A physician at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics returned home Sunday after spending 11 days in Haiti. Dr. Chris Buresh is no stranger to the destitute conditions in the country, but admits he wasn’t prepared for what he saw during his latest medical mission. The images of bodies strewn throughout the countryside are something he wished he would not have seen.
“And pretty bad smells,” Buresh said. “Bodies trapped under the buildings and everybody was wearing masks – people would shove toothpaste up their nostrils or tea leaves or orange rinds.” The earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince on January 12th is blamed for the deaths of nearly 200,000 people. Buresh says many of his patients were starving children who were run-over while trying to chase down a food truck.
He’s amazed by the Haitians’ grace amid tremendous suffering, even when they amputated limbs and could only offer Tylenol. “No, they never complained,” Buresh said. “Kids were still flying kites. People would start singing at 4 a.m. right outside our wall.” It’s the Haitian’s humble spirit that fuels Buresh’s quest to continue helping them for years to come.
“Every time I go down there I think I get so much more out of the experience than the Haitians do,” said Dr. Buresh. “This time I’d say it’s the same thing though ten times over.” Buresh is working to set up a permanent hospital in Haiti. He will travel back to Haiti in two weeks to help set up that facility. It will be staffed by Iowans and Buresh’s friends from around the country for the next six months.
By Jami Brinton, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids