No surprise! ~the bags packed for Haiti in my dining room before leaving for the airport reached the max 49.5 lbs of stuff- and some nonessential items were left behind. No whoopee cushions or silly string got packed, this time, and a few random scrubs that don't match. But: Lots of meds, thanks to awesome donors, including Loudoun Hospital! Tools and building supplies for Greg to use. Gloves. 500 Condoms. Presents for friends in Haiti, both Haitian and American. For Americans: Chocolate, or scotch, depending on religion. Clothing and toys for Haitian friends. Mostly, supplies that help moms and babies survive a very tough life.
How many times does one travel to Haiti and not react with shock, despair, or anxiety? The answer is apparently "8", if you're me, at least. I see things getting better, see past the brokenness-- the crazy potholes and trash have always been here, and don't rattle me. But at the airport: a real, working, clean and shiny baggage claim area, complete with colorful mural artwork on the walls. Gleaming, glass-walled, Duty free shops! The parking lot clear of trash, and baggage handlers are less aggressive!, We were greeted by lovely Haitian 80-degree sunshine and breeze, and the nice aroma of garlicky beans and rice. The fact that city power is ON and AVAILABLE in both Post au Prince and Hinche-- now, that is amazing. The tent city by the river in Port au Prince is nearly gone. New houses are being built all over the place. Fresh, bright paint in many places. Some ditches are deeper, so flooding is not bad on the streets. (And it's dry season...)
I went straight to Family planning day at Heartline Ministries About 40 women got birth control, Depo shots and condoms. There was great hangout time with Beth and Tara Livesay, and the Heartline folks. After a sweet and restful evening, we rendezvoused with our gang of the Midwives for Haiti volunteers at the airport, and caught our ride to Hinche, up in the mountains.
There are definitely what Greg calls "Pictures that can’t be taken": split-second moments that pass by too quickly, or can’t be captured on film without offending or upsetting someone. Leaving Port au Prince: A family of five on a motorcycle. The crowd of street kids and adults begging at the window vehicles stopped in Port au Prince traffic, hands slowly drifting through the window and toward the backpack on the seat. The discomfort of ignoring them, and the riot of folks that will crowd around if you don’t. A group of bathers and motorcycle-washers in the river on Saturday evening—so they can be clean for church in the morning. Laundry spread all over the thorny cactus to dry. Little boys flying a kite made of plastic and twigs. At sunset, a tethered goat stretching her neck sooo far, to reach the utmost edge of green grass in her circle.
We've made it here safely, yet again; thank God!!. I don't even know what the week will hold, for me. Greg has a Honey-do-list of home improvements needed here to help the Midwives for Haiti house and compound stay organized, as it grows and grows the program. Neonatal resuscitation will be taught with the students, we have gifts to deliver, blood to donate, and friends to visit. My 3-year old god-daughter Woodmica has stuck a berry deep in her ear and doctors have been trying to get it out for a few days. We suspect anesthesia may be required, since as her daddy Theard says "she does not collaborate very well". We'll keep you updated.