There are many Western organizations dedicated to alleviating Third World misery. A new one based in Miami is different. KORE stands out because it was founded by and it's run by three young men who are trying to help their own people from their own homeland, Haiti, not by people who are foreign to the land and culture.
"I don't see a lot of Haitians going back to Haiti to help Haitians," said Yves-Dany Accilien, one of KORE's founders.
Accilien and two of his friends, Stevenson Chery and Samuel Jean-Baptiste, have much in common. They are all third-year medical students at FIU's Wertheim College of Medicine, they share Haitian heritage and a common goal, to get involved with helping the desperately poor in Haiti.
"Growing up in Haiti, I barely had access to a doctor. As a matter of fact, I didn't really know any doctors," Chery said. "Medicine to us was pretty much, drink tea if you're sick."
So the three buddies came up with a plan. They organized a group to promote three core values in Haiti: health care, education and economic sustainability. In a play on words, they would call it KORE, which means "support" in Creole.
"We thought this would be the perfect idea, a stepping stone to continue and create this organization to have a lasting impact on the Haitian people," Jean-Baptiste said.
KORE has made two trips to Haiti so far, including one last week in which the delegation of 30 people from FIU, mostly medical students, spent a week in an isolated village. The group included a physician from the medical school's faculty to supervise treatment and diagnosis of the hundreds of patients who turned out.
"They love us, they love us, they really respect us, they love the fact that we did come back. It's something that means a lot to them," Accilien said.
As with any big charitable effort, the founders of KORE are finding that what they're doing for the people in Haiti is having just as much of an impact on them as it's having on the people they went to help.
"I'm very blessed to be where I am and I always say in order to know where you're going, you have to remember where you came from," Chery said. "It means a lot to us, too, to inspire young kids there to let them know that one day, they can be like us."
They're still a year away from graduation, from actually being MD's, and the trips to Haiti are reinforcing the thought that they made the right career choice.
"It's given us a sense of purpose of why we're doing this in the first place," Accilien said, pointing out that their efforts are totally from the heart.
It's also an eye-opening experience to see the lack of health care in their homeland.
"Seeing people who've never seen a physician in their life, in their 70's and 80's, with congestive heart failure or hypertension, it's heartbreaking seeing that we can't help all of them," Jean-Baptiste said.
Another lesson learned: one doctor alone can't save the world, but three of them together are giving it their best shot.
If you'd like to volunteer with KORE or donate to the cause, you can do so by going to www.korehaiti.org. It is a registered 501-3C charity.