Sunday, February 21, 2010

Well it's almost 8.30 at night and I am in Thomassique. Today started around 7.00 am when I just could not sleep for all the animal noises coming from outside the window! I never knew barnyard animlas could make so much noise all night long. For those who live in TGS and have chickens, if any turn out to be roosters, pack them off to a farm... Good Lord, the racket they make. Thank God, no one has donkeys in TGS. Those beasts like to talk all night....

I went to mass today. I was a little reluctant because even though I am catholic, I'm not an every sunday kind of guy. What an experience. It was 2 hours long and I enjoyed every minute. The singing was incredible. The church was the most basic you can imagine. I sat on a plank support by two cement blocks. Everyone was dressed in their best clothes which I can not understand how they get them so clean with such little to work with. It is their one day of the week when they wear these clothes.

Afterwards, I sat on the roof of the rectory and watched the people start to walk back to their homes along the dirt paths, many singing. The sounds of children breaking branches for kindling, men chopping wood, women beating clothes on rocks filled the air (along with the sounds of all those animals...)

After something to eat, we packed up items to take to the town of Thomassique. The journey was long in that we crossed streams and swampy areas in the 4 x 4's and travelled roads that were at best trails. I am not exagerating but my back hurts from the bouncing and neck jerking ride for well over an hour.

I can not count how many naked children I saw, how many barefoot people, how many people (women and children) carrying 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads...

We arrived in Hinche which is a "city" about an hour and a half away where we met up with Dr. Patrick Lecorps and his American wife Anne. We had all traveled together from Miami to Port au Prince and then separated at the airport. Patrick wanted to visit family that survived as well as see a cousin whose wife and two children were crushed to death next to him in their home. He was buried next to their bodies for 5hours before other family members dug him out. Patrick and Anne spent yesterday in PAP and met us in Hinche as they had medical supplies to deliver in Thomassique. We then convoyed with another vehicle picking up hitch hikers along the way.

They told me that I had to go into central PAP before I left to see and witness what had happened. They said the smell of the decaying bodies in the rubble was overbearing. From what they say, the entire central city is completely destroyed. There is not one government building standing and nothing is functioning. Patrick is an Orthepedic Surgeon in Cape. He is very concerned about the rate of infections and the coming rains which will make the misery even worse. People in hospitals are not fed and depend on family, friends or aid agencies to bring them food.

I had seen some tent cities as we skirted the capital Saturday. Anne said that the rest of the city is just a jumble of clear plastic supported by whatever and people are just living like that. We are going early Tuesday so I will be able to see and write about it then.

Thomassique has about 60,000 people. We went to the St. Joseph clinic to deliver medical supplies. There are Americans there: medical students, retired people and Engneers who come down every couple months to work on constructing the clinic, setting up water filtration systems, maintaining the solar panels. The Medical students are there for a year. I asked what they needed and they told me Amoxcilin (sp?), vitamins, pill form antibiotics. They took my e mail address and are going to put together a wish list for when I come back on March 27th. Its a very basic clinic, but it is all these people have for any kind of illness or injury. 60,000 people.... a clinic the size of a suburban house. The waiting room is 4 posts hold up a roof outside...

From there, we came to the Rectory at the church. We ate a small dinner cooked on charcoal. And there is elecricity here! The solar panels are larger and more numerous than at the rectory in Colladere where I spent last night so the lights are slightly brighter. I was able to charge my phone and pee without using a flashlight!

I can not remember what I have posted as it costs alot in battery to review what I wrote and several times I lost service after typing for 20 minutes and using up roaming charges. What I want to say is that for $50, people here can buy a goat. A goat helps a family to survive. It provides milk and if several families in a village have males and females, they can breed them and then create a source of food.

They eat everything of a goat. Head, feet, everything. Last night dinner was boiled goat blood which coagulates into like ground beef. With spices, it tastes very good. I was not too impressed though watching it boil when it was bright red.

When I get home, I will post some pictures and it will help explain what I am having difficulty putting into words....

Tomorrow we deliver items some of you donated. I hope there is still interest in helping here. I'm coming back in March with an Engineer. We are going to install the solar panels that will operate the water filtration system. If anyone is interested in helping pay for his ticket down, it would be appreciated. He is on disability from an accident and has limited income yet comes down when he can to help with getting this water filtration system commissioned.

It's very warm and humid here right now. There are lots of mosquitoes and malaria is a big concern. My best friends the last two days are a small flashlight, the bottle of OFF, hand sanitizer and my beloved roll of toilet paper...

When I was a kid, my parents would say "Eat all your food or be grateful for what you have, there are children starving in the world" It took me 40 years to truly realize and appreciate those words.

Good Night.

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