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Lending a helping hand in Haiti

Amanda Emery Published on 24 November 2013
Mountains in Haiti.

With a modest Indiana beef and crop farm origin, I never dreamed that an earthquake in a foreign country would change my world, but that is precisely what happened in January 2010 with the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

I remember vividly a conversation with a Haitian man on the missions trip that following May. We had helped plant a vegetable garden in a village called Gressier.

The man wanted to know more about my studies in the States, why I was interested in agriculture and veterinary medicine, and most specifically, if I was coming back to Haiti.

Amanda Emery soaking up time with kids in Merger, Haiti.

I recall being stunned by this last question. What could I, a 20-year-old Purdue Animal Sciences student, possibly do?

I couldn’t possibly be equipped to make a difference. I couldn’t possibly be called.

As it turns out, God used this trip and conversation to do just that – to call me into a deeper realization of my blessings and talents, to open my eyes to the world of food insecurity and those living on less than $2 a day who may never hear about God’s love.

Soon after my 2010 Haiti experience, I learned about Christian Veterinary Mission. I immediately looked to see which veterinarians were serving there and made a mental note to one day serve alongside those people.

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This past summer, I finally had that opportunity.

With an undergraduate degree, one year of veterinary school and an open heart and mind, I was still not sure I was equipped well enough to serve in a veterinary missions setting.

However, I felt the urge to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1) and set out to see what God had in store.

On the ground in Haiti, I spent two weeks backpacking in the Central Plateau countryside and spending time with kids and old friends in Carrefour.

Finally, after being picked up by Dr. Kelly Crowdis, I joined the rest of the Christian Veterinary Mission team for the remainder of my time in Haiti.

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As a team, we worked alongside Haitian veterinary agents in Les Anglais on the southern peninsula, as well as near Kelly’s home close to Port-au-Prince.

With two pickup trucks full of people and supplies, we are able to serve the communities and their animals with vaccinations, dewormings, spays, neuters, wound cleaning and more.

Our team also had a goal to provide “continuing education” opportunities to the veterinary agents in the area.

With that in mind, our board-certified small-animal surgeon provided spay and neuter trainings and our epidemiologist discussed prevention of disease spread (specifically for their problem of canine distemper).

As a student, I felt stretched and overwhelmed with it all. Still struggling with my “how can I really serve here” complex, I tried my best to soak up each experience.

I had opportunity to perform my first horse castration, several pig castrations, monitor dogs in surgery and teach people how to suture – all the while trying to focus on the ways my mentor team members were sharing God’s love in the same situations.

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During one clinic, my stethoscope somehow became entangled in my hair. Helplessly overwhelmed and frustrated, I was going nowhere fast with the dog I was supposed to be listening to.

A simple problem with the simple answer of asking someone for help, but in the midst of everything, it was a tangible reminder that it is OK to ask for help and that we are not meant to tackle obstacles alone, big or small.

Yet another example of God using little things to remind me of His presence.

God is equipping and preparing each of us adequately for our callings, including me, a veterinary student traveling the world, striving to serve His people.

It is our responsibility to be obedient to the calling and glorify Him with every interaction.

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Patience and prayer, prayer and patience.

Or as the Haitian saying that so appropriately phrases my heart says, “piti piti zwazo fe nich” – little by little, the bird builds its nest – a lesson in patience and focus I must not forget as I pursue veterinary medicine with an angle on food security and public health.

Jesus in his teachings encouraged those “who have ears, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). Domestic or international, workplace or home, God has a calling on your life. Can you hear?  end mark

Amanda Emery is from Springport, Indiana and a second-year veterinary student at Purdue University with a food animal focus. She also plans to pursue a Masters of Public Health through the University of Minnesota. For more information on Christian Veterinary Mission, please visit this website.

PHOTOS
TOP: “Dèyè mòn gen mòn,” beyond mountains, there are mountains. —Haitian proverb (Landscape near Rang, Haiti).

PHOTO 2: Amanda Emery soaking up time with kids in Merger, Haiti.

PHOTO 3: Working on a dystocia call with the goat project in Merger, Haiti.

PHOTO 4: Teammate Audrey Coolman walks with new friends back to the vet clinic and teaching area (Les Anglais, Haiti).

PHOTO 5: The whole CVM team at church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

BOTTOM: Zebu-type calf staked out for the day near the electricity-less town of Lamarre, Haiti. Photos provided by Amanda Emery.

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