Thursday, March 19, 2009


Getting off the plane in Miami, I stopped to use the ladies room before I got in the passport line. I was so distracted by washing my hands in a clean sink, with soap AND paper towels! all together!! that I walked away and forgot my bag of duty-free rum. I was admitted back in the US through the passport line, and into baggage claim, before I remembered. Eventually, a customs staff person did retrieve it for me.

My heart did a flip when I passed a barber shop in the Miami terminal. I could get my hair washed, NOW! In the twinkling of an eye and with a painless zip of a plastic credit card, I receved a manicure (goodbye, dirty fingernials!!) and a shampoo and trim of my hair. The hairdresser was Cuban and spoke mainly Spanish, but I explained I had been "doing doctor work in the mountains in Haiti" and did not have many showers. Afterwards she said "Yeah, I seen the dirt come out in the sink!!" It was such a relief to be clean. Cleaner, anyway. I had brought more from Haiti than I planned--- Haitian road dust, all the way from Hinche.

I had not eaten since peanut-butter-and-bread-breakfast that morning at Fr. Jacques' rectory, so I needed food. I found the elevator up to the main concourse, and then a directory of the shops. I stood in front of the glossy black map of the airport terminal, and glanced down the list of restaurant and food choices. And I started to cry. I looked over my shoulder at the folks in the terminal, a little embarrassed. I wanted to explain"...Sorry, you see, I've been in Haiti. And they do not have this much...this much food. Or this much choice. The leap between worlds is overwhelming." No one was bothered by my tears, however, so I wiped my eyes and found some lunch. My salad & 1/2 sandwich was served in a clear plastic box, and it was very hard to toss it away afterward. I thought: Someone in Haiti would use that box! And they would. But getting it back to Hinche would be tough. A lot of the poverty is linked to lack of transportation and roads. I hope Haiti can get better roads. I hope so many things for Haiti.

I hope that the Midwives for Haiti program will survive and grow , to become an established school that produces more and more trained practitioners that can save lives and reduce those catstrophic mortality rates. I hope that the many good people in the US know that one of their closest neighbors, in their own hemisphere, is one of the absolute poorest nations on earth. I hope the Haitians keep on trying. There is despair and anger in Haiti, but there are so many who keep doing their best, each day, not only to survive, but to succeed. There are people in Hinche, tonight, reading under every street light, working to learn and improve their lives. Danise is at home in the rectory, writing a qualifying exam to ensure that only the best, brightest students will be admitted to this program that she now teaches. She emailed and asked for a desk, so apparently she doesn't plan to leave soon. There are student midwives in a classroom, five days a week, learning how to care for women and babies with respect and kindness and skill. And Danise told me that every day, they pray for us, their friends in the U.S. And then they sing.

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