Dr Toni Bark; MD and Helen Gracie, CEO of Scenar Health, have volunteered on a medical mission in Haiti during April 2010.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

preparing for our trip

Hi all, this is now the voice of Toni.

I have been preparing for a month for this voyage, obtaining many needed supplies via donations.
So many people have been generous and supportive, I hope this can continue until Haiti can rebuild itself and the wounds can heal.

The devastation there was too overwhelming for me to just observe on CNN, the urge to help too strong to just sit by and read about it in the NYTimes, I had to go. I knew I'd be going to Haiti from the moment I saw the first footage on television.

Initially, I emailed Helen, the CEO of the SCENAR company requesting her to donate several devices and then later she agreed to accompany me when my photographer had to cancel.

We are staying in tents on the roof of a school and do not have access to a shower, only a cold water spigot. There are not many people who would agree to this, so I was surprised when Helen offered it up.

I posted on my facebook page the desire to bring toothbrushes, lollipops and tea tree oil, I immediately received messages from several of my friends for donations.

One friend sent 144 toothbrushes and 5lbs of lollipops (the kids will need to brush after all the candy)
Another friend sent 144 colorful toothbrushes to hand out. Another offered oils.

 Lush is donating a large amount of the oil, however, getting the oil into the country is proving to be tricky, as mail and shipping into Haiti is still a problem.

Similasan USA has sent me 15lbs of combination remedies, Hahnemann pharmacy sent a trauma kit, whole foods has set aside 24 boxes of emergency and several containers of vitamins and electrolyte packages for rehydration, Biocodex has sent me 200 boxes of Florastor samples and washington homeopathic pharmacy is sending me calendula ointment.

My sister has agreed to pay for the extra baggage,  and money for all the other expenses has been donated by the owners of MK, a hot restaurant in chicago, as well as the owner of Harlequin designs. (both of these sources are close friends).

I used miles in order to purchase my airline ticket, not an easy feat as the flights leave from Miami and tickets to Miami in the midst of spring break is not an easy thing to come by. I am flying business class as there were no seats available in coach that I could use miles on.

There were offers of shoes, books and clothes, but these things are too unwieldy to bring.

So here I am, reluctantly spraying my tent and clothing with premethrin (to ward away mosquitoes as malaria is a real issue), and packing the doxycycline that will be used as an antimalarial.

I went to my office today and took supplies like surgical gloves, ointments, ear speculums for my otoscope and vitamins.  I stopped at the bank to get cash, my personal banker asked me if my trip to Haiti was a "vacation", I stopped and looked at her and then we both laughed when she realized what she had asked.

I will have bags of supplies, camping gear, utilitarian clothing, but I'll be flying business class. It will be the one aspect of my voyage that will seem "luxury".

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