Saturday, December 31, 2011

I am going to Haiti and I am bringing with me......

2- 50 pound suitcases full of medical supplies, soccer balls, school supplies, hygiene products, clothes...
1- small carry on suitcase packed with all my clothes, shoes, and power bars for the week
1- backpack stuffed with the medical nutrition binder for my assessments, a Bowes and Churches Calorie count book, a measuring tape, calculator, my cameras, and 2 Mother Teresa books.
1- brain full of nutrition related knowledge 

Ready or not.... the Healing Haiti "taxi" driver (aka my Uncle Tom) will be picking me up at 3 AM to get us to the airport with plenty of time to spare before our 6 AM flight to Miami. From Miami we will have a short layover and then have a 90 Minute flight to our destination... Haiti. Isn't it crazy-- just a 90 minute flight to this third world country!!

It will be my 3rd trip.. and a total of 40 days spent in  haiti over the past year! This trip I am going down with a different mission then my past few trips.. I have set plans and goals for things to be accomplished (we'll see how they go...). I will be doing nutrition assessments on all the kids (and hopefully the elderly) sponsored by Healing Haiti. I have created assessment sheets that cover areas such as height, weight, change in weight, food frequencies, current medical conditions, physical examinations, as well as feces samples. Several of the kids will be tested for parasites, which has a big impact on the nutritional needs. I have also have 100s of copies of the WHO (World Health Organization's) growth charts so that we can see which kids are at risk for stunting and malnutrition (Thanks to my dad for all his time spent making copies!!!). I am also analyzing the diets of the kids at the orphanage and making suggestions on how we can enhance their diets using the resources available to us in Haiti (as well as within our budget). I have created and gathered articles and references on recommended dietary intakes, food and cultural habits of Haitians, as well as different conditions that I might be faced with (malnutrition, parasitic infections, and lactose intolerance). My binder full of resources is pretty plump... but I am hoping it will be useful!!

I am grateful to have this opportunity to serve and to use the knowledge I have been blessed with to help enhance the quality of life of those living in absolute poverty. I am so thankful for the wisdom my teachers at St.Ben's have instilled in me-- preparing me for this journey ahead. I am so thankful for my preceptors and director for my dietetic internship program at The U of MN (as well as the student who switched rotation weeks with me) who have allowed me to take this time to travel to Haiti for my independent study week. I am thankful for all the donations that came this week, as well as those that participated in my metal-cross fundraiser in efforts to support this trip. I am so thankful for the many prayers and continued support from all my friends, families, co-workers, peers, and affiliates. 

I am looking forward to starting another New Years in Haiti!! :)

Just a cute prayer from one of my friends! 

A beautiful message from a dear friend of mine that gave me encouragement and reassurance.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Extreme Home Makeover: Haitian Style

If you've got five minutes to spare, watch this video. It is the most perfect video capturing the orphans sponsored by Healing Haiti as they move into their new home.... Grace Village. It's bound to make you laugh, you cry and above all SMILE.

"I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world." -Mother Teresa

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Planting Seeds in the Hearts of Our Youth

My dear friend, Maggie, is a 5th grade teacher in Nebraska. This year, the school Maggie teaches at is  doing a campaign for the people in Haiti. Upon watching a video about the children in Haiti, Maggie's classroom of students were moved by the stories and the pictures; they wanted to do something more. Maggie told them about me and how I have been there. She called me to tell me about what had happened amongst the children in her classroom. I told Maggie I was going to Haiti again soon and that if her classroom wanted to do a project for the kids in Haiti, I would be able to bring it down with me. We plotted and planned for a few months and decided that letters and pictures would be a great start to connecting the children in Nebraska with the kids in Haiti. While writing the letters to the children in Haiti, Maggie sent me an e-mail with a whole list of questions her fifth graders had about Haiti and the children in Haiti. Questions they had for me included: Can the kids in Haiti read/write in English?; How much money in US dollars is two Haitian dollars?; Do you need any donations when you go to Haiti?; Can my students come with you when you go to Haiti? ... Such egger hearts to learn and help the lives living in a third world country. A few days after the e-mail encounters, a package arrived at my door. The box was filled with some school supplies and letters from the classroom of fifth graders in Nebraska! I read through the letters... laughed at some, smiled at others, and teared up with joy for all of them. I had asked Maggie to have her kids write about winter and either what they like to do in winter or describing what snow is. Many of the kids drew pictures of snowman and snowflakes, as well as described what their favorite activities were. What blew my mind the most about these letters was the fact that many went above and beyond the calling to write cute little letters about snow, skating and snowball fights. The fifth grade children wrote things in their letters like "we are praying for you" ... "we are helping you out a lot." .. "remember we love and pray for you." ..."As much as I can, I will donate many things. I will pray for you always!!"... "keep praying to God. You're in my prayers"... "Love you guys".. "I wish I could meet you one day!" ... "Every night, I never forget to pray for you guys, I am not lying." .. and one of my favorites, " I love the snow, and if I could I would bring some to you. I pray for you every night and I hope when I am older I can come bring supplies, food, and clean water to you!" ... It just blows my mind how wonderful these kids are! I am so blessed that Maggie has shared with her students the impact they can have on the world; she has planted many seeds in the hearts of her children, and it makes me so proud to call her my friend. What an amazing teacher and inspiration for these children! The experience they are having learning about Haiti and interacting with the kids in Haiti will probably be one that they don't forget... I pray that God will continue to nourish these young hearts. 

Above are two of the pictures from the kids in Nebraska!! So cute! :)