relaxed position, explaining what you hope to do, following the protocol, and gaining consent before anything else. We role played interacting properly with patients. After eating lunch with our separate host families again (we eat all our meals in our homes), we took a bus to see the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich.


Written by Claire Cunningham, GHF ’18, to recount afternoon of June 11, 2017:

After lunch with our host families we all met up to go to the Mayan ruins. After about an hour long bus ride with our bus driver and tour guide, José, we got on a ferry to get to the ruins. To get to the ruins we walked up a big hill and saw howler monkeys on the way. José told us many interesting stories about the Mayans including the fact that the did not call themselves the Maya. When Columbus arrived in Central America he asked the people what they called themselves. They replied “maya” which means “I do not understand.” Therefore, Columbus wrote about the people who call themselves the Maya. We saw several different ancient buildings. The largest of which was the Castillo. The Castillo is a staggering 40 meters tall. It was hard to imagine how the Mayans were able to build such grand structures without modern tools. The view from the top was breathtaking. We had lots of fun exploring the ruins and the animals that now inhabit them such as monkeys, tarantulas, and iguanas. Visiting the ruins really gave us insight to the culture of the ancestors of many people in Belize. Afterwards we visited a market right outside of the ruins to buy souvenirs. We all returned to our host houses for dinner and went to the store afterwards to buy ice cream — which is without a doubt the best way to end a great day in the sun. 

Final Day: The Carrie Wortham Birthing Center in Cabestor

Post written by Graham Barbour ’17 and Kara Kaufman ’19 to recount June 16, 2016:

As our week in Hinche drew to a close, we prepared to return to Port-au-Prince with a stop at the new Midwives for Haiti birthing center in Cabestor. As we crammed into the van for the final time, we could not help but feel a sense of nostalgia, knowing that at least for the seniors and Mr. Boland, we would most likely never return to Hinche, with its potholed roads bustling with life, and Clory, with its hills dotted with palms and flame trees, and the Midwives for Haiti porch which witnessed hours of late night card games played in mostly hushed tones.

Winding our way through the switchback mountain roads was at once a warming and saddening experience— as we recognized familiar towns and regions from the previous trips but at the same time were forced to accept that we’ll probably never see them again.

The famous MFH pink jeep used at the Birthing Center now!

The famous MFH pink jeep used at the Birthing Center now!

After a couple hours of driving, we arrived at the Carrie Wortham Birthing Center, a newly opened birthing center named in memory of Carrie Wortham, an American who dedicated her life to helping the underserved women of the Central Plateau; she worked for Midwives for Haiti in-country a few years ago and was a large presence during our first two visits in 2012 and 2013. As we toured the facility, we were astonished to learn that since its opening in November of 2015, the clinic has already helped to deliver 75 children. For deliveries that required special care, mothers were sent to the PIH/ZL/Haitian government hospital in Mirebalais. Even more surprising was that even after the child is born, the clinic continues to help care for the child until six months of age. Although it was sad that Carrie couldn’t see the completion of such an impactful facility, it was powerful to see the extent of the legacy she left in Haiti.

In front of the Carrie Wortham Birthing Center in Cabestor, Haiti

In front of the Carrie Wortham Birthing Center in Cabestor, Haiti

We devoured our delicious, traditional Haitian lunch at the birthing center while watching an adorable puppy and a tiny kitten play (both of which we were not able to play with; Mr. Boland’s order.). Having prepared ourselves mentally and physically for the cramped sauna that was our means of transportation, we piled into the van for another two hours until we reached the Operation Blessing, International house in Port-au-Prince where we had stayed at the first night of our trip. Relieved to stretch our limbs, most of us went straight to our rooms and took the naps of our lives. The rest of the evening was spent all together. Dinner consisted of chicken, salad, and rice with the familiar Haitian twist that we have all gotten to know and love over the last week. We also showed each other the pictures we had taken of other people sleeping during the four-hour car ride. The tired bunch all gathered on the dusty roof of the house, looking over the city of Port-au-Prince. That night, there was a certain and almost unexpected peace I felt. The city seemed so small, the problems so manageable, and the people so unbreakable. For the ‘17s, they reflected on the last three years in the program and previous trips. This is very likely their last glimpse of Haiti as a cohort; yet, for the ‘19s this is just the beginning. I reflected on everything I had seen and felt throughout the entire experience: shock, joy, grief, passion, and now this renewed sense of empowerment. I would like to show those who haved funded the projects such as Luci lights, biosand water filters, and clean cookstoves the impact they really do have. While it substantially improves the quality of life, seeing the positive mental impacts they have in-person was the game changer for me. Suddenly, it becomes more than just money and materials and distribution; it becomes bigger than any one person. Giving people hope for the future is the biggest takeaway I have from this trip. I am so grateful for this opportunity. I learned more about global health and myself than I ever imagined possible.