In January when she found out that her mentor, Dr. Joan Liverpool, was headed to Haiti for a Jan. 29-to-Feb. 6 medical mission, she knew she wanted to go.
The mission came in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean island.
“I just love to help people,” she said. “It just makes me feel more valuable as a person to know that I have and can help someone.”
Liverpool, an adjunct professor at Morehouse School of Medicine, has been mentoring Quanesha for more than a year. She said Quanesha would not let them leave without her.
“Every question we raised, she had an answer for it,” Liverpool recalled on Wednesday. “Every objection I came up with, she had already thought about it and had an answer.”
Quanesha, who lives in Stone Mountain, aspires to be an ob-gyn and a geneticist. She had figured out how to complete all her schoolwork; secured approval from her teachers at Georgia Perimeter College, where she is in a joint-enrollment program; and even depleted her college dorm application fund to get the $400 she needed to make the trip.
To Liverpool’s surprise, Quanesha didn’t even mind that she would celebrate her 18th birthday on Feb. 2 in Haiti.
“I had no choice but to take her along,” she said.
The Haiti trip wasn’t Quanesha’s first overseas medical mission. In summer 2009, she went with Liverpool’s nonprofit Deskan Institute in Training on a nine-day medical mission to Guyana.
The Atlanta group, which included Liverpool’s husband, Charles, and two registered nurses, drove to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they got a ride to Port-au-Prince on a plane delivering supplies.
Liverpool said Quanesha was a big help on the trip, where they worked 12-hour days in near primitive conditions and slept in tents.
“She was the runner,” Liverpool said. “She ran between the doctors, got supplies from the pharmacy, helped with dressings, ice packs, and with hanging IVs. She helped comfort patients and helped the little children. She hugged a lot of them.”
Quanesha was so helpful, Liverpool said the volunteer doctors they met from other states all wanted her on their team.
“She followed directions well and she asked a lot of questions,” she said.
From the first time she met Quanesha, Liverpool said she was impressed with her maturity and inquisitiveness.
“She had just turned 17, but the kind of questions she was asking me, college graduates weren’t,” Liverpool said. “She was a quick learner, mature beyond her age, and just wanted to make a difference and to help people do better in their lives.”
Liverpool said Quanesha also takes criticism as teaching moments.
“If she is asking a patient questions that might be inappropriate, and I said, ‘You should not ask that question,’ she wants to know if there was another way that she could ask it to get the information she is seeking. She takes every opportunity to learn.”
Over the five-day mission, Liverpool said their team served more than 5,000 people.
When the mission ended, Liverpool said Quanesha was concerned about leaving all the people who needed help.
On the 15-hour wait at the airport for a lift back home, Liverpool said she complained about all the people they could be helping instead of just sitting there.
Quanesha said she learned a lot about herself on the trip.
“I found out that blood doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I found out that pus doesn’t bother me. I found out that fecal matter doesn’t bother me. I found out that I am strong.”