I had intention to write something last night, but after showering, eating and what had happened during the day, I just crashed. I have a sinking feeling yesterday was preparing me for our trip into central Port au Prince today...
Yesterday began at 5 am with the church bells ringing for mass. I really didn't sleep as the humidity and mosquitoes were brutal. I went to church and the children singing was moving. A gentleman named Peter from the Medical team I was supposed to travel in with through the DR back in January was there. I had met Peter the day before when we went to the thomassique clinic to bring supplies Patrick and Anne brought in from Cape. The clinic has two medical students from columbia university and temple. There are Americans who come down for 10 day periods: doctors, nurses, contractors, computer geeks, handymen, people who are helping with constructing additional rooms, installing and maintaining solar panels, water systems, etc. Etc. One guy installs swimming pools and is a plumber back in virgina. Any skill is useful here.
Peter and I walked back to the clinic from the church. He had offered me gold... A mosquitoes net! I'm not too worried about malaria. I'm taking pills and you can be treated. But quite frankly, dengue fever makes me a little nervous. I also had already given away all the Tylenol (thank you Sue Englert. That supply of generic Tylenol is a godsend for many people) and I needed some for my back pain.
While there, there was a little scene when one of the med students realized the scratching noise in her room was a good sized rat which came running out of her room. A chase began with people crashing through the dining / living area, brooms swinging, things being knocked over. The rat comes running by Peter and me and dives under a washing machine. I was actually more surprised to see a washing machine and while they were pulling it out trying to get the rat, I was more interested to see if it was actually connected to a water line than whether the rat was behind it. I started to laugh to myself thinking how strange that was. The rat didn't phase me, yet I was captivated by seeing this big American washer and thought "wow, how cool, a washing machine!"
I guess it sounds strange but when you witness how the most simplest things are an arduous task (making fire to cook, cleaning clothes in a river, you get it....
So I walked back to the church rectory with the net under my arm thinking I had just scored big time. I then took thd pictures and noted all the dimensions as well as checked the solar panels.
Father Rahab and the other priests had this great idea of setting up a soup kitchen for locals as well as the refugees coming up from the capital. They feed around 200 people, rice and beans. Some of the children had not eaten in over a day. The intention is to set up the kitchen every other day. In other words, people can at least count on one meal every 48 hours. Later that night we talked about buying s goat once a week so that there would be at least some meat once a week mixed in with thd rice and beans.
During the day, whenever we moved through town, we had bags of what many people donated. We would stop when we saw a child sitting naked in the dirt and give his mother a shirt. Othervtimes, we would stop znd inflate a soccer ball and give it to a group of kids. The coloring books and crayons were great! Kids with nothing were open mouthed with total surprise.
We then packed up to head to Hinche. There is a mission by nuns from India and rwanada that we wanted to leave things. Patrick and anne had brought do much stuff, I had some of thd things you all donated. We arrived and entered an oasis of calm, cleanliness and hospitality. There we had a soda and talked to the nuns. I inflated a soccer ball and shortly after it started to rain.
After a while we went up a large concrete set of stairs to where the children are. This was the most difficult part of the trip so far and I'm a liitle apprehensive because I really believe it was to prepare me for today in the capital.
Everyone (rahab, banife, anne, Patrick and the nuns) were ahead if me. By the time I got to the landing they had already gone in and standing in the doorway in sn orange shirt was a little boy about 2 years old. As I approached, he broke into this smile, ran to me and thrust his arms up. I picked him up and he grabbed my shirt so tightly pressing his head against my chest. Itvtemindwd me of shen I was a teenager teaching little kids to swim. They would cling to me so tightly.
For the next 20 minutes, I could not put him down. Every time I tried to pry him away he would look at me wide eyed, grip
my shirt tighter and his lip would quiver. Other children were climbing up my legs, arms grabbing me wanting to be held. At one point I had one in each arm, one one each leg and children everywhere. I looked through a door znd saw Patrick and anne swarmed by children begging to be touched and held. The rooms were full of cribs, lined up children standing teaching out. Other cribs there were babies, children skin and bones. Some you could tell the damage from malnutrition had already been done. Some laid there lifeless, some with no strength to get up.
The little boy, Charles, fell asleep in my arms and I brought him back to his crib and laid him down. I wandered through the wards and touched every child and spoke to them in French.
I'm going to have to stop here as I have to go visit father rahab's mother. I have the details of this mission. I know ehat they need and if anyone is interested, you can help. The thing that sickens me is that this is one of hundreds, if not thousands of places where these children are surviving. I find it hard to use the word living. People fo not live in Haiti. They survive in Haiti.
We left Thomassique after I had measured the water filtration room, cables, storage ta