Sarah Colmer, UPenn
Experiences, Honorable Mention
It was June of 2014 and the small propeller plane being masterfully guided through scenic mountains and amidst the borders of sparking Caribbean coast contained 13 veterinary students from the University of Pennsylvania, myself included, and one veterinarian from England. We are part of an organization known as Pou Sante: Amar Haiti – translating from Haitian Creole to mean “for health,” and the health of the livestock and farmers is our focus. After fundraising during the year through school events and the generous hearts of donors, we made our trek to Thibeau, a small Haitian village which would be our headquarters for veterinary work for two weeks. We noted the stunning natural beauty of the landscape from our position in the clouds, curious as to the variety of animals and people alike that we would come across on the beautiful island below us. Our plane landed gracefully in the blaring sun on the tarmac lined with looming palm trees. It was a beautiful setting in which to accomplish our goals.
Our journey had two main focuses: one was a mobile clinic to take care of the immediate needs of local farmers. We went to three different villages and held six days of clinics where people came form far and wide with their cattle, goats, horses, dogs, cats and pigs in tow. We would start our morning in a schoolyard-turned-hospital at 8 AM to the cacophonous sounds of mooing, bleating, barking and whinnying. We opened our gate to a long line of conscientious villagers who understood the importance of the health of their animals and wanted to learn how they could improve their own farming and veterinary techniques. We provided full physical exams, vaccinations, treatment for internal and external parasites, and assessed pregnancies. We dispensed advice with the help of a phenomenal translator, conducted interviews about farming practices, and chatted and laughed with the farmers and their children.