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Greenfield Community College

GCC nursing students traveling to Haiti to do service work

  • GREENFIELD (December 19, 2013) Greenfield Community College nursing instructor Mary Phillips and nursing professor Cheri Ducharme will travel to Haiti with GCC nursing students in January for service learning. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    GREENFIELD (December 19, 2013) Greenfield Community College nursing instructor Mary Phillips and nursing professor Cheri Ducharme will travel to Haiti with GCC nursing students in January for service learning. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • GREENFIELD (December 19, 2013) Greenfield Community College 2nd year nursing student Kristie Timberlake will travel to Haiti in January for service learning. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    GREENFIELD (December 19, 2013) Greenfield Community College 2nd year nursing student Kristie Timberlake will travel to Haiti in January for service learning. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • GREENFIELD (December 19, 2013) Greenfield Community College nursing instructor Mary Phillips and nursing professor Cheri Ducharme will travel to Haiti with GCC nursing students in January for service learning. Photo by Beth Reynolds
  • GREENFIELD (December 19, 2013) Greenfield Community College 2nd year nursing student Kristie Timberlake will travel to Haiti in January for service learning. Photo by Beth Reynolds

GREENFIELD — Fourteen Greenfield Community College nursing students and three faculty members will leave this Sunday for a weeklong trip to Haiti, where they’ll be assisting in medical clinics and helping to rebuild homes damaged by the earthquake that rocked the country four years ago.

For GCC nursing professors Cheri Ducharme and Mary Phillips, the trip will let students apply the skills they’ve been learning in class, while also exposing them to a new culture.

Inspired by local nurse Alison Childs — who has visited Haiti over a dozen times since a Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake displaced and killed hundreds of thousands of people there — the pair connected with Partners in Development. The Ipswich-based nonprofit organization runs a medical clinic in northern Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital.

“I think we’re going to have a significant impact down there and get to see some things we wouldn’t regularly see here,” said Kristie Timberlake, a second-year student at GCC.

An anonymous donor covered most of the costs of the trip. Students each paid $600 for the one-week not-for-credit session.

When the group of 17 travelers arrive at Logan Airport on Sunday, employees from Partners in Development will arrive to hand them suitcases filled with medical supplies. They’ll have to pack their own personal belongings into carry-on bags.

While in Haiti, the group will be staying in a compound. Teachers have prepared students for cold showers and lots of encounters with mosquitoes.

Childs, who works with Partners in Development whenever she travels down to Haiti, met with the GCC students in early fall to help them prepare for their trip.

She has said that the country is seeing some progress, especially after the May 2011 presidential election of Michel Martelly. Many residents have moved out of tent cities into permanent homes, the airport was cleaned up and schools were built.

But still, the country’s poverty is at a level below anything many United States residents have seen, accord to Childs. People are living on less than $1 or $2 a day and jobs are scarce, she has said. Some areas completely lack septic systems.

GCC nursing instructors and students have gone on several trips in the past decade to the southwestern part of the country to spend three weeks on the Navajo reservation.

Ducharme said her students needed to learn how to balance the administering of Western medicine with Native American cultures and religions — something the students may also need to do in Haiti with voodooism.

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