Care for Rural Haiti

Mini-mester offers students unique experience-and academic credit

The Caribbean island nation of Haiti is barely a two-hour flight from Miami-yet worlds away. For the past 13 years, UM medical and nursing faculty and students have reached out to Haiti with lifesaving care through Project Medishare.

"The objective of Project Medishare is to provide quality health care to poor families living in remote areas," says project director Marie Chery, B.S.N., R.N. "These are people who face a daily fight for survival."

This spring, the School of Nursing and Health Studies launched a 13-day Project Medishare mini-mester that offers three degree credits. Senior Nicole Nazon and junior Tacha Bernard, both nursing students, were joined by Michaela Sachs, an Arts and Sciences student majoring in Latin American studies with a concentration in global health.

While in Haiti, the students assisted Project Medishare and Haitian Ministry of Health workers with their community care and prevention activities. They made home visits to conduct nutritional assessments of children and pregnant women and to provide education about concerns such as respiratory illness, hygiene, and HIV prevention. At the Project Medishare clinic, they helped administer vaccines to women and children.

Bernard, whose mother is from Haiti, plans to return as a health care professional. "Some of the people we visited were so isolated," Bernard observes. "I feel that we helped make a real difference for them."

According to Chery, another group of mini-mester students are due to make the long, arduous, and uniquely rewarding trip to Haiti in June and July.