02 October 2011

Haiti is roosters crowing at dawn, drums in the night, coffee plucked wild from mountainsides, and rum from ancient iron kettles

Sunday brings us to our last full day at the hospital. It is a day full of mixed feelings as I wish to stay much longer. We spend much of the time ensuring everything is set with both the Hanger Clinic and physical therapy clinic at the hospital so that the therapy may continue once we have left. We leave the duffel bag full of sneakers Brittany and Lina brought with the Hanger Clinic and the donated medical supplies to the hospital.

A newly arrived surgeon from explains to me that he has a patient back in New York with severe phantom pain and I teach him the mirror box therapy so that his patient may be helped when he returns.

As we bid our many new friends Au Revoir tonight we hope to return very soon. Haiti has an incredibly complex history with foreigners (“blancs”) to say the least yet I've never felt so welcomed. Locals come up to me freely and take me on tours of their schools, to the markets underneath tarps and past labyrinths of vendors. There is beautiful art everywhere one goes. Asking someone here what their art is would be comparable to asking someone what their favorite color is back in the States: everyone has one. On the same day, I walk through the open corridors of the hospital with dozens of patient beds crowded together (those with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases abreast those without), past the malnutrition ward, and relief tents housing the overflow of cholera patients. These conditions further my commitment to help others through medicine. Being in the minority here has taught me to view the world from a different perspective, as well as deepened my knowledge and appreciation of sustainable philanthropy.

Organizing and leading this research project involved complex logistics for travel, safe accommodation, recruitment of patients, and experimental design. The footprint was left for the scaling and on-going practical implementation of this inexpensive and non-intrusive therapy. This trip is an extension of my career goal of not only using research as a tool to develop simple yet effective treatments for neurological disorders, but bringing them directly to the (phantom) hands of those that need them.


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