Dr. Hurt Returns to Haiti
- Posted on: Jul 30 2019
I recently returned from Haiti, my 10th annual trip. Each year is a new adventure. This year I had my first opportunity to go up to the mountains in the interior of the island. Normally, I travel to towns near the coastline where the main road traverses northward from Port-au-Prince.
On the first day of clinic, our team traveled to Fondol, a small village in the mountains. We took an old school bus for the first leg of the trip. The road was a combination of dirt, sand and crushed rock with gullies of erosion crisscrossing it. It was a road that would be labeled “Four-wheel Drive Only” in the States, but our bus made it just fine…slowly. After about 45 minutes, the bus could not go any further, so we loaded our equipment into two pickup trucks and hiked up the road another 30 minutes. When the trucks could not go any further either, the villagers came out and grabbed our equipment to help us up. For the last 10 minutes of the hike, many of the local women were walking/climbing with 40 lb. boxes and tubs of supplies on their heads!
Once we arrived at the little church on the top of the hill, we could see their village on the other side and the lush green mountainside. This is in direct contrast to the Haiti that we were familiar with in the lower areas. There, the foliage is sparse and everything seems to be covered with a layer of dust.
We were a little disappointed to see that there were only six patients waiting for the two dentists and myself; however, as word spread throughout the village that we had arrived, the line soon grew. We saw patients all day long.
There was one patient in particular that I can’t get out of my mind. Until two years ago, he was a normal, active adult. Now, at 30 years old, he is totally blind with cataracts on both eyes. His mother led him up to me and helped him into the chair. It didn’t take long for me to see what the problem was. From several feet away you could see that his pupils were white instead of black, a sign of dense cataract. Due to the expense, the family can not even consider traveling to Port-au-Prince to have surgery. Most of the time, the Haitian people will simply accept their plight, instead of considering surgery. And so it was with this young man.
Hopefully, that is not the end of the story. I’m determined to find the right agency that can affordably perform a surgery for him. I have been talking to agencies that are based in Haiti and I believe we will find a way to restore his sight.
The team hiking back down after clinic
Our restroom when we reached the top
Young man blinded by cataracts
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