Leaving for Haiti tonight

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    Be in the airport middle of the night; into the Dominican Republic early in the AM, then overland for about 3 - 4 hours. Got plenty of bug spray and a huge mosquito net. Also on MALARONE 250/100 malaria prophylaxis. Hopefully, the rainy season (which peaks mid May) is just starting so the bug population count isn't really high yet. Packed a whole bunch of just in case GI meds, too. Heck my stomach is gurgling just thinking about it, LOL...

    Wish me luck. I'll report when I get back (next week).
  2. 9 Comments so far...

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    I've been looking online for an opportunity to volunteer in Haiti for possibly the entire month of May. Would you share info about your group and/or how you found them? Thanks so much and welcome back. (my experience is 2 years ER)
    Emergency RN likes this.
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    Quote from milana
    I've been looking online for an opportunity to volunteer in Haiti for possibly the entire month of May. Would you share info about your group and/or how you found them? Thanks so much and welcome back. (my experience is 2 years ER)
    Just walked in the door this morning after a week there, and it was an experience (both great and not so great). The good part was being able to deliver care and assistance to patients that would otherwise do without (from quake related issues to routine care criteria); the bad part was that the group I'd gone with was, in my personal opinion, disorganized and poorly planned.

    The organization, Haitian American Care, Inc., which had a web site previously found at:

    http://haitianamericancare.org

    ...is run by a Haitian ex pat, who overflows with enthusiasm, generosity, charity and has a heart of gold. You can immediately tell that he genuinely understands the plight of his people, and feels the need to help in any way that he can. He does do a tremendous amount of work towards that goal. However, from the admittedly brief contact that I'd had with his group (again, in my personal opinion); they lack forethought, imagination, and organizational oversight, to the point that it almost crippled the mission from the outset. An example of this was, a firm airline commitment to ship our mission critical supplies (as a humanitarian courtesy) was not in hand on the day of flight. The HACI leader stated that the carrier's corporate office had previously authorized it, but he had no documented proof on his person. The ticket agent at the counter thus refused to allow the supplies, and only did so after he paid an additional fee. He later contracted a transport company that drove barely serviceable, undersized and underpowered vehicles. The drivers kept badgering the team for more money beyond what was originally negotiated for. The organization lacked a reliable working timetable; their expectations of time required for travel was wholly unrealistic. What was described beforehand as being "...only a 45 minute short drive from the border," turned out in reality to be a five hour drive. On our return trip, his contracted drivers attempted to board two unknown women until our group vehemently objected. I have no proof, but it is my personal suspicion that they had wanted to allow our large American group of nurses to provide suitable cover for their undocumented passage from Haiti to the Dominican Republic; in essence, human smuggling.

    I just checked their web page and noted that their site is listed as expired as of 28 MAR, and is pending renewal. Figures; obviously, they seem to have major issues with their back office support and that's a real shame. Their's is a grass roots effort that reaches parts of the Haitian community where many NGO's yet haven't. They would be of much greater effectiveness if they could only get their logistics and management house in order.

    To be fair, despite all the negatives (and there were many), going to Haiti remained one of the most professionally fulfilling and personally satisfying things that I'd ever done. I just wish that it could have been better managed. As for your desire to go? Do so; however, my only suggestion is, to go with a bigger or more well known organizations like the Red Cross, or Doctor's Without Borders. If I ever go again, that's who I would go with instead.

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    WOW. What a story. So disappointing. I imagine there are many grassroots NGOs who are just overwhelmed by the logistics of providing assistance with depleted resources and a collapsed infrastructure. However, the possible human trafficking aspect is unnerving to say the least!

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. After searching for a while, I'm starting to think I should wait until the local network of communications, supplies, etc. has been better re-built. Thank god for organizations like MSF and PIH who are efficient, well connected, and have a long rolodex of volunteers at the ready. Your story is an eye opener.

    Keep us updated if you end up going back with another group. I hope you will I'll definitely post my experience if and when I make it there.
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    milana, haiti is not the only place that you can go. if the medical mission bug hits you (like some people i've heard of who spend their annual vacations doing such things) there are lots of other places all over the world that could use seasoned rns. central, south america and the caribbean is probably the closest to the us. there are even missions that serve our own native american (indian reservation) population, a group that often falls beneath the generous medical volunteer's radar.

    type in the google search phrase medical mission to ___ and insert the country (or location) of your choice. google will even offer suggestions if you didn't fill in the blank. you'll be pleasantly surprised at how many relief missions there are on going around the world, with both large and small ngo's.

    good luck, and thank you
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    Thank you so much for your update. And for going!

    You know, in a another job I had I was the logistics person for term-abroad programs my school offered. I always felt that was the boring end and would rather have been the one having the in-country experience. But your post is reminding me how essential good planning is - we also serve who stand and organize!
    Emergency RN likes this.
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    I just checked the HACI website and it looks like they finally got around to renewing their domain name. However, the info on the site remains rather outdated. It talks about "...The next clinic opportunity will be from March 27, 2010 to April 4, 2010." as if it was something upcoming. In fact, that was the trip that I had been a participant of. I also happen to know that their next planned trip is on or about JUN 2010 (if anyone is interested).

    And yes, like Greenbeanio stated, "...we also serve who stand and organize!" is every bit as important to these operations, likely the most vital component. Perhaps in addition to asking for medical and nursing volunteers, HACI should consider openly soliciting help for it's back office too.
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    Thanks for the advice, Emergency RN, and for sharing your experience. I want to go to Haiti, too, but hit dead ends with the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Google searches proved fruitless as well. Most everything I found doing Google searches wanted you to pay exorbitant amounts of money (like, thousands of dollars) to come do a volunteer stint. Not that I'm opposed to paying my airfare, etc., but most everything I saw wanted you to pay your own airfare AND that lofty thousands+ dollar fee to participate. God bless the people who can afford to do that. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. Anybody know of other groups sponsoring relief missions? To Haiti or elsewhere? I've always wanted to go to Africa to work with HIV/AIDS patients. Sigh...I'm sure it would be a life changing experience. Any thoughts or suggestions are most welcome. Thanks!
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    Cree8ive1, have you checked out applying for Emergency Response Nurse Volunteer with the International Medical Corps? International Medical Corps - International Medical Corps


    I know they have volunteers in Haiti.
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    Good luck, I use to volunteer my flying skills for a outfit called Agape Flights out of Venice FL. It felt good delivering supplies to Haiti and helping out, but they were just too religious for me. Wanted to save me on every trip that was more exhausting than the four hour flight.

    I'm new here and really don't know how or what exactly you can do at this site, but if you take any pictures or video please share with us. Can you upload pics or vids here?

    You know there needs to be a site just for volunteer nurses.
    alem-tsahai likes this.


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