Monday, March 29, 2010

A Day Off in Paradise

Finally, a day filled with no work and nothing but relaxation! Victoria, Chantel and our translator Maxim met us at the compound today and we all walked to Church. It was another Creole service, so we couldn't understand much of what was going on, so it is sometimes hard for your mind not to wander. The Church was so packed that people were setting up chairs outside surrounding the Church, so we had to sit on the steps of the Church as well. It's good to see so many people grabbing on to their faith during this time.

After Church, Chantel's cousin Donaldson came to pick us all up for the beach. We drove about an hour up the shore. On the way, we nearly ran out of gas because every station we stopped at was out of diesel. Finally, we found a little roadside makeshift gas station with a woman and her family selling diesel out of about a dozen yellow gas cans. She filled the truck up with a giant funnel with a cloth filter over the top. It made for some great pictures too. As we continued our drive up the shore, we passed a pretty neat stop. A UN military truck was pulled over on the side of the road. Behind the truck, dressed in full military gear were Middle Eastern men just getting off their mats from finishing their afternoon prayer. I liked seeing that cultures and religions of all kinds come together to help create relief for the Haitian people. I like seeing how they stopped in the middle of the day to embrace their faith. Faith is so important, it's what keeps us alive when it seems like hope is gone and it's what gives us motivation for the future yet to come.

Finally, we arrived at Wahoo Bay. This is a little beach resort up the shore where for $10 dollars you can use the entire resort facilities. We went swimming in the perfectly warm ocean, laughed, layed in the sun, jumped in the pool, and had a wonderful time. The enormous green mountains were to the East and to the West was an endless body of water that disappeared on the horizon line. It amazes me that you can be amid such poverty and destruction, drive an hour away and feel like you're in paradise. We had to laugh at all of the light-skinned people at the resort. We were joking around how we should make a video called "NGOs (non-government organizations) Gone Wild!" There was a DJ spinning beats on the shore, people out riding jetskis, and the smell of food being grilled. There's not more that I can say other than today was a great day.

At work today I spent part of my focus in triage. It's amazing what these patients come through the doors to be seen for. You start gathering a history and a clear patient complaint. By the time your done, their eyes are dry, their stomach hurts, they can't sleep, they have blood in their urine, their big toe hurts, their hair is falling out, their skin itches, and they think they might be pregnant. It's really amazing. Many of these people have never seen a doctor before and they are just quickly trying to get as much checked out as they can. Very little of what we are seeing now has much to do related to the earthquake... unless, it is psychological. What we're starting to see more of is GI problems and now Gynecological problems. Many of the women here practice douching and use a mixture of water and bleach. It kills off all of the good bacteria and they end up with big problems. One doctor is now recommending they add baking soda to their mixture to cut down on causing imbalances.

On a completely separate note, we had something sad happen today. Joshua's mom showed back up- that's never good. Joshua takes a nose dive whenever she arrives. He gets quiet, depressed, stops smiling, puts his little head down, and sometimes starts to cry. The entire camp has become so defensive of him and when she shows up, the patients's claws come out. She arrived with her two other children by her side. We didn't understand why she had them with her until the translator shocked us by what she said. He explained that she didn't want her other two kids now and that she wanted to abandon them at the hospital with us now as well. Because Joshua's not around anymore, she says she can't make money to take care of everyone. Apparently, she used to get a lot more support out of sympathy when they would see Joshua and his condition. She went on to tell us that she wanted to get rid of them all and just wanted to be free. How heart breaking to see these other two beautiful and adorable children just disregarded and tossed to the side.

Minutes later, things got even crazier. One of the interpreters came over and was giving Joshua's mom some lip. He mentioned something about calling the police or something and set her off. She threated to kill of one her children right there on the spot if anyone did anything to get in her way. This is just about the time I had returned to the scene. There was a mob of people starting to grow. I pulled Joshua's mom away from the group of people and focused on primarily de-escalating the scene. Beth, another translator, the mom, and I went over to a shaded area and started to talk a bit more rationally. We got Unicef on the phone and were able to connect some dots. I got some food and water for the mom, we tried to start re-establishing some trust with her, gained assurance that she was not planning on hurting any of the children, and made arrangements for her to meet with Unicef tomorrow morning at the hospital. It's just amazing how someone could do what she is doing. I suppose I have no idea what it's like to have three children to provide for in a world where there's hardly enough to support one. How do you go find rice with three little people strapped to your side? I just have to try and convince myself, even if it's not true, that she thinks she is doing the best thing for her kids. Perhaps she knows that the life she is giving them is inadequate and unfair, so for their best interest, she is willing to give them to someone who can provide for them as they deserve to be taken care of. I sure hope that's the case at least.

Back at Quisqueya, the day is winding up. The temperature feels like a warm summer night with a cool breeze blowing through the air. I can hear the rebound of a soccer ball in the distance as folks wrap up a game on the field. The laughter and chatter of various medical teams carries through in the distance. My eyes are starting to struggle to stay open, and I think I'll call it a day. Back to 5th grade... good night.


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