One week ago, I returned from Jeremie, Haiti – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Since I was 19 years old, I have had the opportunity – and the privilege – of volunteering there with the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF). Founded by my father, Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, over three decades ago, the HHF provides medical care and health initiatives in Jeremie to over 250,000 people per year.
The majority of my volunteering for HHF takes place in the United States: speaking at organizations and conferences, donating my book sales and sharing the story of Haitian Health Foundation on a daily basis with friends, students and people I meet. Once a year, it is a privilege to travel to Haiti where I assist the volunteer dental team. This past journey, my friend Colleen Hopkins and I accompanied three amazing dentists who worked non-stop, and with great empathy, to provide relief and comfort. It is a reminder that while you cannot help an entire country, you can still make life more comfortable for others by focusing on one person at a time.
Opportunity vs. obligation
Volunteerism offers an “opportunity” versus an “obligation” to serve others. This shift in perspective makes all the difference. The opportunity to volunteer in Haiti and the lessons learned from the Haitian people, who by no fault of their own were born into a desperate situation, are invaluable. These lessons include resilience, spirituality, and hope.
You do not have to travel to a Third World country to serve others; there is opportunity right in front of you. You have the ability to improve and enhance the lives of those less fortunate through the gift of your “time, talent and treasure.” The happiest and most fulfilled people are those who assist others for no gain or recognition.
Seeing opportunity as a gift
The “opportunity” to serve others is a gift in your life. Who can YOU help today? Who might you be missing right in front of your eyes? Co-workers facing a hardship, customers who have a difficult life, the person serving you at your local coffee shop in the morning? When you open our eyes, you find the answer right in front of you.
Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead professed: “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Gail has been volunteering in Haiti for over three decades – since she was 19 years old. Her father, Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, and mother, Virginia, are the founders of the Haitian Health Foundation, an NGO (Non-governmental organization) serving a population of over 250,000 people in Jeremie with the provision of basic healthcare and dental care needs, access to formal education and community development projects. Her sister, E. Marilyn Lowney, serves as Executive Director.
Fundraising for Haiti on a year-round basis and physically volunteering in Haiti every year is a privilege for which Gail is most appreciative. To find out how you can help, visit our website at HaitianHealthFoundation.org and feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.