It’s fair to say that I have traveled my fair share over the years but my trip to Haiti is by far one of the richest learning experiences I’ve ever had. I wish that at the time, I had blogged about my experience each day so that my account of my first experience would have been really well documented.
I traveled there with a group of optometrists and other volunteers like myself for the first time in August of 2011. We stayed in the small historic town of Milot near Cap-Haïtien. For each of five days, we travelled by car to a different village. Once we arrived, we set up an eye clinic in a school, church, or some public facility within 2o minutes. Some days we served up to 500 patients and other days there were less. The idea was that we worked until the last patient standing, leaving nobody behind. They were overwhelmingly long and extremely hot days. I remember telling myself I was never going to do this again because I was so exhausted. The days started early. We were up by 6am every day and sometimes didn’t return until 6pm or 7pm. The trek to each village could take up to an hour because the conditions of the roads were so poor. There were days where we would return after a long day and the water would be out so we couldn’t shower and had to wait an hour or two with the whole day’s stench of sweat on us – this was a regular part of life there.
Looking back at the end of the trip, it was such a rewarding experience despite everything. I decided that I am going to make a commitment to return every year.
View on the airplane as we are landing
The Cap-Haïtien Airport