Saturday, March 27, 2010

Peeing In the Trunk, Musical Parades, & A New Home

The house I've been staying in since the beginning of last month now is due to start repairs. The repairs are actually supposed to start today, so we had to be out of the place. I am pretty bummed out because I've really settled in to this cracked house and it was really starting to feel like home. We are heading tonight to Quisqueya Christian School where we will get re-setup. They will transport us back and forth between the hospital in the mornings and night, so it will be convenient.

i was thinking about my French and Creole language skills and how they are coming along today. I started writing a list of the words I'm getting familiar with and realized I know about 70+ words. That's a lot for coming here only knowing how to say Bonjour. When I first had arrived, I had no desire at all to learn French. Now, that I've learned some, I kinda have some interest. I think it's kinda like a game. When you don't know how to play a game very well, it's easier to just not play. Not only is it easier, but it's more fun. If language skills were like a game, then I was not very interested in playing French becasue I wasn't very good at it. Now, I'm still far from good at French, but I'm starting to understand the rules of the game, the structure of the game, and starting to take a turn every once in a while. Maybe one day I can play in a round all by myself.

After Victoria, Corrine and I finished packing, we said goodbye to the Operation Rainbow team who was headed back to the states and headed over to Christine's across the street for some morning coffee and a quick morning chat. Then, we had to throw 2 great big boxes of scrubs in the back of the truck, pick up an old woman who had to get to the hospital immediately for some blood work, and raced to the hospital riding Haitian style in the back of the pickup.

Before heading to General Hospital this morning, I rearranged the supplies in the back room, put shelving in there and now it is *sparkling*. My translator met me later and did our trek down the hill. We have a completely new group of folks today down at the hospital. This group is a great one. They seemed more eager to be involved from the beginning than the first group ever did. We made it through the first module and the group was excited about me coming back tomorrow to continue. I always ask them if they would like to continue so that they feel like this is something that they are empowering themselves to participate in. It gives them more ownership over their self-care rather than feeling forced into doing something they aren't interested in.

From General, we did the usual stop at Mars & Kline Psychiatric Hospital and then took a new and different route home. Along the way, you can see big bulldozers in the canals trying to clear the massive piles of rubble. It's a good sign of preventing massive flooding as the rainy season continues. As we continued along the road, I had a hilarious sight. This guy was driving down the road, stopped, opened his trunk, pulled down his pants and started peeing in the trunk. Then, with no hands, he just continued peeing in the trunk and down his leg as he pretended to be doing something in the trunk. Then, he just zipped up his pants, shut the trunk and kept driving. I was thinking maybe I had seen him at the psychiatric center, lol! When he stopped again and passed by the hood of his car, I was worried he was going to try and take a dump! Oh, the things we see here. About a block later, I tried to take a picture of this guy with his sidewalk full of dead roosters, and he about freaked out on me. I guess this guy must think his birds are camera shy.

At the hospital today, I was able to do some more nursing care and a little bit of networking. I sat in the shade with my favorite little Katura for a little bit. She loves to just curl up in my arms and try and fall asleep. It is truly the most precious thing- you know that feeling when a little baby just completely trusts you and lets go in your arms. It's just like that. To be a set of safe arms for a child who's scared the ground will shake and fearful that now with only one leg they might not escape... to be a loving voice... to be kind words... to be a source of joy... why would I possibly want to be doing anything else in life?

Finally, it was time for group with the kids. Today, I walked out in the courtyard with my big box labeled Jitterbug's Therapy Fun Box and the kids came swarming like as thought I had just busted open a pinata for them. Everyone was very good at getting situated today. We went around and checked in with how everyone was feeling. Two of the kids had not such a good day. They were able to identify the feelings they were having and tell the group what they did about them. The kids then all got a chance to go around and give some support to the kids that were having a rough time. One of the kids is really having a rough time sleeping at night. I think he's worried about the earth moving and probably just has a lot on his mind that makes sleep difficult. Next, I reminded the kids about the chalk drawings that we had yesterday. It rained overnight, and I explained to them that all of our messages were sent deep down into the earth. We're literally filling the cracks with empowered messages and words of hope! After some more discussion with the kids, it was finally that prized time... music time.

Because of some of my friends back home, I was able to give each kid their own plastic recorder flute today. The kids were so good, they each sat there quietly without fighting over them while I pulled each one out, one by one and wrote their names on them so they won't be sharing them and getting each other sick. You would have thought I had given them a million dollars. Joshua especially loved having something he could do just as well as the rest of the kids. As the music got rolling and people got more into the sounds, the kids started to pull on me and point to the tents. They wanted to go spread the joy! We got in a big line and started to march our way through the tents in a big parade! Wheelchairs, walkers, flutes, drums, rummble instrumments, and singing. As we passed by the tents, we'd see smiles light up the shadows, some would start to sing, and a couple of other people joined. The kids were loving things so much that they wanted to go to some of tents below past the rocks and mud. I agreed and we went down to put on a concert. At one point I glanced over at about five kids in wheelchairs with their friends behind trying to push them through the off-road terrain. They were laughing so hard I thought they were going to pee their pants. It was like children who were made innocent again, as though there had never been an earthquake, as though their bodies were never damaged or injured... it was beautiful.

As grouped wrapped up with about 20 of us holding hands in prayer, a peaceful evening descended upon the camp. I went over and spent some time with one of my other patients Meliciennie. Propped up against a crate, I quietely sang the Hallelujia song with Melicienne and her mom. My Haitian buddy Chantale, Katura and myself later spent some time together and finally, my new ride arrived. I was on the way to my new Haitian home.

Here at Quisquiya, everything is taken care of for us. They cook 3 meals a day, wash our scrubs, provide us with showers, a dry place to sleep, and even Internet access. Really, it feels very much like medical summer camp. The Christian School closed after the earthquake, but it has reopened as a relief center. It is a major distribution point here in Haiti for medical supplies. The 82nd Airborne was occupying a large part of the space until just recently. It is really very nice here. I have settled into a little space on the floor of a 5th grade classroom. I'm right next to a shelf of Harry Potter books, across from a chalkboard, and next to the fractions sign. I've got several roomates now from all around the world and various medical disciplines. At dinner tonight, we had a big plate of beans and rice which I shared with a very friendly and hungry kitten. It rained later and I laughed at the group of guys continuing their game under big Haitian raindrops. I took a shower in the outdoor shower right under the stars and came back to my cozy little dry room to finish writing and get some sleep.


At March 27, 2010 at 11:23 PM , Blogger Lindsy said...

I've been reading your blog and find your stories and experiences fascinating and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your work and for being brave enough to do what you do.


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