Day 2-Starkey travels to Cap Haitian

Day two of my first Starkey mission was a bit of a whirl wind; most of my experiences in Haiti have been learn-as-you-go, and this was no different. About two weeks before Starkey arrived, the schedule was set and all arrangements were made, I felt prepared and ready. Then one afternoon I got a call from Jamile, Haiti’s President Martelly canceled school Monday-Wednesday when Starkey would be here due to Carnival; needless to say I was a mess. Time to ‘de ga jey’ as we say in Haiti, loosely translated to ‘make it work’.

Of the 227 patients we did impressions on in Cap Haitien over 50 of them were adults. The ladies who run Sister Augusta School for the Deaf knew the benefit of the hearing aids and agreed to put out a notice we would be there and see how many of the adults would turn up; they were also calling in the school children for us. Wednesday morning I was a bit nervous as we boarded the airplane to fly up to Cap Haitian; part of me was nervous thinking the rickety plane might not make it, and part of me was nervous not knowing what to expect when we arrived. I wanted everything to go smoothly, but so much was out of my control. I needed to remind myself to let go and give it to God, everything would work out just as it should. There is no point in stressing over something I have no control over in the first place. I can do my best and that is the best I can do.

Not quite sure what lies ahead...

We landed safely and when we got to the school it looked like there was a full house. We started setting everything up-laying out hearing aids, passing out custom molds to everyone who had an impression taken and training teachers on how to care for the hearing aids so they could teach everyone who received one. It was a well-oiled machine. Everyone had a bag with their molds and name in them, those who were walk-ins got fit with general molds to the best of our resources, children and kids lined up and we were ready to go. Shannon Kelley who runs the World Wide Village guest house with her husband, Brad, came with us to help with the database. She is a professional wedding photographer and takes the most beautiful pictures. It was nice to have a familiar face there amongst the chaos, and to capture the whole day through her photos.

Our greeting

Fred from Starkey Hearing Foundation working with the teachers.

It was great working with Starkey Hearing Foundation founder Bill Austin, he and his staff did a phenomenal job talking me through the process and equipping me. It is important to understand these are field tests we do, on one mission Starkey can see thousands of people, donating thousands of hearing aids all over the world to people who would never have the means to a hearing aid. I understand there are skeptics, I was one myself at first; but experiencing the process first hand has changed my mind. The look on their faces, the strength of their hugs, the overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude….

Being fit for his first Hearing Aid!

Little cuties waiting their turn.

As the day flew by we worked as fast as we could to get everyone in. Bill continued to remind us, ‘DO NOT RUSH because it is the end of the day, spend as much time with each patient as you did this morning.’ Needless to say when 3:30 rolled around and we were supposed to be on our flight back to PaP and there were still more patients to be seen and only a slight indication of worry regarding the plane I began to panic. I called Jessica, the stewardess at the airline who told me 4:15 was the absolute latest they could hold the chartered plane, the Cap Haitian runway DID NOT have lights! At 4:00 we saw our last patient and began the mad rush to pack up, I jumped in the first car with half the team and headed to the airport. I thought it was wise to get Jessica back on the phone as she was waiting for us on the airstrip, as I argued back and forth with her about leaving us I could feel my blood pressure rising, everything had gone so well all day long…they COULD NOT leave us!

We pulled into the closed down airport and made our way to the runway, as half the team was still driving I told one of our Haitian staff Peter to wait in the airport for the rest of them. He told me ‘NO way!’ as he thought we would leave him. To which I responded ‘Well then you better be prepared to lay in front of the plane wheels because that’s what I am about to do!’ He laughed and decided he would wait safely in the building for the rest of the team who fortunately showed up within minutes.

Shannon captured the beauty of Cap Haitien as we took off...

At 4:45 we were on the runway taking off to PaP, I sat in the back of the plane and took a deep breath taking in the entire day. We pulled it off and it was a success. We saw over 250 people including four who drove two hours from near the DR border to get to us. Now it was time to go back to Ali and the team for a few more days, then Jump into planning for March teams all the while continue working on everything I have going on in my Starkey role…it never ends, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Bill helping me fit a patient.

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Posted on March 8, 2012, in 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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