Why give to children in another country when there is so much need here? Why yet another fund-raiser for Haiti? My answer to these questions is both simple and complex. Many of us believe in the inter-connectedness of all humans, no matter one’s country of birth. We all have a right to life, freedom, and basic healthcare services – this is especially true for children.
Beyond philosophical or spiritual reasons, though, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. With a growing population, the country continues to struggle with training an adequate number of professionals such as physicians. The 2010 Earthquake only made an already challenging situation worse. However, in the aftermath of the Earthquake several physicians from across the U.S. banded together in a commitment to help improve the healthcare situation in Haiti. From the rubble emerged the St. Damien Collaborative, which supports the work of Haiti’s only dedicated children’s hospital.
Haitians are mountain folk, much like we are here in East Tennessee. In fact the name “Haiti” originates from the original Aboriginal Indians who inhabited the island and translates to “high ground.” Mountain folks are tough. They are resilient. But there are particular challenges for those living in difficult to reach mountainous areas. There is a saying in Haiti “Dèyè mòn, gen mòn” — “Beyond mountains, there are more mountains.” In other words after you have crossed one mountain (or challenge) there is always another one to climb. It can feel defeating especially for a country that has endured so many difficulties. With the St Damien Collaborative we hope to take a fresh approach to the problem. If we only help when a disaster strikes, indeed we will just keep climbing the same mountains over and over again. Therefore how can we work together with Haiti to move mountains? Our collaborative has a long-term commitment to assist in the training of the country’s future Pediatricians. In 2016 St. Damien graduated its first class of Pediatric Residents, and now with continued support from US partners St Damien is offering further sub-specialty training for Pediatricians.
Let’s stop climbing the same mountains over and over again, and instead join with our Haitian colleagues to move mountains together. Thank you so much for your time and generosity in supporting the St. Damien Collaborative!