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Healing Haiti A Mighty Change Part 5

  June 02, 2017

By Alexander Germanis

Like a powerful river, people also have the potential to grow from the most humble of beginnings into something unimaginably strong and drastically different. Both Stephen Doran, DMD, and his assistant, Maggie Barr, CNA, have discovered their work in the humble country of Haiti has altered them in ways they could not have predicted.

Previously in this series, the pair have described the work they have done as they follow in the footsteps of Richard and Barbara Hammond, founders of the charitable organization Friends of the Children of Haiti (FOCOH). Traveling to the island nation, Dr. Doran and Maggie not only bring aid to the poor who need it, they are helping to build up a clinic so the Haitian health system can eventually become more self-sufficient.

Whatever change they have been hoping to bring to those in need and whatever growth they are trying to foster, the greatest growth has occurred in them.

“The Haitians do way more for me than I do for them. I come back a better doctor; I’m a better person after every clinic,” Dr. Doran shares.
As much as Dr. Doran has grown since he started going, he feels Maggie has experienced an even more profound positive alteration.

“Maggie’s life changed the first time she went down there,” he says. “I wouldn't be surprised to see her go down one of these years and not come back.”

“I am a completely different person since I started going,” Maggie concurs. “I save a lot of my money, because I know as soon as I get back from Haiti, I need to start planning for the next one. There is no way anything is going to stop me from going again. Hopefully I’ll be able to go down frequently with or without Dr. Doran. Maybe I will live down there someday.”

Even though both Dr. Doran and Maggie give of themselves by giving their time, they are aided by others, without whom they would not be able to gain such experiences. “My partners here, [Drs. Capodice, Efaw, and Ocheltree] and the McLean County Dental Society have been very good about donations, and they have been very supportive about me going to Haiti,” Dr. Doran says. “For me to be gone four weeks a year is kind of big deal. There aren't many people who can leave their practice for four weeks and still be able to go on vacation with their grandkids and all. My partners have been very supportive of my work and I couldn't do it without feeling like they were in my corner. If I was just in private practice by myself, I couldn't do this. And now I'm at the point where I couldn’t not do this.”

Maggie understands that drive all too well. She is steeped in a warm glow every time she returns from her sojourns in Haiti. “When I come back, I feel like I have this grasp on life. It’s like when you just got a new sweater and you feel great about it. But then, in a couple weeks, it starts to wear off. I’ll come in some days and complain and complain. Then, all of sudden, I think of those kids [in Haiti]. They have nothing, and they're the happiest kids I've ever met.”

Although that warm feeling briefly returns — fueled only by memory — it is like a river that needs to be fed continuously by other sources. There is only one way to keep that mighty change alive in both Maggie and Dr. Doran, and that is to return to Haiti once again. “This is something that is really important to us,” Dr. Doran says. “We’ll do this until we can't do it anymore.”

If you missed the previous articles in this series, you may read them online at, or call 309-664-2524.

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June 02, 2017


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