Crossing borders, bringing help to Haiti

Katie Hodges, Staff Writer

Going to a store to buy bread. Walking down the street. Having electricity whenever a switch is turned. Feeling safe.
The country of Haiti no longer has conveniences such as these after an earthquake rocked the island nation in January, and when industrial tech teacher Paul Hogan went on a volunteer mission to Haiti this past August the lack of everyday conveniences stood out to him the most.
“The lack of infrastructure was the most glaring thing,” Hogan said. “Electricity and things like that were very haphazard.”
Hogan traveled to Haiti with an organization called Redeeming Waters International. He helped dispense medical supplies and recycled eyeglasses donated by students over the course of the past school year. He also fundraised for the trip by building items to sell in his own metal shop.
“They organized this trip and we went down to the tent cities and helped them out,” Hogan said. Along with giving medical aid, Hogan and his group also delivered new soccer balls for the kids, and traded them in for old balls.
Hogan also did a lot of personal preparation for the project, which included getting the necessary shots and gathering enough mosquito netting.
“To go to places in the Third World, you need to prepare yourself,” Hogan said.
Although part of this preparation was medical, Hogan also had to think about what he was taking along, as they could bring only the personal supplies that would fit into a carry-on bag, as everything else was dedicated to medical supplies for the trip.
“[You] need to think about what you’re taking and what you’ll leave,”  Hogan said.
According to Hogan, although there are many differences between America and Haiti, the people are the same.
“Even if there are a lot of differences in lifestyles, there are still a lot of similarities,” Hogan said. “They want to go to home to a safe place. People still need basic things.”
“No matter how devastated that place was, life still went on,” Hogan said, recalling when he saw a lady dressed up with makeup and ready to head out for work emerge out of a destroyed house on a street reduced to rubble.
“People are very adaptable,” Hogan said.
Hogan was quick to stress that in  Haiti, “what you see in the news isn’t what you actually see. You’re going to see what you can’t imagine.”
Despite what he saw and experienced, Hogan remains upbeat about the experience of volunteering; and he wouldn’t advise anyone to turn down an opportunity to volunteer in a Third World country.
“If somebody has an opportunity, don’t pass it up.”
Hogan emphasized that it is important to talk to the people in order to get the most out of the trip, and that the people in Haiti are very good people.
“It will make you a well rounded person,” Hogan said. “You don’t appreciate the things you have until you go to a place like that and realize what’s important.”