Last month, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we shared several inspiring volunteer stories on our Facebook page. Today, we want to dive in a bit deeper to learn more about these volunteers, and what motivated them to travel to Haiti to give back. Continue reading to learn more about four Project Medishare volunteers.
Dr. John ‘Bull’ Durham is an Orthopedic Surgeon from Arizona who has traveled to Haiti with Project Medishare 27 times since February 2010. He organizes groups of volunteers regularly and has helped build the Orthopedic Residency program at Hospital Bernard Mevs.
Bull tells us that he keeps returning to Haiti because “the connections that we make through these trips help make the world a little smaller. I feel like I am returning home to family and friends when I come to Haiti. I also am refreshed by the people who are striving to do so much to help one another. Refreshing in a world that can be hateful.”
Since he started volunteering at Hospital Bernard Mevs, he’s seen “significant improvements in the infrastructure of the hospital and significant improvements in the equipment available to provide quality Orthopedic care.”
But Dr. Durham’s connection to Haiti doesn’t stop at volunteering – he and his family adopted a Haitian child after the 2010 earthquake.
Sidney is a former Project Medishare EMT volunteer, and the recent recipient of the 2018 Hockey Humanitarian Award, a national award that recognizes college hockey’s “finest citizen” for leadership in community service. As the winner of this award, Sidney selected Project Medishare to receive a $3,000 donation by the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation.
Sidney says, “I was motivated to travel to Haiti to volunteer because I was interested in getting involved in a service opportunity outside of the United States. Project Medishare provided me with the opportunity to get involved and serve others.” When we asked her what her favorite part of her week volunteering was, she told us that she, “really enjoyed watching the Haitian medical doctors work. They are so calm and unshaken, even when things become chaotic. I have an immense amount of respect for these physicians, as well as the other staff members at Hospital Bernard Mevs.”
What most surprised Sidney about her experience in Haiti? “…the amount of joy I found in the patients and staff that were associated with Project Medishare. Even though Haiti is a hurting country, the people I met and interacted with in Port-au-Prince were able to choose joy and celebrate life in the midst of some incredibly difficult situations.”
Joshua Overgaard is an Internal Medicine physician from Minnesota who has made six volunteer trips to Haiti with Project Medishare. He has volunteered with us both at Hospital Bernard Mevs in Port-au-Prince and in the Central Plateau.
As a veteran volunteer, Joshua recalls that, “My first trip there I was teaching some timid students in the ICU and now they are the staff there and are doing a wonderful job. I have seen them add a new ICU, new med/surg unit, and new volunteer quarters which are all very modern and up-to-date.”
Joshua has traveled twice to the Central Plateau to help train staff from our Marmont and Lahoye maternity centers on bedside ultrasound. He tell us, “I think of the Haitian staff with whom I work as friends and colleagues. I really enjoy reconnecting with them every time. Also, each time I return I see the staff putting into practice the teaching we covered from the last trip. They are very hard workers and quick learners. Selfishly, I also like going to Haiti because it keeps me grounded. So many people there are truly suffering in a way I never see here at home. This is a reminder to me to be thankful for the things I have and to keep giving to those with less fortune.”
Becky Kritzer is a registered nurse who has volunteered with Project Medishare twice, first at Hospital Bernard Mevs in 2010 and then at the Hurricane Matthew mobile clinics in 2017. She wrote to tell us that after returning home from her most recent deployment she found clarity in her career aspirations, and realized she was meant to work with moms and babies.
Becky initially arrived to Haiti because she was “devastated seeing the destruction in Haiti after the earthquake. I wanted to do something but felt paralyzed.” She soon found herself in Port-au-Prince. “The people I met were hopeful, resilient, proud and so welcoming. I know I was able to help using skills needed in my career, but it’s hard to put into words how I grew as a person by working down there.” She believes, “Medical care should be a right not a privilege and I love that [Project] Medishare is helping people to accesss care that they deserve and need.”
When she returned home from her first trip in 2010, Becky became a foster mother, and cites her time in Haiti as her inspiration. “I would not have had the confidence nor the ability to look outside my bubble and do this had it not been for my experience.”
She tells us she returns to Haiti, “because of the amazing beauty of the people, the culture, and of the land. I keep coming back to make friends for life. I keep coming back to clear my head and make my life the life I want to be living. I want to keep coming back because there is work to be done and I want to do my part to do it.”