The art of healing

Part 2: Called to Paint the Pain

by Julie Rybarczyk

This is the second in a three-part series about Gary Holland's medical
mission to Haiti--and it's ongoing impact on this forgotten country. A
onetime paramedic and psychotherapist, Gary Holland's primary role
on this trip was to record the struggle of the Haitian people in his art.

The art he was commissioned to create has become more significant
than he could have ever imagined.


The tiny pickup sped through the streets, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake. As the small delegation of American doctors and nurses prepared to leave Haiti, panic set in. The silent threat of kidnapping, detainment, robbery--or worse--had seemed to intensify over their last few days in Haiti, and the group was eager to return home--to safety.

As the truck carrying Gary Holland and the medical team from Boise's St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center arrived at the airport, they came upon throngs of Haitians, frenzied by hunger, swarming the gates, desperately seeking any form of generosity--or food--the foreigners would offer.

Armed guards cleared a tenuous path through the crowd, but as the group sat through three nerve-wracking hours in customs, they began to wonder if those same armed men might prevent their departure from Haiti.

Later, as the airplane's wheels left the runway, cheers went up inside the plane. Holland and the rest of the team were bound for home. And--Holland knew--bound to never see the world in the same light again.

Back on American soil, culture shock set in. Holland's entire sense of reality--his home, his grocery store, his checking account, his work as an artist--had been shaken.

He now knew another reality.

Gary Holland with daughter Alaina