Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why I Came...

Sometimes it's all you need:

Today was a fantastic day! Although the two girls in my group that are way too into partying came home at around 4am and thought nothing of screaming and yelling and waking everyone up in the house (seriously, one of them hasn't been able to remember the last three nights in a row), I actually did manage to get some sleep.

Our breakfasts have been fantastic! We generally have fresh fruit and fresh juice, toast and one other item (hot rice cereal, pancakes, etc.) Today 3 of the nurses were teaching stroke and neuroscience to 38 nursing students at a conference. The rest of the team was at the clinic. Sheree, the other social worker, and I went to St. Germaine Rehab Center to teach parents and staff play and art therapy.

The facility was gorgeous! It is brand new, opened in December, and is on a huge plot of land in a more rural (suburban) area of Port-au-Prince. There were several classrooms, rooms for art, play and speech therapy. They had a pool for physical therapy and eating areas for families and children. The coordinator of the center, Gina, is originally from Ireland and has been here for 16 years. Apparently, 16 years ago she came to Haiti on a similar trip as mine and decided that she needed to return. She typically lives in the mountains at an orphanage that has 450 children (!!!). She speaks flawless Kreyol and I can tell she really has a passion for the work she does.

Gina introduced Sheree and I to the parents who listened while we explained each type of project we brought for them. We didn't know when we were making our plans to come here that we would be teaching the parents as well as the staff so many of our games did not translate well to a home environment simply because they wouldn't have access to the things that were needed for the games. But they did enjoy playing with the big parachute I made. The staff was really open to all the teaching we did and said how grateful they were that we came to work with them. Afterwards we got to play with the kids which is really what it was all about.

Art therapy with the kids at St. Germaine:

Roseda, one of the students at St. Germaine on a bike donated by Healing Hands:

After we got picked up we had to battle Haitian traffic to get back to the guesthouse. I will never complain about traffic in the States ever again! You have no idea how hot you can get in a regular sized van with 17 people and 3 big suitcase, no air conditioner, stuck on Avenue John Brown only a block away from your guesthouse.

Tomorrow we are going to the Haitian Wal-Mart, which basically means we can buy cheap souvenirs there and then we will be touring 2 hospitals. Hopefully we can go to St. Joseph's in the afternoon. It's a boy's home where the boys have learned to dance and they put on shows. We were suppose to go last Thursday but their generator wasn't working so they had to cancel the performance. After St. Joseph's we're going to listen to RAM, one of the most popular Haitian bands. As a non-partyer I will have to try to keep up with the group I'll be with. RAM doesn't usually come on-stage until 11:30-12 at night so I will have a long day ahead of me!

Part of our team with the translators from today:

1 comment:

David Leventhal said...

Looks like you're having an adventurous trip! We're enjoying the updates & pictures!