Growing up as a boy in Léogâne, Haiti, Rigan would have never thought about becoming a nurse. He was sure he would become a business owner, teacher or engineer. He knew that a good education was vital.
“I can remember during the US embargo in the ’90’s my friend and I would sit in the sugar cane fields and eat mangos and cane while studying. We were hungry and could only find food there but we needed to study as well,” Rigan said.
When the FSIL Nursing Program came to Haiti, the word was out that this was a different kind of nursing school. As the first class was going through the program, the rumors were that it was only for the most intelligent and those who could persevere a very rigorous four year. As Rigan heard about this challenge, two nurses in his family told him that he had what it takes and he should give it a try.
Eight years later, Rigan is now serving 2,000 people living in 14 small villages. On any given day, he will have a little girl with a fever, a pregnant mother with dehydration, diarrhea, and fever; a man with serious skin infections over both legs, four cases of hypertension, and a machete injury. Most weeks he will see 80-90 patients. Given that it can take these people 2-3 hours and a week’s salary to get to a doctor, they are very grateful Rigan became a nurse.
He climbs the mountain to the La’ Sile village each Monday and stays for the week. He has two physicians that he can call for consultation and often instructs patients to go to Léogâne for care at the hospital (most can’t make the journey). He makes house calls (often an additional 90-minute hike up the mountain) and also helps with construction and other projects in the villages.
“I love it up here,” Rigan said. “On one mountain you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico at the same time.”
Prior to this job, Rigan was sent to America to accompany patients traveling for special surgeries, worked as a supervisor at a pediatric hospital in Port au Prince, and managed disaster relief after the 2010 earthquake. He is currently in the MSN program at FSIL and seeks to open more clinics in remote villages.
Regarding his long term plans, Rigan said, “I hope to someday get a PhD and teach nursing. Nursing is a good profession and will help Haiti in so many ways.”