MORTON, Ill. — Since 1985, the nonprofit organization Friends of the Children of Haiti has sent American volunteers to Haiti to help provide medical and educational services.
Nathan Ruby, executive director of the program, said they’re able to provide primary health care to approximately 15,000 Haitians a year when they conduct 4-6 medical clinics each year.
However, Ruby said that won’t necessarily be the case for the medical mission trip initially planned for January 2020.
“At this point because of the civil unrest that’s taking place, the decision was made to just leave the volunteers at home,” Ruby said. “A second issue or a second decision point was lack of resources.”
Ruby said the safety of the 15 volunteers is the organization’s biggest priority and the rise in violence and political turmoil going on in Haiti led to the decision to cancel what was supposed to be a surgical clinic trip.
He also said resources such as food, water, and fuel are very scarce in Haiti so it’s better for the Haitian people to use them.
One of the co-team leads for the trip, Joe Kelley, has been going to Cyvadier, Haiti since 2015 and said although he understands the reason, it’s unfortunate to have to cancel what would’ve been his fifth trip there.
“It’s disappointing, but I mean at the end of the day I think you feel the most sorrow for the Haitian people who may not get the care that they otherwise could have gotten,” Kelley said.
Ruby said due to the cancellation, the Haitian patients will miss out on the surgical and dental services until the next planned medical mission in early April.
However, he said the organization has an onsite staff of 35 Haitian employees working year-round to ensure patients still have the utmost care when the American volunteers can’t come.
Ruby also said one of the biggest downfalls of canceling the trip is the fact that there won’t be opportunities for personal interactions between the patients and the volunteers.
“Because this team can’t go … that human connection can’t take place and that might be the biggest loss of this trip,” Ruby said.
He said the organization has already had to cancel two trips this year, one medical and one educational, but he trusts they’ll be back in Haiti for the next trip in April.