Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Month of Tragedy & Miracles

Every once in a while, we'll take a detour from our regular walk into the hospital. Today, I was walking with the Russian girls and we took a side road to see the back side of a collapsed building. We ended up finding a little flower shop in the back. Many parts of the building were ruined, but there was a little corner the lady managed to set up her bins of flowers and start to sell them again. It was nice to see fresh tropical flowers in a building and neighborhood so devestated. As we kept walking we found a completely crushed car and a pretty funny accompanyment... a group of Haitians sitting on top of it as though it was still a working car. We joined them and I gripped the imaginary steering wheel pretending we were driving, which gave them a pretty good laugh and made for a fun picture. Continuing our journey, we got to our usual cross standing among the rubble. We stopped and said our usual prayer and were joined by a sweet Haitian who added her own little prayer at the end.

At the hospital today, we had an interesting group of filmmakers show up. Hollywood actress Claudine Oriol has been spending time in her home country Haiti working on a documentary that shares the other side of the Haitian people not conveyed in the media. She says the French come in and do a documentary on the French, the Americans come and do films on the American workers, but she wants to come in and do a documentary on and about the Haitian community in Creole. This film is going to be aired all over in Hollywood and go to a few different film fests as well. She has big plans for it. We started talking a bit about the country and so forth and she decided she wanted me to be the voice of America in her film. I was pretty shocked and honored. We did a nice interview in the back room about the people here and it was interesting for me to gain additional insight through her perspectives as well.

Before arriving, I had this idea in my head that stepping outside the airport would be like stepping into a cage of pitbulls with a handful of steaks. Instead, I found a fairly docile scene (at least compared to what I had expected). Since the day, many of the misconceptions I've had about the Haitian people have changed. Compassion. These people take care of each other. When Joshua Emmanual was left at the hospital by his mom, our Haitian nurse we call Mama came in to take care of him, bathe him, and love him. Many of the others in the tents look out for one another, get a nurse for their tent mate when something's not going right, and protect each other's space. Faith. These people have an enormous amount of faith. While many associate Haiti with Voodoo, nearly everyone I've met seems to be a Christian. When the earthquake happened, they started calling out "Jesus is Coming, Jesus is Coming!" Even the Voodoo doctors were shouting it. These people love to pray, every night in Tent 8 there is a service. It's like they have a good grip on the concept of believing in something that you can't see or touch. They put their whole hearts in it. Gracious. We work our butts off at these hospitals and none of us are getting paid, actually it is costing us. We don't ask for anything in return, but when a patient comes up to you and tells you how much they appreciate what you are doing for them and how they love you and give big hugs, it makes all of the sweat and long days worth it. Resiliance. The conditions that these people are living in day after day, before and after the earthquake are a true test of willpower. Among the blistering heat, the poor sanitation, lack of food and water, torn economy, incredible loss, and filthy conditions, these people continue to move on and still find hope. This resiliance was particularly evident when it came to some of our patients at the hospital. Many of them would come out of major surgery for things like compound femur fractures and massive tunneling wounds leaving bone and muscle hanging out and exposed. You go ask them if they are in pain and need some medication and they just smile and say, "no, no pain." In the states, someone sprains a toe and practically needs morphine. Haitians are tough, weathered, they've experienced pain much greater than a fracture in their life and know how to deal. Lastly, the big thing that stands out to me is their resourcefulness. I've seen incredible creations made from what most of us would just consider trash. In some of the tent cities, rubble from the earthquake has been formed into fairly sturdy construction and loose tiles have been pieced together like a mosaic making tile floors in the middle of their tent city in the park. They squeeze the clay grout in between the tiles so it will set and stay hard. Another area of the tent city, some folks were resourceful enough to build a tent city restaurant. You can go in the little hut with space for 2 tables, and they will cook you food on a little charcoal grill on the outside and then serve you. Other resourceful things I've seen include water bags that turn into dancing puppets when you squeeze them, using wheelbarrows to move the front end of a car with no forward wheels, a soccer net made out of string and broken planks salvaged from the rubble, making homemade charcoal from the slashed wood, modifying the playground into an abstract looking shelter, and using leaking water pipes as blessings that allow them to drink- leaking we would mostly see as a hassle. We saw kids make kites out of tin cans, plastic bags and strings, and jumpropes out of rope threaded with plastic pop bottles. These people can make something out of just about anything. Overall, the Haitian people are strong... and I have faith that they will continue to endure.

Getting back on track, after the big interview I took my little 5 year old friend Katura to over the shade under the palm trees with a bag of cookies and we had a little picnic. It was so sweet because when I finished my cookie and she still was finishing the last of hers, she realized there were none left and reached up to put part of her cookie in my mouth to share. To see someone with so little want to share what little they have was very touching. Oh, she sure is a cutie! In between doing medical stuff, I also took the time today to go spend some time with the folks in Tent 8. Somebody donated these little books of Bible verses that are translated into Creole. One of the patients in this tent is a pastor and he leads a service with them each night. We all sat around and read the versus out loud, everyone reading and following right along. It was a nice break from the heat and busy pace.

Towards the end of the day, I noticed some commotion going on behind the service entrance. I was curious what all the racket was all about. Turning the corner I saw a big semi truck unloading bags upon bags of rice and water. The Haitian workers were so excited and really got into the process of moving the bags. They were hurling them through the air like footballs and creating an assembly line of people to move them back. It was fun to watch and it was good to know that the patients would be fed and hydrated come tomorrow. Also, Kevin Connell with Real Medicine has officially installed a water filtration system at the hospital so that patients can refill their containers and keep up their fluids.

It's Wednesday, and I'm making plans to head home for a bit coming up here. I need to recharge and reassure people back there in person that I'm doing well and still alive. Mostly, I just need to recharge though. A cruise through WalMart and a Big Mac will probably be just what I need to start feeling American again. We were able to book a flight for Saturday and Josh will head to Florida with me before he jumps a plane to head to Wisconsin. I'm thinking about returning to Haiti after a few days.

We got a new person at the house, a hilarious freelance photographer who also passes as a good maician. His name was Russel and he would use the magic to help make kids smile. Many of the kids here haven't seen anything like it and are truly amazed. He was doing this one trick where he makes 1 ball turn into 2 and then into 3. Each time before a new ball appears he blows on his hand. Just as he was "adding" another ball, he got the kid involved by having him blow on his hand. The kid smiled and agreed, but instead of blowing, he spit in Russels hand. The kid was confused and thought that was what he was supposed to do. Guess there might have been some mistranslation going on there.

Anyhow, Josh and I did some exploring on the way into the hospital today. We did our usual prayer at the cross, and then explored the campus of a technical school that was ruined. We found massive piles of desks and benches, remnants that were salvagable. We found broken records, report cards, and more. It was interesting.

At the hospital today, I realized many of the patients had gotten a haircut. Somebody had come through to donate their time by going around giving kids haircuts and today they were going around doing people's nails. Later in the day, my little buddy Kendrick got sick. He's so cute. He was sitting outside the door of his uncle's office and I asked him if he was okay. He shook his head and I asked him if he was sick. In the most adorable 12-year old response he said, "No, I'm sick with intoxication." What?! I asked him what he meant and told him that when your intoxicated in English that means your drunk. He laughed and explained that he was having GI problems. I got him some medicine and helped him lay down.

A little while later, Josh and I had walked downtown to get a newspaper and came back to find out everybody had been looking for me. Kendrick's dad Alex, the hospital administrator, wanted me to put an IV in Alex. He only wanted me to do it, which was very flattering, especially when your dealing with someone's kid. It was kinda nerve racking having everyone watch as I go after such small veins, but I popped it right in there on the 1st poke, and got the fluids running right away. I felt proud of my work.

Many of the extreme medical needs here are starting to diminish. The severity and urgency of medical care is slowly turning to normal Haitian triaging. Most of the victims of the earthquake have already been treated, stabilized, and their wounds are healing well. As I notice this happening, I've been feeling like perhaps my mission here is wrapping up. Afterall, I've been here now for a whole month now. Last night I was praying that I would be reinvigorated with a new sense of purpose in regards to something. Today, I woke up and I knew what I needed to do. It's the perfect transitional time to begin addressing some of the psychological concerns these people are facing. This will be the most difficult to treat because there's no antibiotics to heal a broken heart or a weary soul. Emotions are much less obvious than fractures, and addressing the fear and loss means re-exposing the wounds. I was suddenly overcome with this desire to develop a program catered to children and adolescents to help move them through the grieving process to a place of hope.

I stayed up unbelievably late last night designing the grief therapy program that will hopefully start getting implemented where it's needed. It's almost like the program wrote itself, I have kind of no idea where it came from, but I like what I built. My background degrees in Chemical Dependency Counseling and Psychology really worked out well. After I put my touch on it, I sat down with some local Haitians for French and Creole translations where appropriate and then we went through and did a cultural edit as well. I learned some interesting things in the process. I learned that most Haitian have very limited language skills. It was explained to me that their educational system is based on more of a repetition system than an analytical system. The teachers say phrases and the kids repeat them back. As a result, many of the kids never learn how to read or write the language. I also learned that the Haitian people are very superstitious. They believe in the supernatural and even now many of them still believe that the earthquake was an act of God, and not a natural occurance. This is something I tried to address in the program as well. In my cultural edit, I also learned that the anger the Haitian experience goes back much farther than January 12th. There are some very deep seeded resentments that have been carried forward from generations ago.

After my master version of the program was completed, I printed a copy to bring down the General Hospital. Josh and I went with a translator to distribute the program and to hunt down a newspaper. I've been looking everywhere for a copy of their newspaper here from the day the earthquake happened. It wouldn't have anything about the earthquake, but it would be the last one issued before everything changed. Unfortunately, we had no luck finding one. We proceeded to General Hospital and I met with the Pediatric Physician there and discussed the great need for this to start being addressed. I handed her a copy of the program, she was enthusiastic and said she would look it over. I got an e-mail from her later saying she thought it was amazing and would try to start integrating it into the pediatric ward. As we walked through the ward meeting some of the children, I was greeted by a joyous little boy who had a major head wound and was missing one arm. He ran up to me and hugged my leg with his one little arm so tightly. It made my heart melt. I knelt down with him and he held up a little tiny pinwheel. We both blew it and made the pinwheel spin and he would just look up at me and smile. He might just be one of my favorite little kids I saw the whole time down here.

Our translator Jyvon took us through the tent city downtown to show us where he has been living since the quake. He took us past the playground that was overtaken by a family and covered in tarps. As we slinked our way through the tent city, we saw people sleeping in the shade, a wheelbarrow resting in a grocery cart, an impromptu restaurant, people bathing, getting haircuts, shaving, cooking, and playing cards.

As we edged our way out of the crowded tent city, we passed by an area where a little old woman was inside a dark room sewing away on her antique looking sewing machine. Somebody called us over asking if we could help them set up a tent. We agreed, thinking it would be fun and it was. These poor guys really needed help too. They had fished the poles along the whole bottom of the tent and were trying to push metal tent stakes through the asphalt in the road. They had probably never put one toether before. People send in these tents, complex ones or not, and most of the Haitians have no idea what to do with it. That's another reason I think the tarps are better. I've set up plenty of tents in my life, but this one was the strangest. Poles aside, there were about 5 seperate section of the tent, a separate floor, a separate inside screen, another inside screen, a top, and then a little flap top. We did get er done though.

Today was my last full day before heading back to the U.S. for a few days of reprive. I woke up with the first real to do list I've had since we got here. There was so much I wanted to wrap up today and do, and so little time to do it. I'm hoping to get back here in a few days, but in case I don't, I want to make sure the majority of things on my list are done.

I started off my day with an awfully wrinkled pair of scrubs and wishing I had an iron. I went to make my oatmeal with the coffee pot I usually use. That coffee pot has been great- it's made my coffee, oatmeal, and I even made a hotdish in it. This time, I used it as an iron! I let it warm up with some water in it, placed a napkin underneath, and then let it glide along my scrubs giving me a nice cleaned up look. It worked. I think a tiny coffee pot may perhaps be one of the most valuable things you can travel with.

One of the most exciting things I got to do today was give things away. Because of the generosity of folks in the northland we were able to make some Haitians feel awfully loved. On our way into the hospital, we dropped off the water filter off at a little makeshift tent community that was providing water to the 40-some people living there with water from a broken pipe. I was able to show them exactly how to use the filter and they were very grateful.

Trailfitters had donated a really nice tent that I've been waiting for the right person to pass it on to. After some prayer, I decided to hand off the tent to a very sweet old lady down the road. She looks like she must be 80 years old. For the last month on our hike to the hospital we have passed her. She has been sitting in the same place everyday and every night. She's always there, and waves to us in the mornings. We passed her the other night in the pouring rain, and still she was just sitting there in the same place with all her belongings. I decided she was the one I was supposed to pass the tent on to. A few of us stopped at her little corner of the sidewalk and I had a translator explain to her that we see her in this place everyday and that if it was okay with her, we would like to help her with some things. We told her that we just wanted to show her how much God loved her. She smiled, and we started to shower her with love. Josh and I pitched the tent for her and anchored it down. While we were putting it up, we started cooking a Beef Stew MRE so that we could give her a warm meal as well. We gave her some water, some clothes, and I handed off one of my favorite shirts to her, "Love God. Love People. Period." She pulled the shirt on, we fed her a bite of Beef Stew and she peered into her new little dry home and smiled. We attracted a whole crowd with the whole thing. People were standing around watching and cheering when we'd pull out a new piece of clothing for her. At one point, it was a little overwhelming because everyone wanted a tent and some food, and we just had to tell them we didn't have anymore. The best part of this little moment of getting to share our things with someone in need was when I motioned for many of those standing around watching to come join our hands in prayer. We held the little old lady's hand and I started praying out loud. Something just hit me at that moment and I couldn't continue the prayer. I had a long pause, fighting back tears. Where I was and what I was doing just kind of hit me all the sudden. I'm thinking to myself, "I'm in Haiti, following an earthquake, holding hands with people who have just lost everything and continue to look up, and just got done making one of these people feel loved, not forsaken, and blessed. The simplicity of it all is profound. We changed 1 person's life by providing them with shelter and a few other goods. I wish I could provide tents for all of these people, but I felt so blessed to be able to do what I could. The presence of God on that sidewalk in the rain this morning was undeniable. It was as though he was sitting right there with us, hand on her shoulder, giving her peace. Now, perhaps she can get rest and stay dry. It continued to pour through the night. We drove by and for the first time we didn't see our old lady friend in the same place she's been for the last month. Instead, she was inside her tent. We knew she was resting dry and warm.

After setting up camp for our new friend, we finished our way into the hospital and then met up with Jim from Hope 4 Haiti to head down to an orphanage over by the airport. We ended up at the New Life Children's Home. The orphange houses about 85 kids of all ages, some of whom have found shelter at the home after losing both parents in the earthquake. The orphanage is completely self-sustaining. There are vegetable fields that the kids weed, water, and tend to each day. There are rabbits that are used for food, then their pellets are fed to the tilapia tanks. The tilapia eat the pellets and then provide a number of nutrients in the water. That water is then recycled back to the garden for fertilizer, which is then used to feed the people and the rabbits. Amazing, hugh? On top of all that, they have chickens and eggs, and other animals too.

Over in the special cares ward at the orphanage, it will absolutely take your heart and break it in two. There are about 15 kids living with severe disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to hydrocephaly. One of the girls looked to be about 13 or 14 and had to be in 5-point restraints. These children sit in the shade on the porch, secured in wheelchairs, drooling, and staring off into the distance. As soon as we walked up to say hi to them all, the children go so excited. They smiled, reached up their hands, and waved. One kid actually pulled himself right out of his wheelchair and tried walking towards Josh, his little legs barely supporting him. Once he could brace himself with Josh's arms, he started to sort of dance with those legs. I came over and we sand and danced up and down while he just laughed and smiled. It was very neat.

We stopped by the Miami University medical tents that are now surrounded by a fence and razor wire. There is more organization and the increased security felt almost militant. It defnitely had more of the feel of an American establishment. The great outcome of heading there was that I was able to speak with a pediatritian about implementing the my grief therapy program. They were very receptive and interested in utizing it in their patient care.

Leaving the army, we spotted what looked like the Blackwater outfit escorting an important looking vehicle through the streets from the airport. We wondered what they are doing here and who was so special in the car. We pulled into the army diesel fuel site where the military is helping American non-profits gain access to free gas. We filled up Jim's truck and got into a good political discussion. We were talking about all those who will stand to really benefit from the aid pouring in and that those with the greatest need will likely be neglected. We've heard statistics that say 14-cents of every dollar actually comes into the country and only about 3-cents of that actually ends up making it to the people.

Finally back at the hospital, I put together the paperwork and supplies to get out and start our first group today. It was a very big day because I was warming the kids up to begin their first full module for therapy starting on Monday. I am so regretting having booked my ticket because now I have to fly out in the morning and I want to stay here with my little kids and continue their therapy. However, if I'm supposed to come back here mid March and do that, I trust that God will make that possible. Anyhow, back to the session... it went very well. The kids were very receptive and excited that they were going to talk about the earthquake. We did some warm-up, icebreaker stuff, and moved later into some more serious stuff. Kids all picked out crayon and took a piece fo paper. On one side of the paper I had them all draw their life before the quake. Their pictures were happy, with bright colors, flowers and smiles. The kids remained pretty engrossed drawing these pictures. Then, everyone folded their paper in half and I had them draw a picture of how life is now... after the quake. It was obviously more difficult for the kids to complete this task- their attention shifted, some of them became distracted, and one Joseph who lost both of his parents in the quake decided he wanted to go listen to his music. The drawings that resulted from the group in the end were profound. Instead of smiles and bright colors, there were pictures of people upside down, cars smashed under rubble, and houses crooked and crumbled. I asked one child what the person at the bottom of the page was doing and she said, "the house is on top of them". Little Katura described her picture as being her mom. I asked her what the circle was on top of her head and she said it was concrete. There was a scribbled dark mess to the side of that and she told me that was her house... very powerful stuff. Lastly, our little boy Joshua Emmanual participated in the group as well. Eventhough he can't talk, he understood the point of the exercise. His before the earthquake picture was mess of thin lightly drawn scribbles. His after the earthquake was the same picture, but with much thicker lines and harshly drawn. I asked him, "Joshua, this is after the quake?," he nodded, "It looks a lot darker and harder, doesn't it." He agreed. So, did everyone else. We ended our first group with a little surprise. I had called our Haitian friend Hivelt to come over with his guitar and play some music for the kids. They loved it and we all sat around singing for a while and enjoying his music.

Meanwhile, Josh had walked back downtown with our translator Jyvon for one last attempt to find me that newspaper I've been searching for. Can you believe they came back with one in the end. They surprised me. It's eerie, because this edition of the paper (a weekly paper) was issued for the 13th- 19th. You can tell it was the last thing off the press the day before because there is not a single thing mentioned about the quake. There was no time to make it the headline. I also was able to get a few papers from the days following the quake where it was in the headlines. I'll integrate these papers into my upcoming art project. Our translator Jyvone and our friend Chantel then pulled Josh and I aside in the ER and told us that they were sad we were leaving, that they were going to miss us, and that they had gotten us a little something for our departure. The two of them had put their money together and bought Josh a handmade wooden chalice and bought a handmade wooden bowl for me as well. They had our names written in caligraphy along the side. On mine, he spelled my name "Jiddurberg", which is a way I've never seen it spelled, but entirely perfect in every way!

After saying goodbye to Chantel and Jyone, I had to take on the task of saying goodbye to the rest of my patients. I may or may not be coming back and if I do, many of them might not be there anymore. I never anticipated it would be as difficult as it was. First, I went over to say goodbye to who I knew would be the hardest... Joshua. I went into his tent where he sat in Josh's arms squeezing his neck. I picked him up for a little while and just rocked him and held him. Josh and I both cried. We cried becasue we didn't want to say goodbye, because we didn't know what his future held, and because he had so profoundly touched our life. Little Josh was like the theme, the center point, and the miracle of our time Haiti along with so many others who knew him. We had been the strong one's for this little sweet boy when we first found him and now he was being the strong one for us, as he lifted his little hands to our faces wiping the tears from our eyes. Then, he's squeeze our neck and just nuzzle his little face on our shoulder. He'd smile, laugh, and we had a translator tell him how much we loved him and that we would always remember him. When he got sad and lonely, we told him to just close his eyes and remember his days at the hospital surrounded by those that loved him. We must have sat there with him for 30-minutes before we finally had to part ways, waving back at each other, blowing kisses, and turn him back over to God's ultimate care.

I went over to Tent 7 to say hi to the kids there. I wasn't expecting that to be nearly as difficult as it was either. Immediately, I walked in and John Baptiste hobbled over to me on his crutches and kissed me on the forehead, sqeezed me, and told me he loved me and will never forget me. It was tearing me up. Then, Melissa with the right arm amputation came over and softly touched my face smiling, hugging me with one arm, saying "love you". Joseph, the now orphan after both of his parents were killed in the quake, came over and wouldn't let go. He started to cry and it just tore me apart. He's already had to say goodbye once too many times in the last couple months. Ippolita in the meantime had figured out what was going on and was wailing. She kept saying, "You have to go? you have to go? I won't forget you, Jidderboog, thank you for taking such good care of me, I won't forget you. I love you, God bless." Even Dieula at the end end who I had sang songs with as we sedated her for her dressing changes, reached up to hug me. Never would I have thought that 30 days with these patients would have left me so attached. Truly, they are in the most challenging time in their life and we had the honor of sitting by their side sharing their pain with them for the last 30 days. I hated that me leaving had to be the source of additional pain for them now. I also hated knowing that most of them I probably would never see or hear from again. Once they leave the confounds of the hospital, they go off into a world now consisting of tents and rubble to deal wth their injuries and loss of limbs on their own. Lastly, I went over to say goodbye to Melicienne, the girl we threw the birthday party for, and Katura, the little one with the leg amputation. Saying goodbye is so hard to do. The only consolation is leaving knowing that we made a tangible very real difference in their lives and helped them move through this most horrible time in their lives with grace, compassion, and love. They believe it was them who was the lucky ones... I beg to differ. It was us who were the lucky ones. They have changed my life in ways I will never forget. The rains started to fall as we wrapped up the rest of our goodbyes, and my heart grew weary. What a long full day it had been.

I woke up this morning and had to say goodbye to the rest of my housemates and goodbye to people like Dr. Reynold. There were so many I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to and that made me sad. Hopefully, I will be back in a week or so and be able to properly say goodbye to the rest of those I missed. Reynold picked us up at the house today and brought us to the airport. It certainly was not the same airport we had arrived at with military presence all over the tarmac, humvees, and military planes. American Airlines, Air France, and many other major commercial carriers were now on the ground, there was an organized line of customers, and it felt just like any other airport. This was a dramatic change from the way things were when we first arrived.

Sitting at the airport today, I ran into my friend Laura from the Kenscoff Clinic. She told me an amazing medical story. Last Wednesday she and Marilyn got a phone call that Haitian woman was in labor and needed help. They arrived at her house to find the woman in labor on the roof and found out she had been carried 5 kilometers down the mountain on a stretcher to get there! On site was a male Haitian midwife that was covered in dirt trying to deliver the baby, but she was only dilated to 8 or 9 and he was already having her push. The Kenscoff ladies slowed things down and got her to stop pushing until she was fully dilated. When it was time to push, the pushing went on for about 2.5 hours before the Haitians present insisted they perform a voodoo ceremony to get the zombies out. Yeah, you read that right. They thought the woman was posessed with zombies. Things got stranger. They took a bottle of alcohol and poured it all over her, rubbing it in everywhere. Then they lit candles around her. A guy came in with a broom, handed it to her, and made her sweep the entire roof... IN THE MIDDLE OF LABOR as she dragged an IV pole behind her! As she swept they slapped her and hit her trying to chase away "the zombies". Next, they took the broom away from her and started to sweep her with the broom. The slapping and stuff continued until finally one of the other ladies popped her a good one and the lady just snapped on her nearly starting a cat fight... IN THE MIDDLE OF LABOR! This is all true, I saw the video with my own eyes! Finally, it was apparent that the voodoo wasn't working and the nurses were able to convince them to head down to a hospital to see a surgeon. By the time a surgeon was available, the woman had been pushing for 7 hours. They couldn't even pick up fetal heart tones at this point and they thought the baby was dead. Finally, the surgeon put her under and did a cesarean section. The second the baby came out, it started to cry and so did everyone else in the operating room because the baby was alive and well, and so was the mother. Laura says it was the strangest delivery she's ever been a part of and I'd have to agree.

As I've gone through my travels throughout the day, I've had much time to reflect and catch up on my journaling efforts. There have been many changes over the last 30 days that are pretty huge compared to the way things were when we arrived. Much of the city looks just the same from a birds eye view... the crushed rubble still remains left to be removed. They estimate it will take 1,000 dump trucks 1,000 days of solid work to clear what needs to be removed. The city just hired about 86,000 workers to start moving the rubble and that will certainly be a start. When they work on a project they look like a swarm of yellow ants with yellow shirts and yellow hard hats. They just chisel, hammer, and haul away the rubble one block at a time.

Other changes I've noticed in the last 30 days is that there is more trash on the streets. This has made me really grateful that we have trash cans. In fact, we're so conditioned to wait until we find one to throw something away, that I'll laugh as I find myself walking over a pile of trash holding a napkin, waiting to find a dumpster, when I could just as easily just toss it on the ground with the rest of the trash. But, it's that mentality that has made the streets of Haiti such a mess. There's no such thing as recylcing here either. I don't think there's even a place where you could take your recyclables if you wanted to.

Since the last 30 days there are less "homes" made from sheets and more homes constructed out of scrap steel and sturdy material. There a less tears and more smiles, less hungry stomachs and more successful distribution efforts, less severe wounds and injuries and more discharges and recoveries, less sun and more rain, less military presence and more Haitian-based security and organization, there are more markets opening, more street vendors selling their wares, more traffic on the road, and more organization amid the chaos. However, this nation still has a long way to go before it ever can return to even the poverty-stricken state it was in before the earthquake ever happened. It's good they don't have to do it alone.


At March 7, 2010 at 12:42 PM , Blogger Mark said...

What a wonderful commentary. Thank you for taking the time to share it with all of us. Those of us who have been active raising funds and working with groups like Direct Relief International really appreciate what you are doing.

Mark Coudray

At March 7, 2010 at 12:42 PM , Blogger Mark said...

What a wonderful commentary. Thank you for taking the time to share it with all of us. Those of us who have been active raising funds and working with groups like Direct Relief International really appreciate what you are doing.

Mark Coudray

At March 8, 2010 at 6:11 PM , Blogger Angela said...

Wow Jitterbug. :) Thanks for taking the time to write all that. I enjoyed EVERY word of it. Felt I was there with you as you lifted the tent and said goodbye. Hugs to you. :)


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