Monday, March 8, 2010

Travelers log - Day 3 in Haiti

While we waited for the doctors and nurses to get the clinic open for patients, Kathy (TRTP President) and Tom (interior architect) discussed plans for the surgical center. They photographed the foundation and all existing structures and evaluated the space so that Tom can make recommendations for the building.

The clinic at Mountain Top Ministries re-opened today for the first time since the earthquake. People walked in from all over the mountain for treatment. Many waited more than 8 hours in the hot sun to be seen by a doctor. Some were able to buy food from 2 ladies who came and cooked outside the clinic - many ate nothing all day.

Here are a few notable statistics:

198 people served
42 females, ages 22-39
26 males, ages 22-39
33 had acid reflux
26 had hypertension
17 had a fungal infection
1 baby had severe pneumonia
1 woman had a fractured cheekbone (cheek was crushed during quake)
1 man has dry gangrene needed his hand amputated - was treated but must go to a hospital for the amputation
1 severe asthmatic child needed a nebulizer treatment (involved firing up the generator)
1 runaway bull surprised some of the team on the walk home

The Red Thread helped at the clinic throughout the day, bringing patients from the waiting area to the treatment area, taking blood pressure, temperature and weight, fitting people for glasses, irrigating ears and so forth. We held 1 month old twin babies so the mother could take a break. One of our team members even took off his own socks to give to a man with a severe fungal infection! We taught children how to play hopscotch while they waited on 2 hand-drawn boards (drawn with a white rock on the bumpy concrete). We TRIED to teach them a Lebanese line dance, but that didn't go over too well!

Following our clinic work, some of us had the opportunity to take a tour of the village of Gramothe. Willem served as the tour guide. We walked up a "road" to an old voodoo temple that sits close to the Gramothe church. We visited many families living on the mountain - Willem knew everyone by name and their entire story - how long their family had been on the mountain, what they do for a living, how many children they have, etc. He has an amazing relationship with the people!

All of their homes were located on tiny steep slopes that were barely accessible by foot - there are no vehicles known that could traverse these trails. Tiny houses were camouflaged by brush and banana trees across the entire mountainside.

A typical home is 2 rooms, a living room (about 10 x 10) and a bedroom (about 8 x 8). They are hand-built with stone and cement. Each stone is carried on someone's head from the dry riverbed at the base of the mountain up to the building lot - one by one. They cook on an open fire in small tin shacks outside the house (about 6 x 6). We only saw one house with an outhouse.

The majority of people are farmers, growing bananas (a bunch will bring in about $25 US), coffee and leeks (the main cash crop in Gramothe). Women were washing clothes in basins by their feet. They send their young children to one of the 24 spigots that Mountain Top Ministries has had installed around the mountain to pipe in fresh clean water. Children carry 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads up these trails to their homes.

We visited the village market, which was an 8 x 12 tin and cement building. There was a single window that served as a "walk through" where someone could come to the window, ask for what they want, pay and then receive the item. The elderly woman who owns the market was very friendly and spoke with us for quite some time.

Following our foot tour, we walked back to the guest house instead of opting for the flat bed pickup or the ATVs. What an experience that was! Walking down the mountain on the crumbling roads was treacherous. The cliffs on our left were frightening yet villagers would pop up here and there to watch us walking down. Children would run up to have their photos taken, while others would stand back and quietly observe.

When our trek reached the dry riverbed at the base of the first mountain, the adventure really began. We took "the short cut", which basically meant climbing up the steepest trail any of us had ever been on. Picture rock climbing wall at some parts - where you need to use both hands and feet and one false move will bring your demise. (No, I'm not kidding or exaggerating!) The most amazing part was that we were traveling with 2 young Haitian girls, each with a large bucket on their heads. We allowed them to begin the climb first and could not believe their agility in not only climbing the mountainside, but also not spilling a drop of water in their full buckets resting neatly on their heads. By the time our group reached the top we were all huffing and puffing and the girls were long gone.

Tomorrow we will be teaching ESL at the school. Following, we expect to either work in the clinic or visit the orphanage. It is our understanding that Rivers of Hope may be taking in 3 new children this week and we look forward to meeting them and sharing their stories with you.

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