Helping Haiti

By Emma Purce

Haiti is a beautiful country known for its thousands of miles of gorgeous coastline and its mountainous regions. Recently Ren Brown, an MPH junior, spent some time there while on a trip. Brown, however, wasn’t in Haiti to see the sights, she was there to help locals.

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Ren Brown and a Marcellus senior who helped collect donations posing when they had first arrived in Haiti

Brown joined a mission trip to Haiti alongside her father Stephen Brown, an OB/GYN. Brown is interested into going into the medical field, so this trip allowed her to not only help others, but also get hands-on experience. Brown experienced many incredible things while in Haiti, and met many amazing people.

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Ren Brown and her father, Dr. Stephen Brown

Brown and the other members of the mission trip worked triage in a local hospital, performing surgeries on the locals. During the first day, Brown was wary of going into the operating room.

“I was a little timid to go into the OR at first, just because I didn’t want to be in the way. So I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll just help in triage,’” Brown said.

Instead of watching or assisting in the OR at first, Brown instead turned to triage and quickly found that they were unorganized and something needed to be done. They were receiving many patients and very quickly got disorganized, so Brown, with some help, created a rudimentary medical records system in order to stay organized and on top of things.

Eventually, Brown worked up the courage to step into the OR.

“I ended up helping and assisting on surgeries such as hernias, so I actually got the chance to close up a hernia surgery and do some stitches. I got the chance to, I wouldn’t say remove, but definitely help remove, some cysts. It was fun, there was a lot of lumps and bumps, [and] a lot of hernias,” Brown said.

Brown enjoyed both sides of the work she did, both the triage and the operating.

“I’m very organized, I like organization, so I liked both the triage part where we were organizing everything and I also did enjoy surgeries as well, but [they’re] nerve wracking,” Brown said.

While working in Haiti, Brown was able to meet many incredible people, including the group’s translator, Dominic. Dominic was a 28 year-old who had learned English in high school, and hadn’t gone on to college, but was still eager to learn English, and he and Brown were fast friends.

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The group’s translator, Dominic, posing with his girlfriend and son outside of their home

“[Dominic] was just so eager to learn, and we like clicked. He was so fun. The most surprising thing [about the trip], was that I could just meet someone like from a totally different walk of life like that and click with them and have so much fun and dance and goof off and just make jokes,” Brown said.

With some help from Dominic, Brown and the others on the trip were able to quickly earn the trust of the locals, who welcomed them with open arms.

“[The locals] just trusted us to help them and they welcomed us with open arms. Honestly I couldn’t imagine meeting someone two hours before surgery and going in and them just giving me local anesthesia, and just sitting through surgery. It was honestly incredible. Like we weren’t anyone, we couldn’t even speak their language. We could not tell them what they needed to do after the operation,” Brown said.

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Ren Brown playing soccer with local children

Brown loved her experience in Haiti so much that she’s already working on going back there. She’s currently working on fundraising and collecting the needed supplies in order to be able to plan another trip to Haiti, or to potentially go on a mission trip to another country.

“[Mission trips are] definitely something that I want to keep working on. Hopefully it’s going back to Haiti, but mission trips are definitely something I want to see in my future and keep going with,” Brown said.