Terry Dewald is an oncology nurse at MacFarland Clinic in Ames, Iowa. She is married to CHI volunteer Jay Fredrick and they live in Ames, Iowa.
How did you find CHI?
I had watched and heard of people who did medical volunteer work in Africa and even within the United States. I briefly thought how great that experience would be but quickly dismissed the through. I had many reasons why I thought I would never be able to do anything like that. Until one day in 2008, I got a phone call asking if I would like to join a medical team heading to Haiti. The word "YES" came out of my mouth so fast I wondered what I had just said. I had no idea how I was going to make it happen (money, time off work, etc.). So, later that year, I was part of a grassroots team who went to Mizak, Haiti to set up a medical clinic through another nonprofit organization. It was an incredible, eye-opening, and rewarding experience. I knew I had to keep going back every year until 2012 when I canceled my trip due to a conflict at work. At that point, I wasn't sure where my calling was and I prayed God would show me the way. It was 2013 when a former boss told me I should read the Des Moines Register about an organization (CHI Haiti) that was providing medical care in Haiti. I read every word of that article and went on the CHI website to read more about them. I knew that it was an answer to my prayers.
What trips have you gone on? What is your favorite memory?
I have returned to Haiti with CHI every January since 2014.
It's hard to choose just one favorite memory. My first would be in 2016 when a very, very sick gentleman came into the clinic. I got an IV started on him and began infusing fluids. He remained in my treatment area all day. At the end of the day, Dr. Chris Buresh decided he still was not stable enough to send home. So, him and I loaded into a TapTap while a Haitian staff member sat in the back holding up an IV bag as we drove back to where we were staying. Dr. Chris checked on the gentleman all night and in the morning he was transported to a hospital. It wasn't until 2017 when one of my teammates recognized him at the pharmacy and quickly came to get me. The minute our eyes met, his eyes lit up, he smiled, and he hugged me. We don't speak each other's language but I felt a very deep message was communicated.
My second favorite memory would be in 2018 when my now husband and I got married in a church with Pastor Niko and two other pastors presiding. Jay and I knew we wanted a nontraditional, very simple wedding as we had both been married before. Annie Vander Werff suggested getting married in Haiti. Pastor Niko agreed to serve as pastor, and Sunday, January 14 would be the day. We thought it would be a few words from the pastor, some quick "I Do's", and service done. Much to our surprise, the Haitian community had gone all out to prepare for this event. They decorated the church, music playing, songs sung, three pastors. We signed the official marriage book of the church with little Haitian faces peering into every window and doorway. Back at the our housing, tables were decorated for the entire team, a big wedding cake was set up, and all the Haitian staff sang "Happy Birthday" to us. My wedding day turned out 1000 times better than I ever dreamed of.
What impact does CHI have on your life?
I guess gratitude is the first thing that comes to mind. It just seems like no matter what the situation, Haitians always end the conversation with "God is good". We could be splinting a broken arm from an accident that happened two weeks ago, giving someone Tylenol for their body aches and pains, or assisting another with a malnourished child, and they are so very grateful for every little thing. Upon returning from Haiti, I am always reminded of how much I have and how I need to remember to give thanks for that. Haiti is my happy place. The place where I feel very close to God and at peace. I cherish the ongoing friendships I have formed with both my Haitian and North American teammates. I'm already signed up for January 2020. It's been awesome having my husband join me for the past 3 years and the past 2 years I have had at least one of my 3 daughters with me. I will keep going back to Haiti as long as my legs will carry me.
Why do you choose to donate your time and money to CHI?
After my first trip, I could tell CHI was a very outstanding, transparent, genuine organization that I would be proud to be a part of. I like their goals of preventative medicine and empowerment. I have organized numerous fundraisers to build latrines. Not only is having a latrine a dignity issue, but it cleans up the area which in turn helps with disease prevention. Over the past 6 years, I have seen so many improvements in Do Digue and love watching how the community is taking ownership. I enjoy serving on a couple of committees with CHI and love sharing my experiences with anyone who asks. Every time when I return home, a little piece of my heart remains in Haiti.