Haitian relief trip became life passion for local graduate
By Audrey Alfson
Special for the Argus
Three years ago, Amy (Kruckow) Heaney never imagined that she would be a seasoned traveler and valued partner with organizations all over the world who provide relief to developing nations. But since the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, Amy has made seven trips to the impoverished country, improving countless lives and enriching her own in the process.
A 2000 graduate of Caledonia High School and daughter of Fred and Vicki Kruckow of Caledonia, Heaney works as a pediatric ICU nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and enjoys a busy life with her husband and two young children at home in Eyota. Five months after the earthquake in Haiti, Heaney was among a group of 30 medical professionals from Mayo who traveled to Haiti on a medical mission to serve those in need.
“I went as a nurse, but fell in love with the people”, said Heaney. “The people are living every day to survive. I just couldn’t turn my back.”
And so she went back, again and again. Each time as the increasingly efficient organizer of trips for people from all over the country, wanting to help others. Each time, forming deeper bonds with the people she now considers her extended family.
For Heaney, a single trip in 2010 has become a life passion to help others. Her passion has led her to create a non-profit, Lavi, which means “Life” in Creole–the language spoken in Haiti. According to Heaney, “Lavi (Life) is dedicated to supporting community growth. Our mission is to empower people; while embracing their community through growth in education, medical outreach, and sustainability.” Through her non-profit, she works with other organizations around the world to provide services in Haiti.
Their medical missions consist of mobile clinics, where medical staff volunteer their time in Haiti and provide health education and medical care to men, women, and children in remote areas of Haiti where there is little or no access to basic medical care. Lavi medical teams see on average 300 men, women, and children per day. They also provide specialty consultation and health education to Haitian medical professionals to help build personnel capacity to meet Haiti’s long-term healthcare needs.
Lavi construction teams work with the Haitians to build homes, cabinetry, and most recently playgrounds. Lavi, with the help from Caledonia High School, has built two playgrounds in Fonds Parisien at the orphanage and school. Lavi has also partnered with Home for Haiti an NGO out of Australia, to build homes for Haitians and provide great jobs for them, too.
Heaney’s passion and hard work have not gone unnoticed. She was recently tapped by UNICEF to become the “Director of Emergency Preparedness in Haiti”. This is both an honor and a monumental undertaking, requiring some careful consideration and negotiation of her time, yet Heaney is humbled and invigorated by the opportunity.
The needs in Haiti are tremendous and can feel overwhelming, but Heaney is driven by a personal quest. Through her work in Haiti, says Heaney, “I am discovering that the best parts of me are alive.”
If you would like to help, you have options! You can sponsor a child, host or support a fundraising event, or make a trip to Haiti with Lavi! Discover your best options on the website www.lavi-life.org and on Heaney’s blog www.payitforwardhaiti.wordpress.com.