Avon woman returns from Haiti | VailDaily.com

Avon woman returns from Haiti

Sarah Mausolf
Avon, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily/Jean ParadisJean Paradis poses with a fellow nurse at the Nazarene school compound in Port-au-Prince.

AVON, Colorado – When Jean Paradis heard about the earthquake in Haiti, she felt compelled to help.

She had been visiting Haiti for 10 years, working in an orphanage and participating in medical clinics. A part-time Avon resident, Paradis is a registered nurse with her own counseling practice in the Vail Valley. A few years ago she started teaching English each summer at the orphanage in Haiti.

“Those children and those people are very dear to me, so when the earthquake happened, it was like, ‘I’ve got to go there,'” Paradis said.

Last Friday, she set out for Haiti with a doctor from Grand Junction and a nurse from Denver. She flew into the Dominican Republic, where she met up with a team from Heart to Heart, an international relief organization.

Driving into Haiti with the team, Paradis was struck by the destruction.

“The inner city, maybe you’d see one building up in a block,” she said. “The palace is almost like it’s leaning. It looks very dangerous. The people are living in the streets. They put up a lot of tents. They’re living in big fields.”

Paradis helped out at several makeshift medical clinics.

“In the beginning, we didn’t have any equipment and we didn’t have any place to send people,” she said. “The hospitals had fallen down.”

Paradis started working for a clinic at the church of Nazarene boarding school, where she met a woman whose daughter had died in the earthquake. The woman had three children, including twins, and one of the twin girls had been killed trying to escape her crumbling home.

Throughout the trip, Paradis encountered people who were living with incredible pain.

“We saw a guy who had a hole in his head,” she said. “You could look in and see his skull. All we could do was kind of clean his wound. We had limited antibiotics.”

Paradis and her team set up another clinic in a junkyard in Petionville. They used an old bucket seat from a car for an examining table. Paradis also worked in a clinic under a tarp on a soccer field in Port-au-Prince.

Paradis said countries from all over the world had sent teams of doctors and nurses to help with medical care for the earthquake victims.

After about six days in Haiti, Paradis left knowing there was much more work to be done.

“It’s a very helpless feeling,” she said.

Despite that feeling, Paradis has been doing even more to help – she’s been using her nonprofit organization, Help Haiti, to raise money for the earthquake’s victims.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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