FONDAL, HAITI — The little band of American volunteers sat under a tree, panting and sweating from a taste of daily life in the poor rural villages of Haiti. The group, made up mainly of Iowa doctors, nurses and other medical professionals and students, had spent an hour and a half climbing a winding dirt road up a mountain to this remote village. On the way, they’d seen Haitians making the trek while bearing heavy loads of water, fruit, chickens, firewood and homemade charcoal.
When the volunteers finally arrived in town, scores of villagers were already lined up under the hot March sun, waiting for the rare chance to share their health concerns with a doctor. Casey Panko, a University of Iowa nurse helping lead the team, briefed her exhausted colleagues about the ailments they would treat in the small stucco building that would serve as a clinic.