Story and photos by Samantha Oester

CAP HAITIEN, HAITI – Born in the northern region of Haiti, Dr. Maklin Eugene grew up without access to medical care. The son of farmers in a remote village, he decided at a young age that he wanted to make a difference in his home country. “Luckily, I’m not a person that gets very sick,” he said on the way to the EBAC orphanage in Cap Haitien Saturday. “But so many people here, they desperately need care, and don’t have any way to get it. I wanted to help Haitians live.”

Dr. Maklin Eugene travels to various clinics, orphanages and hospitals in the Cap Haitien area, helping the region’s residents gain access to medical care, as well as treating earthquake refugees. Here, he stands outside of the clinic in Jacquesyl Thursday.

Dr. Maklin Eugene travels to various clinics, orphanages and hospitals in the Cap Haitien area, helping the region’s residents gain access to medical care, as well as treating earthquake refugees. Here, he stands outside of the clinic in Jacquesyl Thursday.

Eugene works at various clinics, hospitals and orphanages in the Cap Haitien area, including the clinics in Tovar, Cotelette and Jacquesyl, St. Anthony’s Clinic and the orphanage in Kayang, making a total of
about $9,000 USD per year. Every day this week, locals stopped him on the street to ask for money to buy medications and bus fare to get to medical facilities, which he pulls from his own pocket. “They know how to do it,” he said. “They show me proof of what they need, like a prescription, and I help with what I can.” The young doctor has also been assisting the staff at Milot and Justinien Hospitals, to aid in the treatment of earthquake victims. The mayor of Cap Haitien, Michel St. Croix, along with Eugene, arranged for buses to pick up refugees from Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns and bring them to Cap Haitien for treatment. “We’re now overwhelmed with people, and people that need medical care,” Eugene stated. “But they have no place else to go. We couldn’t leave them in Port-au-Prince to die.” Many earthquake refugees are coming from Port-au-Prince with amputations, from body parts being cut off in order to pull them from the rubble, sometimes with rusty saws and other tools found on the street. “Being disabled here is so different,” Eugene said. “They don’t have any one to care for them, and their families are gone. There’s no programs for them here like in the United States. They may starve just from not being able to move.”

Dr. Maklin Eugene, a member of the Cap Haitien Health Network, stands outside of the new maternity wing of the Haiti Hospital Appeal, currently under construction.

Dr. Maklin Eugene, a member of the Cap Haitien Health Network, stands outside of the new maternity wing of the Haiti Hospital Appeal, currently under construction.

The country’s only medical schools, including the one Eugene attended, were located in or near Port-au-Prince and are no longer operable, with many students perishing in the disaster. In dire need of more health professionals, Haiti is in “serious trouble” without the students who were attending medical schools and universities when the Jan. 12 earthquake hit, according to Eugene. “Because of help and
supplies from the U.S. and other countries, medical care here was starting to get better,” he explained. “But now, a lot of people have lost hope. We need doctors and nurses so bad. We need schools. They might not get rebuilt for a long, long time.” Tent cities have been erected to give refugees a place to go, but it is a temporary fix. “The mayor in Cap Haitien is feeding them and trying to keep them alive,” Eugene said. “But no help is coming from the national government. Haiti was so bad before. It’s going to be even worse for a while.”
Dr. Maklin Eugene after an exhausting day treating patients inthe remote village of Pillette Monday. Eugene has been treating patients and helping people around-the-clock since the earthquake.

Dr. Maklin Eugene after an exhausting day treating patients in the remote village of Pillette Monday. Eugene has been treating patients and helping people around-the-clock since the earthquake.

With the current president of Haiti, Rene Preval, having a year left in office, many people have lost hope. “They are discouraged,” Eugene said. “It’s going to be hard to get people to even show up to vote in the next election. They feel like it doesn’t make a difference.” But optimism had been found in people like Eugene – Haitians working to make their country a better place for its people. In addition to his clinic schedule, and offering around-the-clock consultations and help with medications, he has established two businesses to help local women. He started a co-op to give women two-percent interest loans, with low monthly payments, to institute their own businesses. His other venture, Hands of Haiti, employs women to make medical scrub shirts, with a portion of the proceeds going to treat earthquake refugees. Soon to be sold on a website based in Virginia, Eugene hopes the scrub company will take off, and he will be able to expand and hire a lot more women from the Cap Haitien area. For Haiti’s future, Eugene said general education and health education is the key. A majority of Haiti’s population do not have access even to elementary schools. According to Eugene, not only would increasing the number of educated people in Haiti change the economy, but it would make the country generally healthier. “It’s very hard sometimes to explain to people who have never been to any kind of school how to take care of themselves,” he said. “They just don’t understand preventative care. And many times they leave the clinics without really understanding how to take their medicines or follow the instructions the doctor gives them.”

Haiti’s schools, however, are not currently managed by the government. Schools are built and ran privately, by organizations and individuals who want to see Haiti have a brighter future. “The people of Haiti are not like the bad things that you hear about the government,” Eugene said. “I want everyone to know that Haiti’s people are great, great people. They want to learn. They are so eager to go to school. They just can’t. If people here had more opportunities, Haiti would be a very different place.”

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