Dr. Eben Carsey reflects on his time in Haiti
“I am a pediatrician who was first introduced to the Colorado Haiti Project by Deacon Pat Laudisio at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Boulder. She brought Rev. Ed Morgan, one of the founders of the Project and with whom she had traveled to the Project site in Haiti, to speak and show slides. This introduction swept me up so that, with the support of my wife, a pediatric nurse practitioner who had worked for several years in Africa, the two of us were very soon on a medical mission trip to Haiti in 1999—10 years after the Project was started. It was an unforgettable trip that brought us to know many of the people at St. Paul’s Church and School, near Petit Trou de Nippes, as well as the other two Project founders, Rev. Dale Casey and Rev. Octave Lafontant. Although I was able to treat many children for a variety of problems and probably save at least one life, there was much that I could not do since we had limited medications, no lab or X-ray, and were only there for a week. I was much more impressed with the generous hospitality, resourcefulness, and endurance of the people, with whom I realized I had more in common than I had imagined. I came away with a strong sense of the interdependence that everyone shares requiring the graciousness of each other and of the Whole of life. I learned that what our work there lacked in what we could actually do to improve the health of the people, it made up for in the relationships that were being built.
Since then, I have made 10 more trips to our Project area in rural Haiti. Whenever I would miss a year or so, on my return people would ask how I had been and remark that they missed me the last time. I was asked to join the CHP Board and health committee in 2006. The new chairperson was interested in working more to support the people to better establish and improve their healthcare infrastructure and public health from the village health worker level, addressing, as much as possible, the priorities that they expressed. This has been very challenging for everyone. Rather than doing whatever we want and think is best, we are struggling together with Haitians, from peasants to professionals of many kinds, to understand and respond across large language, cultural, and socioeconomic differences. Only the many early years of relationship building have made this possible. But anything short of this fosters Haitian dependency and North American exaggerated self-importance. “