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It's been three years since Haiti's devastating earthquake, and a fragile infrastructure still remains in most areas of the country. Though many still have no access to health clinics, progress is being made.
For three weeks this past May, a team of 15 BD employees - from Montreal to Nairobi to Oxford - left their day-to-day activities, traveling to five different Haitian cities with plans to make a long-term impact on the people. They set aside reliance on e-mail and cell phones to roll up their sleeves along with a trusted BD partner, Heart to Heart International.
Michael Zabetakis of Baltimore, Maryland, and the construction team are in the southeast region of Leogane - the epicenter of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 - working on the construction of a new clinic.
To the west, in Fondwa, where mules are still the local transport and the maladies there can include cholera, malaria, skin diseases and heart problems, team nurse Kelly Altman of Pont de Claix, France, cares for children by speaking to them in a familiar language.
In Cap Haitien to the north, Diriye Hassan Abdi of Nairobi, along with the BD lab trainers, visits laboratories to assess them to World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
This BD Volunteer Service Trip (VST) team was specially selected in a way that not only leverages their experience with BD, but also fills certain positions needed by Heart to Heart. From lab technologists and healthcare worker trainers to facilities/construction experts and communications specialists, the skill-sets are diverse, in demand and willingly offered by BD volunteers.
By trip's end, with their Heart to Heart counterparts, the BD VST team will have travelled more than 910 miles across Haiti to build and reconstruct clinics, instruct local caregivers on best practices for sample-collection and maternal-fetal care and, most importantly, treat those in need.
Vicky Ouimette, a Montreal-based Safety IV Specialist, felt the difference she made as a member of the VST team. "I believe this is just the beginning of a whole other project around more training and education to improve the health outcomes of women and children in Southeast Haiti. I plan on returning . . . without a doubt."
BD and Heart to Heart International: Volunteer Service Trip 2013 Video