Medical Mission in Haiti Canceled Due to Political Unrest

December 22, 2010

Rabbi Abie Ingber of the Office of Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier University has made the hard decision to cancel a medical mission trip to Haiti after host Heart to Heart International (HHI) informed him they cannot deliver the security they feel the trip would need.

Almost 1 year later to the day, from January 2 - 9, Thirteen Xavier pre-med students, 2 staff from the Office of Interfaith Community Engagement and 4 medical professionals were scheduled to travel to Haiti from January 2-9, almost one year after the earthquake which continues to cause such suffering. Heart to Heart has had teams in Haiti since the day after the quake, but made the decision this morning to take every American and every volunteer out of Haiti. The group is especially concerned for what might happen in the country beginning January 3.

Eddie Meyer, Haiti medical volunteer coordinator with HHI told Ingber “Heart to Heart hopes one day to be processing the 13 Xavier students’ paperwork for medical service in Haiti after they become doctors.”

“These students were prepared to go down to Haiti, despite everything that was taking place on the ground there, until the logistics providers could no longer guarantee their safety,” says Ingber. “Our 13 students were perfectly willing until the moment I pulled the plug on the trip to walk into the middle of cholera and say ‘how can I heal?’ and to walk into the middle of unrest and say, ‘how can I bring rest?’

A backup trip has been activated for March 5-13 which will provide those 13 students an opportunity to immerse themselves in Mayan culture in Guatemala. Three medical professionals from Los Angeles who were signed on to go to Haiti have wholeheartedly agreed to accompany the Xavier group wherever it decides to go. Richard and Cathy Walter, a doctor/nurse couple, and Bonnie Herscher, RN, are on board for Guatemala.

Every donor to the Haiti trip will be contacted and asked if their funds may be deferred to the new trip scheduled for Guatemala. If donors have questions or if new donors would like to contribute to the Guatemalan trip, please call 513-745-3780.

“Everybody should continue to support the people of Haiti through every method they can, including dedicated giving thru Heart to Heart International ( whose clinics are still running, despite the tenuous political situation,” says Ingber. “The saddest piece is that the people of Haiti, suffering so much, do not have the privilege of knowing how much 19 people were willing to risk to be of some help to them.”

Heart to Heart International, Inc. was founded in January of 1992 in Olathe, KS, by family physician Dr. Gary Morsch to improve global health through humanitarian initiatives connecting people and resources to a world in need. Most of Heart to Heart’s work is in underserved regions, where the patient-to-provider ratio is disproportionately high, but H2H is active across the United States, as well. It works with free health clinics and other agencies to increase community access to essential health services in major population centers from coast to coast.