Leanna Crossman R.N., is one of hundreds of compassionate nurses who have volunteered since the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010. The Mission Discovery team of nurses met her at General Hospital in Haiti where she lead an orientation for them. She makes her home in Champaign, IL. Leanna is pictured far left orienting our nurses.
These are her Reflections of Haiti.
“It is difficult to articulate my memories of Haiti. More difficult than I ever would have thought possible. When people ask me how was Haiti, and I say the words out loud, they sound absurd, ridiculous. How can I communicate, to someone who has not seen it?
The death and destruction that still exists in this place that God seems to have forgotten about. These people, who have nothing left at this point. Not even dignity remains in this hell that is their lives.
I returned to Haiti on April 16th. This time to Port-Au-Prince. Thinking that by this time, three months after the quake, that things would have begun to normalize. That people would have what they need not just to survive, but to be well and to begin to thrive after their world was shaken so violently in January. After all, so many countries have sent resources and people to try and fix the situation. Surely we’ve made a difference by now. Unfortunately that is not the case. Substandard living conditions is an understatement to say the least. Imagine, if you can, no water, no money, no place to live, no safety, and no food. This is the baseline of living for most Haitians still today.
We saw patients by the hundreds. Day and night they kept coming so see the American doctors and nurses who were running the emergency room at the local hospital. And we did what we could to ease their suffering. Many times it wasn’t enough and eventually I stopped counting the number of dead. Death from disease that could be prevented through immunization and maintenance medications. Death from a lack of knowledge regarding fever and dehydration. Death from trauma and violence as people fight for the few resources available to them even today. So much death.
Some of the patients will stay with me forever. The 10-month-old child who died because her parents didn’t know that a child should not be left with a fever of 106 for five days. That a fever could be fatal. The young girl who drank bleach the morning after she was raped. The 10-week-old baby sent home to die quietly in her mother’s arms because her heart defect was so severe that no surgery could possibly fix her. Not that there was a surgeon to fix it or an operating room with the correct supplies to fix it in. These people, and many others, will stay with me forever.
I am only one nurse and I did all that I could for the people of Haiti while I was there, but somehow it doesn’t feel like enough. There is so much more to do. As my life resumes its daily routine I think of the people of Haiti and wonder what will become of them. Will the world forget? Perhaps we’ve forgotten already. I have been changed by my experiences in Haiti. Whether the change has been for the better or for the worse remains to be seen. I know that I have a renewed appreciation for the people in my lives. To know that my children are healthy and safe means more to me today than ever. I also have a new definition of what is enough and I realize how truly fortunate I am. I have my family and luxuries that the people of Haiti will never know. However difficult the memories may be, I choose to never forget. I will remember the people of Haiti and thank them for the gifts that they have given me.”
Leanna Crossman R.N.