Charlotte doctor Marc Lewin, 45, spent a week in Haiti last February working at a 65-bed hospital that was converted into a 250-bed MASH unit to help treat earthquake victims. At the time, Lewin (photo, center) wrote this touching letter to his kids to help explain why he felt moved to use his skills in country they knew little about.
On the eve of the one year anniversary, he's written them another letter -- this time from Charlotte. He said he wants his kids Max, 9, Kate, 8, and Charlie, 6, to know that there are people around the world who are in need of help and, that in Haiti, people are still suffering. He also wants to reinforce that they should be grateful for all that they have.
Here is what he wrote:
Dear Max, Kate and Charlie, my wonderful children:
It’s been about one year since I wrote to you from Haiti. I hope you remember that I went there after a terrible earthquake that killed and injured a lot of people. I went with a team of other doctors and we worked hard to help as many people as we could in the time that we were there. All of the people I took care of had suffered terrible injuries like losing arms and legs. I wrote to you about how much the unfortunate people there appreciated our coming to help and what a wonderful experience it was to be able to go there and help them.
I am writing to you now to tell you about what has been happening since then in Haiti. Life is still very difficult for most people there. Most of them are poor and many of them are sick. So many people who lost their homes in the earthquake one year ago are still living outside in tents where it is not safe and very hard to keep clean. In such conditions, diseases tend to spread. One of these diseases is called cholera and in the last few months, thousands of people have died from it including many children. This is especially terrible because simple things like clean homes, good food and vaccines could have prevented so many of these people from dying.
So you see that things that we don’t even think about much like our wonderful, safe home and fresh water and food are things that many people in the world need and don’t have. I know you realize that my team and I went to Haiti and helped a lot of people and came home but I want you to be aware that the people in Haiti and many other poor countries all over the world still need our help. The team that I went to Haiti with is still trying to help. We are currently planning to build a medical clinic so that we can keep going back to help the wonderful Haitian people.
Although it was very difficult for me seeing the terrible tragedies that happened to people in Haiti, it was really a wonderful feeling helping them. In fact, there is no greater thing you can do in your lives than help others. When bad things happen to me here in Charlotte, I always think back to the unfortunate people I worked with in Haiti (and India and Africa on other trips) and I realize that my problems are really very small in comparison.
I hope that all three of you realize how lucky you are to live in a place where you are free and safe and also to have food and water whenever you want. I also hope that you will take the opportunity whenever possible to help people less fortunate than you throughout your lives.
DaddyThe Observer asked relief workers who traveled to Haiti in the aftermath of last year’s earthquake to share their reflections about the experience. To read more of the published accounts from local relief workers visit home page of This Land. And also take a look at the Observer special reports page Haiti.