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Returning with Hope

April 2, 2009

Excerpts from written reflections by Kacy Cox, a nurse and a member of the March 2009 team:

Arrival: This has been an incredible experience so far. I am surprised that Haiti is on an island in the Caribbean, next to places like the Grand Cayman Island or Aruba or even Jamaica. The flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince was only a few hours and I have never seen poverty like this before: No safe, clean city of refuge. No tourism. Town after town of blank stares, dusty roads, shacks destroyed by the flooding … When we got to Terre Blanche, the people started to wave with lit up faces. They know the visiting medical team that came to the clinic. It felt like we were friends and not just strange white people. The clinic is bright and welcoming, beautiful clean white floors. There is a small church out front, a soccer field, a school. Truly, there is hope in an area that has a lot of reason to be hopeless.

Clinic: Today I saw a woman in her 60s, 86 pounds, with a left foot swollen to about three times the size of her right. She has a rare tropical disease called filariasis. There is no cure. Her foot will continue to swell, up until it reaches her groin when it will start to be really painful. She has acid reflux and diarrhea and malaria too. I gave her some different prescriptions and showed her how to wrap her leg to help with the swelling, but I did not heal her. I helped her slip her dusty sandals back on and watched her hobble to the pharmacy, while I raised my hand for the next patient. Some things we see are difficult.

Returning home: It was quite the week. We saw 1,039 patients in five days. Some notable events: Toward the end of the week, the doctors had to break the news to two of our patients they had HIV/AIDS. We started a number of children on Medika Mamba, a lifesaving supplement for severely malnourished kids. We took turns holding a newborn whose mother died in childbirth this week, the father staring blankly beside a neighbor who brought the baby in. I did two surgeries, prescribed medications, and began to reconsider what my future is in nursing. We nursed a child with malaria on the edge of death back to health. Two babies were born. And in the midst of it all, I experienced a bit of what life is like in this country not so far from our own…

When I left, I was in a flurry of activity, stressed out by areas of my life that seemed to be spinning out of control. I return humbled, quiet, and broken as I reflect on the magnitude of blessings I have been given. When I came into my house, I locked the door securely behind me and I didn’t have to worry about dirt floors getting muddy from the rain. I slept in a warm bed. This morning, I took a long, hot shower. I chose my breakfast from of a fridge full of food. I washed my clothes by throwing them into a machine. And I don’t really understand how to make sense of the stark contrast…

I feel as though I return with hope, even though I have seen the very edge of despair. God has once again surprised me in the way that He works, in the grace that so often seems too good to be true. I think that the next few weeks, readjusting will be quite challenging, but I say without a doubt that I am so glad to have gone. Will I go back? I hope so and I hope sooner rather than later.

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