In June 2007, I went on a mission trip to Haiti, with a team based in Florida. The mission, held in Saint Michel du Sud, a town located in the southern region of Haiti, was part evangelistic and part medical. After going door-to-door for two days, urging people to turn to Jesus-Christ, we had a mobile clinic on our third and last day. Patients walked miles to get to the clinic site, but we didn’t have much to give them. However, this experience has made me taste the joy of serving my people, of putting my knowledge and experience at the service of the very country that has financed my medical education.
In December 2009, two weeks before the January 12 quake, I was in Haiti, spending Christmas with friends from the First Haitian Baptist Church of Pernier. We had such a great time! I remember very well the closing ceremony of the spiritual poetry contest, now a yearly event, organized by the youth of the Church, and sponsored by supporters from TBC, my local church in Boston, and a dinner for married couples, where my wife and I talked about communication between spouses.
I didn’t have then any specific plan to work full time in Haiti. Little that I know, two weeks later a quake will change everything…
The overflow of pictures coming from Haiti said one thing: Life, as we know it, is gone; if you have any itty-bitty concern for Haiti, you need to step on the plate to play your part. My wife knew it, and she took a plane to Haiti, via DR, three days after the quake. I’d wait until March 2010 to go as well.
What can we do? That’s the question most people asked before such overwhelming disaster. I was lucky to have then friends in Haiti and a fixed clinic at Pernier where to serve. The full story is on the History page of Repheka’s site, www.repheka.org.
In sum, with the support of friends from the States, what started as a small clinic has become today a full-fledged community health project, with two health centers and a community outreach program. I had myself quit my full time job in Boston to, since July 2011, spend most of my time here, in Haiti, serving, by God’s grace and under His protection, in the poorest country of the western hemisphere.
The January 12, 2010 quake has changed my life, my perspectives, and my focus. What’s at stake is not just my life as an individual, or my family, or my church, or my community, but my country, Haiti, 10 million people, at times lost and confused, at times hopeless and helpless. Three years ago, it was about what to do in the now, day by day, but today, it’s about how to make lasting, structural change, how to shape the future of a nation, so that our children and grandchildren can find a better country, one that is just, prosperous, and peaceful.