Monday, April 21, 2014

Medical Volunteering this August in Cap Hatien, Haiti

Honor folks,
I am currently running a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for my medical volunteer mission to Cap Hatien in August. I have worked with the VOSH folks in the past, but this year, they have asked me to be an ambassador with them to Cap Hatien, in the north of Haiti.  VOSH is Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity, and the local chapter is hosted by my dear friend, Dave McPhillips.  Dave has been doing eye work all over the world, and has turned his amazing talents to my favorite island Haiti.  I have done translation work for him, fund raising, donations and tried (failing spectacularly) to teach him creole. Well, he's medical skills are impeccable, even if his creole is not.

Dave has a large family, a big medical practice, a passion for collecting sports memorabilia that borders on fanatical and he still manages to work in Haiti four times a year. I wish I had half his stamina. So having spent many years saying I would go, this year, I am. I will be going with him to translate, carry bags and do paperwork in Milot, which is outside of Cap Hatien. Last year, Dave and company saw a staggering 1500 people in a little over five days. The need is always pressing, but those numbers can give even the most stalwart of us pause. 500 people a day - in the course of a ten hour day, that's 50 patients an hour by four doctors and eight volunteers. Staggering. Maybe I need to start drinking rum now.

VOSH numbers in general will give you pause: from their Facebook page - "Since 1997, more than 235,000 patients have been treated, over 160,000 eye glasses provided, and 16,455 sight-restoring surgeries performed."  Like I said, the need is staggering, but these folks are doing it the right way. They are training local doctors to do the eye exams and critical care, not just giving them a hand out. And its working. There are three new clinic in Milot, Cap Hatien and a small village just outside of the Citadelle.  Having gotten those practices established,  Dave is now turning his talents to my hometown of Jacmel, where the local need is just as big as it is in the north of Haiti. With the help of some of my contacts and friends there, Dave hopes to have at least one clinic up and running by next year. Ayibobo to that!

I am asking for some help to get there and back. I am running a GoFundMe campaign to help with my own costs of getting there. Anything money collected that is above and beyond my immediate expenses will be donated to VOSH for eyeglasses, contact lens, medicines and surgical supplies. I will take lots of photos, blog heavily, cry a lot and try not to be a burden to anyone, much less you all.

If you can spare me some money, I promise you will not regret sending it. My campaign page is here: Thank you for helping me get to Haiti, so I can participate in this very worthy cause. Ayibobo!

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