Dr. Danny Malebranche explains why volunteering in Haiti felt like a homecoming
My name is Danny Malebranche. I am from Vancouver, British Columbia. Both my parents are Haitian and moved to Canada as young adults. I am currently doing training in adult cardiology at the University of Toronto. I am 33 years old.
I first heard about Team Broken Earth when I was doing my residency in internal medicine in Newfoundland at Memorial University. I approached Dr. Furey and asked if I could join on their next deployment. As an emerging/developing country there is still much work to be done in Haiti. I had some medical training and had been to Haiti before. I thought it would be a great opportunity to contribute to an important cause.
I wanted to help to treat patients at Hospital Bernard Mevs in any capacity that I could. I was lucky to join an exceptional team of hard working and very motivated health care professionals including nurses, physicians and physiotherapists. They functioned extremely well together and it quickly became apparent that the local healthcare team was thankful to collaborate with them. We started almost immediately after touching down. The days were long but rewarding. It was one of the most thrilling times of my life. The experience exceeded my expectations and I hope to return to Haiti throughout my medical career.
I worked mainly in the medical/surgical ward (together with the Dean of Medicine at MUN) and provided medical care to pre/post-operative patients as well as adult medical patients with illnesses such as HIV and TB.
The most memorable moment was meeting someone at the hospital who recognized my last name and personally knew some of my extended family in Haiti (who I had not even met yet). It really brought things full circle and gave personal meaning to the work that I was doing.
What did I learn from this experience? That longitudinal delivery of fundamental healthcare through local collaboration is an important part of rebuilding a nation. I will absolutely go back again.