FRANCESCA IS MANDY HENGEVELD'S FACE TO REMEMBER.
Looking back on her experiences volunteering during two different trips to Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake that rocked the country, Hengeveld often thinks of the four-year-old child who was rushed, unresponsive, into the Hinche Cholera Treatment Centre, in central Haiti, where she had been working.
Hengeveld, an emergency room registered nurse at Lions Gate Hospital, was among the health-care professionals who administered care to the severely dehydrated young girl. After a night of treatment, Francesca was able to go home and as she departed, she waved and said "bye, bye" to those who'd cared for her and brought her back to health.
"'Face to remember' is a strategy to help you cope with really intense situations, if you think of one positive person that you helped that had a good outcome," says Hengeveld, a 35-year-old North Vancouver resident.
Hengeveld's peer Kevin Mollenhauer, a registered nurse in Miamisburg, Ohio, whom she met in the field, also has a Haiti face to remember. His is preschooler Evans, a two-year-old who was likewise successfully treated during the 2010 cholera outbreak.
So touched by their experiences, Hengeveld and Mollenhauer felt unable to walk away from Haiti. "There's just something about Haiti that captures your heart and makes you want to go back and help," says Hengeveld.
The duo have since teamed up to launch Evans and Francesca, a fundraising-
focused organization dedicated to improving access to child and maternal health care in rural Haiti through the creation of sustainable Haitian-run health care.
"It's been a collaboration of people all working together for a common goal to help Haiti, to empower the Haitian people and to create sustainable health care there," says Hengeveld.
A number of North Shore health-care professionals have lent support to the organization, as well are continuing to volunteer on the ground in Haiti. Hengeveld was initially inspired to travel there by fellow Lions Gate Hospital emergency room registered nurse Christina Mavinic, who was the first to travel to Haiti in February 2010 to help postearthquake with New Reality International.
"From one person going, so much change and positive things have happened," says Hengeveld.
"It is amazing the energy that has been building and continues to build with Haiti. It's definitely become very contagious," she adds.
The movement within Lions Gate Hospital started with the emergency department, though now sees involvement from throughout the hospital as well as has grown to include staff at Vancouver General Hospital.
"Our emergency department is full of really passionate, committed people that love health care, love helping people and are very enthusiastic," says Hengeveld. "It's really exciting to be able to bring a team of people down to a country and provide some positive support."
Hengeveld has taken a leadership role in their involvement and is driven by the realization of the stark contrast between what's available in Canada and Haiti in regard to adequate child and maternal health care, and what a difference having access can make in people's lives.
"Every time we go down there we come back and realize how fortunate we are to have the health care we have and really everyone in this world should have the opportunity to have access to health care. That's the inequality that we see and the huge motivation for wanting to help empower the Haitian people and help them create their own sustainable health care," she says.
Evans and Francesca has partnered with Haiti Village Health (www. haitivillagehealth.ca), a volunteer-based charity providing sustainable primary health care and training to people living in the underserviced rural region of Bas Limbe in northern Haiti.
To support the organization, Evans and Francesca is inviting community members to attend a Burger and Beer fundraising evening at North Vancouver's Mosquito Creek Bar and Grill Friday, July 20 beginning at 6: 30 p.m. Tickets are $20, which includes a burger and beer.
Funds raised will be forwarded to Haiti Village Health in support of pediatric outreach, including the provision of vaccinations, vitamins and well-child visits to the 3,500 children of the Bas Limbe region. Funds will also support the Medika Mamba Project, aimed at fighting malnutrition and supporting local peanut farmers as Medika Mamba is a Haitian-produced nutritional peanut supplement.
Funds will also help pay a Haitian physician's salary at the Sante Pou Yo clinic in Bas Limbe, an essential role in the clinic's various programs, including women's health and pediatrics and ensuring professional development. Finally, monies raised will help Haiti Village Health in its efforts to promote sustainable long-term Haiti-run health care by 2015.
For more information on Evans and Francesca, visit evansandfrancesca.org.