Loaded the plane and ready for takeoff! The best birthday present EVER! Miami than Port au Prince. Please keep my teammates in your prayers. Thank you so much to everyone who has made this trip possible!
Oh my! One of the most nerve wracking things on my to do list for my mission trip to Haiti- right after renewing my passport-- was getting the right immunizations. There's not a whole lot of information tailored to Haiti regarding what types of shots you'll need, so I'm hoping this blog post will help ya. The State Department website is very informative, but honestly a little scary to learn all the things that could possibly go wrong... Between me and you, I stopped reading after the section about how riding on "tap-taps" (Haitian cabs) is strongly discouraged because I know we will be riding them, and I don't want to be terrified! So here's a list of what was recommended to me- less restrictive than what might be recommended by the government. By the way, I highly recommend going to a "Passport Health" if you have one. The downside to this company is that it's privately owned, and they only accept a few insurance companies. They'll give you a customized booklet tailored for your trip and help you feel more confident. If you don't have a Passport Health, your local clinic should have the shots you need or be able to point you in the right direction. A word of caution, my local clinic was completely booked about 6 weeks before my trip as they only give international shots once a week- so if you can, call them at least a few months before your trip.
Here's my list:
1. Flu- get this shot not for you, but for those you'll be serving who may have weaker immune systems and less access to health care if they do get sick. You could be carrying the flu virus and not know it when you go.
2. T-Dap- (Combined Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis Vaccines). I had gotten this two years ago when my niece was born, so I was off the hook.
3. Hepatitis A- This is a two dose shot, 6 months apart. I'll get my second next summer but should be good to go in the meantime.
4. Hepatitis B- A three shot series, 30 days apart. I'll have my 2nd round the day I return.
5. Typhod Fever- you don't even want to mess with this!
6. I'll get a TB test 6 months after I get back to see if I was exposed... Apparently there's no vaccine for this but there are ways to treat it.
7. Prescription for Malarone (anti- malarial pills). I'll start taking these a few days before and end a few days after. I was told not to get the generic version because they can have a side effect of digestion issues. These are taken daily. There is another kind you can take weekly but the side effects are trippy so check that out if you go that route.
8. Prescription for Cipro- this is an anti-biotic that I have in case of emergency (traveler's diareah).
I'm also taking a pro-biotic pill - these can be taken starting up to a month before your trip.
One last note-- there's no vaccine currently available in the US for cholera- an epidemic that has killed over 8,000 Haitians since 2010. Best bet is to not drink the water- including using tap water to brush teeth or even eating fruits with skin like bananas without washing them with bottled water. Or so they tell me.
Also, before taking any of this on, you'll want to call your insurance company to see what is covered and what isn't. My insurance company hooked me up and is paying for 80% of all international shots and will pay for any medical emergency in Haiti. The shots can get pretty pricey without insurance coverage and that may factor into your decision on which ones to get. But also- some of the shots- like the flu and the tetanus and possibly the Hepatitis might be covered even if your policy doesn't cover international shots.
Hope this helped a little bit... I'm not an expert by any means but wanted to shed a little light on the experience for those traveling to Haiti or just curious!
It is amazing how God works. One day a few weeks ago, I was stressing about not having a camera for the trip, and being a journalist, I really want to take tons of pictures and videos to show others when I get back. I thought about how amazing it would be to have a GoPro for the trip, however, these cameras are pretty expensive and there's no way I'd be able to buy one right now. The thought crossed my mind to ask for one for Christmas or my birthday, but I didn't want to ask for something so extravagant. I realized my dad had a point and shoot Canon, and was excited when he agreed to loan it to me. However, one look at the screen told me it was broken. I was back to obsessing over GoPros and spent the majority of my day researching and trying to find a cheap(er) one online... when I decided to take a break and run a few errands. The first person I see when I step outside is my (very nice) neighbor, Dave, who is out walking his dog, Bluto. The first thing he says to me- without me even mentioning cameras or Haiti- is, "Oh, I've been meaning to ask you, do you want to borrow my GoPro for Haiti?" WHAT?!?!?! Can you believe it? Not only do I have a camera for Haiti, I have the exact camera I'd been wishing for. Not only that, Dave is also loaning me a point and shoot camera for still shots. Now I am obligated to use this blessing to help the cause of the orphan and to come back with some nice photos and videos! Beyond blessed to have this opportunity. I'm reminded of one of the miracles of Jesus, the coin in the fish's mouth (Matthew 17:24-27) when Jesus surprises Peter by providing the exact amount of money he needed for his taxes in a fish that Peter catches. Katie Davis talks about this in her book, Kisses from Katie: "The funniest thing about this story to me is that Jesus could have just handed Peter the money... but Jesus wanted to come through bigger than that for Peter. I believe that He delighted in Peter so much that He wanted to put this element of surprise and hilarity in his day." Isn't our God neat?? It's really neat, I think, to see this fun side of God that delights in surprising us, and who provides for us in unexpected ways. Matthew 14:31: Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (more to come about how the trip came together!)
All of a sudden, I felt really cold and strange. I'd never felt like this before, expect maybe the last time I'd done this, in college. Although everything about the environment felt sterile, I felt dirty. I looked down at the needle and tube running through my arm, and the machine spinning and whirling to separate my blood platelets from what could be sold to a pharmaceutical company and the rest that would be returned to my body. I must have looked nervous, because a man across from me asked, "First timer?" He had unkempt brownish grey hair and a long beard, his shoes and pants covered in dust and dirt. We shared a laugh- me, thankful to have someone to emphathize with, and I briefly wondered what others would think of me donating plasma with what looked to be a homeless man.
I guess I didn't look like the typical plasma donor- if there is a "typical look," although there were several college guys filing out paperwork the same time I was. I was embarassed about halfway through my physical, when I was asked, "Do I know you?" I dread the question anywhere, and here it was doubly embarassing. My typical response, "Do you watch Daybreak?" was greeted with a, "Yes, I knew that was you!" Some people may assume the life of a TV anchor or working in local news is glamorous. But the truth is, we clip coupons, we shop at discount stores for the best bargains like everyone else, discontinue our cable when times get tough, and at least for this girl, we sometimes go to extreme lengths like donating plasma to pay for ambitions out of our budget.
For me, that was a desire to go to Haiti. Desire almost isn't the right word for it- hunger, thirst, maybe. It was a trip I'd been wanting to take for years, and for different reasons, it just didn't work out. It wasn't my time. The only way I can really describe my desire to go is that perhaps it was a calling. "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."- Anais Nin.
Several times since I was in high school, I'd been on the verge of going to other places - Nicaragua, Niger. It had never worked out- and probably for good reason. But this time, it would work out. This time, I would finally get to visit the orphans who had been on my mind for years. The question for me was... how? How would I swing this- with very limited vacation days, and virtually no resources to pay for a trip as expensive as this?
"Oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt me?"
Little did I know, God would provide everything I needed for the trip, and in bigger ways than I could have ever imagined.
TO BE CONTINUED (will write more when I'm not falling asleep!)...
P.S. I'm using an old blog to post this... it's over four years old! So I apologize for the old posts. Perhaps they will provide some entertainment for the extremely bored :)