Susan Carroll DuFour, a native Washingtonian, first visited Hôpital Sacré Coeur in 2009 with her businessman husband Maurice “Mo “DuFour.” Since that visit, Sue has been a generous donor and active fundraiser for the CRUDEM Foundation. When asked about her experiences in Milot and her commitment to serving the Haitian people, Sue retells her poignant first visit to Hôpital Sacré Coeur.
“Many of my doctor friends would tell me about the work they did in Haiti. The Haitian Department of Health officials had made their hospital the specialty referral hospital for northern Haiti. This meant my friends expected to diagnose and treat diseases. Many of these diseases, while fortunately rare in the U.S., are common in Haiti. My physician friends mentioned everything from cholera to T.B. of the spine, to severe Pediatric Malnutrition (known as Kwashiokor’s Disease). They often invited me to “Come and See.”
When I did come, they showed me their work first hand at Hôpital Sacré Coeur and at its various specialty clinics. They also took me around Milot to meet the people and see the conditions in the area. I visited a rural elementary mission school and watched the cook stir several barrels of rice for the four hundred students.
I saw the many street children in Milot and in Cap-Haïtien.
At Hôpital Sacré Coeur, I met the women from other areas of Haiti who would sleep outside the hospital on benches so they could have a morning clinic visit. I saw their stick and tin homes and privies. I saw how they cooked their family meals of rice and beans over open fires in lean-to kitchen shanties. I saw their acceptance of life, welcoming me, their gentleness and the true examples of loving support they had for each other.
Seeing it all can overwhelm someone who is not a medical person. “What can I do?” becomes an automatic question.”
Not long after Sue’s visit to Milot, the Georgetown group of medical volunteers wanted to raise awareness and financial support for their work at Hôpital Sacré Coeur and thought to introduce a Taste of Haiti event in Washington, D.C., Sue and her husband Mo, quickly signed up to lead the effort. As members of the Order of Malta, Federal Association, they were committed to providing care for the poor and the sick. Having been to Milot and seen the need first hand, it was a natural answer to the “What can I do?” question.
Once enlisted as Co-Chair with another HSC non-medical volunteer, Mimi Fleury, Sue readily pressed into service her Georgetown Visitation Business Training, the considerable administrative skills she’d honed as an Executive Assistant at Georgetown Medical School, and the time management abilities required of a mother of four boys. Even Sue’s pursuit of a Fine Arts B.A. degree came to play in planning the Taste of Haiti events. Sue enlisted a nucleus of family, neighbors and lifelong friends to work with His Excellency Raymond Joseph, The Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti, and his wife Lola Poisson-Joseph to launch the first Washington, D.C. Taste of Haiti. The event debuted at the Haitian embassy on Massachusetts Avenue and showcased Haitian food, art and crafts.
The event was so successful and popular that Sue stepped up to the plate again in 2010 to host a second Taste of Haiti, this time with an expanded committee and the involvement of The Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School who offered their facilities as a venue. And so it continued each year hence. This year, Sue came up with the brilliant idea to launch a Stay at Home Gala and another successful fundraiser for CRUDEM and Hôpital Sacré Coeur was born.
Non-medical people often ask, as Sue once did, “What can I do?” The need is obvious and the compassion response is strong. The answer is clearly found in the inspiring example of Sue DuFour: gather your friends and associates apply your skills and raise awareness and funds within your community. You don’t have to be an M.D. to save lives. Sue DuFour’s efforts since 2009 has improved the quality of thousands of Haitian lives and, without doubt, saved the lives of many Haitian men, women and children.