By Kristina Joyal

(4th Year Medical Student)

I had attempted to prepare myself for this medical mission to Haiti; I attended the meetings, read about the history of Haiti and even took an online course to learn some Creole! However, the reality was beyond what I could have imagined. The chaos, the poverty, the beauty, the joy; all blew my expectations out of the water.

At first it was overwhelming: the extreme poverty, the language barrier and all the patients waiting to be seen. What could I do? The EMAS team, however, was well-prepared. Everything was organized such that I could stop worrying about the waiting list and just focus on seeing my one patient at a time (with the help of local nursing students translating Creole to French). Dr. Plourde encouraged us medical students to a new level of independence and efficiency while remaining open to consultation. The team as a whole, the youngest team ever with only three medical students and two nursing students in addition to the EMAS team leaders, was a supportive group where we could reflect openly and honestly at the end of each day and encourage one another.

We went to Haiti with one task: to see patients. I am grateful for the team that worked so well together, for our local friends who took care of us, and for all the patients that let us in to their lives for the briefest of moments. It truly is a privilege to be allowed into each patient’s life, despite my fumbling through the language and cultural differences.
I was able to contribute in a practical way using my clinical skills. In the overall context of Haiti, lacking clean water or universal education, the few prescriptions I gave to patients feel inconsequential, but I am encouraged by the larger ongoing work, such as the school, church, and yearly follow-up of patients that the Haitians together with the EMAS Haiti Leadership Team (Pierre Plourde, Rachelle Brière and Krista Waring) are able to provide.

Though not my first mission trip to a developing country, it was my first medical trip, and I am very thankful to have had this opportunity. As one who has been blessed to live in Canada pursuing medical training, I want to be able to contribute towards caring for the poor in our world. This trip gave me a tangible opportunity to do so, as well as insight for how caring for the poor can be incorporated into my life and career and the challenges that may arise while pursuing this goal.

EMAS Haiti Team - Feb. 2015

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