Haiti with Jo’s Nurses Part 1 – by Shani Marshall-Sluys

Sunday November 6

Yesterday was a busy but uneventful day. My day started early in Ft. Lauderdale, with the hotel deskman sunday2ensuring I was awake and ready to go at 4:30AM. I had mentioned the night before that I’d need to be at the airport early to catch a 6:00AM flight, and he had a cab ready and everything, without me having to ask.

sunday3I arrived in Port-au-Prince at 7:00AM. It was quite a scene at the airport, with many people approaching asking to help with the bags. I finally maneuvered my way outside, but began to get a little bit nervous that I’d not be able to find Ernst, the man coming to pick me up. Out of all of us coming, I was the first to arrive. Suddenly a man wearing a yellow T-shirt ran up through the crowd and gave me a hug. I saw  “Midwives for Haiti” on his shirt and relaxed, knowing that I was good to go. From there, we waited outside the airport for another hour or so for the next volunteer to arrive. Unfortunately, since Jet Blue had accidentally checked my bags all the way through in Nashville the day before, the task of sorting through the medical equipment, clothes, and donations was done on the asphalt next to the airport. We went to what was probably one of Haiti’s nicest hotels,sunday1 where we had breakfast while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. They had a swimming pool that I was longing to jump in, but dipped my toes in instead. Thankfully, they also had wifi, so I got the one homework assignment I needed to do while here done and submitted it.

 

After everyone was collected, we got in the vans and headed up into the mountainous region. I took 8mg of Zofran in preparation, but still felt pretty car sick the whole way up. Thankfully we switched over about halfway there, into a SUV with regular, front-facing seats. I felt a lot better after that. Our first destination was Cabestor. We will be here for one week, at a pink birth center known as “Carrie Worthamsunday4 Birth Center.” When we got in, we met Michelle, the local Saj-Fanm (midwife in Creole). She is also doing all of our cooking, because the Catholic priest, who used to arrange for that, started demanding more money and is now on strike. At this point we are just hoping that we continue to have running water (because he could turn that off, too). When I washed my hands this morning there was just a drizzle out of the faucet. I was grateful I got to rinse off under some cold running water last night. I was so sticky from the sweat and humidity and travel of the day. We have mosquito nets, but I still got a few bites. At this point I have pretty much resigned myself to the possibility that I will be taking home a mosquito-transmitted virus with me. Dinner was some fried plantains, fried potato strings, and a few pieces of pig (goat?) meat. The most glorious food experience thus far was that they had coffee in the morning. It was so nice to enjoy a cup of hot coffee while feeling the breeze come in from the windows.

When I woke up this morning I noticed how swollen I am. My ankles are disappearing and my face and hands feel puffy. I’m trying to drink as much as I can, but I sweat out a lot of it. We met Michelle by the makeshift kitchen in the morning. There were two dead roosters that she’d just killed, and she was busy plucking and cleaning them. There are tons of chickens and roosters everywhere, and they are LOUD.sunday6 sunday5 They started in the middle of the night and went at it all morning. I thought Kauai was bad- these are much worse. I feel bad for the roosters, but some of them have got to go, since that’s a main staple of what we are eating. I hope they’re at least picking the loud ones. We washed up the dishes and then helped prepare the garlic and onions for later. It seems like these poor girls just cook and prepare food all day.

 

 

sunday7We went to the Catholic Church service, but just very briefly. As I expected, it was quite long. People casually came in throughout the service from the village. The little girls are dressed so fancy- I can’t imagine how they keep those frilly white dressed and socks so clean. I have been here one day and already I am quite dirty. Thank goodness I brought baby powder and wipes.

 

 
We travelled into town Sunday to buy a little portable phone and visit a waterfall. The waterfall was beautiful- lush and tropical, and the water felt amazing. A group of young boys scampered over to hold our hands and guide us up the falls: There were a series of rocks that the water cascaded over, and the view in the distance was bright green hills, covered in palms and leafy vegetation. As usual, the pictures just can’t do it justice. The waterfall area is also used for voodoo rituals, and some of the girls felt that there was a darkness to the place. I can see what they meant, but so long as they weren’t actively doing sacrificial rituals in the water while we were there, I was going in. It was a welcome respite from the heat and humidity. We are ready for clinic day tomorrow.sunday9