Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Yesterday I was too exhausted to blog about the day so I thought I'd get it going this morning while waiting for our transportation to take us to the rehab center.

We thought we were going to have to be ready early so everyone was prepared to leave at 8am. As is typical in Haiti (and Hawaii and New Mexico) there is a difference when it comes to timeframes and we actually didn't get going until 9:30. Although the big hold up was getting to meet the new director of Healing Hands, Mr. Kaypu. All of the staff and Team Portland came together in the conference room to meet the new director. Both he and Dr. No (yes that is really his name, not sure of the spelling however) spoke with us about how they are happy to have Team Portland come from so far away and do good work without our everyday comforts. After a couple of the days I've had here, it was great to hear some positivity.

Most of the team went to the outreach clinic yesterday. It was called Del Mas 75, I think it's the street and number we were at. We set up 5 doctors in a church. Basically the patients sat in the congregation and we were in the front, 5 stations for over 150 patients. I was with Tim, a pediatrician and Harold, our translator. I prepared medicine, took the patient's temperature and did the "charting" which is nothing like charting in the US.

I had hoped to finish this entry in the morning but Sheree and I needed to prepare for our therapy presentation so I'm picking up after we got back from our teaching day.

The children we saw were fairly healthy, comparatively speaking. We treated many for worms and scabies. I asked Gabe if she recommended that I treat myself for worms and scabies before I go home, she said only if I'm itchy. Of course I started itching right after she said that. I'm covered in mosquito bites, how m I suppose to distinguish an itch? Anyway, our day at Del Mas 75 was very long. We worked from 10-4 without snack or bathroom breaks and Tim and I ended up seeing 42 patients. An exhausting day to say the least!

Last night, after dinner and our team meeting, Cadet(the former director of Healing Hands) took about 8 of us out to drive around the area preparing for Carnival. The streets were teaming with people and alive with music around every corner. Apparently, Haitians gear up for Carnival for many days prior. We can hear the rah-rah bands from our guesthouse some evenings. We drove down by the main square, where we took pictures of Plaza National the Saturday after we arrived. We got out of the van and Cadet took us walking through the square. We definitely drew some stares from the locals as we walked through. We stopped to chat with one of Cadet's friends and a crowd formed around us with men staring and listening in on our conversations, regardless of being able to understand them. Several children came up to us, first begging, then just standing near us or following us. Gabe and I had snacks in our bags and were tempted to offer them to the kids, but just as we were heading back to the van, an older, larger child came up the kids following us and started bossing them around. Gabe and I figured anything we gave to the younger kids would be taken by the older one.

It got a little tense when we were waiting for Cadet to return to the van as some men came to the windows and began banging on them and yelling at us. The older child also became assertive as he reached into the window, demanding money. Cadet came back and we drove away without further incident.

I have not felt unsafe in Haiti. Although I know it would not be a good idea for me to venture out on my own, I have gone with just two others into the grocery store and we walked around in the night time and I have not felt threatened at all. I do feel stared at and it's only natural as we are almost always the only white people in the area.

A word on postcards: I was very excited to send friends and family postcards, I even made labels with all of the addresses. On my second day here, however, Gail laughed at me when I asked about a post office. Apparently, there is a post office in Haiti, but I would never be able to send postcards to the states from here. Haitians receive packages through DHL and money through Western Union. So if I promised you a postcard, I apologize, but it's beyond my control!

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