volunteer of the month
Cina Pontes is a critical care registered nurse at UC David Medical Center, Intensive Care Unit. Cina lives in Sacramento, CA.
How did you find CHI? Why CHI?
CHI was recommended to me while I was volunteering with a different organization in Haiti. While it's a great organization, and they're doing great things for the community, I didn't necessarily feel "needed". A couple volunteers I met on the trip told me they had just wrapped up a medical clinic with CHI, and that if I ever returned to Haiti I should check them out. When I arrived back in the US, I googled CHI and after doing some research on the amazing work they do, I immediately filled out a volunteer application and signed up for the next available clinic. I chose CHI for several reasons. I really appreciate that they're not religiously-affiliated, because I feel as though people should hold the values and beliefs that they want, without being coerced into something that makes us more comfortable. I've always felt that as long as no one is being harmed, people should be free to believe what they choose. I also loved that CHI did not view itself as a "charity" organization, but rather one that's dedicated to development and sustainability. I truly felt like CHI was working hard to enable the people in the community of Do Digue to do the things they would ortherwise be able to do, if not for the lack of resources and education.
What trips have you gone on with CHI? What was your favorite part of the trip?
I have gone on three trips with CHI so far - October Medical 2017, June Medical 2018, October Medical 2018. I am also signed up for the June Medical 2019 team as well. My favorite part of any trip is seeing how love, happiness, and generosity can thrive in any environment. Too often we think that we have "so much" and we need to "help" other people so they can be happy like us. But the truth is that there is no shortage of happiness in Haiti. Sure, their access to healthcare could be better, their education surrounding safe drinking water could be more robust. And that's what CHI is trying to change. And I love that. I also love seeing how so many volunteers from different backgrounds can come together to achieve a common goal. It's really amazing to witness.
What impact does CHI have on your life?
CHI has undoubtedly changed my life in many ways. I think most people would agree that the state of our country right now could be better. During a time when divisiveness, hate, and violence seems to be the norm, it was refreshing to travel to a place so inherently different. I'll be the first to admit that as an American, we have learned to be entitled. We ignore and even deny our own privilege, under some illusion that we are the sole reason for our success and comfortable lifestyles. Working with CHI has only reinforced what I already knew - that a life lived for others is the only life worth living. The Haitian people are living in poverty. They had no choice in the matter, and escaping that poverty is nearly impossible. They are strong. They are resilient. They are kind. And they are incredibly grateful of what CHI is doing. They don't think the world owes them anything, and they appreciate the few things they have. Meanwhile, in America, this often is not the case. But it should be. We should strive to do more for the world than it does for us. We should take care of our neighbord, our communities. Haiti has changed me in many ways, all of them positive. It has pushed me to be a better version of myself - and for that, I will forever be grateful. I will continue to return to Haiti, year after year.
Why did you choose to donate with your time or money?
I was 2018's sponsor for the employee recognition program, and I chose to donate my money because our Haitian staff are truly AMAZING. I can't begin to imagine the work it takes behind the scenes for clinic to run smoothly. We would certainly not be able to do what we do without them, and I was more than happy to give a small contribution to help express my gratitude.