Students explore Haitian health care on service learning trip

Members of the Community Health Alliance took a service learning trip to Haiti during spring break to gain a better understanding of the country’s health system.

Associate professor of anthropology Rose-Marie Chierici, the co-founder of Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa, sponsored the trip. According to CHA Treasurer senior Grace Trompeter, H.O.P.E. is a grassroots, nonprofit organization originating in Rochester. The organization focuses on building community between the people of Haiti, and giving them lasting opportunities for a better future.

“H.O.P.E. works in three main areas: health, education and economic development,” Trompeter said. “We did the trip so that more students in CHA would have the opportunity to learn about H.O.P.E.’s mission and understand the community, and work on projects here in Geneseo that would help further their mission.”

One of the main projects on the trip was a mobile clinic program.

“We set up a clinic, with doctors and nurses, in a more rural area in the mountains, and hundreds of people would come in a single day,” CHA President senior Mike Mattiucci said.

The students were in charge of taking the patients’ blood pressure and as a result the patients were able to get readings, medicine and diagnoses.

According to Mattiucci, CHA hopes to use the information they collected from patients in Haiti to write a grant for a large-scale cardiovascular disease census and education prevention program in Haiti.

“The [Haitian] health system is working towards more actively addressing those problems, so it’s something that we can do as students that will help the health system,” he said.

In addition to assisting with medical issues facing Haiti, CHA also dedicated time to its education system and members ran a school supply drive in Geneseo residence halls before their trip to benefit the schools.

Junior Tasmia Naz said her favorite part of the trip was interacting with “over 400 patients total, and we got to shadow a lot of the physicians.”

Students were able to “look at the challenges of providing health care to the poor and to the developing world,” Trompeter added.

Mattiucci said CHA plans to return to Haiti next spring, and hopes to make the trip an annual study abroad trip for Geneseo students.

“It’s a service experience that really offers more than our hands, and more than our time; we like to think that we’re offering the best of ourselves as college students by going there to learn and in turn to offer our minds,” Mattiucci said.