Thursday, February 11, 2010

Volunteer Nora Sheehan Providing Hands-On Care in Haiti

Nora Sheehan, 24, is a nurse who works for the adult medical unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Three weeks ago she signed up as a Project HOPE volunteer on the USNS Comfort to help the victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti four weeks ago.

It is not her first trip to Haiti. In 2009 Nora went to the tiny Caribbean nation to volunteer as a nurse in one of the mobile clinics not knowing that very soon she would return to help the Haitian people again.

"Haitians are beautiful people," she says "They deserve every ounce of care."

Nora works in the adult medical unit. Every day she takes care of 8 to 12 patients, more than twice as much as back home. "I often wonder why I am not as affected by all the despair around me as I thought I would be," she says. "Maybe it's because we work so hard, 12 hours, and then basically just go straight to bed. There simply is no time to fully comprehend what is happening."

Nora has realized that even though she does not speak Creole she feels very connected with most of her patients. "Not being able to talk to one another creates an opportunity to connect on a very human level," she says. "I think I touch my patients much more often here than I usually do back home in Boston. I rub their backs, hold their hands. It's a different way of care taking."

Still there are countless stories to tell, every one of her patients has a story and most of them are hard to listen to she says.

"One of my patients is a 27-year-old woman who lost her seven siblings and her parents during the earthquake," Nora says. "She survived, but her L1 vertebra was broken and she might be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of her life."

This young woman, Nora found out, loves music and she loves to sing. "I share my iPod with her and she holds it in her hands all day and smiles at me when I walk by."

Help HOPE provide long-term medical relief efforts in Haiti. DONATE NOW

Story and photos by HOPE volunteer and photojournalist Astrid Riecken


  1. Passing this story onto everyone, so we can pray for your friend. May God keep you safe and continue to bless your work and the Haitian people.

    L+P or E

  2. Love you Nora, you are amazing and we are praying for you every step of the way! Love, Margles

  3. Nora, you are AWESOME!! Keep on loving! Me and a whole bunch of middle schoolers are praying for ya!

  4. What you are doing is so awesome! I'm sure you're making such a difference in those people's lives. Missing you on Ellison 16, but know you're needed there much more. Keep up the good work, can't wait to hear all about it. Stay safe!

  5. Nora, I am so proud to have you as my roomie and friend. Love you kid. Keep up the hard work and keep spreading the love. Love, Laura

  6. Nora,

    Your Aunt Mary sent this to a group of us. Many people think about doing something to help other people, but it is exceptional person that steps up and does it. What an incredible example you are for anyone who has the pleasure of knowing you or just meeting you. I hope that you remian safe and healthy. Keep up the wonderful, good work!
    I'll keep you your peers and your patients in my prayers.

    Beth Hatch