|PHOTO: Lim Meng Chin|
Whoever said being a volunteer was easy?
For Team 3, that left on Jan. 25 and returned Feb. 4, it seemed a tough journey even before they left Singapore.
“For this team, the main issue I faced was getting everybody to Haiti,” said Jimmy Sng, Team 3’s leader. “Our team consisted of Malaysians, Indonesians, Indians and Singaporeans. With volunteers from so many different nations, we struggled to make the many, many arrangements to get them safely into Haiti,” said Sng.
“And when we finally landed, we also faced a flat tire on the way from the Dominican Republic to Haiti.”
Despite the mountain of obstacles, Sng said, “We had the same goal, which was to save lives. That’s what all the volunteers were there for in the first place. All I needed to do was to make sure that what they were doing fit the common goal of helping the Haitians.”
What was toughest for Sng and his team wasn’t the physical hardship they bore. “The hardest thing we had to do was turn away the Haitians who wanted to see the doctor. Many of them were sick and hungry, and they were so desperate to see the doctor that there was almost a riot outside the clinic. It was tough turning them away but we had no choice because our facilities could not accommodate all of them.”
On the bright side, Sng said, “With limited supplies, we treated a total of 390 patients on the second day with only two doctors—in comparison, on our first day, with six doctors, we only managed 299 patients. It was tiring to start tending to the patients the minute we arrived, and hard to work non-stop for 12 hours, but we all felt it was well worth it.”
What kept the team going was seeing the Haitians bounce back from their disaster. “The resilience and tenacity of the Haitians really moved me. They were picking up the pieces and moving on.
“There was no self-pity even though most, if not all, of the Haitians lost family members or loved ones. There were these 10 Haitians who would volunteer their services at the CityCare clinic daily.”
Sng was also bowled over by the dignity of the Haitians. “I was amazed at how they would dress their best when attending a church service at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Despite all that has happened to their country, they would turn up in church in the best clothing they are left with, and give praise with all their hearts.”
Though CityCare’s teams might be the smallest in Haiti, Sng proudly said, “I would say we have made a world of difference to the Haitians. The day our team arrived in Carrefour carrying the medical supplies with us, the Haitian kids were so excited when they saw us that they ran all the way down the street shouting ‘The orange shirt people are here!’ They recognize our corporate orange T-shirt as a symbol of hope!
“As one Haitian told a CityCare volunteer, ‘Because of you, we know that there is hope.’”