Canyon Laker Kristy Ness has been traveling to Haiti since 2010 to help those in need of medicine and medical attention. She became interested in volunteering in Haiti shortly after a massive 7.1 earthquake struck on Jan. 12, 2010. According to CNN, the earthquake initially displaced 1.5 million people and injured 300.000.
Kristy was 17 years old when she first traveled to Haiti to volunteer as part of a medical team. She said the experience has opened her eyes to the need for medicine.
Kristy travels to Haiti with the Haiti Endowment Fund (HEF), a non-profit, non-government organization that has been working actively in Haiti for more than 25 five years. HEF has worked extensively in the Central Plateau region of Haiti and has a compound located in the town of Hinche. They have medical, agriculture, education (13 schools), women and children’s conferences and sixteen churches that they support on an ongoing basis. On an average, HEF is sending about 200 people from the U.S. to Haiti annually. Their U.S. base is located in Temecula, California. Their medical teams are made up of doctors, nurses and students.
“We always like to collect vitamins and other medical supplies to bring with us,” said Kristy. “Each trip, we bring about 40 bags, weighing 50 pounds each, full of medical supplies and items for the trip.”
Kristy, who works as a registered nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, said the experience is very rewarding but a lot of work. “Each day we go out to the rural villages and set up clinics in the Maranatha churches that are a part of Haiti Endowment Fund. Then, in the evenings, we return to the compound and see more patients and perform minor procedures on the patients that we encountered out in the rural villages,” she said.
Kristy’s most memorable moment was last month when she spotted a little boy, Alex, in line who she treated back in 2012. Alex came in with severe wounds on his face due to oil burns. Kristy treated him for about a week and ended up sending him to the hospital. “I remembered him because it was such a tough experience cleaning his wounds and getting to know him and how much pain he was in,” she said. This was her most memorable experience because the two recognized each other even though he looked a bit different now that his face was healed from his wounds.
Kristy will be traveling back to Haiti in March. She said the need for assistance in Haiti and her love for the people who live there are what keep her going back year after year.
Kristy also volunteers in the Philippines and Africa.
For more information about Haiti Endowment Fund, visit haitiendowmentfund.org.