Charlotte family dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp traveled to Haiti this April as part of a mission to provide free dental services to those in need in Haiti.
Bless Back in Haiti
In April of 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with 19 other volunteers on what was my first international mission trip. Over the years, I have done a significant amount of “mission dentistry” but this was my first outside the United States.
Bless Back Worldwide is the organization of which I was a part. It is made up entirely of volunteers who want to better the lives of those less fortunate. Haiti definitely falls into this category. In fact, today it is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. From a devastating earthquake in 2010, followed by a cholera outbreak 10 months later and then back to back hurricanes in 2012, it seems the people of Haiti just can’t catch a break.
To make matters worse, unemployment is currently at 80%. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that these people don’t want to work. On the contrary, I saw many people doing and selling anything they could to make some money – money just to support and feed their families. Many Haitians live in crudely built shanties. 70% of Haitians lack access to electricity. 600,000 are considered food-insecure.
Bless Back Worldwide has sent 5-6 groups per year since the earthquake in 2010. In conjunction with Mission of Hope International, incrementally things are changing for the better, but I believe the positive changes these people need could not come quickly enough.
Honestly, when I decided to forego a week’s “vacation” and go to Haiti, I expected nothing in return. I was ready and willing to give all I had – a one-way street – to help these people. But I can honestly tell you that I received much more than I gave, including a new and better perspective on life.
If you would like to help or would like more information please ask Dr. Van Gurp or visit www.blessbackworldwide.org. Bless Back Worldwide can be found on Facebook as well. If you would like more information about Bless Back Worldwide or Mission of Hope International, please visit their websites at www.blessbackworldwide.org and www.mohintl.org. Both organizations can be found on Facebook as well.
It seems overwhelming at times. You ask yourself, “How can people live like this?” The reality is that they don’t have a choice. You also ask yourself, “Am I making a difference?” Afterall, this is country of 10 million people
I went down to Haiti with 19 other volunteers hoping to make a difference. The group was comprised of several physicians and other medical and non-medical personnel willing to plug in anyway and anywhere they were needed. Ages ranged from 12 to 70 years old. The teamwork and fellowship were something to be proud of.