Trip to Haiti June 15-23, 2005

Following are reflections from Dr. John Bush on the Team's trip to Haiti:

My name is John Bush. I have worked here in Tucson with you and worked in the Emergency room in St Joseph’s Hospital for the last 27 years.

 My children grew up here. My daughters went to OMOS and were taught there by a wonderful teacher, Miss Joan Martin who taught science. I remember that my kids were impressed by her zeal for teaching.

 Later, I served for several years on the Endowment board and at that time I heard that Joan had left teaching and decided that she wanted to serve the poor in Haiti. I remember being struck by that. Here was a woman approximately my age, who was settled in Tucson, and suddenly decides to give up her life here and go to a foreign country and serve the poor. She didn’t know where she was going, where she would stay, or what she was going to do when she got there. What was the thinking that led to her decision? Was she someone truly special that was called by God to do this work—or was she just crazy?

 The answers to those questions kind of ate at me for over a year. I began to imagine myself in her place. I wondered if there might be something there that I might do in Haiti. The questions wouldn’t stop. Last year, my daughter Katie was in her sophomore year in Notre Dame. She has always said she wanted to be a doctor, and is in premed. The thought struck me that she has never, ever experienced true poverty. I wanted her to see humanity in its most raw form. To experience and treat the lives of those unadorned and unmasked by the trappings of civilization. I wanted to see if she has what it takes to be a good doctor. I wanted to see if I have what it takes to be a good doctor.

 All the time, Haiti kept coming back into my thoughts. Last year, when Joan had finished her second year in Haiti, and was here in Tucson speaking of her experiences there, I went up to her after mass one day and asked her if it might be possible for Katie and I to visit her in Haiti and to maybe work in a medical mission there.

 Well, I didn’t have to ask twice. The next thing I know, Monsignor gets involved and we all know what happens when he decides something is going to go forward. I couldn’t have backed out if I wanted to!

 As the departure date approaches, I begin hearing of civil unrest in Haiti, and begin to get cold feet. First, there were kidnappings, then the US embassy closes.

 As providence would have it, Joan was again visiting here in Tucson at just the right time and was able to reassure me. All right, perhaps she played on my male macho nature—if she was going back there, then I certainly wasn’t going to chicken out.

 What occurred over the next 2 weeks is hard to put into words. I think that during this trip I truly was touched by the hand of God. It was like being on a 2 week retreat. There were so many wonderful experiences. I cannot begin to relate them all at this time. I will say that the most profound experience that I had was meeting and living with the wonderful people who have chosen to give their lives to this impoverished community.

 These are not fake people. These are not people who are out to make an impression. These are people who love humanity and are trying to make a difference in a country that has been abandoned by the world. Faith and Steve Leach who ran the L’hostital Evangelique de Bombardopolis and have been there for 10 years without fanfare. They have truly walked the walk. They are my heroes.

  Sisters Marie Louise, Sonya and Adriana who live and work there teaching the women to sew and knit so that they might have a source of income are my heroes. Joan Martin, who I see now in a totally different light—she too is my hero.

 The trip is over now. We are safely back in the US. Joan is still over there and still working for the poor. Would I go again? You bet. Would Katie go again? Yes, I think so. She is trying to organize a mission from Notre Dame to reach out to the community of Bombardopolis with aid to these destitute yet proud people.

(Dr. Bush closed by saying he will be happy to answer any questions he can regarding this remarkable mission. . . .)