Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Miracles Still Happen,( Even after Earthquakes.)
Internet seems harder to get in Haiti than anything, so now that I’ve got some, 4 days into the trip, there’s this overwhelming pile of images and ideas I’ve been saving up to communicate!.... and how to spill it all out, before the generator stops cranking out the diesel-fueled electricity?
I forsake complete sentences….descriptions will have to do:
Port au Prince airport/Post-Quake: Most of the old building is not safe, cracked concrete, not being used. Imagine the baggage claim of Dulles or LaGuardia, smashed into a cargo area, minus the carousels… the luggage carts just stop at the garage bays and throw in cart after cart of bags thru the doors onto the concrete floor, to be sorted through by airport staff, who can’t really organize it because the crowd’s already climbing through it. Miracle #1: My group of 8 found all their bags, nothing stolen or lost, and then got it out through customs, even with bunches of meds, no problem. Outside the airport: Utter, Complete, Chaos. Trucks at the curb, surrounded by men trying to get work loading bags, beggars, injured people, pickpockets, puddles of mud, and driving through the street, a few reassuring US Army humvees rumbling through. As bags were thrown into our truck and the chaos milled around, the comforting thought that, in a pinch, we could raise our arms and wave desperately at the soldiers and they would stop. No need for that. Miracle #2...We got out and eventually onto a truck ride into the Central Plateau heading for Hinche. PaP had tent cities and rubble, but I don’t think we saw the worst areas as we headed west and north right away, out of town.
Maison Fortune Orphanage, Hinche: My “Haitian home” with the Xavieran brothers at the guesthouse welcomed me back with beans and rice for dinner, even though we were late and dusty and tired from the long drive. The mango tree is beginning to bear fruit, and due to the earthquake, 50 more kids have joined the “family”; an entire new building has been rented for boys from Port au Prince, and more girls, too. Jean Louis happy to receive rubber clogs, boys navy slacks, and light bulbs—the highest-value, lightest-weight stuff I could bring in my luggage.
Walked to Hinche Cathedral of St Mary, Sunday Mass; the beautiful bright colored clothes, the singing, the zillion kids who sit nicely for 2 hours, stained glass, white plaster, the breeze blowing through the open doors; definitely a welcome back to Haiti.
The hospital, Monday: Overwhelmed with people, low on supplies. Puddles of blood and amniotic fluid on the floor under the tables, students/staff waiting for someone to bring Clorox from a remote hidden stash, and eventually clean it up. The bravest thing I have done all week was to wring out the nastiest mop even seen, with my gloved hand (bucket has no wringer-device)and mop up the bloody floor, so we could walk on it without making tracks. Then we set about working with our students to teach compassion, respect, and assessment skills. Glimmers of progress coming Oh, so slowly.
Sleeping better this time than ever; maybe third time is the charm. Barking/fighting dogs, roosters crowing, generators humming, seem not to faze me too much with a little Grand Marnier on board and some earplugs. Comfy and secure inside my little bedtent where the giant (6 cm!) spiders or mosquitoes can’t get at me. Up with the sun, a cold shower and some strong coffee in the morning and I’m good to go. (My sisters say this getting-up-early thing would be Miracle #3.)
Next Miracle: I think we found a birth center building right on the property of the hospital! only obstacles would be permission and money, and that’s not anything that can’t be overcome....toes and fingers crossed and prayers sent up. The Midwives for Haiti program desperately needs its own space so we can control/protect our own equipment, protocols, and the quality of our care. We need to stay connected to the hospital...this could make that happen.
I know that this journey is held up and protected and blessed by the kindness and prayer and good wishes of many good people. Sorry it took so long to get internet! You are in my heart as I crawl into my bednet and breathe a deep sigh, tonight.