By: Stephanie Willney
Stephanie, a 3rd year vet student at the University of Illinois, recently traveled to Haiti for the second time. Her team of 4 (1 vet, 2 other students) worked alongside Dr. Kelly Crowdis, setting up clinics, treating animals, and loving on people! This experience was just as life changing as the first! Here are her thoughts.
Wow, did those 8 days in Haiti go by fast! The mission trip went better than we ever could have imagined. God used this trip to teach me so much about myself, the people of Haiti and the importance of community.
During our trip, we held 4 days of clinics in small towns all throughout the south, basing our travels out of Les Caye and Pestel. Traveling took time as many of these towns required driving up mountain roads that were rarely paved. Upon arriving at our clinic site though, I was always taken aback by the beauty of the scenery and the hospitality of the people.
Before treating any patients, Eittiene, the community leader we worked with, explained to the Haitians the importance of community. He shared that we left our community in America to assist their community in Haiti. He encouraged the people to reflect on this and challenged them to think of ways to help their community and others.
In speaking to the people whose animals we worked on (through my broken Creole and help of translators) I learned that we were challenging their views not only of animals, but also of principles. One man shared with me how much of an impact was being made on the people when they saw American women (who are thought highly of) caring for animals which are often thought to be beneath people in the Haitian culture. I pray that this observation can encourage the people to treat their animals, who give them so much in ways of nourishment and finances, kindly and with reverence.
Another person I spoke with remarked how well the team worked together, how much we respected each other and how organized we were. Many of the struggles the country of Haiti faces not only come from extreme poverty and government corruption, but lack of organization. It’s not uncommon to find unfinished roads or public health projects; even the memorial to those lost in the earthquake in 2010 is unfinished. Our team met weekly for months before this trip to grow together in God’s love spiritually and personally. It’s amazing to see the fruits of this decision and how it has the potential to effect a community. I pray that those who witnessed us working together may feel inspired to become involved in organized projects in their community or even start some of their own!
During our clinics, we completed a variety of routine vaccinations and surgeries however we also saw some very sick animals. A sheep with oral screwworms and an umbilical abscess, a goat with a neck abscess…the list goes on! With the help of Dr. Kelly Crowdis and Dr. Brad Coolman, two talented American veterinarians who were coaching and leading us on this trip, we were able to successfully treat these animals. We learned that in the Haitian culture, effectively treating these animals translated to the owners being able to sell them to get money for important purchases such as one year’s tuition for their children’s school.
How amazing to know that God used our veterinary skills to positively impact someone’s future.