Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane....Soon!

Our Itinerary:  
May 25th: Leave from O'Hare airport, Chicago for Miami, FL (we will spend the night in the Miami airport)
May 26th: Leave bright and early from Miami to arrive in Port Au Prince
May 27th: We will take a van from Port au Prince to Les Cayes.The drive is about 4 – 5 hours depending on how bad traffic is in getting out of Port au Prince and then slightly when going through the epicenter of where the earthquake was because the roads are still bad. We will drive into the town of Les Cayes and reside in Simone, a small "suburb" of Cayes. It is located in southwest Haiti.

Our trip:
After the devestation of the earthquake and the cholera outbreak, Haiti has gained lots of recognition in the news for the need to provide assistance to the poorest country in the world. What many do not know is that more than a year after the earthquake which killed greater than 230,000 people (many, many more, as this number is from March 2010), it left another 1.3 million homeless, and many others injured. The conditions in Haiti remain grim and it is a safety concern to travel to Haiti. Yet, just 40% of the population has access to basic health care and there is a chronic shortage of health care personnel, and hospitals lack resources, a situation that became very apparent after the earthquake.

Fast facts about Haiti:

  • Population: ~9,719,932 
  • ~50% literacy rate, >80% of college educated Haitians have emigrated, mostly to the USA
  • >80% of Haitians live in poverty (54% in “abject” poverty)
  • 2/3 of Haitians are unemployed
  • Religion: 50% of the population practices voodoo
  • -Ranked #1 in the world for death rate (heavily influenced by the 2010 earthquake)
  • -Life expectancy at birth: 62.17 years
  • ~30,000 cases of malaria each year
  • 10x the rates of tuberculosis of other countries
  •  >230,000 people killed from the earthquake,  >1,000,000 left homeless 

We are 5 physical therapy students (actually not anymore... graduates! WAHOO!) who have been moved by the conditions in Haiti and feel called to use our physical therapy skills to serve the surrounding communinities in Haiti.We are going through a volunteer program called “The Advantage Program” which aims to meet the physical and spiritual needs of persons with disabilities in Haiti. The goal is to provide long-term, sustainable assistance to those who need it, regardless of religion, creed or ability to pay. For almost 3 weeks, we will be volunteering at Advantage Clinic where we will treat people with a wide variety of injuries, diseases and disabilities. We will mainly work at this clinic, but there are also times where we will travel and work at other locations. We will return to the states on June 12th, just in time to take boards and finally become "real" PTs!

Thank you for all your support in many ways! Without you, our trip would not have been possible. Keep following our blog as we begin our adventure!

As pictured: Lauren McCray, Maureen Cutrera, Tricia Wong, Kara O'Malley, & Amanda Buerger

Information about Medical Teams International and the Advantage Clinic:

pictures of the clinic:

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