Braintree’s Jennifer Celley shares compelling images from medical mission
RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center laboratory technician Jennifer Celley traveled to Haiti in June 2012 for a medical mission through the Community Health Initiative, a non-profit co-founded by Gifford Emergency Department physician Dr. Josh White.
The trip was Celley’s first ever to Haiti and she didn’t know what to expect. Would Caribbean island or post-earthquake rubble await? What Celley found was poverty, desperation, warmth and love.
“Before going to Haiti, I was excited yet nervous about what I was going to see,” says Celley of Braintree. “I had an image in my mind of a beautiful Caribbean island covered with rubble from the earthquake two years earlier. I was unsure and as the plane took off. I felt butterflies in my stomach. ‘Have I made a mistake?’ ‘Maybe I should go home’ ran through my head.
“As the plane descended I looked out the window and saw a lush, beautiful Caribbean island and felt relief. But as the plane continued descending, I saw an island so barren you could see tires burning on the ground, and thousands and thousands of rusty tin roofs staring up at you. It was at this moment that my heart sank. It sank for these people, and I knew then that I was supposed to be on this plane. I was destined to love Haiti.”
At first blush, Haiti assaults the senses. “The heat slaps you across the face,” Celley recalls. “It takes your lungs a minute to breathe in the hot, humid air. It takes your nose by surprise when you smell the rotting garbage and the raw sewage.”
But then there are the people – the thousands and thousands of desolate, smiling, joyful people.
“The amount of suffering that these loving, caring, happy people have to live with every day is heartbreaking, but the surprising part is how they cope with it and move forward. I did not hear anyone complain. I did not see anyone frown. I did not see one tear,” Celley says.
It is these people and these experiences that Celley documented through photographs, and it is these experiences that she is now sharing with the community in hopes of making an even greater difference.
Celley’s photos of her time in Haiti are in her employer, Gifford Medical Center’s, art gallery from the afternoon of May 29-July 31.
Created with the help of Dr. Lou DiNicola and Shari Voghell at the Corner Frame Shop in Randolph, the pieces are for sale. All profits from the sale support Celley’s effort to return to Haiti for another mission with the Community Health Initiative and directly support the organization.
To learn more about this organization with Randolph roots, visit www.chihaiti.org. To see Celley’s show, visit Gifford’s art gallery, located just inside the main lobby (marked “Registration”) and to the left.
Learn more about Gifford and get directions on the Web at www.giffordmed.org.