For the past three years, I have had the privilege of working with a grassroots, all volunteer organization called Mission MANNA. Mission MANNA is a North Carolina based organization that provides medical care for malnourished children and continuing healthcare education for adults in and around the Haitian town of Montrouis, which lies north of Port au Prince. We hold clinics in the same five villages, two of which are remote mountain villages where we are the only medical providers. In addition to our organization, there are three Haitian community health workers who work with us year- round following seventy-two severely malnourished children on a weekly/monthly basis.
In 2010, Mission MANNA began a sustainable nutrition project. This program donates various types of livestock to local families who as a result are supplied with a source of income and nutrition for their families and other families in the area.
In these photographs, I am either on the way to or in the village of Pyiatt doing clinical work. As you can see, I am proudly wearing my ‘Where in the World is Meredith’ shirt! There are no passable roads to the village, so we must walk along a dusty road for over an hour and then through fields where this village is fortunate enough to have a water source and is able to grow bananas and watercress. On this particular day, our clinic was set up at a school where we saw almost 300 children; many of them had waited for hours with parents and older siblings before the clinic even opened. At my day job, I am a genetic counselor at Mission Hospital’s Fullerton Genetic Center, but in Haiti I am an “expert” wormer! According to one of our pediatricians, de-worming a child every six months can save their life. Without clean water and proper hygiene, these children often fall victim to widespread malnutrition from a variety of reasons.
This trip was my third with the group and has become my passion. I am currently serving on the Mission MANNA Board and am happy to share our story with anyone who will listen. For me, this entire experience has been life-changing. It is a true example of ‘you get more than you give’, and that we can make a difference, no matter how small we sometimes feel our efforts may be.
– Shearon F. Roberts, ‘76
For more information on Mission MANNA, please visit their website by clicking here.