Q&A with Volunteer Tiffany Ojea
Tiffany Ojea is a registered nurse currently pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies. As part of our partnership with the university, Tiffany traveled to Haiti for the first time last October, where she volunteered with Project Medishare in the Central Plateau. She recently returned to Haiti to help provide healthcare to families in the South affected by Hurricane Matthew. Read our Q&A with Tiffany to learn more about her experience.
Why did you decided to sign up as a mobile clinic volunteer to help families affected by Hurricane Matthew?
My first visit to Haiti was two weeks after Hurricane Matthew. I spent a little less than a week with the University of Miami and Project Medishare in the Central Plateau. I have returned to Haiti three times since.
Having a volunteer and disaster relief background, I felt compelled to help Haiti’s people who had been devastated by the hurricane. While preparing for my trip, I created a GoFundMe account and began to post on social media that I would be collecting items at my home to take to Haiti. Little did I know that what I thought would be a small collection, would turn into a large campaign. In just over a week, I raised $5,000 and shipped over 2,000 pounds of goods directly to communities destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. My ultimate goal quickly became to visit the hurricane site and provide medical aid to its people, which is why I decided to go on this July’s mobile clinic.
Were there any special/notable moments you’d like to share? A particular patient you met that stuck with you?
During the Hurricane Matthew mobile clinic, I met a family of ten; mom, dad, and eight children. This family has suffered from malnutrition over the past 20 years, and I was able to witness the extent of it with their three-year-old twins and one-and-a-half-year-old. During the previous mobile clinic, a few weeks before I arrived, the three children were hospitalized for malnutrition. The one-and-a-half-year-old only weighed 6 pounds (the average birth weight in the United States in 7-8lbs). The mobile clinic allowed for follow-up of this child and his family, a few weeks later when I arrived. It was incredible to see the impact the mobile clinic had on this family and to see the child was alert and in better health.
How did this volunteer experience differ from your previous trips to Haiti?
This trip to Haiti was very different than my previous trips. For starters, this was the first time I did not travel to the Central Plateau. I experienced a different patient population, different health issues, different Project Medishare staff, and a different landscape. To no surprise, I fell in love with yet another part of Haiti.
How did this trip affect you or change your outlook (in general and/or related to health care)?
My trips to Haiti always leave me wanting more. I always leave wishing I had more time to see more patients, to help institute more sustainable projects, and in general more time to continue to learn about the culturally rich country. This trip impacted my views on malnutrition tremendously. Nutrition and clean water are two of the main sources of life, and seeing that the rural Haitian people lack both has truly made me want to do more about it. Upon arriving home, I have found myself relentlessly researching how together as a community we can make a sustainable difference in the lack of clean water sources and malnutrition in Haiti.