Being a nurse at COTP involves much more than simply the routine care of our children. It is a job that requires 24 hour availability, being able to respond quickly to both the not so urgent and the urgent medical needs of up to 70 babies and young children. It is a job where a willingness to listen to and treat nanny and other staff health issues is a daily reality. It is a job where people from the community come asking you for help with coughs, fevers, skin ailments or wounds. It is a job of extreme challenge and reward. For Sheila, this job was her life for two years.
In October 2011, Sheila quickly answered the call to move to COTP, coming very shortly after hearing about the position. Upon her arrival, she quickly took over nursing duties – giving medications, treating seizures, taking kids to appointments, bandaging injuries, rehydrating babies, staying up all night to care for a little one, and so much more. She learned the language that would help her communicate with those around her. She found out as much as she could about our kids’ medical histories. She began researching ways to improve the health of our kids. She began serving Haitians. She bonded with our kids and loved them passionately.
During her time at COTP, Sheila took on many challenges, from training our new Haitian nursing assistant to coordinating a free eye clinic for all of our kids and staff to going to Port au Prince and the Dominican Republic to get hard-to-find tests and medical procedures for some of the babies. She pursued therapy options for our kiddos with special needs and searched for a dentist when someone had a cavity. She researched how to make life better for those she served, and she pushed for change when it was beneficial. She stressed the importance of training Haitian staff to do many of the tasks at COTP. She worked hard to train our nannies in therapy techniques for our kids with special needs. She battled abscesses, cholera and countless other issues.
Sheila spent extra time with kids who needed a little extra attention, allowing them to become a special part of her life. Anyone who was here for more than a few days could easily tell you who Sheila’s kids were; they would find her no matter where she was on the compound and run up eagerly for a hug or some special time. They would call her name from far away, wanting to get her attention. They would sit with her, content to just be. They would be her “assistant” as she passed out medicines to the other kids. Knowing she would have to let them go, she loved them anyway and made their lives so much better. She also became an important part in the lives of many Haitian and international staff members, making several close friends. During her time in Haiti, Sheila even met Wilson, who is now her husband!
Last month, after two years of service at COTP, Sheila decided that it was time to return to the States. Her husband Wilson is still here in Haiti as they wait for his visa to come through so that he can join Sheila as she completes her schooling to become a nurse practitioner. Wilson, and all of us, miss having Sheila here and are so thankful for her friendship and all of her hard work while living with us in Haiti. Her impact will definitely not be forgotten and we encourage you to pray with us for Sheila and Wilson as they are separated and trying to determine where life will take them next.
Sheila, the love and care you’ve poured into these kiddos and this place is worth more than you can ever imagine. Your knowledge, passion and dedication over the past two years have been a huge blessing to COTP and those you’ve served in Haiti. We love you!