Each year, the health science department at Corban University takes a team on a medical mission trip to Haiti to run a clinic. Janet Matani is a health science student from Papua, Indonesia who went on the trip this year. In this interview, she describes her experience and how her team was able to make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ.
How did you hear about this trip? What made you want to go?
I first knew about this trip from e-mail that Prof. Johnson sent. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. I was afraid of the idea of traveling to other country without anybody who speaks my language (Bahasa). I waited, and then somehow I found courage to ask Dr. Comstock about it. I think I wanted to go because I wanted to see what was happening in Haiti with my own eyes. I wanted to not just talk about or hear about the situation in Haiti, but actually go there, see it, and help directly. Secondly, there are some villages in Papua that have the same problems as in Haiti. The location of the village makes it difficult for them to get proper health services. I wanted to go because I have a dream that someday I can bring health science or medical students in Papua to go on a mission trip like this.
What did a typical day in Haiti look like for you?
It was always hot. The city is always busy. Unfortunately, I only lived around the city for a day or two, so I did not really experience the city itself.
I spent most of the days in the village. The people there opened their church for us to open a clinic. Most of the days we would start with prayer and worship. After that we would go on a big bus to the village and help as much as we can. We have triage, pharmacy, and also doctors who asses the patients. We served around 100-150 people a day. After that we would go back to our camp, eat, and get ready for the next day.
How did this experience affect you as a health science student?
This experience, I would definitely say, is a life changing experience for me. Just as I write down this e-mail, there is something inside of me that is really excited about it. Through this experience, I can see and learn how to apply what I have been studying these past 3 years. This experience gives me courage to finish my studies and help people with health services.
Describe some of your favorite moments of the trip.
My favorite moment is when I was shadowing a provider (doctor). This doctor, Doctor Joe, is a surgical doctor. Just the idea of sitting down next to a real doctor already drove me crazy. I was so excited but also nervous. I was helping the doctor with assessing the patient. He taught me how to write down the diagnoses and the perception. That night after I had that experience, I cried. It is because that experience just wiped out all my doubts to become a doctor. I was and am now sure that I want to be a doctor.
As an international student, how do you think your perspective might have been different than the other students’ perspectives? What was your impression of Haiti?
I think the idea of coming there and experiencing it for myself makes me really believe that there are people out there who really need our help. Their struggle is real, and yes, we can help.
This trip also helped me see how “help” can be a disaster or actually helpful. That is why before we help, we need to think about the impact of out help. I honestly have never thought of it before, but now I know.
The moment we landed in Haiti, my brain was confused. It is like its asking itself “Is this my home?” It was all because it’s really similar to Papua. The weather, the people, their body language, cars they have, the trees, the flowers, even the way they drive their cars are really similar to the ones back home.
The last day we were at the clinic, I was assigned to educate the patients about hypertension. That day, I felt weird because talking to people is always my biggest fear. Especially because people in Haiti speak another language called Creole. But I found comfort because all the people there are really similar to people in Papua. When I talked to them, I felt like I’m talking with my brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts back home. And the last but not the least, the beach was so warm. Again. Just like home!
How do you think you and your group made a difference in the world for Jesus Christ?
I think, our group has made a difference in the world through our actions. We showed that we love because God first loved us. We serve with our hearts. We did not spend any time to complain about food, drink, the heat because we were there to serve. I think, through this work, people were helped, and all of us can testify about how God was working in our lives for good. That God will not let His children be left without any help. That even me, someone from Indonesia, can be sent far away to Haiti to work for God’s glory.