Jen Watters Haiti Blog
Sunday at 6:37pm
Alo! (Hi!) – I think I might run out of different greetings soon, but I’ll keep trying to give you a variety! =)
It’s strange how time is going so quickly and yet from Sunday to Sunday when I write my updates seems like an eternity. I guess because the weeks are so full it seems like it must have surely been more than a week that’s gone by.
I started off the week by amusing the local staff as I greeted everyone with a “Joyeus Paques” (Happy Easter) on Monday morning. My accent must have been pretty bad – it took five or six tries before most of them figured out what I was saying, but it was worth the effort as I was usually rewarded with a pretty big smile!
This week was particularly busy as I split my time with two days in the Del Mas antenna (where I was last week), three days in my original antenna, and one day orienting in the hospital with my friend Natalie. My original antenna had been at CDTI hospital, which closed sadly, but they moved to a new location where MSF Suisse (Doctors without Borders from Switzerland) had a clinic with physical therapy. They closed but gave their clinic space to us and it is nice! We have three real treatment tables (which are nice and high as opposed to the cots we had been using – and people can actually sit up on the edge!) They have two long sets of parallel bars and even an old bike mounted up on posts so it’s become a stationary exercise bike – very cool especially for our patients with stiff knees! The new location is also right across the street from Champ de Mas, which had been a huge park (now a big tent city) but it’s one of the centers of town so there is some amazing local food nearby and also lots of shops. I ate very well and the local staff treated me to lunch a couple of days. I was also very excited because my translator, Jide, helped me buy a pair of leather sandals that I can wear to church (all I brought were my work tennis shoes and my neon green flip flops – neither are very nice to wear to church, especially when all the Haitians are dressed in their Sunday best.) He was a tough negotiator too; I only ended paying about $6 US for them! At one point, after I had tried on about 15 pairs and finally found one that fit – it was challenging to find a pair big enough for my huge feet! – I asked Jide how much they cost and he said, “They’ll be $250 goude (which is the Haitian currency)”, and I said, “oh is that what he said?” – and Jide said, “Well, not yet” Sure enough when all was said and done $250 goude! And I got to wear nice sandals to church today – yeah!!
This week at the antenna I also saw the most effective form of medical records I’ve seen since I’ve been here. One of the most frustrating things about doing therapy here is the lack of information about the patients. Some of them come with no records, some come just with x-rays and half of them have no idea what’s happened to them or what’s been done. Don’t even try to figure out what their weight-bearing status is or if they have a follow up. So . . . one woman came in this week with a temporary cast on her leg – it was more like a splint with a plaster back wrapped up in ACE bandage. On the front, they had taped the bandage to secure it and written on the tape (which was several pieces put together about 4” by 6”) “NWB (non-weight bearing) x 6 weeks, splint to be removed 3 Apr. Pt needs new x-ray after splint removed.” It was awesome! I wanted to take a picture, but my camera battery was dead! Sad! Oh well, I will definitely remember it!
On Saturday, I ventured out to Carrefour, an area west of Port-au-Prince, with Natalie so she could introduce me to Croix Rouge (The Red Cross) hospital there. It’s supposed to be only about 15 miles but it usually takes an hour to get there because of the traffic. Luckily, since it was Saturday there wasn’t so much traffic, and a bonus is that we get to drive by the sea and I can see the water from the car – yeah!! It’s the little things. =) There are about 14 patients at the hospital so it’s pretty manageable. Only about 5 are still from the earthquake and the rest are new injuries: fall, car accidents, and one gunshot wound. There are two patients with paraplegia and two amputees, so definitely lots of rehab to be done. I think it will be interesting and a nice change to manage fewer patients.
It’s seems that the rainy season it trying to start this week. On Friday night, out of nowhere, the sky completely opened up and it started DOWNPOURING. We all ran out to close our tents and got completely soaked. I don’t know what all the Haitians did, especially those who still don’t have tents (please keep them in your prayers). It rained so hard and for at least a solid hour and a half. The arrival of the rain was also accompanies by very loud frogs and also an increase in the local mosquito population at our house. I tried just putting on bug spray in the morning today, like I normally do, and I was completely eaten up by lunch time.
I’ll share one more story about church this morning. I went with my friend Ricardo back to St. John Bosco. I think that has officially become my Haiti church. The music is so wonderful with drums and even an electric guitar and there is just such a joyful spirit. The mass has parts in French and in Creole which I love because it is the language of the people. Today, after mass had started, a little old lady squeezed into the pew and sat next to us. When it was time for the collection she started digging in her purse. She was searching through it and seemed upset as the collection plate approached and she still hadn’t been able to locate her wallet. Even after the plate was past, she kept digging in her purse. Eventually, she pulled out a little coin purse and from there she pulled out a little plastic bag that was all tied up. She struggled with the bag for a little bit and then finally pulled out a single small coin. She looked so happy and pleased with her efforts as she called the usher over from the next aisle and placed her coin in the plate. It was probably only 1 Goude, which is about 50 cents in US dollars, but for her it was important to give. It made me think of the gospel story about the poor person who only gave a little but it was all they had. And, I did get teary. =) It’s not how much you give, but if you’re giving from your heart.
On that note, I’ll say goodnight. (Bonne Nuit). A couple of us are breaking out of the house – we’ve been here all day and heading out to find a restaurant for dinner. It will be a nice change of scenery! I hope that this finds everyone well at home! I miss you all!!!