Amanda Slanina and Hope Bechard during their 2014 trip to Haiti.

Amanda Slanina and Hope Bechard during their 2014 trip to Haiti.

Kitimat nurses reflect on their trip to Haiti

Two nurses from Kitimat brought their skills and expertise to Haiti last fall.

Two nurses in Kitimat are reflecting on several weeks in Haiti, a trip which they say was made possible through community donations.

Amanda Slanina and Hope Bechard spent several weeks in Haiti in late fall last year, with Bechard even returning to the country again in a week’s time, on another mission to deliver health care to Haitians, this time with a group of 16 nurses.

In October the pair went under the umbrella of Hands Up for Haiti, and the two adapted to a major change in daily quality of life as they held clinics and workshops which they say proved very successful, even as they worked their way through an obstacle course of broken down vehicles and flooding.

But such things were just facts of living in a different country, and both have no plans to give up on supporting the country through their trips, having supported providing medical care to hundreds of Haitians.

“I hope to go back in the fall,” said Slanina. “The hardest thing is to leave, actually, because it’s a different world there. You see the change you make.”

Thanks to community donations they raised $7,000 which essentially paid for the trip — which included funds to help provide the services in Haiti — and people also sent with them other care packages of donations for clinics there.

The pair travelled around the region to deliver clinics and provided other services for the organization, although they’ll admit the biggest highlight for them was a women’s group they established for women in the city they stayed in.

Several dozen women would come out to learn about violence issues and health education, they say.

“Whereas in Canada we have free education and you have to beg people to come. There they take on every opportunity,” said Slanina.

Bechard’s now supporting a nurse program for Haiti, through partnerships of various organizations.

“Now, from our work, we’ve started a new program called Sponsor a Nurse,” said Bechard, which allows people to directly sponsor nurses through Hands Up for Haiti. “We saw there how much a nurse can make a difference in a community.”

Her trip back to Haiti in a week will see 16 nurses join her as part of a pilot project which would see the nurses earn academic credits for their time out of country.

Despite leaving behind the comforts of home, both definitely show a strong attachment to the country and the people.