West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Wes’s experience (our pharmacist)

My experience in Haiti was fraught with first-time experiences. Prior to this trip, I had never experienced a third world country. I had no idea what to expect as we landed at the Port-au-Prince airport, but the moment we stepped outside the airport the reality of how much poverty there is in the country was immediately apparent. You want to help everyone you see. You want to give them the money/food/clothing you have on you. I constantly felt guilty for all the things I had that they didn’t and probably never will. It seemed like no matter what you did it would just be a solitary raindrop falling on a thirsty desert, having little effect on the greater problem; but the following morning at St. Vincent’s showed me just how big an impact twelve people can make.

We weren’t supposed to have clinic the first day we arrived but I soon learned to expect the unexpected in Haiti. I owe a huge debt to Miloine (we all spell and pronounce her name differently), the nurse that is now in charge of the pharmacy there. Even though neither of us was fluent in the other’s language, we were able to communicate through the magic of medicine. She let me know if the directions I was writing actually made sense in Kreyol, and in the beginning – they didn’t. Thankfully my English to Kreyol improved as we went along with help from her, the other members of the team, and my iPod (there’s an app for that!). I think I will have “bwe yon grenn chak jou” (take one tablet every day) ingrained in my memory forever.

There were so many memorable moments at St. Vincent’s that it’s hard to list them all. Everyone on the team was always in motion. There was one day where Sherye was being pulled in every direction to interpret for the deaf children. We had two exam rooms with three providers all needing Sherye to interpret for them plus my need for her to interpret directions for the medication… she handled it in stride and I’m not sure how we would have done it without her. Everyone has a role even if it’s not necessarily medical. You will find your role once you enter St. Vincent’s.

I guess I’ve rambled on a bit so I’ll close by saying (typing?) that one month ago I had no idea the West Tenn. Haiti Partnership even existed and now here I am back in Memphis after experiencing something that will forever change my world outlook for the better. I made some great friends whether they live in Memphis, Haiti, or New Orleans. I am thankful for the privilege that this organization has given me to serve a people that need our help. Once your eyes are opened to the plight of those less fortunate, it is impossible to close them again.

sent in by Wes Savage, a pharmacy student at UT
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