Arrival: Stepping into Haiti
I made it! Along with my friend Aisha, a midwife from Cali and Laurie, another Portland midwife. Our flight was canceled on Friday, so we arrived a day later with our truck load of luggage and eager-to-help spirits. The drive from PAP to Hinche, the town where we are staying was an adventure. Most of the way it was a winding and narrow dirt road that went through the mountains. It was actually fun and very beautiful.
It was overwhelming walking off the plane. I was ill from the flight or the anticipation or the energetics of Haiti or all the above, and deeply moved when we stepped off the plane to the greeting of live Haitian music. There were four or five men, I can no longer recall exactly, playing music and singing songs. We just stopped, listening, crying. It was not the chaotic greeting I was expecting--crazy custom lines, language barriers, stollen and lost luggage. There was love and gratitude and welcoming. It was hard to not dance and to continue on our way to customs.
Our dirt road drive took about four hours. We were squeezed into a jeep with our nearly 800 lbs of supplies. We passed the rubble and devastation of PAP. It was unreal. Like the city had been bombed, broken. Tent cities set up along the river created white and blue patchwork near the base of the mountains we traveled through.
Stopped for a delicious and spicy lunch in some small mountain village. Women were singing for us there. And just happy to wave and be smiled at. It easy to fall in love with Haiti. It is very dry and very beautiful.
We are staying at an orphanage. There are 250 kids here. The orphanage I think has been in place for the last 20 years. Or at least Brother Harry has been here that long. The girls (and I think there are about 80) have only been here for a year. Thirty of them since the earthquake. And another space was rented to house the boys that came. The youngest child is three and the oldest 27. None of them will ever be adopted. For the most part, the kids fend for themselves, but do go to school and three will go off to college on scholarships in the States!
Our hosts are Brothers Michael and Harry. They are lovely and patient with us. Food is more than rice and beans. We have a cold shower and sometimes electricity and a semi flushing toilet. It the Hinche Hilton!
There are three extra ladies that came but weren't on the list and some are unsure about letting us work at the hospital on some nights. It is going to take a lot of initiative to get anything done. But so far i think we are headed in the right direction. Today we toured the hospital, met the ten midwifery students and Reina, the midwife from the States who is here for another three months. She has been here since March? And speaks good Creole already!!
Tonight we have our first night shift at the hospital with three of the students. I am curious to see what their skill levels are and nervous about my own ability to deal with emergencies that we never really have to in the States. I am glad to have Laurie and Cristy here with me.
Already though, I know I have touched one life. A woman in line for prenatal care who probably needs a million items like vitamins, that we take without thinking about the blessing of. In some way we connected and were both moved by our equally open hearts. And I know that in this environment where there is nothing, that compassion and love will be the most important things I can provide.
There is a saying here. When you ask "how are you," the response is always "I am no worse than I ever was."
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