After the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti, Dr. Melissa Barber received a call asking her to help treat people left injured and living in squalid conditions.
"There was no question," said Barber, 30, who was born and raised in the Bronx and worked in quality assessment at St. Barnabas Hospital in the heart of the borough. "I actually resigned and I made plans to go to Haiti for a month. That is how much it's ingrained in me to help the underserved communities when they are in need."
Barber's sense of service stems from her training at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba (See sidebar). Like thousands of fellow graduates from poor and indigenous communities in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, she received a full scholarship to attend the school in exchange for a commitment to work in areas that lack adequate access to healthcare. Haiti no doubt fit that definition before the earthquake, and even more so afterward.
So Barber joined six other Cuban-trained doctors from the United States -- all of them women -- who packed their bags full of donated medical supplies and arrived Jan. 26 in the Dominican Republic, beginning a commitment that could last for years.
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