In my sophomore year of high school, I joined a medical team to Haiti led by my mother. Throughout my life, my mother had been on many medical mission trips to third-world countries, but I had never gone with her. My mother is a pediatrician and enjoys providing free medical care to people who live in poverty. I had always wondered whether I would be able to go with her.
The medical team went to Haiti during spring break last year. When we left, I knew very little about Haiti, except that over 3 million people had been affected by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake there in 2010. The earthquake had caused major damage in Port-au-Prince, the very place our medical team was going.
To be honest, I wasn’t ecstatic about traveling outside the country to help people I didn’t know. Though I understood the purpose of the journey, it sounded like a lot of boring hours of hard work. Little did I know that in just eight days, my perception of mission trips would drastically change. From the moment I left the airport, I witnessed things that were literally life-changing. Words cannot describe the unbearable poverty I saw in Port-au-Prince. There were many destroyed buildings, homeless citizens and, most importantly, helpless children.
On the first day, our host welcomed us into his guest house and fed us rice, bread, and salad. We worked eight hours a day for six days. I worked in a medical clinic, sorting prescription medicines, handing out donated clothes that we had brought with us, and being a scribe for one of the four doctors in the clinic. The days seemed to go faster as the week went on.
I wouldn’t say that I had fun, but I enjoyed the experience of helping others who are genuinely in need. Seeing the grateful smile on a Haitian’s face was truly a blessing unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.