Nursing students take medical care to sugarcane farms

Bateys are sugarcane farms where Haitian workers and their families live. Working and living conditions there are heartbreaking.

The men – and sometimes the women – cut the cane using machetes in the hot sun for long hours each day.

The homes are made of cement blocks with no water, no electricity and no indoor bathrooms. The women cook on a fire made of wood, and bathe in a dirty stream. The children play in the dirt with whatever toys they can create from old tire rims and sticks.

The people have to travel some distance to get clean water, medical help and to buy food. Many cannot afford the transportation costs.

For the past eight years, nursing students from Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario have been travelling to the Dominican Republic and working in bateys around the city of Bani.

Each year we carry Physician Travel Packs from HPIC with us to the bateys, enabling us to care for 150 to 200 people a day while we are there. We set up a clinic, assess each person and treat a wide variety of conditions often with the help of a Dominican physician.

All the children and adults are given deworming medicine and then a supply of vitamins to help build their immune system. Many of the older Haitians have pain in their joints, eye problems, hypertension, and stomach problems. With the help of the medicines in the PTP, we are able to treat all of these conditions and advise them on their medications and follow-up care.

Many women suffer from vaginal infections and are so happy to receive treatment for this. The children have respiratory problems such as pneumonia, coughs and fevers and because of the lack of clean water, many have skin conditions like scabies, fungal infections and infected wounds. Again with the help of the donated medications we are able to help most of them with these conditions and improve their health.