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17052: O'Brien RE: 17041: Pierre: Reply to Corbett and Corbett replies to Pierre (fwd)

From: Martha O'Brien <mmcpeob@earthlink.net>

My own experience has been much like Bob's.  Although the number of people
I have had the pleasure of introducing to Haiti is much smaller than his,
the results are much the same.  Most of the people who have travelled with
me have been students who had to find a way to pay for their trip--not
always an easy task with tuition being what it is these days.  I am quite
sure that none of them would have been inspired to cough up more or less
$1000 to donate outright.  But not a single one of them has regretted
spending the money on the trip.  In fact, one young woman referred to it as
"the best $1000 (she) ever spent."  I'd call that a fairly ringing

That same young woman arranged to do one of her rotations for the Physician
Assistant program at Hopital Ste. Croix in Leogane.  (As a matter of fact,
she was determined enough to return to Haiti that she got all the
information and set up the rotation herself because no one in the
department was able to help her with the logistics--something which is
usually done for the students.)

The large majority of the previous participants continue to support our
fund-raising efforts even after they have graduated--fund-raising which is
aimed at helping to support rural schools in the Central Plateau.

Another graduate (in Physical Therapy) is hoping to be able to return
someday as a volunteer with Healing Hands for Haiti.  Another is trying to
arrange to go for an extended stint with Beyond Borders after her children
are a bit older.  I myself am planning to spend extended periods of time in
Haiti helping as I can after I retire, hopefully in a couple of years.  So,
yes, there are those of us who do continue to stay connected and involved
after an initial experience.

Additionally, I believe that even if an individual never returns to Haiti,
the depth of international understanding which one can hardly fail to
absorb will bear fruit in various ways.   Any acquaintance which one has
with other cultures can serve in some way to advance world peace.

As a closing note, I would like to share an anecdote which speaks to the
willingness (or, rather, to the lack thereof) of people to donate money.
For many years I directed a church choir in a parish which is "twinned"
with a religious group in Haiti.  The choir members were in the habit of
collecting money to give me a birthday and Christmas present each year
(usually a combined gift, since my birthday is just before Christmas.)
After my first trip to Haiti, I requested (very politely, I think) that
they make a donation to the parish fund for Haiti rather than giving me a
gift.  Word came back to me after several years of such donations that some
people in the group thought that it was ridiculous to continue to give me
money because I "just turned around and gave it away."!!!!  Obviously those
people would not have given money to the cause rather than make the
trip--they didn't even want to let me give it away!!!  (Yeah--I was
shocked..... but that's beside the point.)

Martha O'Brien