chiropractic to the world:
Houpt shares Haiti Chiropractic Mission Trip Experience
by Marggi Roldan with Katie Aita Houpt, D.C.
“I was most deeply reminded of how lucky I am,” says Dr. Katie Houpt after
she returned from a recent trip to Haiti where she volunteered her time and travel
to care for hundreds of Haitian adults and children still living in tent cities
following a devastating earthquake in January. She and other chiropractors are
making the trip through Mission Life International organized by Dr. Peter Morgan.
Houpt says she met Morgan at a New Beginnings Seminar and learned about his
efforts to help the Haitians. One of Morgan’s patients lives in New York but
his wife and children live in Haiti. Morgan has made arrangements so
that chiropractors can make the trip whenever their schedule allows.
"Physically, it wasn’t as
bad as I thought it would be. Mentally and emotionally, it was rough."
The volunteers can stay at his patient’s wife’s house, and one of her neighbors
is their guide and translator. It costs $300 for your stay in the house
for the week, explains Houpt. “You have a bed and two meals a day,” she
says. “It’s a safe place to stay, and they have taken in several children who
don’t have families, so it has become a mini orphanage.” Plans are in the works
to buy the land behind the house and build a real orphanage.
Houpt made the trip with her brother, Dr. John Aita. In Haiti the two chiropractors
worked with two other doctors they did not previously know. Her trip started
on a Saturday and ended on a Wednesday. She says that five days was the perfect
amount of time for her.
Chiropractors Adam Agran, John Aita, Katie
Aita Houpt and Nancy Fitzgerald served
together in Haiti
“Physically, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Mentally and emotionally,
it was rough,” says Houpt. “On more than one occasion I had to turn around or
walk out of a room so a child wouldn’t see me cry.”
The residents she saw in the tent cities kept telling Eddie, the group’s guide,
translator and protector, that they “really need what we do,” says
Houpt. She explains that many chiropractors have been volunteering their
time and talents through this mission.
“It was very reassuring to hear how people have changed from previous chiropractors’
visits,” Houpt said. “We were told of several people who were able
to stop using their medications and even a little girl whose arms started working
again. We didn’t meet anyone who had a bad experience with a previous group’s
care,” says Houpt.
Her group went to two tent cities and adjusted approximately 600 people. They
also visited two churches/schools, several homes, a clinic and a hospital. Houpt
says, “Adding those in, we probably cared for 800 people, but it wasn’t about
the numbers – it was about the impact we could make.”
She talks about the hospital she visited. “It was set up to treat children
with neurological disorders and severe injuries from the earthquake. There was
a little boy there who laughed through his whole adjustment. His giggle
made the whole room laugh. Just as the guys were finishing checking him
his father told Eddie to tell us that he was blind. We hadn’t even noticed.
It was one of those moments that brought tears to my eyes. How sad to see
this child who was so full of life was blind and yet how wonderful to see this
blind child so full of life.
“We also met a little girl was crushed by a wall during the earthquake,”
Houpt shares. “Her spine was broken in two places, she could no longer walk or
speak or function normally. Her mother carried her school picture
from last year, a regular school picture of a beautiful little girl sitting
and smiling. And
yet with all this sadness, this little girl was smiling at us and trying her
very best to stand. We also met a little boy not yet two who lost both his arms
in the earthquake and then contracted tetanus. He recovered from the tetanus,
and the day we were there, he was being fitted with his first prosthetic arms.
He was a true fighter.”
In Houpt’s practice they asked patients for donations of cash so that they
could buy food for the children when they got to Haiti. Patients who donated
money were given a chance to win a free visit through a drawing of names. The
office gave away five visits and two of the patients then donated their visits
back. They each said they could afford their care and wanted us to give
the free visit to someone who was having trouble affording to come in. “We have
such wonderful patients!” exclaims Houpt.
Her office received nearly $900 in donations plus school supplies. They packed
all of their clothing and toiletries for the trip into book bags that they carried
on the plane, allowing them to check two suitcases filled with donations of
shoes, school supplies, granola bars, etc., for the Haitians. They also took
two portable adjusting tables.
Houpt says she has wanted to go on a chiropractic mission trip
since she was a student at Sherman, but after graduation in 2004 she got married
and started a family. “Between starting a practice, being pregnant or nursing, there
just wasn’t a trip at a time that worked for me and my family. When I met
Dr. Morgan and found out that I could pick the date [for the trip], I knew I
had to do it.”
Looking back, she’s very humbled by the opportunity. “It’s hard to know what
effect you have on them in the moments that you’re there,” Houpt says. “You know
that in that moment they are happy... happy that someone cares, happy to have
relief from pain or be reconnected to their bodies, happy for
an escape even if only for a moment, and at the very least happy to
have a soft place to lie down for a moment. It was a powerful experience.”
To learn more about chiropractic mission trips to Haiti through Mission Life
International, visit http://www.mission-chiropractic.com/.
To see more photos from Houpt’s mission trip, visit