| Mar 10, 2010
Where to begin??? It’s now 5 days and 4 clinics after my arrival. I remember my reaction getting on the plane from Miami to Port Au Prince. I found myself wandering down the aisle and wondering what each persons story was. There were less “NGO” (Non-Government Organization) looking people than I expected and more locals. I heard a man behind me say that he hadn’t been back to Haiti for 40 yrs. and he just wanted to see the damage. Wanted to see the damage? Do you have any loved ones there still?
When Luke arrived, he was entirely shocked by the destruction. He said it was “apocalyptic like”. And it is. Sadly, I think I was so prepared for what I would see that I wasn’t so shocked. I thought “Oh Lord, please don’t let me get numb to this stuff”… and now I know He hasn’t. After 4 days of doing mobile clinics, I have to say that the acuity of the people we have been seeing isn’t that bad. It may be that we have been running weekly clinics since arriving in one of our zones, 5 days/week at first and now 3. The area name “Carr four” is a 10 acre property owned by a TV evangelist (not like the USA’s at all). They have a huge sanctuary with open side walls where we hold clinic, and they have opened up the church's lawn to 22,000 people! It is UNBELIEVABLE!
There are wounds that come to be re-dressed, various infections, minimal malaria thankfully, simple yeast infections, bladder infections and various other complaints. One kid had a wall braise his face and take off his ear… he bravely returns for dressing changes. Another lady received a skin graft from her thigh to her shin, not sure what the story was on that but we are monitoring it. No one REALLY serious there so we plan to decrease clinics there to 1 day/week now. The pastor and his family have been wonderful. Wednesday a lovely lady ran out to our car to give us each a plate of food to thank us. We were heading home to dinner but couldn’t offend them so we took it. It would have been nice to pass out the food to others along the drive home but that could have been dangerous in traffic. It doesn’t really feel dangerous here, they say that the people don’t want you, but they may want what you have. So far I’ve seen some malnourished kids but otherwise the people coming to the clinic look relatively “ok”. Some of the children point to their mouths and say “J'ai faim”, which means “I’m hungry”.So sad I can’t help them with food. It could possibly cause problems if I started passing out my personal stash from my bag…life is not fair.
The last two days we’ve held a mobile medical clinic at an under-served area that claims to have had only 2 days of medical service since the quake. They actually have been fairly ok. It’s all relative you know, but here are a few highlights. An 80 yr old women whose clavicle was broken in the earthquake 6+ weeks ago and she has never been seen by anyone. She was darling but in pain. Hard to imagine my mom in the same situation. Saddest case was a nine day old yesterday who looked like a premie but mom claimed she was full term… no way. She hadn’t been feeding at all and looked very dehydrated, possibly septic (infection). Kristin, my new ER RN friend who works down the street in Issaquah and I were checking the baby out when tears came to my eyes as I was taken back to 2 yrs ago when 9 day old baby Oliver died in my arms… I told Kristin quickly about my flashback and she understood. She brought the baby to Dr. Don (Peds) who said the baby needs to go to the hospital, that we couldn’t treat her here. Kristin started giving her oral re-hydration fluid and she was sent with mom and a transporter to the hospital… oh how life is hard here.
My interpreter today was lovely Emanuel. His parents both died when he was small and someone took him in to raise him (they did well). All 4 of the people in that surrogate family died in the earthquake, so he lost his “family.” He said that life is a journey and then Emanuel & I shared our favorite scriptures on the way home. His was Proverbs 3… the one read at our wedding I told him. And I shared Psalm 91:11 with him and Philippians 3:20-21. It was a lovely conversation. His phone alarm went off and he told me it was his reminder to himself that it was his daily time to read his bible… lovely. He is full of hope.
Half of our team has been out at Leogane, which is near where the epicenter was. It was quite primitive at the start (volunteers were allotted about 2 cups of water a day I heard) and lots of tragic stories, but the situation is getting more civilized, under control and the staff working there love it. I understand there is still a great need there and Medical Teams International may continue a long time at that location. Not sure if I’ll be able to work at that site. I’ve been selected to go on a 3 person team to the biggest island off Port Au Prince where they have requested an OB/BYN, a pediatrician and a pediatric RN. Voila! That’s me! They plan to fly us to the island (short flight on Mission Aviation Association) to work for 3 days and then return to work here again via a ferry.
Just took a break to see some of the children’s art that our Psychologist Karen has been doing with the kids. She is assessing the need for the mental health care in the children. The art therapy she does with them is amazing. One little girl drew about her 3 sisters she lost in the quake. The houses are still standing for some reason in most of the drawings, but the people are sometimes dead. Another drawing had her momma crying and her daddy with his arms up praising Jesus that they got out. She said that most of the kids draw people with their arms up high and they explain they are crying out to Jesus. Another had a wheel barrel with dead people in it.When they explain their drawings to her they describe running outside and hearing their loved ones voices calling out and then fading away. Karen has them start with sad pictures and then transition to happy ones, which often include food, water and a shelter. As Karen is describing the drawings to us, Lisa, a Haitian nurse who works and lives in our room, walked in and shortly after walked out... Her face a bit sad. I asked Karen about her loss and she lost everything, not her loved ones but home and everything. I went to find her to apologize for her having to hear all of our talking about the situation. She just can’t get away from it. She smiled and said “it’s ok, I didn’t lose anyone.” I replied, “yes you did, you lost your community, your country, all that is here. I’m so sorry…” We just have no idea how that feels.
Tomorrow we go to a new community where they are expecting 500 sick people. We will meet at the 82nd Airborne compound for an escort. Apparently we do this to check out a situation and have security for the day… keeps the clinic running smoother. After a relationship is established, it is no longer necessary. The Nepalese army also provided security for us. The Canadian Army helped set up the other camp, fix showers, create bathroom doors, etc. Great to see the world working together.
I’ll close with some photos of our first few days. You’ve seen ‘em on TV and in print, but it’s different in front of your face.
The median of the street is lined with plastic “houses”… quite a front yard for a toddler. The darling little boy lives in the median. I was flirting with him when we were stuck in traffic.
Love to you all, be thankful and pray these lovely people who did not deserve this…