Posts Tagged ‘volunteering in Haiti’

Rachel Belt is the Volunteer and Logistics Coordinator at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She has an extensive history of helping others. Before joining Project Medishare, Rachel worked for Doctors Without Borders in New York, World Health Organization in Geneva, The Medical Research Council in Uganda and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in New York. Rachel was born in Connecticut but lived in England and on an island off of Washington State. She is a graduate of Columbia University and had been looking to move her job abroad when one of her friends sent her the job description for the Volunteer and Logistics Coordinator. She flew down a few days later for an interview and moved to Haiti only three weeks after seeing the job posting.

After joining the Project Medishare staff in March, Rachel has relocated her home to Delmas 41, the staff house, which is a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. She shares the apartment with Brittany, Chief Nursing Officer of Pediatrics. Rachel usually wakes up around 6:00am to coordinate transportation at the hospital in via telephone. Most days the staff of Hospital Bernard Mevs travels together to work, which is about a 20 minute drive, and arrive at the hospital around 8am. Upon her arrival, Rachel makes sure the food has been distributed, answers questions and checks emails. Most of her work is coordinating the arrival of people with the Project Medishare staff in Miami, dealing with the needs of the volunteers currently on the ground, organizing transportation and showing visitors around the hospital. She spends a lot of her day answering questions as there are roughly 30 new people at the hospital every week. The weekends are particularly busy with the arrival and departure of the volunteer teams on Saturdays.

Rachel oversees approximately 35 to 50 volunteers each week at the hospital. The Project Medishare volunteers range anywhere in age from 18 to 65 years old and they come from everywhere. Many of the volunteers come from New York and Florida but Rachel said that they are now seeing more volunteers from Canada and the West Coast. Aside from her regular job responsibilities, she likes to play with the children around the hospital and feed babies in the Pediatrics ward. Each day she leaves the hospital between 7pm and 8pm. After work, Rachel goes home and cooks dinner. She then either studies, listens to the radio, reads or visits with other members of staff in the house. She normally goes to bed between 10pm and 11pm.

In Her Own Words

“I really like the mission and the staff. I just extended my time here to return to school full time in 2012 rather than in September since I felt I was learning so much from the managers I work with here at Project Medishare in Haiti. There is so much work to be done and encouraging people to engage in work to help others is a powerful way to change the way the world works. Making a good experience for the volunteers is a way to help widen the network of people willing to help others.  The experience leaves a lasting impression on you and one that makes people’s families and friends more aware of the needs here and in other places. The people that come to volunteer are inspired by our Haitian staff and by their fellow volunteers and go on to engage coworkers, family and friends in their own efforts. I love the enthusiasm and perspective that people bring every week.”

When asked what the most pressing needs are in her department Rachel said to donate “time! Come join us for a week or two. We need medical and some non-medical staff.” If you are interested in volunteering with Project Medishare, please click here!

Rachel Belt, Volunteer & Logistics Coordinator with a patient at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare

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By Gina Epifano, PT

There’s something about Haiti that gets into your heart and just won’t go away. It’s impossible to meet the people and not leave a piece of your heart behind. The only solution I have found is to keep going back!

I’ve volunteered as a physical therapist at Project Medishare three times since the earthquake, and am inspired by the transformation of the physical therapy department in one year.

Gina Epifano with Nadine who was recovering from skin graft surgery and walking for the first time!

In April of 2010, I had my first experience at Project Medishare’s Field Hospital as a PT. I spent my week in pediatrics, helping children learn to move and walk again.
Working at the tent hospital was a special experience…so many clinicians working together to save lives, doing whatever it took to get the job done. I knew I’d be back.

In June of 2010, I returned to Project Medishare, which had recently moved to new location and partnership with Hospital Bernard Mevs. The Rehabilitation Department at Hospital Project Medishare Bernard Mevs now consisted of two long-term American physical therapists. Jason Miller was beginning to develop an amputee program while Alyson Cavanaugh was creating a specialty rehabilitation program for spinal cord injury patients. They were also starting to train local Haitian rehabilitation technicians to assist in care provision. So much progress in two short months!

When returned to Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare this month, I was immediately aware of how far the Rehabilitation Department had come. I was whisked into an amputee running clinic that was being held as part of the grand unveiling of Project Medishare’s state-of-the-art Prosthetics Lab, built in partnership with Ossür and Knights of Columbus.

In September, Knights of Columbus began partnering with Project Medishare to provide every amputee children with a prosthetic limb and the physical therapy necessary to learn how to use the new limb. In addition, Jason has begun his own fundraising efforts through his website http://www.helpinghaitiamputees.com. Through the site Jason created, individuals can sponsor adult amputee patients to receive prostheses as well.

Rehabilitation department at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare. Photo courtesy of Gina Epifano.

Jeff Mcnutt, PT, has joined the long-term rehab team and manages the wound care program for both in-patients and out-patients. He continues to train local Haitian staff in appropriate wound care techniques. Locally trained technicians are now providing daily care in both out-patient PT and the Spinal Cord Injury Unit.

Project Medishare’s Rehabilitation Department has come a long way in a year, but there is still work to be done. Volunteers are still needed; supplies are still needed. Consider sharing your time and skills with our neighbors in Haiti. Maybe I’ll see you there…

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Donna Joyner dances with one of the children in the Project K.I.D. Network play area. Donna and her husband Tom Joyner, of the Tom Joyner Morning Show, volunteered their time at the Project Medishare Hospital in Port-au-Prince. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

This week Tom Joyner from the Tom Joyner Morning Show arrived with his wife, Donna, and several  colleagues, including his co-host Sybil Wilkes, to volunteer at the Project Medishare Hospital in Haiti.

American radio host, Tom Joyner, of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show sorts through medical supplies in the Project Medishare supply tent next to the hospital in Port-au-Prince. Tom along with his wife Donna and 11 others in their group, including Tom's co-host Sybil Wilkes, spent three days in Port-au-Prince volunteering at the Project Medishare Hospital in Haiti. Photo by jennifer Browning.

Instead of spending their entire Spring vacation in the Dominican Republic, the group decided to stop off for three days in Port-au-Prince to further understand the situation two months after the earthquake.

Upon arriving, the group toured the hospital  and eventually the city to survey the damage the January 12 earthquake left behind.

The next two days the Joyner party volunteered at the Project Medishare hospital. In the beginning, the group split up. Some chose to assist with organize the supply tent and while others worked with Project Medishare’s logistical team at the command center.

Thank  you all for taking time our on your vacation to volunteer with Project Medishare in our mission to help Haiti through this trying time!

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