On Tuesday, our friends from Food for The Poor (FFTP) brought us to visit Dr. Michel Henry Brutus and his unbelievable creation, H.E.L.P. (Health Education Learning Project). H.E.L.P. has received medical supplies from MedShare through our partnership with FFTP.
Dr. Brutus, a Harvard trained physician, had spent time at the location as a child and returned to visit 15 years later, only to be astonished by the dramatic differences between his childhood memories and Haiti’s then current state. Determined to help, beginning in 1992 he expanded his father’s health mission by adding a school, which is one of two structures still standing after the 2010 earthquake; their hospital, unfortunately, collapsed. Today, H.E.L.P. focuses not only on vaccinations, nutrition, etc., but also on health awareness through education. The school was filled with little munchkins ranging from 2 to 15 years old, each more adorable than the next. We walked by their classrooms, snapping pictures of the students who were excited to see visitors.
As I watched them rub their hands together, both to spread the hand-sanitizer and in anticipation for their mid-day snack, I couldn’t helped think back to Dr. Brutus’ mission of health awareness; hopefully at home these children will think to wash their hands before dinner now, too. After wolfing down their mini loaves of bread, the kids began to converse with us in their native Creole and we struggled to respond in any way we could. Amazed by the cameras, big trucks and people interested in them, the children, needless to say, were glowing. Grabbing friends to have their picture taken, the innocence and happiness of each kid was undeniable, leaving us impressed by these genuinely good children despite the unfortunate situation they have been forced to endure.
While members of MedShare and Food For The Poor distributed bags of rice with spices to children for them to take home, I sat down and two boys followed. Unable to speak with one another in any of the four languages between us, I pulled out my notebook and passed one of them a pen. Soon, two pages in my notebook were scribbled with nine names written in English and practically perfect cursive.
Waving our final goodbyes through the windows as we drove off, all of us still ranting about how cute, energetic, and wonderful the kids were, I returned to what Dr. Brutus told us when we first arrived. While a lot of pain and damage can be caused in 15 years, a lot of great and beautiful progress can happen in the same amount of time with a little bit of effort and a lot of love, as Brutus has proved himself. As for replacing his beloved hospital, Dr. Brutus’ final comment to us was “The Phoenix will rise again.” We have no reason to doubt this as his perseverance and commitment is clear to all who meet him.
By Sarah Irwin, a senior at Bard High School Early College in New York City