One of the things I’ve always loved about this field is that we get to make a tangible difference in peoples’ lives. Getting up, out of bed and into work can mean Ms. Smith gets to walk on her preparatory prosthesis for the first time or Mr. Jones will walk out of the office behind the wheelchair he arrived in. I love the joy that comes with making a difference.
Sometimes in life, we do not get to see first-hand the results of our efforts.
The first time I left Haiti at the end of August 2010, I knew the work started would continue. Vern Hostettler took over from me and I had the confidence that he would continue on in the training of the technicians and running of the clinic. But, a part of me was saddened that I wouldn’t get to see the results.
But, I did.
After Vern, followed Brandon Khoury, Chris Blades and Spencer Mion. Jay Tew also returned for a stint in early 2011. Last October I had the honor of returning to Klinik Hanger and seeing how far the efforts of so many had gone. The Haitian technicians: Alix, Tcho, Joel, and Cira were taking charge and almost running the clinic. When the patients arrived they would flock to the front, grab patient charts and escort the patients to the rooms to make a repair, take a new cast, or do a fitting. I watched in giddy satisfaction to see a clinic that needed very little of my help. Our education program has been a success – we not only have provided prosthetic care, but taught Haitians how to care for Haitians, creating a lasting impact. Those with limb loss in the Artibonite region of Haiti no longer have to take multiple tap-taps (a Haitian form of transportation) and struggle to get to Port-au-Prince to receive care. Mothers of children born in this area with a limb deficiency will no longer agonize over if their child will have a chance to walk, play, or kick a ball like other kids. And, in Deschapelles, amputees receive respect and excellent care to get them back to living. This care, for the most part, isn’t coming from a “blanc” but from another Haitian who speaks their language, knows their culture, and will be there for them for years to come.
Talk about job satisfaction!
For each and every person who contributed and continues to contribute to the Hanger Ivan R. Sabel Foundation in Haiti, thank you for the impact and difference you’ve made!