After studying abroad in England for a semester this spring and traveling to various European countries, I feel more comfortable with being on my own and familiarizing myself with other cultures. I know how to pack my belongings under airline weight restrictions, and I can survive five weeks with one suitcase.
But none of the places I visited were in disarray or trying to overcome the physical and emotional damage from an earthquake. I was traveling for leisure. I met with two doctors today at Akron Children’s Hospital who are going to Haiti to help care for patients at St. Damien’s Hospital. Drs. Jeff and Ellen Kempf have been traveling abroad to provide service to others for 24 years, and they will be blogging about their experience. Jeff is a pediatric ER doctor, and Ellen is a pediatrician and head of the Oak Adoptive Health Center.
Our conversation not only opened my eyes to the health problems and diseases the Haitian people are encountering in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake, but now I also realize the preparation, both physical and mental, involved when gearing up to work with impoverished people among the ruins of a natural disaster and a wet, rainy season.
And while some of the hostels I stayed in were bad, Jeff and Ellen will be staying in a tent.
After suffering for months, I can only imagine how the patients in Haiti must feel when people from other nations visit to provide aid and comfort. Not everyone can or will travel, let alone travel the world to help others. But the Kempfs agree that this is something they need to do.
When it comes to his and his wife’s travels to help people in impoverished countries, Dr. Jeff Kempf firmly believes, “We’re supposed to do it.” Ellen shares this passion. “I can’t imagine not taking advantage (of the opportunity to help people),” says Ellen.
Knowing that people like the Kempfs do exist makes me excited to be working at a place dedicated to the purpose of caring for and helping people.