Emily Sommers, junior nursing major, spent ten days of Christmas break in Haiti. The team of seven students, including four Malone nursing students, served with Hearts United with Haiti to assist in providing medical care. Emily earned the nickname “Baby Catcher” during the trip, and read below to find out why!
Aviso: Why did you decide to be a nursing major?
Sommers: Since I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be was a nurse. There was nothing else out there I felt called to do. I never wanted to do anything else.
Aviso: What is your favorite activity to do on campus?
Sommers: I love just hanging out in the dorms, talking and building community. Also, I’m fond of dorm-hopping, where you drop into a dorm you do not go into very often and get to know people.
Aviso: What is your favorite food to get in Canton?
Sommers: There are a lot of choices. I’m really fond of Piada. It’s unique. I was first introduced to Piada when I came to Malone.
Aviso: How did you end up in Haiti?
Sommers: I started out taking the cross-cultural nursing class. We studied cultures, and I had the opportunity to do my engagement opportunity over Christmas or spring break. I feel called to missions, so I knew I wanted to that. As soon as we started talking about Haiti, my friend and I said, “Let’s go.”
Aviso: What is a medical difference between Haiti and the United States that surprised you?
Sommers: There were a lot of things that were eye-opening. As a general rule, a lot had to do with the lack of resources. Sterile technique was really different. Some didn’t even have gloves, and they would use them even if they fell on the floor. It’s almost as if the germs were invisible because they weren’t of high importance.
Aviso: Did you meet anyone who challenged your perspective?
Sommers: The first day we hiked up the mountainside talking to and caring for people along the way. When we were coming down there was a woman who came up beside me and just started talking to me. I grabbed a translator, and she explained she had an accident a year ago and her entire right ear was burned off. The side of her face and neck were so burned. She told me how it still hurt, but she was never depressed. She had so much joy. I was so amazed. If that had happened to me, I would have been so devastated. She had courage.
Aviso: What was your craziest encounter with Haitian culture?
Sommers: There were a lot of things that stretched me, but the craziest experience definitely was the time I spent in the maternity hospital. We had witnessed six deliveries in two hours, so there were a lot of women. A couple hours in I went to check on a woman screaming and in labor, and she was fully in the process. I pulled out my gloves and helped deliver the baby. The baby was silent and the cord was wrapped around its neck. I had to unravel the cord and flip the baby over. It was so scary. I was never so happy to hear a baby cry. All day they kept calling me “Baby Catcher.” It was beautiful.
Aviso: How will you use this experience going forward?
Sommers: I think this whole experience has made me a better future nurse. It’s changed my perspective on how I relate to people. I see people as more than their situation now.
Aviso: Is there anything else about the trip you would like to share?
Sommers: The whole week was primitive. We had a five gallon bucket of water and a cup, and that was our shower. We shared flushes. It was an adjustment. After a while, though, it just became normal.
Alicia Meyers is the Copy Editor for The Aviso