Volunteer Shares Stories from Haiti

Guest post by Physicians for Peace

In February, Virginia Beach, Va., native Jake McCrowell was one of our volunteer physical therapists at the Hanger Clinic in Deschapelles, Haiti. Jake volunteered in Haiti for two weeks. While he was there, he helped discharge 14 patients and provided two, one-hour training sessions to Haitian technicians working at Hospital Albert Schweitzer.

Earlier this year, ChildFund International generously awarded Physicians for Peace, based in Norfolk, Va., a $500,000 grant to support our work in Haiti, including volunteer physical therapy missions.

Jake stopped by our office to report back on his mission and he was kind enough to share these patient stories. His reflections, and his photos, follow.


Jean, a Haitian amputee

Jean Baptiste

Jean Baptiste was an earthquake victim. He worked so hard because he knew that his family needed him. All of the patients understand that once they get those flesh-tone covers, they’re almost ready to go. He kept on asking me, “When do I get my covers?” He wanted to be back home, with his family, so much.

Haiti earthquake survivor

Oscar Pierre

Oscar Pierre taught me his own unique handshake. He was a bilateral above-the-knee amputee – which means he had to do an absurd amount of work to walk. Honestly, in the U.S., with that little leg remaining, I’m not sure the patient would walk again. I have this vivid memory of Oscar Pierre. We were working on fall recovery. I put him down on the floor and he pulled himself up on the first try. It was a lot of work, but he did it. We were all in disbelief. I’ll never see anything like that again.

Fitting a Haitan boy with prosthetics

With kids, you have to make therapy into play.

Here I am with Angela, a prosthetist from Denver representing Hanger Orthopedic Group. This little boy hadn’t ever had a prosthetic leg before. With kids, I learned that you have to make the therapy into play. We played soccer together. He could move pretty quickly!

Haiti earthquake survivor learns to walk again

Helping a patient learn to walk again.

Bilateral above the knees are hard to fit. This patient was a wonderful woman. At the clinic, patients have a lot of time to watch others receiving therapy. This lady spent a lot of time observing. You could tell she’d been paying close attention. She picked things up really fast.

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