Earlier this year, Angela and Darby, two incredible nurses from Arizona, made a trip to Haiti to provide medical care for families in rural villages. We asked them to share their experience and why they left feeling inspired and revived.
Name: Angela Spahr and Darby Ball
Profession: ER Nurses
Tell us about your trip to Haiti.
AS: We provided medical and dental care in five remote villages throughout Haiti. We cared for approximately 1800 Haitians. We typically see a household at a time, and assess each individual to determine what medical needs we can assist with.
DB: Many of these people have never received medical care. We brought all of our own supplies from the States and set up inside of churches, schools, underneath trees, and inside under utilized medical buildings. People waited outside for hours and every family was so grateful for our care. We went on some home visits as well where we traveled to visit Haitians that were too ill to travel to clinic.
As a nurse, what is your favorite part of making these trips?
AS: My favorite part about making these trips is learning about the specific diseases that impact these impoverished areas, and how we can educate them to prevent the spread of disease.
DB: As a nurse I was so thankful for my education and being able to share that with other people. We were able to share with the Haitian people all of the amazing things our bodies can do. We were able to teach breastfeeding moms how they can breast feed as well as pump and be able to feed more of their children with their extra breast milk. How amazing is that? That the human body can continue to produce milk that can sustain more than one child – pretty miraculous to me. Those interactions were some of the most special to me. Where we could empower the people just by showing them all the things their body can do.
Would you encourage other nurses to take a similar trip?
AS: I would encourage anybody involved in healthcare to embark on a mission to a third-world country. It is not only a humbling experience, but a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about yourself and become immersed into the culture of another country.
DB: I would strongly encourage other nurses to take these trips. We are so privileged here in the States. The amount of resources we have here is astonishing and something you might not appreciate until you see how little other countries have. As a medical professional, I believe we have a duty to serve those around us. If given the opportunity to travel out of the country and see what health care is like in other places, I strongly encourage others to do so!
What is one of the most powerful nursing lessons you learned during this trip?
AS: Haitians are very resilient, and grateful for our time and resources. It is a beautiful thing to see. These trips remind me why I chose healthcare as my career. Working in the busiest ER in Arizona has its ups & downs, but going on a trip like this always gives me a fresh outlook and lets me recharge.
DB: I learned that as a nurse there are more ways to communicate other than verbally. We had language barriers, and although we had translators, I felt most connected with the patients when I shared a smile with them or gave them a hug. I think that is something we miss in the States, the power of touch.
What is a word of encouragement you would give to a nurse heading out on their first trip?
AS: You are amazing! This experience will forever change you! Be sure to do your research on the CDC website to be sure to protect yourself from the communicable diseases prior to taking your journey.
DB: Go for it! It’s an indescribable experience and truly life changing!