Back from Haiti

What did you eat in Haiti? For breakfast, we ate spaghetti with chili sauce, dried plantains, and peanut butter bread.  For supper (nee, lunch), we had stews with goat, chicken liver, yam, black bean, and rice.  For dinner, we had cocoa, or coffee with milk, or mashed bananas with condensed milk.

Where did you go in Haiti? We flew into Port-Au-Prince.  Then we took a regional flight north about 140 miles to Cap Haitien.  We stayed there for two days, observed Pentecost, and then traveled about 40 miles to Molas.  Molas is a crossroads in the mountains.  We drove for four hours on broken roads.  Then we got out where the bridge was out.  We walked 10.6 miles, fording the “three rivers” and climbing into the hills.  We came out of Molas on Wednesday morning and flew out of Haiti on Thursday.

Why? Well, I suppose the simple answer is that we were providing some medical care, however simple, to about 200 children, a few pregnant women, and whatever adults were in line for the remaining supplies.  We provided tape worm meds, vitamins, the attention of a nurse, and toiletries.

Did you see the Celtics against the Cavs? Yes, that was not a problem in Cap Haitien.  We could watch NBA or Chuck Norris.  They had both.

You were surprised when….we were ready to invite the patients into the clinic.  Each station was prepped and manned.  A woman enters, holding her baby girl.  The little girl is having a seizure.  The mom says she has been like this for two hours.  Its a grand mal.  She bites her jaw.  Her left side is rigid.  Our nurse cannot calm her.  Its the kind of thing that would be treated in a hospital in the states.  This morning, the two hour trip to our clinic still leaves another four hours to go to get to a hospital, provided that the bridge is back in place.

We tried some basic remedies — applying stimulation to her feet and pulse points.  We gave her smelling salts.  She woke up.  Then she fell asleep.  There were at least six heads peering in through the window, watching the fate of the child.  Our nurse said she could die.  Her heart kept beating, though, and she lived.

She went back up the mountain that night.  The family planned to boil her dress and drink the water.  Its a folk remedy.

Haiti is perfect storm of mis-development, with the combination of low or no-skilled workers, a predatory government, and a lack of any kind of infrastructure.  The only viable institution appears to be various church organizations.  Maybe its the low rate of literacy that contributes to its low-context culture.  Someone is always touching you.  It takes two hands to talk and then some.

I want to go back.  We’ll see.


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