Cleantus Jean Jr. says he has a special calling in life to be a doctor.
He’s felt that way since he was a young teen living in an orphanage in Haiti.
It was there that he taught himself English by listening to aid workers and reading dictionaries. There, he witnessed first-hand the lack of access to medical care.
It’s to Haiti that he will return this week after a month in Crosby, where he was trained on using a portable ultrasound unit.
It’s in his home country that Jean will eventually head a clinic, providing medical care and advanced diagnostics not otherwise available to people.
“My country needs me,” Jean said. “We don’t have a good health system in Haiti. There’s no access. No good hospitals.”
Jean's infectious spirit of hope and caring caught the attention of Rick and Kathy Adams, a Backus couple who sponsored Jean's medical school.
They first saw Jean more than a decade ago while doing volunteer work in Haiti. A curious orphan, Jeans popped in on the Adams daily.
“He told us he was called by God to be a doctor and to work in Haiti,” Kathy Adams said. “He just felt that God had a plan. He said it was his job, his responsibility to serve the people of Haiti.”
That goal of improving Haiti is rare among educated citizens, said Rick Adams. Most want to leave once they have the capability.
At 30 years old, Jean's passion for helping his fellow Haitians hasn’t dwindled.
In order to get his medical degree in the Dominican Republic, though, Jean had to learn Spanish, as that was the language classes were in.
Jean spent five years in medical school and another year in an internship. But before he went back home to start serving his people, Jean made one detour stop along the way: Crosby.
For the last month, Jean has received postgraduate training in diagnostic ultrasound at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center under the guidance of Cate Thompson, an ultrasound technician.
With the portable machine, Jean can use ultrasound technology to diagnose people in rural Haitian villages that don’t even get electricity.
Jean says his time in Crosby has also taught him a lesson of kindness and friendship.
Staff at the hospital say he’s opened their eyes, too.
“He’s brought the best out in all of us,” Thompson said.
Robert Kreitter, director of radiology at the hospital, said Jean gave staff a taste of another culture, both in the medical field and on a personal level.
After Jean returns to Haiti, he will work with the Adams’ and The Faith Project Foundation to build a clinic just outside of Garde Saline, a poor village in the northeast part of the country. The foundation needs $146,000 to build and equip the clinic with supplies. They hope to have it up and running in 2016, with Jean heading operations.
Until then, Jean will run a clinic two days a week out of a worn church. He’ll only be able to run the clinic during good weather. There are holes in the roof and bad roads that can turn muddy.
Jean won’t stop his reach at medical care, though. He wants to change government practices in Haiti. He wants to work with officials to spread information on improving water, agriculture and education.
He wants to become mayor in order to help speed up medical supply deliveries that would otherwise be delayed.
“I can be part of permanent solutions,” Jean said.
Just how big of a difference he can make will be shown in “a matter of will and time.”
Kathy Adams says Jean has the capability to help the world.
And that ripple of change begins in Haiti.