OGDEN — The faces of Emily Porter and Sabrina Wood light up when the girls talk about giving service — Emily says she loves playing the violin for local senior citizens, and Sabrina has gone as far as Mexico to help install stoves.
But next week, service will take on a whole new meaning for the two Ogden High School students, as they spend more than two weeks on a service trip to Haiti.
The two girls will be accompanying their dads, Joel Porter and Tom Wood, and about 30 others as they volunteer with the Haiti Health Initiative group.
Haiti Health Initiative is a nonprofit organization focused on serving the public health needs of the rural Haitian people. Along with medical and dental care, the group will also help clean the water by adding piping in a small Haitian village called Timo.
The area is remote enough that the group will backpack in on donkeys, said Emily’s mom, Deanna Porter. Her husband has been on several trips with the group and has taken their older sons.
Sabrina’s dad has also gone a few times and took her older brother as well.
That’s what gave the girls the idea they wanted to go.
“I knew you had to be (at least) 16, so I told my dad that was what I wanted to do,” Emily said.
The 17-year-old senior spent her summer earning the money for the $1,500 trip. She mowed lawns, baby-sat and even grew pumpkins in her backyard and at a church garden spot and has been selling them to finish paying for her trip.
“It was a lot harder than I thought,” she said of earning the money, “but I know it will be worth it.”
Both of the girls will be doing specific jobs.
Emily is the trip photographer and will travel to all the places where medical and dental services are being provided as well as to schools, plantations and clinics.
Sabrina is the anemia coordinator and will stay at the medical tents and give information to the Haitians about anemia and how to treat it or prevent it. She said she loves the idea, because part of the mission of the trip is to educate the people to be able to treat some of their medical problems long after the group leaves. Sabrina is glad to be a part of that.
Both girls will work with translators to help with the Creole language barrier, but Emily admits to being a little nervous about it. The girls laughed as they talked about other nervous tensions they are feeling just one week before their departure.
“You have to be careful about what you say to men because you don’t want to get proposed to,” Sabrina said with a laugh as she explained how different the culture is from America.
“They get engaged and married when they are 15 or 16,” Emily said.
One thing the girls aren’t worried about is their accommodations — tent life.
“I love camping and being outdoors,” Emily said.
She’s excited to see the country and experience something new. Sabrina agrees.
“We will have fresh water. That is part of what we are doing there — is to help provide that,” Sabrina said.
Both girls greatly admire their fathers and their example of service. Joel Porter is a general family doctor in Ogden, and Tom Wood is an emergency room doctor, so they are able to treat many conditions for the Haitian people.
Porter is the medical coordinator of the trip, and Emily has been impressed with the hours of service he has already put in to put the trip together.
“He is a great example to me,” Emily said.
Sabrina said the same of her father.
“I have seen him serve here on a scale. It will be neat to see him serve on a large scale,” Sabrina said.
Emily’s younger brother Matthew has also had a hand in the trip, although he is too young to go. The 15-year-old coordinated completion of 100 hygiene kits as well as newborn kits for the group to take with them. Because it is so difficult to ship things there, many of the items will be taken on the plane. Each of the main suitcases will be filled with medical supplies, and their carry-ons will have a small amount of clothes and necessities for the group.
While the girls know what a huge impact the trip will have on their lives personally, they look forward to the long-range effect it will have on the people of Haiti.
“The way my dad has talked, he loves the people and has formed a close bond. I look forward to that,” Emily said.
For Sabrina, the hardest part of the trip is already over before it starts — getting all the inoculations.
“I hate shots!” she exclaimed as she talked about the shots and malaria pills both girls were required to have. “My dad asked if it would be worth it if I had to get the shots, and I had to think about it for a minute,” she said, laughing. But she is sure it is. “I want to make a difference in a community that will last past we’re there,” she said.
Emily grinned and said, “I just want to forget myself and serve. I love helping as much as I can with whatever I can.”