Reflections: Brian Suehs-Vassel
“We found that our students, staff and faculty have the skill to help them in exactly the way they need.”
How many participated in the Haiti Project?
Seven in total. Myself, Marc Veletzos, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering; Kevin Melanson, Clinical Instructor, Sports Medicine, Margaret (Maggie) Jacques, civil engineering major; Dan Borges, civil engineering major; Mollie Fitzgerald, athletic training major; and Chelsea Jacoby, athletic training major.
Where did you stay?
We stayed at the private Medishare guest house in Thomonde, Haiti. On a few days, both teams worked together but on other days, they split up to focus on their own projects.
What services did your team provide?
The CE group’s focus was clean water. Many areas don’t have it and people are dying. Their natural water sources are contaminated and you can get cholera. There is a lot of need.
The athletic training group’s focus was to teach physical rehabilitation exercises and techniques to the healthcare workers who can than share them with the people in need.
Are the healthcare workers part of Medishare?
They are Project Medishare employees (Haitians). They have a hospital set up in town but it is hard for people to get from where they live to the hospital. They send healthcare workers into local communities, keep tabs on how things are going, and then prepare the communities for when Medishare brings them the mobile health clinics. They are a bridge to health care.
What does Haiti have to do with Merrimack College?
For me, the service with Medishare connects to our Catholic and Augustinian Mission. Augustine says, “One heart in God.” We are connected to the people in Haiti, one heart in God. They may be separated by hundreds of miles and in a different country but the sense is that they are jour brothers and sisters and there is a tremendous need. We found that our students, staff and faculty have the skill to help them in exactly the way they need. We have the gift and talents to respond to their needs. This is why we are there.
What kind of an impact did this service trip leave on you?
Service to others is what brings out an exciting life. Seeing our students discover a sense of vocation and a realization that they could serve others, not just volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, but as a professional person. That is an exciting thing to see.