University of Miami Nursing student Julie Megler vaccinates a child at an immunization rally post in Circa, Haiti. Photo by Gabrielle Denis.
By Julie Megler
Circa, HAITI–Today we got a chance to see what community health really means first hand. We traveled to a “Rally Post” in the village of Circa. A rally post focuses on the immunization and malnutrition of children under five years of age, as well as pregnant and lactating women.
At the rally post we participated by assisting in weighing children, and administering shots and vitamins. We lined up and manned our positions while a Haitian community leader read names off of each Childs’ health cards. The kids were first tossed into a harness and hung from a hook dangling several feet off of the ground to be weighted on a scale that resembled those of the produce department of the local Publix grocery story. After a few moments of fussing and howling a child would calm down to a point where an appropriate weight could be recorded. Once removed from the harness they were reunited in their mother’s arms at which point one of us would squeeze their cheeks together and squirt fowl tasting Vitamin A into their mouths while two other UM nursing students would restrain and stick the child with deTab, MMR, verisila into their chubby deltoid muscles.
In between the rush of caring for the children who’s names were presently being called, we took the time to admire and stare into the crowd that surrounded us. Word of the rally post had only started to travel two days before, and that was enough time for a whole community of women to collect their children and wait for us starting at 6:30 a.m. We didn’t arrive until 11 am. We admired how older siblings as young as eight, handled younger siblings with the care and grace of an experienced mother. In our observations we saw the differences between the American family unit and that of a Haitian family. These Haitian children had wisdom years ahead of their age that they gained from sharing family responsibility at a young age. As more names were called, the line grew shorter till no one was left in the enclosed yard where we had treated several dozen women and their children only moments before. We gathered our belongings, and started walking back up the dirt road to meet the Medishare truck and returned back to our home base.
After a light lunch of PB&Js and Ham and cheese sandwiches we went through a walk through the streets of Thomonde. In the evening after dinner Marie sat down with us and described the ropes of community health. We all sat attentively with our minds churning with questions, as Marie explained the importance of community involvement, microfinance, and collaboration with other organizations in order to affectively improve the health status of a community in a way that is sustainable allowing these villages to remain independent.