Q&A with Volunteer Jean Mandat
Dr. Jean Mandat, a family physician from New York, recently volunteered with Project Medishare in the Central Plateau as part of a medical student mission with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. In addition to supervising students, he also provided care to hundreds of patients over the course of a week. As a Haitian-American, this trip was especially meaningful to Dr. Mandat – it was his first time “home” in more than 20 years. Read our Q&A with Dr. Mandat to learn more about his experience.
Where were you born in Haiti and when did you leave?
I was born in Ganthier in 1987. I was the second-born of four (2 girls and 2 boys). My parents were born in Gonaives. My father left Haiti for the United States years before us, and eventually sent for my mother and siblings. We left Haiti in February of 1996.
Where did you go once you left Haiti?
Once I left Haiti I started living in Queens, New York. Far Rockaway, Queens to be exact, for the past 20 years. I did all of my schooling in NY, including medical school.
Had you visited Haiti prior to the trip with the UM Miller School of Medicine (Caneshare)?
This Caneshare trip was actually the first time I have been back since I left in 1996. I hadn’t returned because whenever a trip was planned, something happened and it was not considered safe. Two of my siblings managed to visit when it was their turn to go.
How did you feel returning to Haiti?
Coming back to Haiti was very nostalgic. It was like a flood of sights and sounds that I thought I had forgotten came rushing back. It was probably one of the best moments of my life. Being in the country just made sense and I saw that a lot of the ways I thought/felt about certain things in life were shared by most of the Haitian people that I met; whether they were patients or colleagues. For lack of a better word the experience was pretty awesome.
How was your experience volunteering with Project Medishare?
I honestly didn’t know what to expect, as this was my first global health trip. Reading up on Project Medishare before the trip, I got the impression the organization has a genuine interest in providing care to the people of Haiti. It seems like progress has been made by leaps and bounds. The staff was very knowledgeable in the roles that they played – from guest house staff, drivers, nurses, translators, residents, coordinators and all the way to physicians – and this allows Project Medishare to be a very cohesive and well-run organization.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
When I decided on a career in medicine, one of the primary driving forces was dreaming of the day that I would be able to give back to Haiti with the knowledge and skills I’ve obtained. Medical school was difficult, but one of the things that kept me going was the reminder that I wasn’t doing this just for myself; there was a bigger picture and I wanted to be a part of that, no matter how small a role I played. Project Medishare and Caneshare allowed me to realize a dream, however temporary it was. This was an experience that I won’t soon forget and hopefully it won’t be the last time that I partner up with Project Medishare and Caneshare.
Are you a medical professional interested in volunteering with Project Medishare? Learn more about our volunteer programs in Port-au-Prince and the Central Plateau.