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Anticipating the Beauty of Haitian People

Posted by Gayle Walter on May 31, 2016 7:45:48 AM

Who would have thought just a few months after initially meeting Sr. Karen Schneider RSM, MD, in early February, 2016, a Mercy College Faith and Healing Series speaker, I would be reconnecting with her for my first international flight at the Miami, Florida airport enroute to Gros Morne via Port au Prince, Haiti to assist with Mercy Focus on Haiti effort. 

Gros Morne, Haiti is a town of 30,000 serving a greater population of 130,000 located in the Northwestern portion of the Artibonite Valley. Via car it takes approximately five (5) hours to reach Gros Morne from the capital Port-au-Prince.

Sister_Karen_orig.jpgSr. Karen Schneider, RSM, MD Pediatric Emergency Physician and Assistant Professor of Pediatric
Emergency Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore, MD has traveled to Haiti and other areas of need around the globe providing medical care to community members. Sr. Karen views her career in medicine as encapsulating the 4th vow of service that a Sister of Mercy takes: to serve the poor, sick and uneducated.

By executing a formal site visit, I will be able to learn more about the Mercy Focus on Haiti effort to determine if this type of experience would be meaningful and feasible for the students at Mercy College. At the conclusion of her speaking engagement that night, I joined Sr. Karen for dinner and because of my personal and professional passion for public health, we immediately connected and I became intrigued by her adventures. The next day, I sent her an email and inquired when she would be going to Haiti next and if she wouldn’t mind if I “tagged along.” She replied back immediately and stated she would be going in June 2016, and I would be more than welcome to join her and a group from a Catholic high school in San Francisco. Her compelling storytelling shared with the group assembled at Mercy College included experiences of how she and her team of health care provideers performed numerous surgeries on the children of Haiti ranging from correcting club foot to repairing hernias.

I have shared this amazing news with family and friends, discovered funding resources to help with unmet costs, applied and received my first passport - am looking forward to getting a stamp from a foreign land, and received all of the necessary travel immunizations.

June is around the corner and I am preparing for my journey.

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Gayle Walter, PhD, MPH, CHES
Associate Professor;
Public Health Program Chair,
Mercy College of Health Sciences

I am looking forward to spending the next week in Haiti to learn about the culture, complete service projects, to suggest programs based on my educational background in public health, and to gather information on how a partnership with Focus on Haiti could benefit both Mercy College and the community of Gros Morne.

Topics: Servant Leadership, Sisters of Mercy, Haiti